|Celtics assign James Young, Jordan Mickey to D-League||11.03.15 at 5:33 pm ET|
Add this to the Celtics‘ list of unsurprising moves: James Young and Jordan Mickey have been inside to the Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate in Portland, Maine.
The first of the C’s three draft picks received in return for trading Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, Young has been inactive for the first three games of the season. He averaged 21.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and two assists in 32.9 minutes over 17 games during 11 trips back and forth from Maine last season.
“I guess it’s something that I remind myself, but James is still only 20, and as a matter of fact, he recently turned 20” Celtics president Danny Ainge said on media day when asked about Young’s progress. “I think he would have been one of the top 10 youngest guys in this year’s draft. I think James has made great strides. He had a terrific year last year in the D-League. I had numerous coaches tell me he was one of the best prospects they’ve ever seen in the D-League at age 19 last year.”
This marks Mickey’s first assignment to the D-League after being drafted No. 33 overall in June and receiving the heftiest contract for a rookie second-round pick in league history. He played two minutes at the end of the season-opening win over the 76ers — collecting two points, two rebounds and one assist in the process — but has been inactive since fellow rookie R.J. Hunter returned from illness.
It's not about where you start at its about where you finish at
— Jordan Mickey (@Jmickey_02) November 3, 2015
In an odd bit of statistical nonsense, Mickey currently leads the NBA in offensive rating (243.1 points per 100 possessions), and that’s not likely to change soon. Although, both Young and Mickey will be recalled and re-assigned to the Red Claws more times than you can count on two hands this season, so get accustomed to it.
|Why Celtics won’t sign Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller to contract extensions now||11.02.15 at 2:03 pm ET|
The NBA salary cap is expected to expand $20 million next summer, so Sullinger and Zeller have no reason to sign a team-friendly extension based on the league’s current salary structure. Likewise, the C’s have little incentive to sign Sullinger and Zeller to player-friendly deals now, because of the former’s conditioning issues and the latter’s inconsistent production.
Consider that fellow 2012 NBA Draft first-round pick Jeremy Lamb, who couldn’t crack the regular rotation in Oklahoma City for his first three seasons, is reportedly signing a three-year, $21 million contract extension two games into his Hornets career. Sullinger and Zeller should receive an average annual value of $7 million next summer if they respectively eat a handful of Big Macs for lunch every day and fall to fifth or sixth on the C’s frontcourt depth chart this season.
More likely, both will be seeking double-digit millions per season next summer, and by not offering them that kind of cash flow right now, the Celtics can monitor their progress closely now and maintain significant salary cap flexibility in 2016, when both become restricted free agents and represent $12.2 million in combined cap holds come July 1.
|Avery Bradley injures right index finger late in loss to Spurs||11.01.15 at 8:37 pm ET|
If you knew Celtics guard Avery Bradley sprained his right index finger late in Sunday’s 95-87 loss to the Spurs, you’d think he did it on this devastating dunk that cut San Antonio’s lead to five with 1:40 left.
Bradley left the game with 26 seconds left and the C’s trailing by three possessions, following the team doctor to the locker room. He had the finger set in a splint and his right wrist wrapped before his postgame interview, but didn’t injure it on the rim. He caught the finger on a jersey in the final minute.
‘I got it caught in someone’s jersey and bent my fingers back,” said Bradley, who scored a team-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds and three assists. Its just swollen right now. My right hand.’
The Celtics have the day off Monday, return to practice Tuesday and don’t play until Wednesday in Indiana, so Bradley has a few days to recover. He did not have the finger bandaged when the Celtics initially let reporters into the locker room and he didn’t appear to be favoring it as he prepared for his media session.
Considering the shoulder and ankle injuries that have plagued Bradley throughout his career, you just hope the finger doesn’t become a linger issue that diminishes the progress he’s made under coach Brad Stevens.
“I’ve just been trying to tell myself to be more aggressive, go to the basket stronger,” added Bradley. “When I broke my ankle, I feel like it’s always in the back of my head that I can go and re-injure myself. I just have to go out there and play basketball and not think. … A lot of people forget that that used to be me. I just have to continue to take what the defense gives me and be aggressive.”
Bradley was the lone C’s starter with a positive rating in Sunday’s loss, finishing plus-three in 30:28. After shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range during the preseason, Bradley hasn’t quite found his groove, shooting 4-of-12 from distance and 37.1 percent overall so far, but his defense has been steady. If he continues to attack the rim and the 3-pointers start falling, he’ll be a game-changer.
|Studs and Duds: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs too much for cold-shooting Celtics||11.01.15 at 6:02 pm ET|
It was an ugly shooting night for the Celtics, especially in the first half, when they missed more than 70 percent of their attempts, but somehow they remained with four of the Spurs in the final minutes.
It was a testament to their defense, but despite making several runs to cut into a 15-point deficit, the Celtics couldn’t ever get over the hump in a 95-87 loss that dropped them to 1-2 on the young season.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 18 points on 18 shots before leaving the game with 26 seconds left and retreating to the locker room with the team doctor. Marcus Smart (17 points), Isaiah Thomas (15 points on 18 shots), Jared Sullinger (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Amir Johnson (10 points) also reached double figures.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Studs and Duds: 1 down for Celtics, 81 to go||10.28.15 at 10:03 pm ET|
@WEEICeltics PODCAST GAME RECAP
It’s unclear whether the Philadelphia 76ers are an NBA team, but the win counts just the same.
With a 112-95 win over the ever-tanking Sixers on opening night, your Boston Celtics are 1-0, undefeated, atop the division standings and tied for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. One down, 81 to go. Brad Stevens is probably already watching Toronto Raptors tape right now.
Isaiah Thomas led the way with 27 points (10-19 FG) and seven assists. He was joined in double figures by Amir Johnson (15 points, 7 rebounds), Jae Crowder (14 points, 6 rebounds), Marcus Smart (13 points, 5 assists) and Jared Sullinger (12 points, 7 rebounds). Production abound.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas.
It wasn’t a great shooting night for the Sixth Man of the Year favorite, and he still had 23 points through three quarters. Thomas missed his first five 3-point attempts, but made up for it by getting to the line a ton (6-7 FT) and knocking down a triple just before the third-quarter buzzer that pushed the C’s lead to 79-67. He added seven assists against three turnovers and generally destroyed the 76ers on the pick-and-roll, mostly with Johnson working as his partner.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Tyler Zeller.
This could just as easily be David Lee, but Zeller was yanked 5:13 into the ballgame after the Sixers scored 10 of their first 15 points in the paint. He returned briefly in the second quarter and was removed again shortly after Philadelphia point guard Isaiah Canaan scored on another layup. Zeller was removed for the starting lineup at halftime in favor of Sullinger, and he sat the entire time the Celtics build their lead as large as 15 points.
VINE OF THE NIGHT:
Out of a timeout with 2.9 seconds left in the half, the Celtics ran a ton of misdirection in the paint, only to have Smart inbound the ball, hop to the 3-point line and get the ball back. It was the simplest of play calls that led to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer and a 51-40 halftime lead for the C’s.
WHINE OF THE NIGHT: Let’s hope this is the last time I write this sentence: More Johnson, please. Okafor was killing the Celtics with eight early points on four shots within five feet of the basket, so Brad Stevens answered with Jared Sullinger midway through the first quarter? I was under the impression interior defense was precisely why Amir Johnson was signed this past summer. On the ensuing possession, Okafor scored on Sullinger within five feet of the basket, giving the 76ers a 17-11 lead. Johnson finally checked in with 2:31 remaining in the opening quarter and the C’s trailing by nine. He recorded a block on his first possession. Over the next 8:14, the Celtics outscored Philadelphia 18-2 and grabbed a 35-28 lead. You do the math.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: 26 fast-break points. Despite their youth last season, the Celtics ranked in the middle of the pack with 13.6 fast-break points per game — a slight uptick from Stevens’ first season. Granted, they were facing the 76ers, but the C’s scored 34 points off 24 turnovers and thrived in transition. Pace and space is all the rage, and they had the first part down in the opener.
@ OF THE NIGHT:
|Celtics stick with starting lineup, deactivate James Young||10.28.15 at 7:09 pm ET|
Prior to Wednesday’s season opener against the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed he would employ the same starting lineup he used to finish out the preseason: Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, David Lee and Tyler Zeller.
The two inactives for the C’s: R.J. Hunter (illness) and James Young, whose benching officially establishes him as the last guy on the 15-man roster. Rookie second-round pick Jordan Mickey earned the spot final spot over him. And if Young can’t crack the depth chart when Hunter is ill, then he likely won’t be seeing time in Boston soon, since they play the same position.
Meanwhile, the 76ers will start Boston area native Nerlens Noel and lottery pick Jahlil Okafor along with three guys you may have never heard of — Hollis Thompson, Jakarr Sampson and Isaiah Canaan. The league’s tanking experiment gone wrong for the past several seasons, Philadelphia offers a prime opportunity for the Celtics to start the season off with a win in front of their home crowd.
|Danny Ainge issues statement about former advisor Flip Saunders||10.25.15 at 9:02 pm ET|
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Flip Saunders. He was an outstanding coach who always got the most out of his teams. He was always a well-respected opponent. Flip dedicated so much of his life to basketball and the NBA. His life has impacted so many. May God bless his wife Debbie, their children, and extended family. He will be missed greatly by our small NBA community.”
Saunders served as an advisor for the Celtics at the end of the 2011-12 season, when the C’s made a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, shortly before Saunders returned to Minnesota.
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