|Wyc Grousbeck: Celtics hoped for bigger moves||07.20.14 at 1:20 pm ET|
The best place for Celtics news these days seems to come from following the Red Sox. After running into Kris Humphries at the MLB All-Star Game, our own Rob Bradford bumped into C’s owner Wyc Grousbeck at Fenway Park.
Grousbeck, of course, provided the now infamous “fireworks” comment earlier this year, and he’s just as disappointed as most Celtics fans about the team’s failure to pair another star with Rajon Rondo so far this summer.
“We had definitely hoped to try to make bigger moves this offseason, to be honest,” he said. “Having said that, it takes two partners to make a trade, so we focused on longterm trying to build the club. We think we’re a better team now — positioned for the future, some new young talent and even more draft picks — but it’s been a patient summer so far, and I’m not always the most patient guy.”
Without saying as much, Grousbeck vaguely referenced the Kevin Love sweepstakes. As rumors link Love’s future with the Cavaliers, the C’s owner preferred instead to focus on his biggest positive of this summer: Brad Stevens.
|Report: Celtics legend Bill Russell collapses||07.17.14 at 3:32 pm ET|
Celtics legend Bill Russell collapsed during a speaking engagement in Lake Tahoe, according to WCVB-TV’s Scott Isaacs. He is reportedly conscious and “doing OK.” Russell, 80, underwent open-heart surgery in 2012.
— Scott Isaacs (@ScottIsaacs) July 17, 2014
|Where 2014-15 Celtics roster stands||07.16.14 at 10:52 am ET|
As the clock struck midnight, Phil Pressey joined a list of 14 Celtics under guaranteed contract, leaving only one roster spot for summer league standouts Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Colton Iverson and Mike Moser.
Obviously, Danny Ainge could have a trade or 10 coming down the pike, but the Celtics president of basketball operations currently has more than enough players available to fill out another hodgepodge of a roster in 2014-15.
Barring another deal, here’s the current salary structure for the coming season.
Rajon Rondo: $12.9 million
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Marcus Thornton: $8.6M
Avery Bradley: $7.2M
Brandon Bass: $6.9M
Keith Bogans: $5.3M (non-guaranteed)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Marcus Smart: $3.2M
Vitor Faverani: $2.1M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.1M
Tyler Zeller: $1.7M
James Young: $1.7M
Jared Sullinger: $1.4M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M (non-guaranteed)
Chris Babb: $0.8M (non-guaranteed)
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
TOTAL: $78.7M ($71.7M guaranteed)
While Ainge will do his darnedest to pair Kevin Love or another franchise-altering player with Rondo before conversely considering deals for his All-Star point guard, it becomes more likely with each passing week that the Celtics will enter the season with 15 of these 17 players under contract.
Even without the trio of Bogans, Johnson and Babb, the Celtics are $8.6 million over the salary cap and $5.1 million under the luxury tax level. (Ainge would love to deal Bogans’ attractive $5.3 million non-guaranteed contract before cutting ties with the veteran waste of cap space.) Unless the C’s somehow become playoff contenders, they’re not paying that tax, leaving only the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum contracts to add free agents.
Unless Ainge can work his magic on a sign-and-trade for Greg Monroe, the Celtics will whiff on the NBA’s impressive 2014 free agent class. That’s strike two after the lottery pick came up sixth in the equally remarkable 2014 draft class, by the way. The trade market is all that’s left before the C’s strike out looking this summer.
|Kris Humphries: ‘I could definitely’ return to Celtics||07.14.14 at 8:50 pm ET|
While a recent Boston Globe report suggested the C’s were “backing off” from attempts to re-sign the 29-year-old big man, Humphries claims he’s still open to returning to Boston next season.
“I could definitely see it,” Humphries told Bradford. “My agent handles most of the stuff with free agency. We’ll see what happens. I definitely could see it. I played out last year and didn’t look to jump to a playoff team before the end of the year, so I definitely enjoyed my time there, and we’ll see what happens.”
“When I first went there, I never thought I’d ever play in Boston,” he said. “That was like the last place where I ever thought I’d be putting on a jersey, but the fans were great. They embraced you if you played hard, and the coaching staff and everyone was awesome.”
From the moment Humphries arrived early to training camp, he won over fans inside the Celtics organization and out as a stable veteran presence off the court despite inconsistent minutes on it. He averaged 8.4 points (55.2 TS%) and 5.9 rebounds in just 19.9 minutes, leading the team in PER (18.2). In a crowded frontcourt featuring Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Brandon Bass, Humphries made the best of a bad situation on a 25-win team.
“The fans are great in Boston,” said Humphries, who naturally wore a Twins cap in his hometown of Minneapolis. “Really, no matter what team you look at, the support is awesome. Obviously, you want to make the playoffs. That’s obviously a little disappointing, but it was a year where I feel like I got better as a player, working on different parts of my game. Sometimes you’ve just gotta take certain things from a situation where you don’t make the playoffs.”
The Celtics currently have 13 players under guaranteed contract, potentially leaving two open roster spots pending decisions on Keith Bogans, Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb. Further trades also could open up a spot for Humphries. Surely, he’ll be taking a pay cut wherever he ends up, but his future in Boston may depend on the number of suitors phoning his agent, Arn Tellem. Regardless, Humphries envisions a bright future for the C’s.
“A lot of free agency is just cap space and a chance to win,” said Humphries, who has played for five teams in his 10 NBA seasons, “so Boston’s always going to have a competitive team, and we’ll see what happens.”
|Report: Evan Turner ‘received interest’ from Celtics||07.14.14 at 11:20 am ET|
Evan Turner has received interest from Boston and Minnesota, a source told ESPN.
‘ Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 14, 2014
The second overall pick in 2010, Turner’s value may be at an all-time low since seeing a serious dip in production after being traded from the 76ers to the Pacers this past season. He averaged just 7.1 points (41.1 FG%), 3.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 27 games down the stretch for the Eastern Conference semifinalists.
Despite Philadelphia’s willingness to dump Turner for little in return (Danny Granger‘s expiring contract and a second-round pick), the Ohio State product has shown flashes of why he was picked behind John Wall in 2010. Turner also has a longstanding friendship with Celtics big and fellow former Buckeye Jared Sullinger.
|The Rajon Rondo trade rumor mill begins in earnest||07.14.14 at 10:50 am ET|
Having missed out on Chris Bosh in free agency, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey‘s search for a third star to pair with Dwight Howard and James Harden continues with Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The Celtics captain is reportedly a “longtime Houston target” on the trade market.
While the Rockets have created a boatload of salary cap wiggle room, trading both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in addition to letting Chandler Parsons walk, Morey has few assets remaining to deal for either Rondo or Love, let alone both.
Houston reportedly dealt its 2015 first-round selection in the Lin deal and acquired a protected No. 1 pick from the Pelicans, but because teams cannot complete trades that could leave them without a top pick in consecutive seasons, the Rockets could not offer the Celtics or Timberwolves a first-rounder until 2017.
Likewise, following Parsons’ departure, the Rockets have few players to offer not named Howard or Harden. The newly acquired Trevor Ariza‘s four-year, $32 million deal by way of a three-team trade cannot be dealt for another two months.
While the Celtics and Rockets could both get themselves under the cap to complete a deal, Houston’s offer would have to include some combination of Terrence Jones (12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.1 apg, 57.7 TS%, 19.1 PER), Patrick Beverly (10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 54.5 TS%, 12.4 PER) and unsigned first-round pick Clint Cappela. None of those names exactly scream equal value for either Rondo or Love.
Still, Rondo will be on the trading block should the Celtics not acquire Love themselves, and Morey is a creative GM capable of involving other teams in a package enticing enough to land the C’s point guard. This isn’t the first Rondo trade rumor you’ve seen, and it won’t be the last, but it may really be the beginning of the end of his Boston tenure.
|What LeBron James’ decision means to the Celtics||07.11.14 at 1:42 pm ET|
“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” he told Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
Over the next 24 hours, you’ll see thousands of stories about what LeBron’s decision means to Cleveland (everything), Miami (oh, man) and the NBA in general (those ripple effects won’t reach shore for quite some time), but what exactly does it mean for the Celtics?
LeBron’s arrival in Cleveland immediately makes the Cavs a contender. While James admitted the team’s rookie head coach and youthful roster makes a title this season far from easy, a supporting cast of Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett and Anderson Varejao isn’t a bad start.
Given the youth surrounding the game’s best player — only 29 years old himself — Danny Ainge‘s job just became that much more difficult for the foreseeable future. Conservatively, the Cavaliers could be contenders through 2020.
Of course, LeBron will also lure more talent to Cleveland. Chief among his recruits could be Kevin Love, who the Celtics have coveted for the past several months. The Cavaliers could offer Wiggins, Waiters, Varejao’s expiring contract and a future first-round pick for Love, potentially beating any offer Ainge could create. (Ironically, the Cavs still own a protected No. 1 pick from the Heat as a result of LeBron’s sign-and-trade in 2010.)
If the C’s lose out on Love to Cleveland, Ainge would only have himself to blame, since his recent three-team deal created the cap space necessary for the Cavs to sign James. Still, it’s hard to hold Ainge entirely responsible for LeBron landing in Cleveland, since Dan Gilbert would have created space come hell or high water.
The Celtics also acquired a first-round pick from the Cavaliers in the trade for Marcus Thornton and Tyler Zeller, so LeBron’s decision just made that pick a whole lot less attractive. However, the Celtics own Miami’s second-round pick in 2016, and that could be somewhere in the 30s should Chris Bosh sign in Houston as expected.
Wherever James ultimately landed — Miami or Cleveland — the Eastern Conference was always going to go through LeBron for the next several years, so in that regard little else has changed for Ainge. In fact, the currently constructed Cavaliers may not be the immediate force that the Heat have been for the past four years. Regardless, Ainge’s focus remains on landing Love, and LeBron’s return to Cleveland just made that more difficult.