|Celtics waive R.J. Hunter, give final roster spot to James Young||10.24.16 at 1:20 pm ET|
The Celtics have trimmed their roster for the start of the regular season, and former first-round pick R.J. Hunter was the final casualty, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed on Monday.
The team’s decision came down to Hunter vs. James Young, a pair of shooters who have thus far underachieved.
“James won the job,” Ainge said. “He played well. Day in, day out for the last six weeks, James was there.”
“I really like R.J.,” Ainge added. “He’s a great kid. He’s a good player and he had a good training camp also. So yeah, it’s disappointing. I think R.J. will get a chance somewhere. He’s a good player.”
The Celtics selected Hunter 28th overall in 2015, but he never cracked the rotation or established himself as a consistent marksman. He shot just .367 overall and .302 on 3-pointers.
His dad, Ron Hunter, told the Boston Globe that R.J. will move on. Hunter turned 23 on Monday.
“He’s disappointed,” Ron Hunter said. “For a kid to get waived on his birthday isn’t the best way to celebrate your birthday. But he understands this is a business and there will be another opportunity for him.”
The Celtics drafted Young, 21, with the 17th pick in the 2014 draft. He has averaged 2.2 points in 60 career games.
|Report: Celtics closing in on ‘major deal,’ potentially for Clippers forward Blake Griffin||07.14.16 at 11:10 am ET|
Another day, another turn of the NBA rumor mill linking a superstar to the Celtics.
This time it’s not Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, but Clippers forward Blake Griffin.
According to Sporting News NBA insider Sean Deveney, the Celtics are working with the Clippers and Kings on a three-way deal that would bring Griffin to Boston and send guard Rudy Gay to L.A. The Celtics would also include picks in the deal, but according to Deveney, they’re reluctant to part with either of their upcoming Nets selections, since both could be high in the lottery, and the 2017 draft is considered especially deep.
Griffin, 27, was the first overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Oklahoma. He’s a five-time All-Star coming off a lost season due to suspension, as well as a broken hand after punching an equipment manager. Limited to 35 games, he averaged 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a game.
Griffin, for what it’s worth, also penned a short goodbye to Tim Duncan, aka “the Big Fundamental,” on the Players’ Tribune.
|Report: Celtics ‘most likely destination’ in a potential Russell Westbrook trade||07.13.16 at 2:02 pm ET|
It’s looking more and more like the Oklahoma City Thunder will have to trade point guard Russell Westbrook before they lose him in free agency. According to Bleacher Report NBA insider Howard Beck, Westbrook’s most likely landing spot is Boston.
“Let’s just say there’s a very strong suspicion, a strong belief among rival GMs, that Russell Westbrook is not intending to stay, that he would leave next summer when he hits free agency,” Beck said in a video on the site. “And because of that, the logical next step is that [Thunder GM] Sam Presti — who is always ahead of the curve on these things — will look to trade him. I don’t know that that’s happening right this moment.”
Beck, who is at the Las Vegas Summer League, keeps hearing from rival GMs that the Celtics represent his most likely landing spot.
“Not only do they think Westbrook will get traded, [but] that it’ll be sooner rather than later, probably before the season starts,” Beck said. “And that the most likely destination right now would be the Boston Celtics.”
Blessed with two potential lottery picks via the Nets in 2017 and 2018, plus a number of promising young players, the Celtics make sense as trade partners with OKC. The only problem is that Westbrook is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and there’s no reason for him to sign an extension now, since he’ll be able to earn a lot more money next summer when the salary cap expands.
The 27-year-old Westbrook is coming off a monster season that saw him nearly average a triple-double, with 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds.
|Reports: Former Celtics forward Jared Sullinger agrees to 1-year deal with Raptors||07.11.16 at 3:30 pm ET|
Once the Celtics signed big man Al Horford, they no longer had room for restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, so they renounced his qualifying offer. He didn’t stay unemployed for long.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical, Sullinger has agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors, which he trumpeted on his Twitter account by changing his logo to that of the Raptors. Sullinger thanked Celtics fans.
— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) July 11, 2016
Sullinger averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game over four years with the Celtics after being selected 21st overall in the 2012 draft. Head coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the C’s set Sullinger free that he’d land on his feet.
“Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got beautiful touch and he’s a good guy,” Stevens said. “And so I think he’ll do well.”
|Larry Bird says he couldn’t imagine leaving Celtics to join forces with Magic Johnson in Los Angeles||07.10.16 at 2:51 pm ET|
Larry Bird understands why Kevin Durant chose the Warriors. But back in his own playing days, the former Celtics great wouldn’t have considered joining forces with rival Magic Johnson.
Speaking on SiriusXM NBA radio, Bird said Durant didn’t do anything wrong by leaving Oklahoma City to join the rival Warriors, but it’s not a choice he would’ve made.
“I know back in the day, I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson,” Bird said. “I’d rather try to beat him. But these guys are different, and I understand a lot of it and it’s within the rules, so they can do whatever they do. I can remember years ago, we were fighting when I played for free agency, pure free agency, so there’d be more movement. But I could never imagine myself going and joining another team with great players, because I had great players and I was in a great situation.”
A case can be made that Durant had a great situation in OKC, with point guard Russell Westbrook, big man Steven Adams, and a roster that took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
Bird played with Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, among others. He won three titles and reached the Finals five times in his career.
Durant has reached the Finals once since entering the league in 2007.
|Report: Kevin Durant eliminates Clippers from consideration in free agency||07.03.16 at 10:18 am ET|
And then there were five.
Free agent forward Kevin Durant, the best player on the market by a country mile, has informed the Los Angeles Clippers he won’t be signing with them, per Ben Bolch of the LA Times:
Seems obvious by now but Clippers have been told that Kevin Durant will not be joining them.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) July 3, 2016
That leaves the Celtics as one of five finalists for Durant’s services, and perhaps the greatest threat to entice him to leave Oklahoma City, though the Thunder remain overwhelming favorites to retain him.
The Celtics pulled out all the stops in the Hamptons to wow Durant during their visit, flying in Tom Brady of the Patriots to help with their pitch. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz also tweeted his support.
The team’s best move in the negotiation, however, came right after their visit finished, when free agent Al Horford, a close friend of Durant, agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract.
With the Clippers out of consideration, Durant’s choice has been narrowed to the Thunder, Celtics, Warriors, Spurs, and Heat.
|Celtics agree with former Hawks big man Al Horford on 4-year, $113 million deal, land marquee free agent||07.02.16 at 7:24 pm ET|
Al Horford is coming to the Celtics, and he wants everyone to know it.
The free agent big man agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract on Saturday night and immediately took to his official Twitter account to celebrate.
Celtic Pride!!!!!! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) July 2, 2016
Eagle-eyed Celtics fans will notice exactly 18 shamrocks in that tweet. That’s the number the C’s will have if they win another one.
Horford, 30, averaged 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds last year. He helped lead the Hawks past the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs in six games before being swept out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers.
The four-time All-Star gives the Celtics something they’ve lacked during the Brad Stevens era — a mobile big man who can defend the rim as well as the pick and roll, while also scoring inside, from medium range, and even from 3-point land.
He’s considered a winning player who does all the little things, from passing out of double teams to setting solid screens. He helped lead the Hawks to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15 and a trip to the conference finals, where they fell to the Cavaliers.
Horford’s arrival gives the Celtics a fighting chance on another front, as well. They met with free agent Kevin Durant on Saturday night in the Hamptons, and the two players are good friends. While the Celtics remain a long shot to sign Durant, Horford certainly helps their cause.
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