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Report: Jazz forward Gordon Hayward wants out of Utah, Celtics making push to acquire him 06.22.16 at 1:06 pm ET
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Gordon Hayward became a household name under the tutelage of Brad Stevens at Butler. Could they be reunited in the NBA?

According to one report from Brian Geltzeiler of HoopsCritic.com and Sirius radio, Hayward wants out of Utah, and the Celtics are trying to figure out a way to get him:

The 6-foot-8 Hayward has improved over his five NBA seasons, averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game last season. He can opt out of his contract after next season, however, which makes him a risk to leave in free agency after just one season in Boston.

Stevens, who now coaches the Celtics, joined forces with Hayward to lead Butler within a rimmed-out halfcourt shot of defeating Duke in the 2010 NCAA title game.

Read More: Celtics rumors, Gordon Hayward, NBA Draft, NBA trade rumors
Report: Celtics boss Danny Ainge meets with agent for Kevin Love, Harrison Barnes, Brandon Ingram 06.16.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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According to a Twitter report from Andrew Perna of RealGM, Celtics president Danny Ainge met with the agent for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and impending free agent Harrison Barnes this week in New York.

Perna reports that Ainge spoke with agent Jeff Schwartz, who also represents potential top-two pick Brandon Ingram of Duke. The report doesn’t specify what was discussed, but notes that such meetings are common.

Ainge could’ve been inquiring on Barnes, who is expected to receive in the neighborhood of a max contract this offseason after filling an everyman role for the Golden State Warriors.

He also, more intriguingly, could’ve been feeling out Schwartz informally on the potential availability of Love this summer after two relatively lackluster seasons with the Cavaliers in the shadow of LeBron James.

Love has never meshed perfectly in Cleveland, and the Celtics have shown interest in the 27-year-old in the past, including two years ago, when he was spotted at a Red Sox game with then-Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo. The Celtics were unable to swing a deal with Minnesota at that time, though, and Love was instead traded to Cleveland to form a new Big Three with James and Kyrie Irving.

Read More: Celtics, Celtics rumors, Danny Ainge, Harrison Barnes rumors
Kevin Love wasn’t looking for a high-five from LeBron James, and here’s video proof 06.14.16 at 11:45 am ET
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I don’t know why I care about this, since I eviscerated Kevin Love this morning as a bad fit for the Celtics after another no-show performance in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday night, but there’s a widely shared Vine making the rounds that isn’t accurate.

You’ve probably seen it, but if not, here it is:

Looks pretty damning, right? Poor Kevin Love just wants LeBron to love him, and King James yells at him instead.

But what really happened was more pedestrian. One play earlier, Love looked slow on his defensive rotations, allowing an Andre Iguodala follow-up dunk, and LeBron let him know it, as you can see with the quick gesture.

So now watch the “denied five” in its entirety. Love isn’t looking for love. He’s pleading his case, like, “I had my hands up. What do you want from me?”


Of course, if you want to note that LeBron was being totally dismissive of Love and treating him like a JV teammate called up to the varsity for a day because someone was sick, that’s fair game.

But to say he refused a high five and that made Love sad is simply not true.

Read More: Cavaliers, Kevin Love, Kevin Love high five, LeBron James
Celtics Choice: Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield vs. Kentucky guard Jamal Murray 06.09.16 at 1:38 pm ET
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In the days leading up to June 23’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to draft a scorer — Oklahoma senior Buddy Hield, or Kentucky freshman Jamal Murray.

The case for Hield

Did you watch a second of college basketball this season? Hield was a monster, adding dribble penetration and increased range to his explosive offensive game. He averaged 25 points a game and shot .457 from 3-point territory. His shot chart is off the charts, with above-average production from everywhere on the floor except the left baseline. As a senior, he’s more polished than most of the teens and freshmen coming out this year, including Murray. And he demonstrated an ability to hit big, clutch shots throughout his senior year, leading the Sooners to the Final Four, where they lost to Villanova, the eventual champs.

The case against Hield

The senior thing actually works against him among NBA types concerned that he’s already at or near his ceiling. There are also legitimate questions about his foot speed and ability to create his own shot at the next level, especially since he’s only 6-4 and won’t have the benefit of simply shooting over the top of smaller defenders, a la Reggie Miller or Klay Thompson. He’s also considered a subpar defender, though Brad Stevens could change that. The biggest knock on Hield is that he’s a finished product with not a lot of room to grow, and in the NBA everyone loves the ability to daydream about best-case projections.

The case for Murray

He’s one confident young man, that’s for sure. He told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia, after his Celtics workout that he considers himself the best player in the draft, and he opened eyes by making a draft-workout record 79 out of 100 3-pointers during one Celtics drill. His college coach, John Calipari, believes the Sixers should take him No. 1 overall. He made over 40 percent of his 3-pointers as a freshman and has the kind of stroke that projects to play in the NBA, particularly as he develops. Murray is a weapon pulling up off the dribble or coming off screens, and probably a better pure shooter than Hield, who only made 23.5 percent of his 3s as a college freshman.

The case against Murray

He opened the season as Kentucky’s point guard, but ball-handling and decision-making limitations opened the door for Tyler Ulis, and Murray excelled off the ball. Still, at 6-4, he’ll need to develop better ball security to thrive in the NBA. The biggest question, however, is Murray’s athleticism. He struggled to finish at the rim in college, and that task will get exponentially harder in the NBA. He lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards, and he’s not much of a leaper. While his pure shooting ability makes him a solid NBA prospect, he’d be a real gamble at No. 3, especially since he probably will need at least two years to make an impact.

The Verdict

Murray’s shooting numbers as a freshman blow away Hield’s at the same age, and a lot of the questions we had about Hield (creating shot, dribble penetration) were answered over the final three years of his college career. If — and this is a big if — Murray makes similar improvements, he’ll be a better pro. In the short term, the answer is Hield, but long-term, we’d roll the dice on Murray.

Should the Celtics draft Oklahoma's Buddy Hield or Kentucky's Jamal Murray No. 3 overall?

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Previous entries

June 7: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love
June 2: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan
May 31: Buddy Hield vs. Avery Bradley
May 26: Kevin Love vs. Paul George
May 24: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin
May 23: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
May 20: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
May 19: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Buddy Hield, Celtics choice
Celtics Choice: Dragan Bender vs. Kevin Love 06.07.16 at 4:24 pm ET
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In the days leading up to June 23’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the third pick on Croatian big man Dragan Bender or trading it as part of a package to land Cavaliers forward Kevin Love.

The case for Bender

In a word, potential. Seven-foot-1 athletes with 3-point shooting range and the quickness to defend inside and out don’t come along very often, and the immediate success of Kristaps Porzingis in New York will undoubtedly have an NBA team hoping lightning can strike twice with Bender, who spent the season playing limited minutes in a reserve role for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel’s top professional league. That kind of experience against veteran competition should only help Bender transition to the NBA, but even the most optimistic assessment doesn’t have him making an impact for at least a couple of years. NBA scouts love his lateral quickness, 9-foot-3 reach, and feel for the game. He’s considered a gifted passer with the kind of shooting stroke that suggests he’ll have NBA range in due time.

The case against Bender

In a word, potential. While Bender could end up being Porzingis or (best-case scenario) Dirk Nowitzki, he could also go the route of Darko Milicic. No one knows for certain how he’ll handle NBA competition, if he’ll add enough strength to compete on the boards, if he’ll take his game to another level. There’s also his lack of playing time in Israel this year, which has produced modest stats (5.5 points, 3 rebounds per game). Still only 18 years old, Bender is a mystery even to teams that have scouted him extensively overseas. He will require time to develop when he arrives, and a team like the Celtics, with an ownership and fan base that expects to win now, might not have the stomach to endure the inevitable growing pains. There’s a chance he gets completely swallowed up by the strength of NBA players at the point of attack, leaving him as a Brad Lohaus-type, which definitely isn’t worthy of the third pick.

The case for Love

In a word, experience. There are no mysteries about Cleveland’s third wheel. He’s a proven All-Star in the NBA with the ability to lead an offense as an elite scorer — he twice averaged over 26 a game in Minnesota — and he can score in any number of ways. A traditional post presence early in his career, Love has since added legit NBA 3-point range to emerge as one of the best stretch-4s in the game, even if he hates that term. He made just 2-of-19 3-pointers as a rookie in 2008-09, but saw those numbers increase to 190-for-505 during his final season in Minnesota before joining the Cavaliers last season. Add tremendous rebounding ability (11.5 per game lifetime), excellent vision to pass out of double teams, and the title of the game’s best outlet passer, and Love is a legit superstar.

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Read More: Celtics, Celtics choice, Dragan Bender, Kevin Love
Celtics Choice: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan 06.02.16 at 11:14 am ET
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In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Signing free agent big man Al Horford of the Hawks, or targeting free agent scorer DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors

The case for Horford

Did you watch the playoffs? The Hawks dominated the Celtics inside and even though he didn’t have a great statistical series, Horford was a big reason why. He’ll never be the focal point of an offense, but he does many things well that the Celtics value, especially on defense, where he’s capable of checking shooters on the perimeter on pick-and-rolls before retreating to defend the rim. He’d also provide a legitimate post presence and he’s an excellent inside-out passer. He’s a four-time All-Star for a reason and he’s selfless, which fits the Celtics’ model perfectly. He’d probably be good for 15-8-3 a night, conservatively, and he’s considered a winning player. If you’ve ever wondered what he’d look like in a Celtics uniform, an NBA2K16 player made that trade in the video below.

The case against Horford

He turns 30 on Friday and at times it looks like an old 30. He has suffered tears of each pectoral muscle during his career, limiting him to 11 games in 2011-12 and 29 games two years later, though he played all 82 this season. There’s also the philosophical matter of giving a max contract to a player on the wrong side of 30 who doesn’t exactly fill up the scoresheet. In a vacuum, any team would take Horford. But considering the money it will take to sign him, it’s hard to argue he’s worth it, particularly since the Celtics are looking to add an A-1 option to slot ahead of Isaiah Thomas. Horford isn’t that guy … unless he’d somehow get them Kevin Durant.

The case for DeRozan

The Celtics need scoring, and that’s basically all DeRozan has done since arriving out of USC with the No. 9 pick in the 2009 draft. He averaged a career-high 23.5 points a game this season and led the Raptors to their first Eastern Conference Finals, where they managed to deal the mighty Cavaliers their only two losses of the postseason. DeRozan is a classic scoring wing, with an excellent turnaround game in the post and the ability to get to the rim or get fouled almost at will. The majority of his points come from within 12 feet, but points are points. He finished second in the NBA in free throws made (555) and third in attempts (653), good for a career-high 85 percent from the line. He’s also a solid perimeter defender who doesn’t turn 27 until August. There’s the added bonus that signing him would rob a division rival of its best player. He’s a two-time All-Star.

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 NBA free agency, Al Horford, Celtics
Why Celtics shouldn’t and probably won’t trade 2017 Nets pick 05.31.16 at 2:11 pm ET
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Duke recruit Jayson Tatum is considered one of the best prospects in next year's NBA draft. (Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports)

Duke recruit Jayson Tatum is considered one of the best prospects in next year’s NBA draft. (Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports)

With the NBA draft three and a half weeks away, the Celtics’ ability to acquire an impact veteran has come into focus.

One school of thought has the C’s offering not only this year’s third overall pick, but next year’s New Jersey pick as well to acquire a veteran like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Here’s why that approach is flawed — next year’s draft class is loaded, and might actually represent the team’s best chance at landing a franchise player.

ESPN draft guru Jeff Goodman told Bradford and Giardi recently that the Celtics shouldn’t trade next year’s Brooklyn pick, which could easily end up in the top five.

“I wouldn’t trade next year’s pick,” he said. “Absolutely no way would I trade next year’s pick. Next year’s draft is absolutely loaded.”

The consensus top three, not surprisingly, are all high school seniors, led by a pair of Duke recruits.

The first pick right now would probably be big man Harry Giles, a 6-foot-10 force who has committed to the Blue Devils. He’s considered an athletic marvel, though he has already undergone a pair of ACL surgeries.

Next is Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8 inch dynamo who might already be an NBA-level defender, followed by Duke’s Jayson Tatum, the 2016 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, a 6-9 scorer with a developing 3-point touch.

Add Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, and Arizona bomber Terrance Ferguson, and this has the makings of the best draft class of the decade.

So don’t be surprised if Ainge is hesitant to part with next year’s pick.

 

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2017 NBA draft, Celtics, Harry Giles
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