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Celtics Choice: C’s reportedly narrow No. 3 pick to Providence point guard Kris Dunn or Cal forward Jaylen Brown 06.23.16 at 11:56 am ET
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The Celtics could choose between Jaylen Brown (left) and Kris Dunn at No. 3. (USA Today Sports)

The Celtics could choose between Jaylen Brown (left) and Kris Dunn at No. 3. (USA Today Sports)

And down the stretch they come . . .

With the NBA draft set for Thursday night and the Celtics still unable to move the No. 3 pick, focus has narrowed on whom they might select at that spot, with draft insiders focusing on two names — Providence College point guard Kris Dunn and Cal forward Jaylen Brown.

ESPN’s Andy Katz reported on Twitter that the Celtics are leaning towards Dunn, a better, more explosive version of Marcus Smart. Katz’s colleague, Jeff Goodman, said on the network that he hears the Celtics will either take Dunn or Brown, an athletic wing player.

Both Dunn and Brown are considered NBA-caliber athletes, with Brown more advanced defensively and Dunn a more gifted offensive player.

With that in mind, we present our final Celtics Choice: Kris Dunn vs. Jaylen Brown.

The case for Dunn

See if this sounds familiar: the Providence guard is powerfully built and physically gifted for his position, with the ability to defend multiple positions and a toughness NBA GMs like Danny Ainge love. If that sounds like Smart, it’s because Dunn shares many characteristics with the Celtics guard. Where he separates, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is a better ball handler, passer, and scorer than Smart. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn possesses tremendous defensive instincts and court vision. He’s a terror in the open court and can finish at the rim authoritatively with either hand. He’s a true playmaking point guard who can also score (37.2 percent on 3-pointers). Just call him Smart 2.0.

The case against Dunn

In the delicate ecosystem of an NBA locker room, one malcontent can lead to disaster, and it’s fair to question Dunn’s fit when his agents have suggested he won’t play for a team — including the Celtics — with an established point guard. There are also reports that he “desperately” wants to play for the Sixers. He can’t stop anyone from drafting him, but his health could be an issue because Dunn required two shoulder surgeries during his PC career. On the court, there’s also the question of Dunn’s stroke — his inconsistent jumper includes a lot of moving parts — and his occasionally sloppy and reckless ball-handling.

The case for Brown

Brown is all about projection. He’s a raw athlete with explosive leaping ability, but an unpolished offensive game. The 6-foot-7, 220-pounder could excel in one of Brad Stevens’ small-ball lineups as an undersized but athletic power forward who creates matchup problems on both ends while defending multiple positions. He’s got Draymond Green potential as a versatile athlete wreaking havoc at both ends, especially on defense. He’s a tremendous finisher on the break and at the rim, and a good rebounder for his size. He averaged 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game as a freshman.

The case against Brown

His offense is limited. He shot just .294 on 3-pointers and .654 on free throws. He also disappeared down the stretch, shooting a combined 5-for-29 in his conference tournament and NCAA tourney games. Cal was a one-and-done against Hawaii in the Big Dance, and Brown finished his career with just four points and two rebounds while committing seven turnovers. He’s got a little bit of Jared Sullinger to his offensive game in that he’ll pound the ball and take contested jumpers. If his offensive game fails to develop, it will severely limit his upside as an NBA player.

The verdict

This is a tossup. Dunn is the more polished player, but Brown the better athlete with the higher upside. Dunn is the safer pick, even if he’d require moving some parts off the roster. But Brown should be an impact wing defender, and if his offensive game develops, those players are at a premium. We’ll take Brown.

Previous entries

June 9: Buddy Hield vs. Jamal Murray
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: Boston Celtics, Celtics draft, Celtics rumors, Danny Ainge
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
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