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Ric Bucher on M&M: Tyler Hansbrough is ‘best-case scenario for Jared Sullinger’ 07.02.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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ESPN’s Ric Bucher joined Mut & Merloni Monday morning to discuss Kevin Garnett‘€™s contract, what the future holds for Ray Allen, what the Celtics’€™ expectations should be for Jared Sullinger, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While he didn’€™t think it was a surprise that Garnett would return to Boston, Bucher said Garnett’€™s reported three-year, $34 million contract offer was far more than expected.

The deal was ‘€œpretty surprising considering the length and the size of it,’€ Bucher said. ‘€œWe all know that KG has been battling through a number of things the last few years, and while I thought that [the Celtics] might make him a healthy offer, I never expected that it would be that long.’€

Bucher said he felt that Garnett’€™s effectiveness away from the basket, with his height and shooting ability, was a major factor in the Celtics’€™ decision to offer the 36-year-old a three-year deal.

‘€œKG has demonstrated with his length and with that silky jumper that he can still be effective,’€ Bucher said. ‘€œAnd with that size and ability to space the floor, it doesn’€™t really come down to athleticism. He can probably make that shot over guys when he is 40 years old, and now we may get the chance to see him prove it.’€

As for his prediction regarding the Ray Allen sweepstakes, Bucher said he’€™s come full circle since Garnett agreed to come back, at first believing Allen would definitely return, then wondering whether the Suns would lure him away with a huge contract. However, Bucher said he ultimately he made up his mind when he heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘€™ comments.

‘€œDoc coming out and saying, ‘€˜Hey, I feel like Ray’€™s going to be here,’€™ and knowing Doc usually doesn’€™t talk empty-handed in those sorts of tones, and knowing just the general relationship between KG, Ray, Doc and Paul [Pierce], I’€™m back around to finding it hard to believe that with KG in the fold for that period of time that they’€™re going to let Ray Allen walk.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Kevin Garnett, Mut & Merloni
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: St. Bonaventure PF/C Andrew Nicholson 06.25.12 at 3:55 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

ANDREW NICHOLSON

Position: Power forward/center

School: St. Bonaventure

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 234 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America honorable mention, 2012 Atlantic 10 tournament MVP

Key 2011-12 stats: 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2 blocks, 57.1 FG%, 43.4 3P%, 77.6 FT%

What he brings: The 22-year-old Canadian has a very effective post game, and in his four years at St. Bonaventure he developed an ability to step out and knock down shots from the perimeter as well. While Nicholson is at his best with his back to the basket, his mid-range game projects to be a valuable asset for him against larger competition in the NBA. Though he’€™s slightly undersized, his 7-foot-4 wingspan and huge hands also allow him to play much larger.

He has a very high basketball IQ and moves extremely well without the ball, knowing how to space the floor and finding gaps in the defense. Not an exceptional athlete, Nicholson was a solid but unspectacular  rebounder at both ends of the floor in college, while his instincts and timing also made him a very good shot-blocker. He’ll need to get a lot stronger and improve his conditioning to be able to hold his ground in the paint at the next level.

Where the Celtics could get him: Nicholson was initially projected to go precisely where the Celtics are drafting in the first round, but his impressive showings in pre-draft workouts might lead to an earlier selection.

Notes: Nicholson graduated in May with a degree in physics. … He ranks second in St. Bonaventure history in points (2,103), field goal percentage (57.5) and blocked shots (244), while sitting fourth in total rebounds (887).

Recent articles:

The Toronto Star: Canadian prospect Andrew Nicholson impresses at NBA draft combine

New York Times: Rebirth of the Bonnies; Andrew Nicholson leads St. Bonaventure into NCAA tournament

Video: Here’s a look at Nicholson starring for the Bonnies.

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft, 2012 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Andrew Nicholson,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UC Santa Barbara SG Orlando Johnson 06.22.12 at 7:47 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

ORLANDO JOHNSON

Position: Shooting guard

School: UC Santa Barbara

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 223 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-Big West first team, 2011 All-Big West first team, 2010 Big West Player of the Year

Key 2011-12 stats: 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.5 turnovers, 46.4 FG%, 42.7 3P%, 69.8 FT%

What he brings: Johnson is a well-rounded offensive player with an NBA body and impressive leaping ability. As the focal point of the UCSB offense, Johnson was asked to do a lot of different things and his skill set reflects it. He is a good 3-point shooter, penetrator and rebounder (particularly for a guard), and plays with a high motor.

But while Johnson is good at a number of things, he is not elite in any one area, something scouts worry will make for a difficult transition at the next level.

After playing his entire career at a mid-major school, Johnson shined at the LeBron James Skills Academy last summer, and that helped alleviate concerns over his ability to excel against elite competition. This summer his stock has continued to rise as he’€™s impressed scouts at various pre-draft workouts. According to ESPN’€™s Chad Ford, Johnson has lost 16 pounds since the end of his senior season and added seven inches to his vertical. He also boasted an impressive 6-foot-11 wingspan.

Where the Celtics could get him: Originally expected to be a late-second-round pick or undrafted free agent, Johnson’€™s impressive pre-draft performances have him possibly going as high as the middle of the second round.

Notes: After a childhood filled with incredible tragedy, Johnson stands on the doorstep of fulfilling his lifelong dream. Johnson’€™s mother was murdered when he was just a year old. He never met his father. When Johnson was 6, the house he was sharing with 10 family members caught fire, killing four of his relatives. He then lived with his grandmother until he was 11 years old, when she passed away, leaving Johnson’€™s two older brothers, Robbie and Jamell, to raise him.

Johnson began his college career at Loyola Marymount, where he set freshman school records by scoring 383 points and averaging 12.4 points per game before transferring to UCSB. He went on to become UCSB’s all-time leading scorer in three seasons there (1,825 points).

Recent articles:

Tampa Bay Times: Older brothers raised UCSB’s Orlando Johnson following the deaths of six family members

Sporting News: NBA Draft 2012: Orlando Johnson garners attention

Video: Here’s Johnson working out at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft, 2012 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Orlando Johnson,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Washington PG/SG Tony Wroten 06.22.12 at 4:29 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

TONY WROTEN

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

School: Washington

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-6

Weight: 203 pounds

Achievements: 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, 2012  All-Pac-12 first team

Key 2011-12 stats: 16 points, 3.7 assists, 3.8 turnovers, 44.3 FG%, 16.1 3P%, 58.3% FT%

What he brings: Think Rajon Rondo, circa 2006. Like Rondo then, Wroten is one of this year’€™s most intriguing prospects. In terms of pure talent, he is one of the top five players in the draft, possessing extraordinary athleticism, size and court vision.  But there are also some gaping holes to his game.

Offensively, Wroten’€™s game revolves around getting to the basket, which he does most effectively when going left. He also has superb passing ability but is too often careless with the ball. He ended up with more turnovers (132) than assists (130) in his freshman season.

Defensively, Wroten can be spectacular at times. He is a very effective man-to-man defender at the 2-guard spot. Though he can be overaggressive and is prone to swiping at the ball or lunging into the passing lanes, his excellent anticipation and hands lead to a lot of disruptive plays.

Any of this sounding familiar?

Also like Rondo, however, Wroten’€™s major issue is that he is a horrendous outside shooter, averaging just 0.532 points per shot on jumpers, according to Synergy. Wroten also struggles from the free throw line and behind the 3-point arc, shooting an unimpressive 58 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Where the Celtics could get him: Wroten, who is leaving Washington after just one season at the college level, could go anywhere from the late lottery to the early second round. Given that the Celtics already have an ultra-athletic playmaker who struggles with his jumper, Boston is unlikely to pursue him.

Notes: Wroten comes from an absurdly athletic family. His father, Tony, played football at the University of Washington and in the NFL for the Buccaneers. His mother, Shirley, still ranks in UW’s top 10 track and field lists in the 100 meters (seventh), 100 hurdles (fourth) and 4×100 relay (first and second). His aunt, Joyce Walker, earned a gold medal as a member of the 1983 USA Basketball World University Games team, was a two-time All-American at Louisiana State University and the third woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. He is a cousin of former Celtics guard Nate Robinson. … Wroten is Washington’s all-time freshman leader in points, steals and assists and was fourth in rebounds.

Recent articles:

AP: Washington’s Tony Wroten declares for NBA draft

Seattle Times: A divided scouting report: The two sides of Tony Wroten Jr.

Video:

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft, 2012 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Tony Wroten,
Thunder C Kendrick Perkins says he wasn’t criticizing his coach after Game 4 loss 06.20.12 at 10:13 pm ET
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After playing just 18 minutes in a 104-98 loss to the Heat Tuesday night, Thunder center Kendrick Perkins spent part of Wednesday attempting to clarify some postgame comments in which he appeared to be questioning coach Scott Brooks‘€™ decision-making.

Perkins was on the floor for much of the first quarter as the Thunder opened up a 17-point lead over the Heat but played only nine minutes in the final three quarters while Miami rallied back and overtook the Thunder to grab a 3-1 series lead.

Immediately following Tuesday’s game, Perkins told reporters: “I just don’t understand why we start out the first quarter the way we did, with the lineup that we had and all of a sudden we change and adjust to what they had going on. So [the Heat] won the last three quarters, and that’s what happened.”

After a second question regarding the Thunder’s lineup switch, he said: ‘€œIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Wednesday, when Perkins was asked whether his postgame comments were directed at Brooks, Perkins attempted to clarify.

“No, that wasn’t what I was saying,” Perkins said. “I was just trying to make it clear that, at the time, we had a good adjustment at what we were doing. But at the end of day, when you’re in the flow of the game or the heat of battle a couple box-outs here, a couple loose balls there, we end up winning the game.”

Perkins continued, “At the end of the day, coach is just trying to coach to win the game. Whoever we have on the court, we have the belief we can get the job done.

“So at the end of the day, it wasn’t anything directed at coach Brooks or nothing to that nature. I’ll roll with coach Brooks all day.”

Read More: Kendrick Perkins, Miami Heat, NBA Finals, Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Vanderbilt SF Jeffery Taylor 06.19.12 at 7:44 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’€™s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

JEFFERY TAYLOR

Position: Small forward

School: Vanderbilt

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 213 pounds

Achievements: 2011 All-SEC second team, 2010 All-SEC second team, 2009 SEC All-Freshman team

Key 2011-12 stats: 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5 assists, 49.3 FG%, 42.3 3P%, 60.5 FT%

What he brings: Taylor is one of the best athletes in the draft. He excels at getting to the rim with a quick first step and in four years at Vanderbilt, the 23-year-old also developed into an excellent jump shooter. Taylor also showcased an ability to defend four positions on the floor and projects to be an elite defender at the next level.

The knocks on Taylor are that his poor ball-handling skills limit his ability to create off the dribble. He also measured a negative 6-feet-6 wingspan, though his lateral quickness and excellent fundamentals should still allow him to stay in front of all but the quickest guards.

Taylor’€™s game is best suited to be paired with a pass-first point guard like Rajon Rondo, where his role could consist of spreading the floor and knocking down perimeter jumpers and making plays at the rim off of cuts to the basket and in transition.

Where the Celtics could get him: Taylor is projected to be drafted in the late first round so the Celtics would likely have a shot at taking him. Given Boston’€™s focus on defense and how well Taylor’€™s offensive game might fit with a guard like Rondo, he is certainly an option.

Notes: Taylor’s father, Jeff Taylor, played briefly in the NBA for the Rockets and Pistons before playing professionally in Sweden, where he lives today and where Jeffery spent the first seven years of his life. Jeffery moved to New Mexico in 2006 to live with his grandmother and play high school basketball at his father’s alma mater in Hobbs.

Recent articles:

NBA.com: Vanderbilt’s Taylor fills out game, climbs up draft charts

Huffington Post: Vanderbilt junior’s amazing dunk against Georgia

Video: Here’s a mix of Taylor highlights.

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft, 2012 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Jeffery Taylor,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Iowa State PF Royce White 06.19.12 at 4:49 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.

ROYCE WHITE

Position: Power forward

School: Iowa State

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 261 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America honorable mention (AP), 2012 All-Big 12 first team, 2012 Big 12 All-Rookie team

Key 2011-12 stats: 13.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5 assists, 53.4 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 49.8 FT%

What he brings: White is a unique talent in this year’€™s draft. At 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, his size and strength make him an excellent rebounder. But White also maintains the quickness and ball-handling ability of a much smaller player, making him a matchup nightmare for many power forwards. Perhaps White’s most impressive skills however, are his court vision and passing ability. Asked to dominate the ball as a point forward at Iowa State, White was able to showcase his tremendous versatility, becoming the only Division 1 player to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.

However, his shooting consistency has been questioned, even though he shot a respectable 53.4 percent from the field last season. He hit just 49.8 percent from the line.

Defensively, White struggles to switch quickly on the pick and roll and has trouble defending taller players in the post but he has both the quickness and the strength to improve in each.

Where the Celtics could get him: White is projected to go in the mid-to-late first round. A player as talented as White would certainly be worth a look if still available, particularly given his rebounding ability and athleticism.

Notes: The biggest drag on White’€™s draft value is a history of off-court issues. White suffers from an anxiety disorder, to which he attributes numerous incidents during his freshman year at the University of Minnesota. Those issues — including a guilty plea to theft and disorderly conduct and separate charges of trespassing in connection to an alleged theft of a laptop computer from a university dorm — led White to transfer to Iowa State in February 2010, forcing him to sit out all of 2010-11. As a redshirt sophomore he still had two remaining years of eligibility when he declared for the draft in March. While concerns over his past remain, he has certainly helped his stock recently, earning tremendous praise from scouts and GMs for his openness and maturity in pre-draft interviews.

Recent articles:

AP: Timberwolves work out homegrown star Royce White

Sports Illustrated: White looks to overcome anxiety concerns before NBA draft

NBA.com: Fear of flying could ground player’s chances for first round

Video: Here’s a highlight mix of White.

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft, 2012 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Royce White,
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