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Revisiting the Rajon Rondo conversation 07.25.14 at 11:07 pm ET
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It’s been a strange summer for Rajon Rondo.

Trade rumors have surrounded Rondo for years, but for maybe the first time in his career the Celtics captain has said only the right things. Rondo claims to not only be happy in Boston but also to have complete trust in general manager Danny Ainge to put the Celtics back in contention.

In a day and age when stars seemingly text each other to join the next super team, shouldn’t we embrace a star who wants to remain in Boston?

It would be nice if we could. Unfortunately, the Celtics find themselves in no position to do so. Between today and the 2015 NBA trade deadline, Rondo must go, and here’s why.

It appears we can wave farewell to any hopes of Kevin Love landing in Boston. According to numerous reports, the Cavaliers are not only the frontrunners for Love, but a deal that would send him to Cleveland is all but done. If that isn’t convincing enough for you, our own Ben Rohrbach has thrown in the towel himself, declaring Love will never be traded to the Celtics.

It comes down to the fact that no star player is going to come to Boston. No star wants to sign in Boston and there are none on the trading block to make come to Boston. Valiant effort, Danny, but you’re out of luck.

Ainge is stockpiling assets, and doing a phenomenal job of it. Most have assumed the idea is that these assets will be traded for talent (ideally to pair next to Rondo). They may have to come to the realization that the assets will be used to select and develop talent.

Which leaves them with Rondo, and, frankly, he just doesn’t fit with what they are left with.

Everyone has their own theory as to how to handle Rondo’s situation. There are two questions worth asking yourself to come to an answer. Does Rondo fit with the current core? Are you prepared to let Rondo walk?

The answer to both questions is no.

Rondo is not the ideal player to have on the Celtics during an effort to develop guys like Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart and James Young. That doesn’t mean he has to leave for nothing, though. Ainge might as well collect a return on Rondo, a return that likely would add to the young players and picks already in Boston’s possession. A return that would help build the team in the direction it’s currently trending toward — the future.

The ironic part? If Rondo is so confident that Ainge will do the right thing, then he is counting on Ainge shipping him out of town while he still can.

Read More: Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo,
Proposed change to NBA draft lottery would be big improvement 07.18.14 at 1:16 pm ET
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Last season the NBA took a ton of criticism regarding teams tanking games in order to land a better draft pick. In the end, the Cavaliers jumped up to win their third top overall pick in the last four years. But the Bucks and 76ers — the two worst teams respectively — wound up drafting second and third, selecting potential franchise-altering players.

As expected, altering the draft lottery system has been a major topic of the NBA offseason. Zach Lowe, from Grantland.com, now is reporting that the league has officially submitted a proposal that would allow all 14 teams that miss the playoffs to have significantly more similar odds of taking home a high draft selection.

From Lowe: ‘€œUnder the current system, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance of snagging the No. 1 pick, perhaps the most valuable asset in the entire NBA. The team with the second-worst record has a 19.9 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, and the third-worst team enters the lottery with a 15.6 percent chance of moving up to the top slot. The odds decline from there, with the final five teams in the lottery — the teams with the five best records — each having a 1.1 percent or worse chance of moving up to No. 1.

‘€œThe league’€™s proposal gives at least the four worst teams the same chance at winning the No. 1 pick: approximately an identical 11 percent shot for each club. The odds decline slowly from there, with the team in the next spot holding a 10 percent chance. The lottery team with the best record will have a 2 percent chance of leaping to the No. 1 pick, up from the the minuscule 0.5 percent chance it has under the current system.’€

Firstly, it’€™s pretty clear that there would be a shift in balance amongst the 14 teams eligible to win the lottery. All of them would have between an 11 percent and 2 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, while the worst four teams essentially would have the same odds to win it.

Secondly, rather than the lottery only awarding the top three picks, changes in this format would now allow the top six selections in the draft to be raffled off. This would provide teams with far less incentive to finish lower in the standings with so many picks now to be randomly determined. Imagine tanking to be the worst team and ending up with the No. 7 pick! That would not sit well with any fan base. Problem solved.

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Read More: NBA draft lottery,
Marcus Smart shows promise in another summer league victory 07.10.14 at 7:52 pm ET
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The Celtics improved their record to 3-1 in the Orlando Summer League with a 76-67 victory over the Magic on Thursday evening.

Boston got the win without its top scorer, Kelly Olynyk, who took the day to rest. Other lineup changes included shifting Phil Pressey to the bench, which meant No. 6 overall pick Marcus Smart received his first start at point guard.

The rookie responded fairly well, putting up a game-high 19 points, but his shooting struggles continued. While Smart shot 5-for-14 from the field overall (7-for-8 at the free throw line), 3-point shooting was his downfall.

The Oklahoma State product was just 2-for-9 from downtown (the two baskets came on back-to-back possessions late in the game while it was tight). Clearly, shooting is still an area that Smart needs to improve — although he did convert on 3-of-5 attempts inside the arc, something he should look to do more.

Smart finished with five assists, three rebounds and a steal to go with his 19 points in 30 minutes of action.

Meanwhile, the transition to coming off the bench was not kind to Pressey. He shot an atrocious 1-for-15 on field goals, only converting  an early layup. Nothing would go down all game for the crafty point guard. Pressey totaled just five points along with five boards and three helpers. It will be interesting to see how coach Jay Larranaga chooses to use Pressey next game.

Chris Johnson (12 points), Mike Moser (12 points), Colton Iverson (10 points) and Edwin Jackson (10 points) joined Smart as the Celtics players to score in double figures in the game.

The Magic were led by Seth Curry, who scored 15 points off the bench on a barrage of 3-pointers. While Victor Oladipo rested, all eyes were on Orlando’s rookies to carry the team.

Aaron Gordon scored seven points while collecting eight rebounds, but it was Elfrid Payton who was the better rookie on this day. Payton flirted with a triple-double, going for a Rondo-esque eight points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.

The Celtics will play in the third-place game on Friday morning at 10 a.m. They will face either the Pistons or Grizzlies (determined by late Thursday night games). It will be Boston’s final game in Orlando before heading west for the Las Vegas Summer League.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA,
Terrible turnaround: C’s up big early, lose bigger to Pacers, James Young sits out again 07.07.14 at 9:27 pm ET
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A great start turned into a big learning experience for the young Celtics in a Summer League lesson handed out by the Pacers Monday in Orlando.

The Green went up by 18 points early against the Pacers in their second game of Summer League action on Monday. Then they got absolutely throttled by Indiana. Boston ended up losing the game by 19 points, 96-77.

The 37-point turnaround was as ugly as it sounds. The Celtics shot a mere 34.3 percent (24-for-70) from the field, and only 25.9 percent (7-for-27) from beyond the arc.

Basketball is a game of runs. The Celtics never responded to the Pacers’€™ run, which seemingly lasted three quarters.

‘€œThat response has to happen on the defensive end of the court,’€ Summer League head coach Jay Larranaga told reporters. ‘€œWe were late on everything and we fouled too much.’€

Kelly Olynyk led the team in scoring for the second straight game with 15 points (5-for-13 shooting) to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Meanwhile, Marcus Smart ‘€“ the No. 6 overall pick in the draft ‘€“ had another shaky game. Smart shot just 3-for-15 from the field, finishing with 11 points in 27 minutes.

Shooting remains a huge concern for Smart. But he was also unable to fill out the stat sheet like he did on Saturday against the Heat. Smart only had three boards, four assists and a steal to follow-up his debut.

Smart looked lost at times, settling for bad shots while looking less energetic on the defensive side of the ball (although, the same can be said about the entire team during the last three quarters).

James Young sat out yet again with a neck injury from a June car accident. His status is still up in the air as to whether or not he will play in Summer League.

Willie Reed led the way for the Pacers. He scored 18 points (8-for-12) while adding six rebounds, three assists and blocking four shots. It’€™s just Summer League, but if Willie Reed is drawing comparisons to Willis Reed, it’€™s not a good thing.

The Celtics will look to bounce back on Wednesday against the Pistons at 7 P.M.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Read More: Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers, James Young, Kelly Olynyk
Celtics being ‘very, very smart’ with James Young as they leave for Orlando 07.03.14 at 3:27 pm ET
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WALTHAM –€“ The Celtics held their final practice in Waltham on Thursday before heading down to Orlando for the Summer League.

With such a young roster that includes two big name rookies, the Summer League is going to carry significantly more weight for Boston than in past years. Marcus Smart is considered the most exciting talent that everyone is expected have their eyes on. Smart is just excited to get his first taste of the NBA; even if it’€™s just Summer League action.

“€œIt’€™s still going to be a big deal because it is my first game,” Smart told media members before practice started.

Smart expects his Celtics squad to fare well when they take the court at the Amway Center practice floor in Orlando.

“€œActually, we’€™ve come pretty far,”€ said Smart of his team’€™s progress over the last three days. “€œ[We'€™ve] got all these new guys in, [Coach Jay Larranaga is] putting in some new plays, trying to learn some things and playing with different type of style. We’€™ve come a long way.”

We know Smart is ready to begin polishing his game in Orlando before his first season as a professional begins, however, fellow rookie James Young is in a different boat. Young is still recovering from a neck injury suffered in a June car accident.

“€œI haven’€™t heard from Ed [Lacerte], or Danny [Ainge] or Brad [Stevens] on what the plan is for James,” Larranaga told reporters.

Young’€™s status, in terms of playing in Orlando, sounds as if it’€™s up in the air at the moment.

“€œHe did some more stuff yesterday as far as non-contact on the bike,”€ Stevens added on Young. “€œI think he’€™ll be continuing to do some of that stuff today, but I haven’€™t been given a timeline on it. And, obviously, he was in the car accident a couple weeks ago. It’€™s Summer League, we want to be very, very smart about this with him. He’€™s anxious to play, he’€™s antsy, he wants to [play]. But at the same time, I want to be cognizant of the big picture here.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, James Young, Jay Larranaga
Marcus Smart on Avery Bradley: ‘He reminds me a little bit of [me]‘ 07.02.14 at 3:15 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Marcus Smart is beginning to feel comfortable in Boston. Well, at least in the gym that is.

“Definitely,” Smart responded after being asked if the practice facility was beginning to feel like his own gym. “I’€™m knocking down shots on those rims now,”€ said Smart, while gesturing over to the nearest hoop, “so that’€™s good. I’€™m getting a little bit more comfortable day-by-day.”

Outside of workouts and practices is a whole different story for Smart.

“Nah,”€ Smart said, while shaking his head when asked if he had gotten a chance to explore Boston yet. “Especially with the two-a-days — we finish around seven [o'€™clock] –€“ you’€™re pretty much tired. You get your workout and go to bed and start it all over again.”

Smart was expecting the NBA lifestyle to be this way, though.

“This is your life. This is your job,” Smart proclaimed. “If you want to be the best, you have to put in the work.”

Avery Bradley has put in the work over his young NBA career. The 23-year-old was rewarded Wednesday with a 4-year deal worth $32 million. Bradley, like Rajon Rondo, is a player Smart can relate to.

“He reminds me a little bit of [me],” Smart said. “You know, physical, athletic, can defend the one, the two, or the three spot. [I can] do whatever coach [Brad Stevens] asks me to do.”

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Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Marcus Smart
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v4.0 06.25.14 at 1:45 pm ET
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This year’€™s draft is starting to feel like it could be one of the most entertaining in years. Seriously, how could there be any more drama?

The old projected top pick, Joel Embiid, is injured and sliding down draft boards. We have no clue if Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker will be the No. 1 pick by the Cavaliers. We don’€™t even know that Cleveland will keep the first pick — teams like the Magic, Jazz and Celtics are rumored to have interest.

The Celtics also are rumored to be one of three finalists to acquire the No. 8 pick from the Kings. Then the Lakers seem pretty serious about trying to package Steve Nash and the No. 7 pick in an attempt to get young talent. Or, dare I say, the Lakers could be trying to clear cap space to make a play on Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.

A mock draft seems almost pointless since we are expecting so many trades. Let’€™s not forget that Kevin Love‘€™s name will be one we hear in rumors a few times Thursday. Expect to see one of the wildest drafts in recent memory, but if there is less movement than expected, here’€™s how it could shake down.

1. Cavaliers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – Embiid has been projected as the top pick for a while, even with his back issues. His broken foot is a whole different monster, though. Those two red flags will cause him to slip, and Parker is the best player in the draft right now. Wiggins will get a look here, especially if the Cavs are looking for a player to fit alongside LeBron (in their dream scenario). Owner Dan Gilbert wants to be very involved in the pick, and he reportedly likes Wiggins. That’€™s a risky strategy for Cleveland, so just take the sure thing in Parker — the Cavs really can’€™t afford to blow this one.

2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The Bucks now hold the easiest pick in the draft. Sit back and see what the team with the top pick does, then take the other top prospect. If Parker goes No. 1, then Wiggins goes to Milwaukee to play with a decent young core. The Bucks may prefer one to the other, but they have to be pleased either way it plays out.

3. 76ers, Dante Exum (Australia) – Philly ends up the biggest loser as a result of the Embiid injury. The Sixers would have been the team that ended up with the third top prospect that was passed over, but now they have a difficult choice to make. Embiid probably still is too risky this high in the draft, so Exum is the best overall talent available. Exum would either come in to be a backcourt-mate to Michael Carter-Williams or to take MCW’€™s job if the 76ers look to trade the Rookie of the Year.

4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – With Exum off the board, and Orlando seeking a point guard, Smart makes sense with this pick. Of course, any of the big men on the board will be tempting to the Magic, but they have been most interested in Smart and Exum all year.

5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) – The Jazz already have a lot of young talent in their frontcourt. But if all the guards are taken early, and Utah does not trade up, Vonleh may be the most appealing piece. Vonleh is more capable of stepping away from the basket than the remaining bigs; that could be the determining factor.

6. Celtics, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – One of the big questions of the draft becomes how far Embiid will slip. Danny Ainge will face a tough decision if he slips to No. 6, and in the end he won’€™t be able to pass up Embiid’€™s potential. If Ainge is unable to add an All-Star caliber player through a trade, Embiid is a fantastic fit for the future to play alongside Jared Sullinger in a rebuild scenario.

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Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid
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