|Don’t forget: Danny Ainge loves to deal (remember 2006?)||06.22.14 at 7:30 am ET|
Let’s not forget Danny Ainge‘s history. He loves to trade away his lottery picks.
Everyone remembers 2007, when Ainge famously acquired Ray Allen from Seattle, which in turn brought Kevin Garnett to Boston. The Celtics traded away the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green) along with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak in return for Allen as well as the No. 35 pick (Glen Davis). It really goes without saying, but that trade played an enormous role in the 2008 championship banner that now hangs in the TD Garden.
No one remembers 2006, when Ainge inexplicably gave away the No. 7 pick (Randy Foye) for minimal value. The pick was shipped to Portland along with Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau in exchange for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick. Foye was then swapped for Brandon Roy, who made three All-Star teams before a knee injury derailed his career. Who’s to say Roy wouldn’t have remained healthy in Boston, though?
Telfair and Ratliff did happen to be involved in the Garnett deal a year later, but there’s no way anyone can argue that was part of Ainge’s master plan. Any other average point guard and expiring contract would have filled in just fine in Minnesota’s eyes.
At the time, the word was that Ainge favored Telfair over other guards in the 2006 draft. By doing so, he passed on the likes of Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and Roy (whom the pick could have been traded for). In the end, the move didn’t hurt the Celtics at all, but at the time it was very controversial. 2014 is a much stronger draft class than ’06, but the lesson here is to keep in mind that Ainge has no problem dealing away a lottery pick in a questionable move.
Fortunately, for Celtics fans, there is another lesson. On the whole, Ainge is fantastic in the draft.
Let’s stay with the ’06 draft. One of the prospects Ainge was considering with the No. 7 pick, before trading it away, was Rajon Rondo. As we know, Ainge later purchased the No. 21 pick from the Suns and used it to select him anyway.
Today, Rondo is arguably the best player in his draft class. LaMarcus Aldridge (the No. 2 pick) probably believes otherwise, but either way, it’s one of the two. Which means Ainge snagged a top-two player in his draft class with the 21st overall pick. Impressive.
The lesson? Well, who knows … maybe the No. 17 pick in the 2014 draft could turn out to be an even better player than the No. 6 pick. Ainge has done it before.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Why Kevin Love deal has to happen soon||06.18.14 at 9:59 am ET|
As this year’s highly anticipated NBA draft creeps even closer, the Celtics continue to do their homework.
Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are busy students, having brought in several groups of prospects to get a better look at them in person. Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle and Marcus Smart have been the headliners so far, along with local products Noah Vonleh and Shabazz Napier. Clearly Ainge and Stevens are preparing for the draft as if they will be using both of their first-round draft picks.
That’s their job, after all. Which doesn’t necessarily mean Ainge is going to use the picks. He simply has to be ready to do so.
The Celtics were very busy last feel, holding workouts with Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas and Doug McDermott, essentially everyone they would consider with the No. 6 pick.
I still believe that Vonleh, Gordon and Smart are the heavy favorites if Boston keeps the pick, with Gordon being the choice right now given the way we have the draft board playing out.
But I continue to get strong signals that the Celtics are trying hard to use pick No. 6 and 17 along with future No. 1s and young players such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk to persuade the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade them Kevin Love. One source close to the Wolves said that while Flip Saunders does not want to trade Love, he realizes the team likely will lose him this summer and the package the Celtics are offering is probably the best he’s going to get. Given the strength of the draft, picks 6, 13 and 17 could land them three young starters to help them rebuild their roster quickly.
As Ford implies, a trade along these lines not only makes sense for both sides, but Boston has to be considered the team with the most to offer.
|Celtics Friday workout notes: C’s on their guard as NBA draft draws near||06.13.14 at 9:21 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Friday featured the largest pre-draft workout the Celtics have held so far. Julius Randle and Marcus Smart were the two biggest names, but there were five other guards on the floor with high hopes of hearing their names called early on draft night, too.
Nik Stauskas, Gary Harris, Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton and Jordan Clarkson all worked out together alongside Smart. Here is some of what they had to say about their workouts.
Zach LaVine (UCLA, freshman)
On the workout:
“It was really good. I feel like I got through everything. I feel like I played really good defense. I feel like I shot the ball well. Just being with the guys, you know, it was a good overall workout.”
On what stood out:
“We did pretty much everything competitive — one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three. We also got to show our skill set and athleticism. Then at the end we got to show our heart and will. … I definitely liked this one a lot.”
Elfrid Payton (Louisiana Lafayette, junior)
Do you have a chip on your shoulder coming from a small school?
“Oh yeah, definitely. Definitely. I’ve got to prove something every time I’m on the court, prove that I belong and that I’m one of the best. So that’s kind of my mindset coming in.”
|With his lesson learned, Marcus Smart ready to prove he can play at ‘next level’||06.13.14 at 7:48 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Marcus Smart has high expectations.
Those expectations include a high draft position on June 26, a long, successful and financially beneficial career and the chance to compete for an NBA title.
Now, the issue is whether the Celtics help Smart fulfill those dreams. The Celtics held a pre-draft workout on Friday morning that featured six guards. The group was headlined by the 20-year-old who spent two seasons at Oklahoma State.
Several mock drafts, including the most recent on WEEI.com’s Green Street, have the former Cowboy selected between spots 4-8 on June 26. So, landing in Boston with the No. 6 overall pick is a strong possibility.
“I just came out here and competed,” Smart said of his workout, “I wanted to prove that I can play at the next level.”
Coach Brad Stevens had a strong takeaway from watching Smart work out.
“I thought he was good, he was physical, he’s a leader,” Stevens said. “[I] thought he shot the ball well in drills. He’s got a way about him that people follow. He’s a very tough guy, he competed the whole time. My expectations for him were high in that regard, but he certainly met them. He’s going to be a good player.”
Not surprisingly, one of the first questions Smart fielded was about the altercation he was involved with back on Feb. 8 when he shoved a fan at Texas Tech.
“Surprisingly, not many teams have asked me about it,” he offered, “They kind of just understand it’s the competitiveness in [me]. … And I know I’ve learned my lesson from it.”
Stevens had little concern as well. When asked if he had any concerns about Smart’s maturity, Stevens replied, “No, not at all.”
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v3.0||06.12.14 at 9:50 am ET|
2014 has brought us one of the most unpredictable NBA drafts in years. The only guarantee that we have just two weeks out from draft day (June 26) is that there are no sure things.
If we know one thing, it’s this: Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins will be the first three names called (in no particular order). But all three still have as legitimate a shot to go No. 1 as they do No. 2 or 3.
This is going to be the type of draft where mocks will be changing all the way up until draft night when we find out what actually happens. Here is my latest crack at trying to break it down in my mock draft 3.0, picks 1-17 pick as usual.
1. Cavaliers, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – No changes here. Embiid is going to work out for the Cavs and show them what he can do on the court. But more importantly, he will have a physical done on his back to make sure it is healthy. With Embiid’s NBA potential, it feels like only a poor medical report can keep him from being the top selection.
2. Bucks, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – I don’t see there being a debate as to whom to take between Parker and Wiggins, but many teams do. In this scenario, the Bucks make the right call. Parker is going to be a star, and could be just the building block the Bucks need to rebuild. Parker is the best player in this draft right now. He should have the inside track at Rookie of the Year no matter where he lands.
3. 76ers, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The 76ers have the easiest pick in the draft. Simply take the leftover top-three pick that Cleveland and Milwaukee pass on. Although I don’t see Wiggins reaching his ceiling, he is going to be a solid player. Michael Carter-Williams and Wiggins would create one of the biggest, fastest and most athletic backcourts in the game.
4. Magic, Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State, sophomore) – Last mock I wrote that Exum going fourth to the Magic was about as sure a thing as we had in this draft. Well, over the last couple of weeks Smart has been climbing and Exum has been slipping, combining to change this pick to one of the least certain picks in the draft. Exum could still be the pick, but the Magic are just much more familiar with Smart right now. So let’s try this again. The most certain pick in the 2014 draft will be that the Magic take either Smart or Exum. There, that works.
5. Jazz, Dante Exum (Australia) – Exum falls into Utah’s lap here, and the Jazz get a great fit. With their frontcourt in place, the Jazz get a dynamic guard to put next to Trey Burke. The real question would be if Exum goes to Orlando. Would the Magic go big with Vonleh? Or stick with a guard in Smart?
6. Celtics, Aaron Gordon (Airzona, freshman) – Sorry to be boring, but reports that Danny Ainge is locked in on Gordon make it tough to go with someone else here. However, nothing is written in stone. Gordon would immediately become the Celtics‘ best athlete if he were the pick. He is not the only guy who will be working out in Waltham before the draft, though. Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle, Doug McDermott and Smart either have worked out or are scheduled to pay a visit so the Celtics can get a closer look at them.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Could Carmelo Anthony be a fit with Celtics?||06.06.14 at 12:10 pm ET|
In case you missed it, Kevin Love pretty much became a member of the Celtics this past weekend. Ben Rohrbach filled us in on the worst-kept secret in Boston, as Love was essentially a public attraction all weekend long.
Operating under the assumption that Love indeed ends up in Boston, the search for the third member of the next ‘Big Three’ already is underway. And unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re aware that Carmelo Anthony is the hot name to join forces with Love and Rajon Rondo and generate the next great era of Celtics basketball.
The problem is that many of us don’t like Melo as a team player, myself included. Despite his unique talent, he can be selfish and tends to have tunnel vision toward scoring the ball, blocking out the rest of the intangibles that result in … what’s the word I’m looing for? Oh yeah, winning.
So obviously the Celtics have no reason to add a player like that to their roster, right? Wrong. There is no alternative out there to Anthony, so Danny Ainge has to take what he can get. From there, the goal is to make Anthony fit in Boston, and here’s how you do it.
Melo clearly would be relied upon to score in Boston, it’s the most natural part of his game. But guess what? Anthony also is a good rebounder and passer who has the tools be a good defender. Similar to Paul Pierce, bringing those skills out of him is what could transform Anthony into a winning player late in his career.
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Mock draft v2.0 has more clarity||05.30.14 at 10:04 am ET|
About a month ago I posted my first mock draft. In the words of Lloyd Christmas, “I was way off!”
Since April, the lottery has provided us the clarity of who will own each pick, while the draft combine gave the prospects a chance to show team executives their talent. The result? A completely different draft board. We think we know the top three picks, but we have no clue in what order. This is a good draft, we know that, but predicting the picks is as tough as any year.
So without further adieu, here’s my mock draft 2.0, covering both of the Celtics‘ selections.
1. Cavaliers, Joel Embiid (Kansas, freshman) – From all accounts, it sounds like Embiid’s back is healthy. If that holds true when the 7-footer goes through his workouts, Embiid’s potential will be too high for Cleveland to pass up. Everyone is quick to use the Greg Oden comparison, but Embiid is much smoother on his feet for his size.
2. Bucks, Andrew Wiggins (Kansas, freshman) – The Bucks are absolutely horrible, but they have good young pieces in Larry Sanders, John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since they already have so many players to develop, why not do the same with Wiggins? Personally, I do not see Wiggins as a star in the league. But if the Bucks do, they will roll the dice on him.
3. 76ers, Jabari Parker (Duke, freshman) – Philly makes out great here coming away with a sure thing. Parker is ready to play now and probably would be the best player on the 76ers roster. At worst he is a longtime NBA starter, but I see Parker as the clear-cut best player in this draft. I would be surprised if he did not end up as a less-selfish Carmelo Anthony-type player.
4. Magic, Dante Exum (Australia) – Orlando has long loved Exum. The Magic should have the chance to snag him at No. 4, and they will if they can. This is probably the surest pick in the draft at the moment. There are rumors that Philly would take Exum and No. 3 and look to trade the Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams. MCW’s trade value probably will never be higher, but taking Exum over Parker would be a mistake.
5. Jazz, Noah Vonleh (Indiana, freshman) – Vonleh has scouts going crazy over his 7-foot, 4 1/2-inch wingspan. Obviously that is a nice quality to have in a league with as much size as the NBA, but is Vonleh’s length important enough to draft over talents like Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon? I’m not yet sold, but many are.
6. Celtics, Aaron Gordon (Arizona, freshman) – From all I can gather, Danny Ainge loves Gordon if he is going to use the No. 6 pick. I wrote last week about the players that Ainge will most likely be selecting from with this pick. There are some unique talents on the list, but in the end Gordon’s potential, flexibility to play both forward spots, and versatility on both ends of the floor make him the pick.