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10 trades worth the Celtics’ while: Part 2 01.07.15 at 8:40 pm ET
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A major theme of the rebuilding Celtics has been that no player is safe from being traded for the betterment of the team — something Danny Ainge has shown the willingness to do throughout his career (and now once again by trading Rajon Rondo). Here are some trades that make sense for the mess that is the Boston Celtics. Again, these specific trades are not rumors, simply ideas. This is part two.

Part 1 of this series involved sending Rondo to the Kings, that obviously didn’t happen. But in the time since, Rondo has been shipped out West and the Celtics have begun to fall apart. No more “build around Rondo” arguments exist, which means the direction of the team is clear: Any trade Ainge makes will either create cap space or add assets.

Here’s a proposal that helps that direction:

THUNDER GET: Jeff Green and a future second-round pick

CELTICS GET: Jeremy Lamb and Kendrick Perkins

Yes, Perkins and Green were swapped for each other in 2011, and obviously that has not worked out as planned for either side. It would be humbling to see Ainge and Sam Presti (the general manager in Oklahoma City) admit their wrongs and swap these players back, and it makes sense now in 2015.

The Thunder just added Dion Waiters from the Cavs, which tells us a couple of things about them:

1. They are buyers

This is good in the sense that Presti could be interested in Green. With the emergence of Steven Adams and the small-ball philosophy of the league, Perkins is almost valueless in Oklahoma City. Adding Green would not only provide the Thunder with another starter/sixth-man to go along with Waiters, but with Kevin Durant hobbled this season, Green could provide spot starts for Durant throughout the regular season to help the team into the playoffs.

2. Lamb is no longer needed there

The UConn product has barely been playing of late, but with Waiters in town, Lamb’s role is pretty much diminished. Using him as a piece to help acquire Green makes total sense for Presti given Lamb’s demotion. Lamb is a nice prospect too — really, he’s the reason the Celtics do this deal. Boston is a place Lamb could have some value. The former lottery pick would be another asset in Ainge’s pile that is so often referred to.

Boston may need to use a second-round pick to sweeten the deal for the Thunder, but it would be worth it to shed Green’s contract for Perkins’ contract — one which we know will expire at the end of this season, whereas Green has a player option — as well add Lamb to the mix. The players’ familiarity with the organizations, including Lamb going to school in the New England area, only helps this whole deal fall into place.

Read More: 10 trades, Jeff Green,
James Young begins earning his role with the Celtics after breaking out against Hornets 01.06.15 at 9:00 am ET
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James Young had played 18 minutes on the entire season entering Monday night’s game against the Hornets. His last appearance on an NBA court was when he played two minutes in a blowout against the Lakers on Dec 5. Since then, Young has missed time with a shoulder injury and spent time playing for the Maine Red Claws in the D-League.

Monday night was a coming out party for the No. 17 overall pick in this past June’s draft. Young matched his season total by playing 18 minutes in the game against Charlotte, coming up huge by nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. In the second half alone the rookie played 15 minutes, pouring in 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while going 3-for-4 from downtown. Young’s finest moment came on a 3-pointer he hit in the fourth quarter to cut the Hornets’ lead to just six points, the smallest it would get after being as many as 22 points.

“I just tried to take every shot with confidence,” Young said following the game. “After one fell I just tried to go for another, and another and that’s how I’ve been playing all my life so I just tried to stick with it.”

Young has been sent to the D-League often of late, playing major minutes for the Red Claws when asked to. In eight games Young has averaged 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 32.6 minutes of action. He has also been practically automatic from beyond the arc, shooting 35-of-73 in those eight games. His experience seems to be paying off, though.

“I was king of nervous when I first got in. [It was] My first time playing, really, in the regular season,” said Young of his jitters. “I was just trying to go out there in the second half and just be aggressive, everyone told me to be aggressive.”

So did Young get advice from anyone in specific before his breakout game?

Read the rest of this entry »

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5 things we learned in the Celtics’ loss to the Hornets 01.05.15 at 10:00 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

Fresh off of an overtime loss in Chicago, the Celtics returned home on Monday to face the underachieving Hornets at TD Garden. Part of the problem for Charlotte has been injuries, as they were without both Lance Stephenson and former Celtic Al Jefferson for this contest.

Jefferson played a huge role in the Hornets’ 96-87 victory over the C’s back on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Boston was out for revenge this time around, however, they didn’t find it on Monday.

Kemba Walker was dominant for the Hornets in their 104-95 win over the Celtics, seemingly finding a bucket every time the Celtics started to claw back. Walker finished with 33 points to go with five boards and five helpers. Click here for the full box score.

Here’s five things we learned in the loss:

BRAD STEVENS PLAYED EVERY AVAILABLE CELTIC

Ever since the Rajon Rondo trade Stevens has been tinkering around with all kinds of rotations. In the last two games this meant playing 11 different players double-digit minutes. On Monday it meant playing all 13 of his available players (Marcus Thornton and Jameer Nelson sat with injuries) during meaningful action.

“No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question but I was throwing darts,” said Stevens.

Gerald Wallace saw minutes in the second half, and rather than filling in for Nelson by letting players in the rotation play more, Phil Pressey stepped in to take Nelson’s role. Playing 13 players before a game even turns into a blowout says a lot about a rotation, mostly negative things. Eventually, Stevens is going to have to pick a direction with this team and establish a rotation that allows his players to find more of a rhythm.

JAMES YOUNG FINALLY BROKE OUT

After going back-and-forth between playing big minutes for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League and riding the bench for the Celtics, 19-year-old rookie James Young played when in mattered for the first time in weeks. Young came in to play the last three minutes of the first half, but didn’t come in gunning like he has done so far in his career.

That all changed in the second half, as Young scored 13 points in 13 minutes on 5-for-6 shooting in the second half alone (including 3-for-4 from downtown), nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. It’s just one game, but Young was masterful on offense, and even played aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Young is definitely a player to watch going forward as this performance may have carved him out a spot in Stevens’ wild rotation going forward.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, James Young,
Avery Bradley can appreciate Rajon Rondo being ‘aggressive like anyone would do’ against his former team 01.03.15 at 12:34 pm ET
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Friday was a unique game for the Celtics in the sense that they were playing against Rajon Rondo, not just in his return to Boston, but just two weeks after being teammates with him. Rondo got the best of his former team, scoring 29 points in a Mavericks’ 119-101 victory.

Rondo, who shot 12-for-19 from the field, scored 15 first-quarter points on perfect six-for-six shooting. It seemed like the Celtics game plan was to allow Rondo to shoot, which obviously backfired.

“We pretty much baited him to shoot and wanted him to shoot and he was knocking them down tonight,” Jared Sullinger said.

“He was being aggressive just like anyone would do, just like players on our team,” added Avery Bradley. “Just like we do every single night we take what the defense gives us and that’€™s what Rajon did. He was able to knock down shots.”

Bradley, like Rondo did in the first quarter, put his team on his back in the fourth quarter. The Celtics started down 28 before Bradley scored 17 in the final quarter as the Celtics cut the deficit to 10, 97-87, before running out of gas down the stretch.

“I think it’€™s just confidence, it’€™s the same with me and I’€™m pretty sure I can speak for him,” Bradley said. “If you have confidence out there in the game, anything is possible. He had confidence in his shot and he was making them.”
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5 things we learned in Rajon Rondo’s impressive return to Boston 01.02.15 at 9:51 pm ET
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Rajon Rondo connected on a career-high five 3-pointers Friday night in his return at TD Garden. (Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo connected on a career-high five 3-pointers Friday night in his return at TD Garden. (Getty Images)

The TD Garden played host to some festive games during the month of December, including reunions with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But January started with what would have been an unexpected return just a couple of weeks ago: Rajon Rondo‘s first game in Boston as a visitor.

Rondo did not plan on letting his team lose this one. Dallas jumped out to a lead and held onto it for the entire game. The Mavericks ended the third quarter with a 92-64 lead, and despite the C’s cutting the gap to 10 in the fourth, the Mavs wound up victorious by a score of 119-101. Click here for a full box score.

“If you were to tell me before the game that we held [Dirk] Nowitzki and [Monta] Ellis to 15-for-36 [shooting], I would’ve said we have a shot. But you know, Rondo was fantastic shooting the ball tonight,” said Rondo’s former boss and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

This night was all about one man, though. So here’s five things we learned in Rondo’s return to Boston:

RONDO GOT OFF TO A HOT START

Rondo scored the first 10 Maverick points of the game in just under five minutes of action, but it didn’t stop there. Rondo went on to finish the first quarter by pouring in 15 total points on 6-for-6 shooting (3-for-3 from downtown). Rather than fans cheering (as they did during Rondo’s video tribute), this left many with their hands on their heads gasping, “Where was this when he was in Boston?”

RONDO HAD HIS BEST GAME SINCE TEARING HIS ACL

We all know Rondo likes to preform when the stage is brightest, and that was no different in his homecoming to Boston. Rondo’s hot start propelled him to 29 points — the most since before tearing his ACL in Jan. of 2013. Rondo finished a ridiculous 12-for-19 from the field and connected on five of his seven 3-pointers on top of it all. Rondo didn’t stuff the stat sheet quite as he did in Boston, but his six rebounds and five assists went pretty nice alongside his scoring outburst. Read the rest of this entry »

Danny Ainge on why he traded Rajon Rondo 12.20.14 at 1:55 am ET
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Here’€™s the first question Danny Ainge was asked in his press conference prior to Friday’€™s game: “Why did you trade Rajon Rondo?”

Ainge’€™s answer was brief, “€œThere was a definite uncertainty into what may happen this summer. So that was a big factor.”

That’€™s all Ainge initially said on trading away his largest asset for what will presumably be a late first-round pick in 2016 and a second-rounder in that same draft, as well as a few misfit parts. Those few words tell us everything we need to know, though.

Ainge believed Rondo was going to bolt in free agency and didn’€™t want to lose him for nothing, so he traded him. It was the right move, plain and simple.

However, uncertainty remained a key word.

“We like the players that we got in the trade,”€ Ainge expanded. “€œBut, listen, I think that with [Rondo’€™s] impending free agency and uncertainty of what may happen this summer, I think that gave us the impetus of wanting to do a deal.”

Ainge was later asked how long these uncertainties had existed regarding Rondo’€™s future in Boston.

“Oh, I think that there’€™s been uncertainty for a while,”€ Ainge said. “You know, as to what kind of team we’€™d be able to put together. We tried this summer to get some significant players in, unsuccessfully, and there’€™s a price that we won’€™t go [to], either. [A price] that we won’€™t pay for any player in order to make that happen this past summer.

“At the same time, there’€™s been uncertainty as to what [Rondo’€™s] future would be, and there’€™s been uncertainty as to how he would return and how he’€™d come back and play [after tearing his ACL]. Yeah, I think he’€™s understood that, and I’€™ve understood that and we’€™ve talked about it.”

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Read More: Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,
Right move to trade Rajon Rondo, but Celtics waited too long 12.19.14 at 4:33 pm ET
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Danny Ainge finally decided it was time to send the last standing piece of his 2008 championship roster on its way. It was the right move, there’s no doubt about it. But couldn’t it have been done sooner?

Ainge’s Plan A was no secret: Find a star to place next to Rajon Rondo. This plan began on June 27, 2013 — the day the Celtics agreed in principle to send Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. Despite Ainge aggressively searching for that star, it just wasn’t there. When no deal presented itself at last season’s trade deadline, Boston patiently waited for summer to arrive.

By June, it looked like the Celtics might be rewarded. Kevin Love did some notable flirting with Boston, and even chatted with Rondo himself at Fenway Park. Ainge went all-out to bring Love to Boston, and for a while it looked like he could offer Minnesota the best package to pry Love away. As we now know, one thing led to another and Minnesota got an offer it couldn’t decline. It was almost an unthinkable offer in which the Timberwolves received back-to-back No. 1 overall picks (Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett) for their star. In ways it was bad luck for the Celtics, but Plan A failed the second Love went to Cleveland.

Ainge kept looking for trades but just never found one. Not only was a deal to add a star not out there at the time, there were no foreseeable trades on the horizon for the upcoming (now current) season. Plan B, it’s now clear, was to trade Rondo. Which begs the question: Why not trade Rondo as soon as Plan A failed?

This is the part I don’t understand. Was Rondo really expected to succeed on the team he was given to lead this season? He’s not that type of player. In years past, debates have gone as far as to question which point guard you would rather have with players like Rondo against the likes of Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. Those debates are nowhere to be found today. Most of that is to blame on Rondo’s ACL tear suffered in January 2013. But Rondo has never been the same type of player as other point guards in the league.

Rondo’s uniqueness lies in the fact that his value is controlled by the talent of his teammates — something we can’t attribute to any other player. Rondo will thrive in Dallas, mostly because he will be playing with his best surrounding cast since at least 2010. He couldn’t succeed in Boston because the talent was not there, and for that reason Boston should have moved Rondo as soon as it realized it couldn’t add the necessary stars that its current star required.

Knowing now what Ainge’s floor was, in terms of a deal he would accept for Rondo, wouldn’t he have taken a first-round pick in the 15-25 range of this past June’s draft? Yes, Love still was an option at the time, but the idea of him coming to Boston was fading. Even after the draft, a team like the Rockets had long been rumored to be interested in Rondo. Just a day prior the draft, Houston acquired New Orleans’ 2015 first-round pick in a deal for Omer Asik. That pick figures to be higher than Dallas’ will be in 2016, why not go for that? Obviously, Houston didn’t want to make a deal using that pick now. But what about five or six months ago?

Hindsight is 20/20, but I (like many) was shocked by the low return on Rondo. Boston recieved Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and conditional first- and second-round draft picks. But Rondo had to go — Kendrick Perkins has even revealed to Yahoo! Sports that Rondo wanted out of Boston.

In the end, Ainge made the right move for the franchise. Why he waited so long I may never understand, but, in fairness, we still don’t know what the final return on Rondo will be. Wright is a nice player with one of the highest efficiency ratings in the league. Could Wright, Nelson and/or Crowder fetch another draft pick before the trade deadline? Ainge purposely got this deal done more than 60 days before the deadline so that trading players he got in return this season remains an option.

Ainge is a smart guy. He often makes gutsy and questionable moves. One of them was taking a gangly point guard who couldn’t shoot with the No. 21 pick 8 1/2 years ago. Who’s to say he won’t experience that success again with the pick he just got from Dallas?

Read More: Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo,
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