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Danny Ainge admits luring big free agents to Boston ‘unlikely’ this summer 04.30.15 at 4:04 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Danny Ainge isn’t pulling any punches about his efforts to go after some big-time unrestricted free agents this summer. But he’s also be very, very realistic about his chances.

There is a good pool of free agents available this offseason around the league. And many of those free agents are big men, one of the pressing needs of the Celtics as they look to build for 2015-16. And on top of that, the Celtics will have a great deal of cap space to work with, even after offering Jae Crowder a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent.

But the unprecedented rise in the cap in the next two years, growing by as much as $20 million, has a down side, namely 29 other teams with the same expanded flexibility.

“I think free agency is hard,” Ainge said Thursday. “I think it’s unlikely but possible. So we’re going to go after any and everybody that we think is a significant player to upgrade our talent roster. And when I say upgrade our talent, you’ve got to be pretty good to upgrade our talent because we have good players. So, we’re going after all the top names on the list and see what happens.”

Names like LaMarcus Aldridge, Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Paul Millsap and DeAndre Jordan are all scheduled to hit the market.

“I don’t think any of us can predict that. That’s good talk radio stuff but I think ultimately every player is different, unique,” Ainge said. “Some players look at the Celtics organization and tradition, and think it’s something special. Some don’t. Some prefer hot weather to cold weather but most players prefer good contracts and good opportunities to play and hopefully to win, in that order first in most players. We have to prove to people that we have the opportunities for them to be paid, to play, to reach their full potential and to win. I think Boston will be a good destination for some.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, free agents,
Danny Ainge to offer Jae Crowder qualifying offer, adds: ‘We need to have a busy summer, and we will’ 04.30.15 at 12:23 pm ET
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Danny Ainge speaks Thursday at the team practice facility in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Danny Ainge speaks Thursday at the team practice facility in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM — The Celtics surprised a lot of people by finishing the season with a six-game winning streak, ending up with the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. But the work to improve on that encouraging ending doesn’t stop with a four-game sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Far from it.

Now, according to the team’s president of basketball operations, the hard work really begins. How does he and his staff go about improving upon a 40-42 mark through the NBA draft and added space under the salary cap?

“I feel like we need to have a busy summer and we will have a busy summer,” Danny Ainge said Thursday. “Hopefully, we can get some things accomplished that we need to. I think we need to upgrade our talent level on our team and at the same time, I’m very excited about a lot of the individuals that we have.

“Actually, all of the individuals I thought played the best basketball of their careers in a lot of cases. So, I’m excited about the players that we have. At the same time, I feel like we’re not at the same level as a team like Cleveland, and we found that out.”

Ainge confirmed one of his moves already on Thursday when he announced he will extend a qualifying offer to Jae Crowder. By extending a qualifying offer to Crowder, the Celtics would make him a restricted free agent.

The key to the summer will likely be how Ainge and his staff handle the extra spending space afforded by the expansion of the NBA salary cap. The Celtics currently have $40.4 million committed to salaries for 2015-16. The current cap number of $63 million is expected to grow to about $66 million next season but could explode to $87 million in 2017. The reason: A brand new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal.

But while the Celtics will have more money to spend, so too will the other 29 teams, creating tremendous cap competition this summer.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, NBA,
Danny Ainge calls Kevin Love’s frustration ‘a little over the top,’ but ‘understandable’ 04.30.15 at 11:54 am ET
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Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

WALTHAM — Danny Ainge knows a little something about intense playoff basketball and the contact that is associated with it.

On Thursday, as he was wrapping up the past season with reporters at the team’s practice facility, Ainge had a degree of sympathy for Kevin Love, knocked out of the playoffs with season-ending surgery on his dislocated left shoulder.

After the game, Love called the play by Kelly Olynyk that resulted in his arm being dislocated from the socket a “bush league” play, adding that it was clearly intentional.

“I think that’s a little bit over the top,” Ainge said. “It’s understandable. The heat of the battle. I feel bad for Kevin Love because he’s waited a long time to get where their team is right now and now he doesn’t get a chance to play. I certainly don’t think Kelly did it on purpose.”

After reviewing it, the league suspended Olynyk one game next season, still less harsh than the two-game playoff suspension for J.R. Smith’s fist to the face of Jae Crowder.

“I don’t even think that that play would’ve been reviewed more than a foul had Kevin not gotten hurt. But because Kevin did get hurt, the league does evaluate those situations and I understand a little bit why they did it. There was a lot of pressure on Cleveland. They were losing J.R. Smith in the first couple of games in the next round and they have Kevin out for the playoffs now so I’m sure there was a lot of frustration in Cleveland. They wanted some justice and they scrutinized it and felt like Kelly gave it a little too much at the very end of that arm tangling. When someone gets hurt, you’re just under a little more scrutiny but I thought it was just a foul of two guys going for a loose ball.”

Read More: 2015 NBA playoffs, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk suspended 1 game next season for arm bar on Kevin Love, J.R. Smith gets 2 games for hit on Jae Crowder 04.27.15 at 9:31 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Kelly Olynyk gets entangled with Kevin Love in Game 4 Sunday afternoon. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The NBA didn’t waste much time handing out their discipline from Sunday’s Game 4 altercations between the Celtics and Cavaliers.

Rod Thorn, the league’s president of basketball operations, announced that Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk was suspended one game without pay at the start of the 2015-16 season for his “arm bar” that resulted in a dislocated left shoulder for Cavs star big man Kevin Love.

The Cavaliers announced Monday that Love would miss the entire second round series with a dislocated left shoulder from the incident.

Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith has been suspended two games without pay for his violent arm swing that resulted in flush contact with Jae Crowder’s jaw. Crowder was stunned and momentarily knocked out. As Crowder fell to the ground, his left knee buckled and bent underneath him, resulting a sprained ACL, as the Celtics announced on Monday. Smith will serve his suspension in Games 1 and 2 of the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference semifinals when the Cavaliers host the winner of the Chicago Bulls vs. Milwaukee Bucks series.

That incident resulted in Crowder leaving the game and not returning. Smith was assessed with a “Flagrant 2″ foul and immediately ejected with 10:24 left in the third quarter.

Additionally, Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins‘€™s second quarter “Flagrant 1″ foul on a screen set on Crowder has been upgraded to a “Flagrant 2″ and he has been fined $15,000.

Smith’€™s incident, during which he swung his arm and made contact with the head of Celtics forward Jae Crowder, resulted in a Flagrant Foul 2 and his ejection at the 10:24 mark of the third quarter of the game.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, J.R. Smith, Kelly Olynyk
Isaiah Thomas on being swept out by Cavs: ‘We feel like we deserve more’ 04.26.15 at 11:56 pm ET
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Finishing the regular season with a six-game winning streak left a lot of Celtics fans hoping they would at least be able to steal a game from the Cavaliers in the first round.

Instead, those fans will have to settle for having made life difficult for four games on LeBron James and company.

That, however, is not enough to satisfy players or coaches, as they admitted after Sunday’s 101-93 season-ending loss in Game 4 at TD Garden.

“We feel like we deserve more,” Isaiah Thomas said. “We’€™re proud, but we’€™re not satisfied. We see that this team has a lot of potential, we work hard, we like playing with each other, we play extremely hard and those are the keys to success. Its frustrating to see the season end like it did, but we got to try to build from this and come back next year ready for war.”

“It’s not about individuals, we are going home, so we could care less how we played at the end of the game,” Jared Sullinger said in referencing the several second half charges the Celtics put on only to come up short. “The fact of the matter is, we didn’€™t get any wins, and it was a good way to, I guess, end the season but at the same time our main focus and objective was to get a win tonight and we failed.”

Now, the mission for the players who return to Boston next season is to use the experience and build for next season, as Brad Stevens suggested after the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Evan Turner, Isaiah Thomas
LeBron James says Brad Stevens ‘put [Celtics] in position to win’ 04.26.15 at 11:38 pm ET
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For all the harsh words between the players Sunday after Cleveland ended Boston’s season with a 101-93 win in Game 4, LeBron James had nothing but respect for the job coach Brad Stevens did in getting his team to play hard to the final buzzer.

After losing by 13 in the first game, the Celtics lost three straight, all by eight points. In each game, the Celtics made a late run to keep things interesting before succumbing to the better team.

“I highly respect their coaching staff and especially their head coach,” James said. “[They’re] a very well-coached team. He put those guys out there every night and put them in position to win the game and I think Brad Stevens is a very good young coach in our league.”

For a team that finished 40-42, the Celtics gave the Cavaliers about as much of a fight as could’ve been expected.

Then James spoke to what it means to have finally beaten the Celtics in the playoffs with Cleveland, after losses in 2008 and 2010.

“This franchise is one of the most winning franchises in NBA history, [along] with the Lakers,” James said. “So, everyone knows the history between the Lakers and the Celtics and what they’€™ve done for this league. So for me, to have a chapter in my career, multiple chapters, of playing against the Celtics, I think it’€™s great for the story that [the media can] tell.”

This is the second time James has sent the Celtics packing, beating them in seven games in the Eastern finals in 2012. That year, the Heat went on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving LeBron his first NBA title. James is now eight wins away from his fifth straight trip to the NBA finals, a goal that is clearly again on his radar.

“Our long term goal is obviously to win the championship but right now we have short term goals and that’€™s to prepare ourselves for the next round and get ready for the challenge that presents itself,” James said. “It was a great first test for our team. We’€™re a young team, we have some vets but we’€™re a young team together. The Celtics gave us the test that we needed. Some things that we haven’€™t seen in the regular season, and it will prepare us for the second round, which will be much tougher, we know that.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James
Jae Crowder knocked out of game with sprained left knee after J.R. Smith fist to jaw 04.26.15 at 2:51 pm ET
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A brutally physical game for Jae Crowder ended just 96 seconds into the second half Sunday in Game 4 against the Cavaliers.

J.R. Smith swung his elbow underneath the Celtics basket, and his fist connected with Jae Crowder, knocking out Crowder temporarily. But the bigger damage came as he fell to the floor. Crowder’s lower left leg bent underneath him as he fell, suffering a game-ending sprain.

Crowder was on the floor for several minutes before being helped up and assisted to the Celtics locker room, where the team ruled him out for the rest of the game.

Unlike Kendrick Perkins, who drilled Crowder with a forearm to the jaw in the second quarter on a screen, Smith was ejected with a “Flagrant 2″ foul.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder
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