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Celtics open Oct. 26 against Nets, visit Knicks on Christmas as part of full 2016-17 schedule 08.11.16 at 6:37 pm ET
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The Celtics went with Jaylen Brown at the third pick. (Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports)

Jaylen Brown makes his Celtics debut on Oct. 26 vs. the Nets. (Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics now know their path to a third straight postseason appearance under Brad Stevens. 

The NBA released its full schedule on Thursday and some of the highlights for the Celtics include early matchups against Eastern Conference rivals, holiday season showdowns, and the first home games on consecutive nights in over 15 years. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Al Horford makes his Celtics debut, joining 2016 All-Star Isaiah Thomas and 2016 first-team All-Defense selection Avery Bradley as they welcome the Brooklyn Nets to TD Garden to tip-off the 2016-17 season. One week later, the Celtics will host Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and the new-look Bulls on Nov. 2 before traveling to Cleveland the next night for their first encounter with LeBron James and the 2016 NBA champion Cavaliers.

Later in the month, Celtics fans get their chance to let Kevin Durant know how much he disappointed them and Tom Brady when he, Stephen Curry and the Warriors come calling on Friday, Nov. 18, at TD Garden.

The Celtics have holiday home games this year with a matinee matchup against LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 25, and a Friday night tilt against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder on Dec. 23. The Celtics also play on Christmas Day for the first time in four seasons, when they travel to New York to face off against Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and the Knicks.

The team will host home games on consecutive nights against Ben Simmons and the 76ers on Friday, Jan. 6 before taking on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on Saturday, Jan. 7, marking the first time the Celtics have hosted home games on consecutive days since the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season.

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Celtics announce 7-game preseason schedule 07.28.16 at 6:38 pm ET
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TD Garden will be the site of the final two preseason games announced by the Celtics. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Celtics will be playing a seven-game preseason schedule to get ready for the 2016-17 NBA season.

The team announced its preseason slate on Thursday, which will include an opener on Oct. 4 against the 76ers at the Mullins Center at UMass-Amherst. The Celtics will technically be the visiting team as Spectra/Comcast Spectacor is the parent company of the Mullins Center (as well as the home of the 76ers, the Wells Fargo Center). 

Tickets for the Oct. 4 game are available for purchase at Ticketmaster.com.

The Celtics then will face the Hornets twice, with the first matchup taking place at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum on Oct. 6 and the second at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, on Oct. 8. Tickets for the Oct. 8 game are available at Ticketmaster.com.

The preseason lineup also includes contests against Atlantic Division rivals Brooklyn and New York. The C’s will start their New York road trip by facing the Nets on Oct. 13 and the Knicks on Oct. 15. The Celtics will close preseason play at home as they host the Nets and Knicks at TD Garden on Oct. 17 and Oct. 19.

Tickets for the TD Garden games will go on sale at a later date to be announced.  Fans can visit Celtics.com, “like” the Celtics on Facebook or follow @celtics on Twitter for more ticket sale updates and information.

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Full Court Press: Resetting Celtics roster, Abdel Nader, Boston no-go for 2017 All-Star Game 07.23.16 at 5:34 pm ET
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Apr 8, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Tyler Zeller (44) shoots the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Zeller will be rising to the occasion again for the Celtics after signing a two-year deal. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

These are very fluid times at the bottom of the Celtics roster. 

The news Saturday that the Celtics have reached agreement in principle on free agent deals with Tyler Zeller (their own through restricted free agency) and Gerald Green (1 year, $1.5 million) brings the Celtics roster to 17 players for the upcoming season. 

In the NFL, when a significant free agent is signed in the offseason, it is presumed that free agent will be with the team come training camp. With the Celtics, that is not a certainty by any stretch of the imagination, especially when that imagination belongs to Danny Ainge. 

Several sources around the league have indicated that Ainge is far from done with his offseason maneuverings and would like to reshape the roster once more before the team heads to camp in late September.

The Celtics were able to get a max deal done (4 years, $113 million) with Al Horford, who comes to Boston still in his prime at the age of 30.  

Even with Tom Brady on their side, they just missed out on Kevin Durant. 

They drafted a confident swingman in Jaylen Brown, who blossomed late in Summer League and started to show the glimpses of brilliance that gave Ainge and his staff reason to take him third overall. 

Horford and Brown are definitely new pieces that will give Brad Stevens more to work with in 2016-17. Zeller and Green may or may not play a big role. 

If you include the guaranteed contract of Brown and pending deals with Ben Bentil and Demetrius Jackson, the Celtics will actually be at 18 players. 

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Source: Celtics to re-sign Tyler Zeller (2 years, $16 million), ink Gerald Green (1 year, $1.5 million) 07.23.16 at 3:26 pm ET
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May 7, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat forward Gerald Green (14) reacts after scoring against Toronto Raptors during the third quarter in game three of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Gerald Green has agreed on a one-year deal to return to Boston. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics are trying to make the best of what’s left of the free agent market.

League sources confirmed Saturday to WEEI.com that the team will re-sign 26-year-old center Tyler Zeller for two years and $16 million, with the second year consisting of a team option. The news was first reported by the Boston Herald and later by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne

The Celtics are following through on their intentions after extending a $3.7 million qualifying offer in June to Zeller, who like Jared Sullinger was a restricted free agent. 

Sullinger left for bigger money in Toronto. 

Zeller, the 17th overall pick of the Mavericks (traded to Cleveland) in the 2012 draft, appeared in 60 games for the Celtics this season, just a season after starting 59. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3 rebounds over 11.8 minutes per game last season.

The Celtics are also going back to the future and signing 30-year-old Gerald Green. A league source confirms that Green and the team have agreed on a one-year deal for the league veteran minimum of $1.5 million, as reported by Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. 

Green was the No. 18 overall pick of the Celtics in the 2005 NBA draft. He played his first two seasons with Boston before being dealt to the Timberwolves as part of the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007. Green averaged 8.9 points per game in 69 games for the Heat last season, including 14 games as a starter.

Green, entering his 10th season, was a productive sixth man for the Heat in the first half of the season but mysteriously fell off and played little down the stretch and in the playoffs against Charlotte and Toronto. Green indicated publicly he had hoped to return to Miami. Green is a career 36.1 percent shooter from 3-point range. During the 2013-14 season with the Suns, Green shot a remarkable 40 percent on a career-high 510 attempts.

Per a league a source, the signings of Zeller and Green appear to be a “fall-back” position for the Celtics, should they want to enter the season with the roster they have constructed. There is still the possibility that these pieces, along with others, could be used in trades down the road, like for Jahlil Okafor of Philadelphia. Both the Herald and Globe have indicated from sources that it’s more likely than not that the roster will definitely be adjusted significantly before the start of camp in late September. 

The roster, after these two signings, will be at 17, including the non-guaranteed contract of John Holland and the guaranteed deal of No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown. The team must cut to 15 players by the start of the season. The Celtics already have freed up the spaces of Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic, both of whom will play overseas next season. 

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Full Court Press: The real cost of Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin, summer league stars Terry Rozier, Abdel Nader 07.16.16 at 4:00 pm ET
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Will Russell Westbrook (0) scores a three point basket against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Will Russell Westbrook land in Boston this summer? (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Is the time finally right for Danny Ainge to cash in? 

The Celtics president of basketball operations has been stacking his place at the NBA poker table with lots of blue chips. The question is whether now is the time to head to the to the casino office and get the final pieces that will help Brad Stevens and the team get back to the NBA finals. 

There have been reports this week that the Celtics are lead contenders for either Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin in a potential trade. 

But either one of those deals would almost certainly require the Celtics giving up their ownership of Brooklyn’s unprotected pick next year, which could very easily be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Not only that, a team like Oklahoma City, with the always forward-thinking general manager Sam Presti, likely is going to want another top pick, either in 2017 or from the multitude of picks listed below. The Celtics also own Brooklyn’s first-rounder in 2018. The Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Jason Terry trade of July 2013 keeps on giving. 

If there’s any general manager with the wherewithal to pull off a major deal involving future picks and not entirely forfeit the future, it’s Ainge. Here, in full detail, is the remarkable portfolio Ainge has to work with: 

2017 first-round draft pick from Brooklyn
Boston has the right to swap its 2017 1st round pick for Brooklyn’s 2017 1st round pick; if Boston exercises this swap right, then Boston will convey its 2017 second-round pick to Brooklyn protected for selections 31-45 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Boston’s obligation to Brooklyn will be extinguished). [July 12, 2013]

2017 second-round draft pick from Cleveland
Cleveland’s 2017 second-round pick to Boston [from Cleveland, Sept. 25, 2014]

2017 second-round draft pick from L.A. Clippers
Clippers’ 2017 second-round pick to Boston [from L.A. Clippers via Phoenix, Jan. 15, 2015]

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Report: Danny Ainge ‘definitely wants to do something’ on trade market, Jahlil Okafor best bet 07.16.16 at 12:04 pm ET
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Feb 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) shoots over Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9)  during second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 130-116. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) could still be a big trade target for the Celtics. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge is still hungry to make a deal. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations wants to add one more big piece. But the price tag has been too rich. 

“Another sticking point in that and in other deals Boston is talking about is that pick from the Nets next year (2017 pick swap). Danny will make it available in the right situation, but he’s not going to give it up with core players, too,” a league source told Bulpett. “That’s going to be a good draft, and that’s going to be a high pick.

“Everyone’s been talking about how Danny’s trying to make a killing out here, but when it comes to certain pieces you have, I get that you have to be careful. You can give up equal assets, but you don’t want to take away your best opportunities to keep things going down the line.”

Bulpett also reports there have been no recent discussions on two rumored high-profile players Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin. But an NBA general manager told Bulpett that Philadelphia big man Jahlil Okafor is a different matter. 

“Oh, Danny definitely wants to do something,” the GM told Bulpett. “We’ve got nothing that really works with Boston, but I bet something happens there. I still wouldn’t be surprised if something happened there [with Okafor].”

The Celtics were reportedly close on Jimmy Butler on draft night as they held the No. 3 pick in the draft. The Bulls made no secret about their desire to trade up and grab Providence College point guard Kris Dunn. But, according to Bulpett, the Bulls also wanted two players, while the C’s only were willing to deal one.

Now with the Bulls inking Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, the Bulls seem committed to keeping Butler and making a run next season. 

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Jaylen Brown (21 points), Abdel Nader (16 pts) not enough as Celtics drop summer finale to Blazers 07.15.16 at 8:56 pm ET
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The Celtics concluded their summer league play on a down note Friday night in Las Vegas, falling to the Trail Blazers, 80-75, at Cox Pavilion. 

Rookie Jaylen Brown had a team-high 21 points for the Celtics but made just 7-of-21 shots from the field. Brown had a highlight-reel caliber dunk in the first half and again showed the ability to get to the rim with authority, something he’s been flashing this week with the Celtics. 

Brown struggled again from 3-point range, making just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. He was just 5-for-22 from long range in six summer league games.

Iowa State product Abel Nader continued his impressive week. The Celtics’ final pick (No. 58 overall) added 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. 

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