|Danny Ainge on not moving up: ‘Maybe we were going too hard at it’||06.26.15 at 1:17 am ET|
In the end, moving up into the prized Top 10 of the 2015 NBA draft was not in the cards for Danny Ainge.
“I’m not disappointed,” said the Celtics president of basketball operations. “We tried. It just didn’t happen.
“We tried hard. We tried hard to trade up. We spent the last couple of weeks trying to move, and really today was the only time we had any indication that we could move up. But we were trying. At the end of the day, it’s like Red used to say, sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make. Maybe we were going too hard at it. And there was a time when I thought, ‘Whoa, this is getting a little out of control. We’re putting a lot of eggs in one young player’s basket.’
“So, I’m not frustrated. And, in the long run maybe it’ll be the best.”
The “one young player’s basket” may be a reference to the rumor of the Celtics’ effort to move up to No. 9 earlier in the day, trying reportedly to nab small forward Justise Winslow of Duke. There were reports that the team was going to part with Jared Sullinger and ship him to Charlotte. Sullinger had reportedly even followed the Hornets on Twitter and stopped following the Celtics.
Ainge could only laugh.
“The fans feed into what’s being written and said a lot, too,” Ainge said. “I did say we would try to move up. The price was way too high. There’s so many rumors out there. There are so many things are being said and written that aren’t even close to being true, that are just made-up stories. No sources and fake sources and people get caught up in these rumors and their expectations grow even higher. Don’t you think?”
Did he come close? “Yeah, we thought we were close,” Ainge said.
Instead, Ainge stayed put and made selections at all four of his spots going into the night. He took Terry Rozier at No. 16, R.J. Hunter at No. 28, Jordan Mickey at No. 33 and Marcus Thornton at No. 45. Three of them, Rozier, Hunter and Thornton are guards, adding to an already crowded and jumbled backcourt.
“Listen, it all comes down to how good the players are that we have,” Ainge said. “It doesn’t matter what I say about it. We’ll just wait and see how good they are. We like the guys we have and I think our fans are going to enjoy them.”
Ainge had said he was looking for quality over quantity, and was not likely to make all four picks. He reiterated Thursday that he won’t be able to keep all four picks on the active roster, instead will try to stash them in Europe.
“No, we don’t have room on the roster for all four guys, most likely,” Ainge admitted. “We probably don’t have room for them so we’ll work out deals where guys can play overseas in some of the situations.”
|Terry Rozier knows Celtics fans are ‘crazy about basketball,’ pledges willingness to compete for spot||06.26.15 at 12:47 am ET|
Terry Rozier will have his hands full to make the Celtics crowded backcourt.
But listening to the 21-year-old product of Louisville, the guard is more than up for the challenge.
“I came in for two workouts so I had a pretty good feeling about it,” Rozier said during a conference call after being selected with Boston’s first of two first-round picks. “It worked out well. Danny Ainge is a great guy. Stevens is a real great guy. He’s really interactive with his guys. It was just amazing.”
With names like Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart already on the roster, Rozier will have to battle with those veterans and fellow rookies R.J. Hunter (Georgia State) and Marcus Thornton (William and Mary) to make an impression.
“I’m very excited,” Rozier said. “I know the tradition. Fans are crazy about basketball. And I’m just to excited to be a part of something like this. I’m just to ready to bring something to the table.
“It’s kind of the same thing I went through with a lot of guards when [Louisville] won the national championship [in 2013]. I just want to come in and bring the Celtics the same kind of defense, find my way to fit on the floor and compete. That’s my thing. I’m not worried about who’s there. I’m worried about how can I get on the floor and things like that.”
One of the big influences, naturally, has been his coach at Louisville and former Celtics coach Rick Pitino.
“He was a big help,” Rozier said. “He helped me relax. He knows the area [in Boston]. He talked to me every day. He was a guy in my corner, in my ear, just giving me the confidence.”
|Danny Ainge is ‘hopeful’ he can move way up in NBA draft Thursday||06.23.15 at 12:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Apparently, where there’s smoke, there’s fire with Danny Ainge and the rumors of his interest in moving way up in the draft Thursday night.
“Yeah, we’re having discussions with both of our picks in the first round, trying to move up with at least one of them. I think there’ll be some movement,” Ainge said at a pre-draft media availability at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday.
Ainge’s comments come as the Los Angeles Times reported that the Celtics offered Marcus Smart and a package of picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for center Nerlens Noel and their No. 3 overall pick on Thursday.
The Celtics have picks No. 16 and 28 and could package a deal to move up.
Is Ainge optimistic that he can pull the trigger?
“Yeah. Hopeful,” Ainge said, before adding an important qualifier. “Nobody wants to. You have to be enticed to. Nobody wants to move down. A lot of that just depends on who’s drafted ahead of us and what our position is. If we move up the chances are very good that we did not have them in for a workout. We saw a lot of workouts, mostly out in LA. I went out to LA for a week and watched, and maybe saw 70 or 80 guys workout.”
|Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts||06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET|
WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.
The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.
Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”
“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”
|Pat Connaughton ready to prove himself ready for NBA: ‘I think I look pretty good in green’||06.10.15 at 3:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Pat Connaughton didn’t lack confidence when he was setting school records at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, and he didn’t lose that swagger while leading the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to within a breath of the Final Four this spring.
The Arlington resident always has had a swagger about him, and a wicked good sense of sarcasm and wit for a 22-year-old.
Maybe it’s the fact that he is a legit two-sport pro prospect. As a sharpshooter, he was a key part of Notre Dame‘s ACC basketball title this spring. He also can throw a baseball consistently in the mid-90s, which made him an MLB prospect, drafted by the Orioles last year in the fourth round while making his professional baseball debut with the Aberdeen IronBirds of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League. His fastball was clocked at 96 mph.
“The way the baseball draft works is if you don’t sign someone you draft in the first 10 rounds, you lose that slot money. I was very clear before the baseball draft that I wanted to go back to school to play basketball,” Connaughton said. “So, whoever drafted me had to know I was going to do that. I think both the Orioles and myself weren’t sure how far basketball would go. I think they were hoping it would end after college. I was just playing it every single day like I normally do and taking it day-by-day because that’s the only thing you can do with two sports. I found myself here and excited to pursue the opportunity.
“I had a great time in Aberdeen. I thought that down the road, whether it’s after a 10-year NBA career or a two-year NBA career, when I put my mind to baseball I can succeed at it. But I wasn’t ready to give up one of the sports. I’ve been harping my whole life that you can do two sports at the highest level, to kind of be a role model for those kids that are pressured into choosing one. It would be kind of hypocritical of me to just be like, ‘By the way, there’s some money in baseball. I think I’ll go do that.’ ”
At the end of July 2014, he informed the Orioles that he was indeed going to leave the IronBirds to return to the Fighting Irish basketball team.
On Wednesday, after working out for the Celtics, he explained why his priority now is focused on the NBA, not MLB.
“For me, I try to take it like I may not get drafted,” Connaughton said after his workout. “I try to work as hard as I can every single day. It’s been such a whirlwind over the last few months. I hope to be drafted. I’m working as hard as I can. I have some confidence in myself that I have a chance to, but we’ll see what happens on June 25. Read the rest of this entry »
|Cady Lalanne would love to channel his inner Kevin Garnett in a Celtics uniform||06.03.15 at 4:00 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Cady Lalanne has his sights set high.
The 6-foot-8 big man from UMass with a 7-foot-5 wingspan would love to model his game after another big man who made quite the impression during his time with the Celtics.
“Since I started playing basketball in ninth grade, KG has been a player I love to watch,” Lalanne said of Kevin Garnett after his pre-draft workout Wednesday with the Celtics. “I remember I used to always go to the park and try his fadeaway that he had when he was with the Timberwolves. When he came here and won a championship, I was really excited. Even right now, I still watch him and try to learn from him.”
What makes him think he can play like KG?
“Rebound the ball and play defense, that’s the strong [parts] right now,” Lalanne said. “I still have a lot to work on. I’m just ready to work. I would love to [emulate him]. He can knock the 15-foot jump shot, hit the three here and there and you can always count on him on defense to get stops.
“I can knock down the 15 to 17-foot jump shot, make threes and give a full effort on defense and offense and do everything I can to help the team win.”
While he’s got a long way to go to match KG’s accomplishments, he’s already traveled quite the road to get where he’s in position to dream the dream.
He was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He went to Oak Ridge High School in Orlando, Fla. And he had to overcome not getting into his first choice (University of Georgia) because of academic ineligibility. But that didn’t stop him.
“Originally, it’s because I didn’t qualify. I signed with the University of Georgia and I didn’t qualify to go there. UMass and the whole A-10 is a “Prop 48″ program. Coach [Derek] Kellogg started recruiting me so me and my head coach gave him a call. I didn’t get accepted to Georgia. The NCAA wouldn’t let me go to any schools except for the A-10 or the JUCOs. He told me he’d love to have me here so I came here, sat out the first year and was able to play the following year.”
|Olivier Hanlan has sights set on proving himself a ‘true point’ in NBA, maybe in Boston||06.03.15 at 10:32 am ET|
WALTHAM — Can Olivier Hanlan help the Celtics?
The point guard sensation broke onto the national scene with a 41-point outburst against Georgia Tech in the 2013 ACC tournament, setting a new conference tournament record for freshman scoring in the process. That summer Hanlan worked out at the Celtics’ training facility in Waltham, playing occasional pickup games with the likes of Jared Sullinger and Rajon Rondo.
Tuesday’s workout was like going back to the future for the 6-foot-4 guard, who led the ACC in scoring this past season at 19.5 PPG.
“It’s definitely fun being back here,” Hanlan said. “I’m kind of used to this place compared to other places.”
In three years at Boston College, Hanlan showed an explosive ability to get to the basket and score from everywhere on the court. It’s that kind of ability from the point guard position that could convince the Celtics to take a chance on the 22-year-old.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens acknowledged that acquiring a guard who can score and knock down the open jumper is high on their priority list heading into the June 25 draft in Brooklyn.
Hanlan not only has New England roots but a Canadian connection that could come in handy on the Celtics as he, like Kelly Olynyk were born in Canada. Hanlan transferred from his home in Quebec to the basketball powerhouse New Hampton School in New Hampton New Hampshire for his junior and senior years of high school.
He was recruited by Boston College and fell into a great situation for the last three years.
“I’ve built a lot of relationships [in Boston], so obviously it would be a dream come true,” Hanlan said. “But you can’t really be picky with these types of things.”
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