|Full Court Press: C’s consider draft and stash, legend of Togo Palazzi continues with Zach Auguste||06.11.16 at 7:51 pm ET|
When the Philadelphia 76ers and then-GM Sam Hinke entered the 2014 NBA draft, they had their sights set on a 6-foot-10 Croatian forward by the name of Dario Saric. The Orlando Magic drafted him twelfth overall and the Sixers made a deal with with the Magic to drop down two spots, acquire Saric, a 2015 second-round pick and a first-round selection in 2017. And all it cost them was Elfrid Payton.
The move was one of the few bright spots of the Hinke era in Philadelphia, as it produced something for the future.
But the deal, an hour after Philly drafted Joel Embiid third overall, did something else. It asked the Philadelphia fans to put their faith in the “draft and stash” approach to the lottery. Just days earlier, Saric signed a multi-year deal in Turkey, a deal he may finally break this offseason to finally come to the states and play for the Sixers. Saric was stashed away in Europe developing his skills as a 19-year-old power forward. It’s very debatable as to whether Saric would have been ready to step in and contribute significantly right away, even on a team that had precious little talent.
The Saric case is not the typical “draft and stash” example, as NBA teams usually employ this strategy for second-round draft picks whom they don’t feel command NBA contracts. The Celtics have five picks in the second round, and certainly could use this approach multiple times if they feel they can reach an agreement with a player and his representative on what’s best for the player’s career in the long term, saving NBA roster spots while holding their future playing rights.
Could the Celtics take Dragan Bender with the third overall pick and allow him to continue to play in Europe? Perhaps. It really depends on how ready they feel he is to enter the NBA after not even playing that much this season for Maccabi in Israel.
“I think that all of those things are on the table and we need to look at all of those,” Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said this week. “I think Brad [Stevens] asked in his contract extension to not have eight rookies this year. I think that was specifically written in.”
All kidding aside, would the Celtics avoid drafting a player like Bender, if he doesn’t want to stay overseas and would rather play in the NBA now?
“If we really like the guy, no, that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker,” Ainge added. [Draft-and-stash talks] will be finalized kind of after you draft a kid, sit down and determine a plan of action, but those discussions go on all the time, year-round, contract situations, age, different levels of maturity and in the players’ game, all those come into play. But it’s a partnership with the player, his representatives and the team to try to make the best decisions for him.”
|Isaiah Thomas wants Team USA to look at him for Olympics: ‘I wish I could get a chance’||06.10.16 at 7:28 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas is nothing if not honest.
He spent the last couple of weeks pushing hard for Kevin Durant to come to Boston and join him on the Celtics.
Now, the 5-foot-9 dynamo is making another pitch. He wants to play on Team USA in Rio.
“I wish I could get a chance to play on the USA team!” Thomas tweeted Friday evening. “Looking at the history of it, I’ve never seen a small guard selected 2 even try out.”
Of course, the most famous “Dream Team” snub involved Thomas’ namesake in 1992 in Spain, when the Pistons’ Isiah Thomas was not offered a spot. Many theories have been suggested over the years. The most common involves Thomas burning a bridge with Michael Jordan when he led a walk-off against Jordan and the Bulls at the end of the 1991 Eastern finals, a move that struck a raw nerve with Jordan.
This Thomas has no such intention of burning a bridge.
USA Basketball will have a 12-man roster in Rio. ESPN reported Friday that Kings forward (and a player perpetually tied to the Celtics) DeMarcus Cousins has been selected.
There’s a who’s who list of NBA stars who have already turned down Team USA, including NBA MVP Stephen Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and John Wall.
The Celtics’ point guard would seem to be a natural fit to replace the likes of Curry, Wall or Paul.
I wish I could get a chance to play on the USA team! Looking at the history of it I’ve never seen a small guard get selected 2 even try out
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) June 10, 2016
|Jamal Murray out to prove he’s ‘best player’ in draft: ‘I can score on anybody’||06.08.16 at 2:14 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Jamal Murray doesn’t lack for confidence.
The 6-foot-4 guard out of Kentucky is rated by some as the best pure shooter and scorer available after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram in the draft.
“I have the mind of a 1 in a 2 guard’s body,” Murray said. “I believe I can score on anybody. In college I got better at playing the 2, kind of got a feel for it coming off screens, found my rhythm. Before that I was a natural point guard. I’m a big guard, whether a 1 or 2.”
Does Murray think he’s the best player in this draft?
“Yeah, I think so. That’s not a knock on anybody, I’m just looking back on the work I’ve put in, how far I’ve come, how quickly I learn, how quickly I adapt to my surroundings and how easy I fit into a team. I believe I’m the best player in the draft, but every team needs what they need,” he said. “I just want to go to the right team. The team that wants me. The team that believes in my potential and [couldn’t make out] I have right now. Someone who is going to use down the stretch and have faith in me.”
On Wednesday, he spent the morning working out for the Celtics, proving that and setting a record of sorts.
The guard made 79 of 100 shots from 3-point range in a drill around the arc. The previous mark was 77 this spring. The drill involved taking 10 shots from beyond the arc at five spots on the court and going twice around.
“They told me ahead of time it was a record. I was at 71. They kind of had one more spot to go,” Murray said. “I didn’t know. They just kind of told me I was at 71.”
|A crazy busy Zach Auguste comes home for a Celtics workout: ‘I’ve got 19. All downhill from here’||06.08.16 at 12:40 pm ET|
Zach Auguste "nothing makes me prouder than to put this jersey on and have a workout" on his Celtics workout Weds pic.twitter.com/CZoJX3WFO9
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 8, 2016
WALTHAM – There are few, if any, players who have the pre-draft workout schedule that Notre Dame’s Zach Auguste has.
The Marlboro, Mass. native stopped by Waltham Wednesday morning for a workout with the Celtics as part of a journey that is set to take him to 18 different teams.
“This is my 14th workout. So I’m kind of a vet,” Auguste said with a hearty smile. “I’ve got 19 scheduled. Yeah, I’m a 14, so I’m almost there. All downhill from here.
“This is actually my third one in a row this week. Just came from Houston and L.A., with the Lakers and the Rockets. And I’m going to have a couple days off, about four days off, and then head down to Washington for the Wizards. Then I’ve got Sacramento, Golden State, and then Detroit.”
“It takes a toll on you and you definitely get fatigued, but the most important thing is just kinda get as much rest as you can, stay hydrated. The trainer will say to me, ‘Always have a Gatorade or water bottle in your hands at all times.’ Then you just use a recovery system. Each organization has a recovery room you can get some ice, heat, whatever you need to do. So utilizing that is the most important thing.”
What was it like for him to stop by home and work out for the team that he rooted for growing up.
“It feels great. I had an opportunity to come here for this organization, work out for a team that I grew up my whole life watching and cheering for,” the 6-foot-10 Auguste said. “Nothing makes me prouder than being able to put this jersey on and have a workout, even if it’s just for one workout.”
So the Celtics were his favorite team?
“Of course. It’s funny to see Walter McCarty down there, helping us out, you know, someone I used to watch with his tube sucks all the time running up and down the court,” Auguste said. “So, it’s always good to see that, especially Danny Ainge as well.”
He did not, however, scream, ‘I love Waltah.’
|Jamal Murray, Cheick Diallo part of busy workout day Wednesday for Celtics||06.08.16 at 11:32 am ET|
WALTHAM – Several potential first-round choices came to Waltham Wednesday as the Celtics gear up their scouting and preparations for the NBA draft two weeks from Thursday.
Jamal Murray (Kentucky) and Cheick Diallo (Kansas) were invited to the Celtics’ practice facility.
Also attending were Zach Auguste (Notre Dame), Farad Cobb (Cincinnati), Adam Pechacek (Czech Republic), Adam Smith (Georgia Tech), Terry Allen (Richmond) and Domanatas Sabonis (Gonzaga).
Murray and Sabonis were invited for individual workouts while the rest worked in a group, concentrating on 3-on-3 and other drills.
Wednesday marked the second of three workout days in a busy pre-draft week for the Celtics.
There was no word from the team as to whether Dragan Bender would be working out on Thursday after it was reported Tuesday that the 7-foot-1 big man from Croatia would be taking part in workouts for three NBA teams, including the Celtics.
|Brad Stevens sings praise of Avery Bradley: ‘You could make a strong case for him to be defensive player of year’||06.06.16 at 6:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – If Brad Stevens has anything to say about it, Avery Bradley and his $8 million per year salary isn’t going anywhere this offseason.
The Celtics coach spoke for the first time since the star defensive guard was chosen first-team NBA all-defense last week.
“I think it was clearly deserved. I think that you could make a strong case for him to be Defensive Player of the Year or in consideration for that because he is so versatile in his ability to defend guards,” Stevens said after the second of two pre-draft workouts Monday in Waltham.
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who won the honor for a second straight year.
But that didn’t keep Stevens from pointing out that Bradley could arguably be placed among the best defensive guards in basketball.
“I think if you polled the guards in the NBA, really 1 through 3, Avery’s name would come up a lot,” Stevens added. “So, obviously it’s against great competition. The guys who got honored all deserve it. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying there’s one Defensive Player of the Year when you have somebody of Avery’s caliber and his ability to impact the game.”
Stevens said that he has been in contact with Bradley, and that rehab on his right hamstring is coming along after straining it badly in Game 1 against the Hawks, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.
“I don’t have an update on where he is in the physical rehab part, but obviously after he won the award we communicated, and he’s getting better,” Stevens said.
Bradley’s name could come up in trade talk at some point this summer, as he is not only considered one of the more underrated guards in the league, he is affordably priced. Bradley is entering the third year of a four-year contract totaling $32 million.
|Brad Stevens says ‘there’s seven or eight guys’ targeted for the No. 3 pick||06.06.16 at 4:51 pm ET|
WALTHAM – The Celtics are beginning to narrow down their potential choices for the No. 3 spot in the draft.
Brad Stevens acknowledged Monday that he is watching video clips of all the possibilities and discussing their strengths with his staff.
“I’ve got a good idea when I talk to Danny and the front office about who they are really targeting and focused on, as far as, again, there’s seven or eight guys,” Stevens said after Monday’s doubleheader workout that involved 12 players from college and Europe.
The names that come to mind most frequently after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown (who worked out last Wednesday), Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn and Jamaal Murray.
But what Stevens made clear is that, with eight picks overall, including five in the second round, the Celtics have to be ready to pick wherever and whenever, depending on what deals may or may not be made.
“We’ve got so many picks that you can’t stop there,” Stevens added. “Whether you’re watching clips, individual clips or highlight films or whatever the case may be, what I like to do is I like to watch full-game footage, and specifically end-of-game footage on a lot of different guys. We have so many picks, any game you turn on, almost might include somebody, so it’s pretty good.”
Austin Ainge joked that Stevens asked, as part of his new contract, that he not have eight rookies to coach next season. Stevens, appreciating the humor, said the number of picks doesn’t make the job any easier in terms of evaluation.
“I don’t know about easier. I think it’s hard any time you’ve got the volume of potential picks that we have and all that goes with that. I think that, again, my job is just to give an opinion when asked,” Stevens said. “So those guys have been watching all year. Those guys know what they are looking for, who they are looking at. Again, these workouts, I think, sometimes help validate some things for them. They are probably more beneficial for our staff because we haven’t seen guys as much, specifically we haven’t seen guys live.”
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason