|Celtics keep quiet at the deadline||02.18.16 at 3:45 pm ET|
There were no earth-shaking moves to be made.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge worked the phones over the last week but ultimately the reports that he didn’t want to pay “premium prices” for premium talent proved accurate.
Instead of adding a rental like Dwight Howard or Al Horford or an expensive piece like Kevin Love, Ainge decided to stay put and hold onto his three first-round picks, including Brooklyn’s likely lottery pick this June.
As it turned out, Howard, Horford and Love all stayed with their respective teams in Houston, Atlanta and Cleveland.
There were several lower-tier deals, including former Celtics forward Jeff Green being sent to the Clippers, where he will be reunited with his old coach Doc Rivers. The Clippers send Lance Stephenson and a first-round pick to Memphis in return.
The Hawks did make a couple of deals. They acquired veteran shooting guard Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls for a second-round pick. Atlanta also traded guard Shelvin Mack to Utah for a second-round pick. Mack played for Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler.
|Report: Celtics not showing ‘any interest’ in Dwight Howard||02.18.16 at 2:56 pm ET|
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, neither Boston nor Charlotte (another team rumored to have need for the Rockets big man) ever had serious discussions with Houston to acquire the 12-year veteran center.
“To my knowledge, neither [team] has ever shown any interest in making a real offer for Dwight. I’m not sure any team has,” Lowe tweeted.
Howard, who has an option for $23 million next season, is averaging 14.6 points and 12 rebounds for a team that is in ninth place in the Western Conference, with a 27-28 record.
The Lowe report echoes the same sentiment of Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported earlier Thursday that the Celtics had not shown any interest in paying “premium” prices for any of the high-profile big men that were reportedly on the block before the trading deadline.
To my knowledge, neither BOS/CHA has ever shown any interest in making a real offer for Dwight. I'm not sure any team has. 52 minutes to go.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 18, 2016
|Report: Celtics lead Al Horford sweepstakes if Hawks make him available at deadline||02.17.16 at 4:48 pm ET|
Are the Celtics about to get their big man at the trade deadline?
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Danny Ainge is the front-runner to land Atlanta center Al Horford if the Hawks make him available before Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
The nine-year veteran is averaging 15.3 points and 6.9 rebounds while starting all of Atlanta’s 55 games this season. The 31-24 Hawks are just one game behind the third-place Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
This all begs the question why Atlanta would want to deal one the league’s best big men right now? The Hawks are staring down the barrel of the free agency gun with Horford set to hit the open market this summer.
Horford is in the final year of a five-year, $60 million contract and is earning $12 million this season. Blakely reports that the Hawks have not made a decision on whether they will trade Horford but a league source told CSNNE.com that “the Celtics have emerged as one of the favorites to land him.”
But the big caveat is whether the Hawks even decide to part ways with the veteran forward at all. Atlanta would likely demand one of Boston’s three first-round picks.
If Ainge feels the true value is in the lottery pick, and could package the other first-rounders and some other enticements, then the deal might happen.
What would it mean for the short-term? Horford, a four-time All-Star, would easily step in and become Boston’s best post player, as Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder has formed the starting front court the last 11 games and 16 of the last 17 games.
|Report: Celtics trying to trade David Lee – and his contract – before trade deadline||02.15.16 at 1:48 pm ET|
While Celtics players continue to get their rest over the All-Star break, their general manager enters his busiest week of the season. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is not just listening to offers for his three first-round picks this June while building his roster for a deep playoff run, he’s trying to move players.
The biggest challenge this week for Ainge might be what to do with center David Lee. His skills might still be valuable to a team that needs depth in the middle.
And while that would certainly seem to be a perfect fit for the team he’s currently on, the Celtics, like every team that has had him, would like to be free of the contract.
Specifically, Lee’s cap hit is $15,493,680, is easily the highest on the Celtics and the sixth-highest such figure among power forwards in the NBA, behind the likes of Chris Bosh ($22.1 million), LeMarcus Aldridge ($19.6 million), Kevin Love ($19.6 million), Blake Griffin ($18.9 million) and Paul Millsap ($18.6 million).
Lee has started just four of 30 games this season, averaging just 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting a career-low 45.3 percent from the field. He hasn’t played since Jan. 10 at Memphis and has been a DNP for the last 18 games.
Now 32, Lee is in the final year of a six-year, $79.5 million deal he signed with the Knicks in 2010, using the Bird exception. The Boston Herald reports that Ainge is unlikely to move Lee before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.
“David Lee was tough for Golden State to move all of last year,” the Herald reported, citing a league source. “And it finally came down to him being moved for Gerald Wallace. David Lee has no value. It’s his contract. David Lee‘s value comes in if they get one of these big name players.”
The Celtics acquired Lee and his expiring contract last summer from the world champion Golden State Warriors, sending Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb to Golden State. If Ainge can’t move Lee, the forward could accept a buyout from the Celtics by Mar. 1, allowing him to sign with another team in time for the playoffs.
|Report: Hawks looking for ‘borderline ridiculous’ return for Al Horford, Jeff Teague||02.12.16 at 10:46 am ET|
Many NBA trade rumors have linked the Celtics to the 29-year-old Horford for two basic reasons. First, there’s an obvious need for the Celtics in the post to strengthen their potential playoff run in the East. The Celtics are in third place with a 32-23 record at the All-Star break and could make a run at the No. 1 or 2 seed. Second, the Celtics are one of the few teams with the capital on hand to execute the deal the Hawks are looking for, as Boston holds three first-round picks in the upcoming draft, including Brooklyn’s lottery pick.
But that doesn’t mean Boston would be willing to deal, according to Mannix.
“From everything I’ve been told in the last two or three days, Atlanta’s requests for both Al Horford and Jeff Teague have been borderline ridiculous,” Mannix said Thursday on CSNNE. “The kind of things teams like Boston, or Milwaukee, or Denver simply won’t deal for the players they want.
“Things like this tend to cool off, though. As we get close to the deadline — when we get to the 17th, when we get to the 18th [the trade deadline] — that’s when the real horse trading begins. That’s when [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge will know if Atlanta is really serious about trading Al Horford.”
Horford has started all 55 games this season and is averaging 15.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds. The biggest deterrent to making a deal would be the fact that Horford will become a free agent at the end of the season. Teague, at 27, is in the prime of his career. He’s in the third year of a four-year, $32 million contract.
There have been multiple reports that the Hawks are considering trading the two pieces to try to get to the top of the draft and to position themselves for the new salary cap that takes effect next season, with a cap coming in at around $89 million, a jump of $19 million. In two years, the cap mushrooms to $108 million.
|Isaiah Thomas headed to All-Star game in Toronto||01.28.16 at 9:17 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas is no longer a forgotten star in the NBA.
The 26-year-old Celtics scoring guard entering his prime was selected to his first career All-Star squad Thursday night.
The NBA announced during Thursday’s special on TNT that Thomas will be heading to Toronto Feb. 12-14, joining Jimmy Butler, DeMar DeRozan, Paul Millsap, Andre Drummond, Chris Bosh and John Wall as the seven reserves selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
All-Star reserves were chosen by the league’s 30 head coaches.
Thomas entered the Celtics‘ starting lineup on a regular basis on Nov. 4 and scored at least 16 points in 40 of his 44 games in that time. Thomas is averaging a career-high 21.6 points per game this season, which leads all Eastern Conference point guards and ranks seventh among all guards in the NBA.
On Oct. 28, in the season opener against the Sixers, Thomas scored a game-high 27 points off the bench to pace the Celtics to a victory. On Dec. 16, 2015, he tied his career-high of 38 points in a loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Thomas has averaged 20.3 points and 5.8 assists in Boston’s current four-game winning streak, a run that has improved them to 26-21 on the season, putting them just a game behind third-place Atlanta in the East.
|Brad Stevens gets an early look at strength of his team: ‘Our bench has to be a great source of energy’||10.29.15 at 10:43 am ET|
The Celtics started off slowly to the lowly 76ers, trailing by as many as nine, 26-17, in the first quarter. Boston made just six of its first 21 shots and could find no rhythm.
The young 76ers had rookie Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel running the court, and scoring. And the Celtics looked flat.
Then the bench started to make the impact that it was built all offseason to make. Slowly but surely, Jared Sullinger, Isaiah Thomas and Amir Johnson made their impact, some faster than others. Thomas missed his first four shots before finding his range, on his way to a game-high 27-point night. Johnson added 15 and Sullinger chipped in with 12 as the vision of Danny Ainge was clear for everyone to see.
When it was all said and done, the Celtics bench outscored Philly reserves, 67-15, in walking away with a 112-95 win. That’s exactly what Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens had in mind when they built the deepest roster in the NBA in the offseason.
“Our bench has to be a great source of energy and scoring and everything else for us,” Stevens said. “And I thought [the Sixers] came out of the gates great. Okafor was really hard for us to guard early ‘ and then Noel, I just thought they had a great impact on the game on both ends. So, we found ourselves in a hole which probably isn’t all bad in your first game, to see how you respond, and we responded. Any time we cut it close I thought we responded. I thought we missed some things that we can clean up, but at the same time I thought we did a lot of good things.”
Down 26-17, the Celtics outscored the Sixers, 21-2, over the next eight minutes. Thomas and Sullinger each had six points in the run.
The bench was also the reason the Celtics were able to hold off the Sixers each time they made a run. Three times the Sixers got as close as five points and each time the Celtics answered, including a 7-0 spurt at the end of the third, when Thomas hit a three right before the buzzer.
“The end of the quarters are important to us,” Stevens said. “We want to finish well, we want to do well in those situations. And those were big for us tonight. But I thought just as big was they’d cut it to five and we’d go on a 7-0 run. They’d cut it to, I believe it was three one time, we go on a 6-0 run. So those are good responses in those moments.”
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