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Jackie MacMullan on OM&F: ‘You can forget about [Kevin] Durant’ 05.24.16 at 2:58 pm ET
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May 22, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) defends during the second quarter in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant dribbles on Warriors guard Stephen Curry. (Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

Appearing on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria program Tuesday, ESPN basketball columnist and Hall of Famer Jackie MacMullan gave Celtics fans a huge reality check when it comes to Kevin Durant.

The superstar in the midst of playoff run with the Thunder, helping them to a 2-1 series lead over favored Golden State, could become a free agent this summer. The speculation is that he would sign a one-year deal and then sign his mega-deal starting with the 2017-18 season, when the NBA salary cap is around $108 million.

Celtics fans chanted “Come to Boston” and he acknowledged, “I like the city a lot,” when Oklahoma City came to town in March and spanked the Celtics. That was the same week Philadelphia fans did the same in the hopes of luring him to their town.

MacMullan said a reality check is in order.

“You can forget about Durant,” MacMullan said. I’m not sure Durant is going to go anywhere. Suppose they win the championship, you think he’s going to leave there?

“The truth is: All these people put words in Kevin Durant’s mouth about leaving in the first place. Has he ever said that he wanted to leave? He never has. That, to me, is a bit of a pipe dream.”

Another name that’s been tossed around is Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler. He’s got four years left on a five-year, $92.3 million deal. MacMullan thinks the asking price from Chicago could be too steep, even for the Celtics.

“Jimmy Butler, what’s the price? That matters, that matters,” she added. “You can’t give away everything away for Jimmy Butler. I would love to have Jimmy Butler here.”

Then the most realistic scenario came up. MacMullan thinks the Celtics are “most realistic” contenders for Philly big man Jahlil Okafor.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jackie MacMullan, Jahlil Okafor
Celtics choice: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin 05.24.16 at 6:12 am ET
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As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins or Clippers superstar Blake Griffin

The case for Cousins

Cousins is arguably, at 6-foot-11, 270 pounds, the most talented young true center in the NBA. He turns 26 this August and is coming off back-to-back All-Star seasons with the woebegone Kings. He’s gone from 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in 2013-14 to 26.9 and 11.9 this past season. He can give the Celtics everything they’re looking for in a true post presence, who can score and rim protect. He would instantly transform Boston’s front court into a powerhouse. He’s still got two years left on a four-year, $65 million deal, averaging $17.5 million each season, not bad for the production. The Celtics had no low post presence against the Hawks in their first-round series. Cousins would immediately change all of that. 

The case against Cousins

It’s the attitude, son. No one doubts his raw ability and production. No one also doubts his lack of maturity has greatly stunted his ability to lead in Sacramento. No doubt, being on a losing franchise year after year can wear on an impressionable kid. Having Rajon Rondo in the locker room probably didn’t do a lot to help in that regard, either. Cousins famously erupted at Kings coach George Karl last November in front of the team. He’s had many other flare-ups over his six seasons in the land NBA winners went to escape relevance. The Celtics spent much of the season building bonds and shedding tears when the season came to an end in April. Cousins could be an explosive mix to that. 

 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, blake griffin, Boston Celtics, DeMarcus Cousins
Danny Ainge provides some insight on where he’s headed with No. 3: Be the best ‘without selling out’ 05.23.16 at 3:10 pm ET
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Jan 26, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge looks on prior to the game against the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Ainge has lots to consider before the June 23 draft. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

If you’re wondering what Danny Ainge is thinking heading into June 23, think long-term instead of short-term. 

Appearing on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night, the president of basketball operations for the Celtics suggested that there’s a lot to consider when weighing trading the No. 3 pick or holding onto it for the best player available at that spot. 

“[The pick] certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker, so that sets that back a little bit. Or we’d have to give up more [talent as part of a trade],” Ainge told the show. “I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”

So, it appears that Ainge is suggesting that making any trade to bring back a reasonable piece would involve trading one of his existing pieces, not necessarily a deal it sounds like he’s ready to make, at least not yet. 

“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Ainge told the show.  “We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something that’s sustainable for a longer period of time.

“I think that that’s my job in the organization. I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know my players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it. I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think we’re all on board. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit that sacrifices future assets.”

There’s been plenty of speculation as to whether the Celtics would trade the No. 3 to Philadelphia for a chance to take Providence College star Kris Dunn, after presumably taking either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. 

But if the Celtics hold onto the pick, it’s not likely that they go with Dunn. Instead, names like 7-footer Dragan Bender, sharp-shooter Jamaal Murray and scoring phenom Buddy Hield are in the mix.

Then Ainge made his biggest point, something to consider whether the Celtics draft a player, sign one in free agency or acquire a player this summer in a trade. 

“A player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that player’s the best player, we have to take him,” said Ainge. “We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance. There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans haven’t been excited about on draft day.

“Last year, I remember [Kristaps] Porzingis was drafted in New York and they were booing all over the place and you’re like, ‘Well, why would they be booing so much on Porzingis?’ When you draft players, I remember when I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash and we were booed. I remember being booed when Dan Majerle was drafted in Phoenix. You can’t base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do. You just really have to use our experience, our work, and our eyes, and we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Buddy Hield, Danny Ainge
Celtics choice: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward 05.23.16 at 9:25 am ET
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As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Wizards guard Bradley Beal (assuming he re-signs in Washington or somewhere else) or Jazz guard Gordon Hayward.

The case for Beal

At 6-foot-5, Beal has the ideal length to be a shooting guard, the role he’s most prominently served in Washington next to John Wall. He averaged a team-leading and career-best 17.4 points per game over 55 games this past season. He led the Wizards in their 10 playoff games from 2015 when he averaged 23.4 points. He is a career 40 percent shooter from 3-point range, another huge plus in the Stevens system. He is still very, very young, only turning 23 in June.

The case against Beal

Not worth the trouble and way too complicated. To acquire Beal, the Celtics could either go out and spend for him as a restricted free agent, opening the door for the Wizards to match or use Bird rights on him. Beal’s spent his first four years trying to prove he is a part of Washington’s future. Beal is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1 because he and the team didn’t come to terms on a contract extension before a Nov. 2 deadline. “I want to be here. I don’t know,” Beal said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t even know what I’m getting into right now. It’s like choosing colleges again. But I’m happy where I am. Hopefully, we can agree with each other this summer and we can get it done. But if not, it’s a business at the end of the day.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Bradley Beal, Gordon Hayward
Full Court Press: Austin Ainge tries to find gems at 16, 23; Danny Ainge gets ‘bored’ in workouts 05.21.16 at 8:37 pm ET
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Austin Ainge speaks to reporters Wednesday in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Austin Ainge speaks to reporters Wednesday in Waltham. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WALTHAM — A show of hands: Who remembers, without googling, when John Stockton was taken in the 1984 draft? 

If you answered 16th, you win the prize for best understanding where we’re going with the following premise. As much as will be made of the significance of the third overall pick in the NBA (and understandably so), the Celtics also own the 16th and 23rd picks in the June 23 restocking exercise called the NBA draft and could wind up with a gem. 

In that ’84 draft, everyone remembers eventual Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Rockets, Michael Jordan third to the Bulls and Charles Barkley fifth to the Sixers. But it was another future Hall of Famer in Stockton who slipped through the cracks and fell to the Jazz at 16.  

There was a lot of talk this week from the Celtics about why those second two first-round picks shouldn’t be forgotten. One high-ranking executive told me, “We are in a great position. The Nets did the losing for us to get the third overall pick and we have Dallas’ and our own. This should be a lot of fun for Danny.” 

Indeed, the Celtics president of basketball operations and his son, Austin, the director of player personnel, not only will have multiple scenarios for No. 3 but 16 and 23 as well. 

“Obviously, you have to prepare for the entire draft, and we do that with every draft. It doesn’t really change that much for our preparation,” Austin Ainge said. “But obviously, toward the top of draft, it usually has a bigger impact on your franchise so you try to focus a lot on those guys. But there are franchise that have been drafted in every range, and that’s the benefit of having multiple picks, multiple swings at the bat.

“It’s all in context. You have their high school career, their college career, their workouts, their measurements, some of the background information we collect. It all just adds up so it’s all just small bits of information adding together. Can’t let one bit sway everything, and certainly a workout won’t, but it helps us.

“I think that’s the case in every draft, and it’s not that they end up being the same, it’s just hard for us to tell. We always say six of these next 40 picks are going to end up being really good players. It’s just that we don’t know which ones. It’s hard.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, John Stockton, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono
Nigel Hayes tells Celtics: ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you’ 05.19.16 at 12:49 pm ET
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Mar 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes (10) shoots against Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Bonzie Colson (35) during the first half in a semifinal game in the East regional of the NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes shoots against Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson in the NCAA tournament. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — Nigel Hayes knows you need confidence to play in the NBA.

The 6-foot-6 forward from Wisconsin also knows you need a jumper to play for the Celtics.

Hayes showed this week he has the first component. And he told the Celtics he can definitely work on the second.

“We were talking in the locker room, we need a wing player, someone who can really shoot the ball well. I told the guys, ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you. I’ll go stand in the corner and knock down shots for you.’

“Just show them that if they need a wing player, I could fill that void. All you’ve got to do is just put in the time to be a good shooter. Putting in the time would be no problem, make a lot of shots a day, hopefully get in some games. Hopefully, make some shots in a game and have a great career.”

Hayes was a 44.1 percent shooter from the field in his three years at Wisconsin, which included 12 points and five rebounds in the 2015 NCAA national semifinal stunner over Kentucky. In that game, he knocked down 2-of-5 from 3-point range.

When Hayes spoke Wednesday, he was asked why confidence is such a big part of his game.

“I always think it’s a great thing. The number one question they ask: ‘Why should we pick you on our team?’ My first response is always, ‘I’m a winner.’ Obviously, you need winners. Winners know what to do to win. They can help those around them win. Also, I’m a basketball player and I think if you want to be good or great at any level at anything you do, you need confidence in yourself. I’ll always have confidence in my abilities on the basketball court.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, NBA, Nigel Hayes
Austin Ainge to lottery-bound players: ‘We’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range’ 05.19.16 at 11:27 am ET
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WALTHAM – One takeaway from the news that Kris Dunn reportedly doesn’t want to be chosen by the Celtics with the third pick is that he and his handlers are fairly confident that he’ll be the first guard taken.

This nugget is of keen interest to the Celtics, and in particular director of player personnel Austin Ainge.

“Over the next little while we’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range and who wants to come in and who doesn’t,” Ainge said Wednesday after the Celtics held pre-draft workouts for several prospects. “The picks between 3 and 16, there’ll probably be a couple of guys who’ll say, ‘We’re not going 3, we’re not going 16, so we’re not going to come in.’ So, there’ll probably be a couple.”

Now Ainge and the Celtics can narrow down the pre-draft field to those players they are targeting.

“We’ll start that coming up here,” Ainge said. “Probably a little of both but we’ll have to see.”

In addition to owning the third overall pick, the Celtics have the 16th and 23rd picks in the first round and five picks in the second round.

“The higher the draft pick, you have a better chance,” Ainge said. “There’s going to be really good players available at 16, there’s going to be really good players available at 23. It’s just harder to identify in that range. It’s a little harder. We’re going to work really hard to do the best we can.”

Ainge’s comments Wednesday were interesting because they came before the news of Dunn’s wish not be drafted by the Celtics came out.

With the Celtics in the market for a wing shooter and rim protector, a guard wouldn’t seem to be at the top of their list. But Danny Ainge said Tuesday after the lottery that his objective would be to take the best player available with the third overall pick. If the Celtics are looking at guards, especially later in the draft, the ideal situation would be to get a lot of them on the court at the same time to compete against one another.

To do that, the Celtics must first contact those players who have already hired agents and get in touch with others who have not.

“Everything has been on hold for a lot of the guys that feel they’re in the range for No. 3 until the lottery and so, we’ll start those negotiations with the agents coming up here,” Austin Ainge said. “So, I don’t know yet, to be honest.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Austin Ainge, Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge
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