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Ray Allen exercises option to return to Celtics 06.07.11 at 12:33 pm ET
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In a move that should surprise no one, Ray Allen has exercised his option for the second year of his contract that will pay him $10 million next season. After the Celtics were eliminated by Miami, Allen said that he intended to stay with the team.

With Allen on board the Celtics have six players under contract for next season: Rajon Rondo, Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal and Avery Bradley. With about $65 million committed in salaries the Celtics will almost certainly be over the salary cap. However, by not signing an extension Allen is set to come off the books after next season along with Garnett and O’Neal.

Allen played in 80 games last season and returned to the All-Star game after averaging 16.5 points while shooting a career-high 44 percent from 3-point range. He also broke Reggie Miller’s all-time record for most 3-pointers made in a career.

He will turn 36 in July and the track record for perimeter players in their late 30′s is not great, but Allen is one of the best conditioned athletes in the sport and the Celtics feel he has several more years left in him.

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Georgia G Travis Leslie 06.04.11 at 10:51 am ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Travis Leslie

Position: Guard

School: Georgia

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 205 pounds

Stats: 14.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.9 apg

What he brings: Just a quick glance at his size and statistics reveals that Leslie is no ordinary player. Draft Express called him one of the best athletes in the draft and while he’s not much a 3-point shooter or ballhandler, he is still an efficient offensive player, averaging 1.34 points per possession used in his junior season at Georgia.

If he can improve his range he could be a dynamic change-of-pace player in someone’s rotation because he can rebound and has all the tools to be an excellent defensive player. In a best-case scenario Leslie has the ability to guard multiple positions and his perimeter game will catch up with his obvious skills around the rim and inside 10 feet.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “He’s an athletic freak … a guy that is capable athletically of just about anything.” — South Carolina coach Darrin Horn

Notes: Leslie has already made waves, comparing himself favorably to former Celtic Tony Allen at the draft combine, who predictably wasn’t happy about it. Leslie tried to backtrack, but Draft Express has the video.

Video:

Read More: 2011 NBA Draft, Potential Celtics, Travis Leslie,
Shaq thanks Doc Rivers at retirement press conference 06.03.11 at 1:56 pm ET
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During his retirement press conference at his home in Orlando, Shaquille O’Neal made special mention of his time with the Celtics, especially coach Doc Rivers. O’Neal singled out Rivers and Phil Jackson as the pro coaches who helped him the most.

“Playing for Doc Rivers this year was very, very special,” O’Neal said. “We had a lot of talent on the team but Doc Rivers always, always focused on the team. Thank you Doc.”

O’Neal said that he would have needed surgery on his Achilles in order to play again and that would have kept him out nine months. “The best solution was going in and cleaning it up with a nine-month recovery,” O’Neal said. “I thought it was good business to let Danny [Ainge] know right away so that he could get some young talent. It’s a beautiful organization. They still got a lot left.”

Shaq added, “I was really down on myself because I went up there with one mission only and I felt like I let the city down. I didn’t want that to happen again.”

O’Neal began his press conference by saying, “I never thought this day would come that father time would catch up with Shaquille O’Neal.”

He found time to make a joke at the Knicks expense after they unexpectedly let Donnie Walsh go earlier on Friday. He picked up a cell phone and said, “You want me to come up and apply for the Knick general manager job? That was the president of the Knicks. He wanted me to fly up after the press conference.”

Read More: Doc Rivers, Shaquille O'Neal,
Shaquille O’Neal announces plans to retire 06.01.11 at 3:34 pm ET
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In true Shaquille O’Neal style, he announced his plans to retire via a video on Tout. His message was short and sweet:

“We did it, 19 years baby,” O’Neal said. “I want to thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire.”

O’Neal played in 37 games in his one season with the Celtics. He only appeared in one regular-season game after Feb. 1 because of an Achilles injury, and in that game he lasted just five minutes against the Pistons. O’Neal was then able to play in just two playoff games for a total of 12 minutes.

When he was able to play, O’Neal played a vital role in the Celtics early-season success. Without Kendrick Perkins, who was rehabbing from knee surgery, and Jermaine O’Neal, who had his own injury problems, Shaq averaged nine points and five rebounds and shot 67 percent from the floor. The Celtics went 27-9 with him in the starting lineup.

His injury had a devastating effect on the Celtics’ title chances. At the time, team president Danny Ainge made the Perkins trade, he did so with the assumption that O’Neal would be back soon to man the center position.

“Shaq brought us our best offense that we’€™ve had in four years when he was healthy and playing well,” Ainge said. “We had every indication from Shaq, from doctors and trainers that Shaq would be healthy and should have no issues by trade deadline. That changed. Maybe we should have taken his age into more consideration.”

O’Neal’s decision to retire has little effect on the Celtics plans for next season. He has a player option that would pay him on the veteran minimum so the team won’t see any benefit in the way of cap relief.

Read More: Shaquille O'Neal,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Duke F Kyle Singler 05.31.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Kyle Singler

Position: Forward

School: Duke

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 228 pounds

Stats: 16.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg

What he brings: Singler had a distinguished four-year career at Duke and has experience at the highest levels of the college game. That’s a double-edged sword in the modern era of the draft where potential has a great currency than production. He’s also 23 years old, which is ancient for a prospect.

Singler has a reputation as a shooter, but his 3-point shooting also fell dramatically this season down to 32 percent. He’s not much of an inside player so he’ll have to be able to knock down jumpers. There are also questions about his athleticism and who he will guard in the NBA, but he’s a smart player and a good passer. In the right system and with the right team, he could become a solid role player. It’s difficult to project him being more than that as a pro.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “Kyle Singler is rock solid. He’€™s got the Duke pedigree. He plays with a Shane Battier enthusiasm. He came back to school for all four years. Let’€™s not punish him for that and then have all these discussions about guys coming out too early. This kid came back to school, left his imprint on that school, had a wonderful experience and now he’€™s ready for NBA life. He has limitations physically. But if you’€™re a good team drafting late in the first round, you slot him right in.” — ESPNU analyst Tom Penn.

Notes: Singler is a great trick-shot artist (see video below). The YouTube clip, “Kyle Gets Buckets” has over 800,000 page views.

Video:

Read More: Kyle Singler, NBA Draft, Potential Celtics,
Keeping an eye on Dwight Howard 05.31.11 at 4:29 pm ET
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No one knows what free agency in the NBA will look like next summer, but if Magic center Dwight Howard terminates his contract after next season he will instantly become the next big prize. Unlike the summer of 2010 when LeBron James and friends were set to hit the open market, the uncertainty over a new labor agreement clouds everything at the moment.

Howard could be joined in free agency by players like Chris Paul and Deron Williams, but Howard is the main attraction for obvious reasons. He’s the most dominant center in the league by far, he’s never been seriously injured and he’ll be just 27 years old at 2012 and still in his prime.

As it stands the Celtics could be big players in free agency after next season (again, depending on the new salary cap rules) with under $30 million in salaries currently on the books to three players — Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley. That number will rise obviously but the Celtics are positioned to be active players in 2012.

Howard has the power to alter the dynamic if he chooses to sign an extension with the Magic that is reportedly on the table. He hosted a free barbecue in Orlando over the weekend and told the Orlando Sentinel that he wants to stay.

“I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else’s path,” he said. “I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando.”

He also dropped Shaquille O’Neals name, which as SI.com’s Zach Lowe pointed out, is probably not an accident. Lowe writes:

“Howard must know that invoking Shaq’€™s name is a big, big thing in Orlando. It transforms what would otherwise be the latest in a series of benign pseudo-commitments to Orlando into a memorable, loaded quote in which Howard distances himself from the player who defined the franchise before him. Howard will never be able to avoid this quote if he leaves.”

An Orlando television station reported that Howard was close to signing a two-year extension with the team, but there has been no further corroboration on anyone’s part.

This has already begun to turn into a drama much like the ones that enveloped James in his last season in Cleveland or like the one that surrounded Carmelo Anthony in Denver. Howard’s case is somewhere in the middle. While James played coy with everyone last season, Anthony forced the Nuggets’ hand by refusing to sign an extension. As long as the possibility of signing an extension exists, the Magic will wait on Howard.

Read More: 2012 free agency, Dwight Howard,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Boston College guard Reggie Jackson 05.30.11 at 2:23 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Reggie Jackson

Position: Guard

School: Boston College

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 208 pounds

Stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.5 apg

What he brings: Local hoop fans already know all about Jackson, who had a standout junior year, averaging 18 points and enjoying a huge upturn in his 3-point shooting from 29 percent as a sophomore to 42 percent as a junior. Jackson isn’t a pure point guard but he is a guard in the traditional sense. Perhaps most intriguing about Jackson is his wingspan, which has been measured at 7 feet. That length, combined with his athletic ability and on-court savvy could make for a destructive defensive-minded guard with scoring ability. In a best-case scenario Jackson has the skills to help a team this year.

There are questions about Jackson’s ability to duplicate his long-distance shooting and he falls into the tweener category — maybe not a point guard, too small for the 2-guard. That has him in the range of low lottery to mid-20s like a handful of players in this draft.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round.

What they’re saying: “The amazing thing for Reggie has been his IQ for the game. I think he has a great feel for the game.” ‘€” Boston College coach Steve Donahue

Notes: Jackson came into the draft combine with a decent buzz, but he didn’t participate in the combine citing an injury. That has dropped him a few pegs in various mock drafts and in the Celtics range.

Video:

Read More: NBA Draft, Potential Celtics, Reggie Jackson,
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