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What a Jason Terry signing would mean for Celtics 07.03.12 at 4:01 pm ET
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Jason Terry is instant offense. He’s a scoring threat who can knock down shots and create off the dribble. Terry has a championship pedigree and is fearless in the same kind of way Sam Cassell was fearless with the game on the line. He’s also versatile enough to play the point as a backup.

Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that the Celtics have reached an agreement on a three-year deal for the 13-year veteran for the full mid-level exception, which would pay him a little more than $15 million over the life of the contract. Players can’t officially sign contracts until July 11 when the league completes its audit.

With the Celtics, Terry would solve two pressing issues for the Celtics as a scoring guard off the bench and a backup for Rajon Rondo at point guard. The downside is that Terry will be 35 years old when the season begins and he shot 43 percent from the floor last season, his lowest mark since the 2003-04 season.

Signing him for three years is a calculated gamble, but it may have been the cost of doing business in a scoring guard market that includes Jamal Crawford, O.J. Mayo, Lou Williams and Ray Allen.

Working in Terry’s favor is the fact that he has never played fewer than 74 games in a full season during his career and he’s missed only 16 games the past five seasons. He averaged 15.1 points per game with the Mavs last season and was the NBA’s top Sixth Man in 2009.

As for Allen, this doesn’t immediately close the door on a return. The Celtics have insisted that they wanted to bring Allen back and use the full mid-level on a player like Terry. Their reasoning is that second-year guard Avery Bradley is coming off shoulder surgery and they need depth to survive the 82-game season. Allen is scheduled to meet with Miami on Thursday and the Clippers on Friday and it’s been reported that he will take his time making a decision.

Deals can’t be official until July 11 when the league completes its internal audit, but as it stands the Celtics would have roughly $50 million committed to eight players including Kevin Garnett, Terry and their first round draft picks. With Jeff Green and Brandon Bass still unsigned, they have work to do to complete the roster.

The magic number is $74 million, as explained here. The Celtics can’t go over that mark and use the full mid-level.

Read More: Jason Terry, Ray Allen,
The boulder on Jared Sullinger’s shoulder 07.02.12 at 2:37 pm ET
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ALLSTON — For most, if not all of his basketball life, people have doubted Jared Sullinger. They told him he was too big. They told him college would be too fast. They looked at his 6-foot-9 frame carrying 268 pounds and wondered how he’d keep up with faster, sleeker and taller opponents.

Sullinger can point to the 17 points and 10 rebounds he put up in each of his two seasons at Ohio State. He can tell them how he led the Buckeyes to the Final Four, the Big 10 championship as a freshman and the 65 games he won in his two seasons there. But he also knows that none of that really matters to his critics.

“If you consider me [going] to the Boston Celtics a drop then I’€™ll do it all over again, without a hesitation,” Sullinger said. “It’€™s been like that all my life. When I was younger, everybody said I was too big. Going into high school they said I wouldn’€™t be able to play that fast. Going into college I wouldn’€™t be able to keep up. So, it’€™s just the way I live my life. I’€™m just ready to get started.”

The only reason Sullinger was available with the 21st pick in the draft was because he was red-flagged at the Chicago scouting combine in May due to a bulging disk in his back. The Celtics say they have done their due diligence and will take steps to help him. It’s a concern, but in terms of risks/rewards, they feel the latter far outweighs the former.

“I don’€™t have any back problems, but it is what it is and I’€™m just playing basketball now,” he said. “I finally have a job and now it’€™s time to take the next step and get ready to play.”

This is how it is for Sullinger now. He will always have to prove himself, but now he knows where he will be and for his agent, David Falk, he’s in a perfect place.

“I’€™m not worried about the number, I’€™m worried about being in the right environment to grow and develop,” Falk said. “I’€™m thrilled that he’€™s here. Playing for Doc Rivers, who is a great motivator, a great coach. Having a chance to play with people like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce who are Hall of Famers. He’€™ll get a post-graduate education as a rookie.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jared Sullinger,
Could Ray Allen be back with Celtics? 07.01.12 at 9:25 pm ET
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When the Celtics‘ season ended, the popular perception was that Ray Allen would take his jump shot and find a new home. Allen had lost his starting job at midseason and struggled mightily in the postseason while playing through painful bone spurs.

Yet, all along the Celtics have insisted that they would like to bring Allen back into then fold. Allen still shot a career-high 45 percent from 3-point range while averaging 14.2 points per game and compiling a True Shooting percentage (accounting for 2’s, 3’s and free throws) over 60 percent. It’s the fourth straight season that Allen has broken the 60 percent barrier, something he had accomplished only one other time in his career before coming to Boston.

Allen can do the two things the Celtics are looking for this offseason: shooting and scoring. It’s not a surprise that they have been linked to O.J. Mayo, Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry. A team official insisted on Sunday morning that Allen is still very much in their plans and they hope to not only re-sign him but also add another scorer in free agency.

Allen has drawn interest from other teams — Miami and Memphis, most notably — but the Celtics can trump their bids. It’s been reported that the Grizzlies are offering the mid-level exception for two years worth $5 million annually. The Heat are limited to offering what’s known as the taxpayer mid-level worth $3 million annually. Yahoo! reported on Sunday that Allen will take his time making a decision.

If he does come back at that $6 million annually, the Celtics would be an interesting position. With Garnett and Allen back on board they would have roughly  $50 million committed in real money to nine players with Brandon Bass, Jeff Greeen, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma still unsigned.

In order to add Allen and another high-caliber scoring guard, they would need to stay below the luxury tax apron, i.e. $4 million above the luxury tax line, which should kick in at around $70 million. If the Celtics want to use the full mid-level exception they have to keep total team salaries below $74 million.

Kevin Garnett was the first domino. His three-year deal for $34 million gets them in range to stay under the tax when all the pieces are in place, but it will still be tight. Read the rest of this entry »

What Kevin Garnett’s return means for Celtics 06.30.12 at 12:18 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett arrived in Boston five years ago with the promise of rebirth for a franchise that had grown stale. He was a savior then — plucked from Minnesota for almost half a roster’€™s worth of young players and draft picks ‘€“ and he was treated as such.

On a team of prideful individuals, Garnett’€™s persona stood out as the defining one. Dedicated to the point of insanity and private to the point of aloofness, Garnett kept close watch over his basketball family and kept everyone else at bay. Something changed over the course of those five years, culminating last season in a Garnett that was slightly more accessible and endearingly human.

No one could have predicted five years ago that Garnett would ultimately become an institution, but here we are. He’€™s become one of us: a Bostonian in more than just an address and a Celtic in more than just a uniform. When his contract expired, there was never a question of going anywhere else, it was only a matter of whether he’€™d come back for more.

We have our answer, as Garnett will sign a new deal, reportedly for three years and $34 million, roughly half the monetary value of his last contract, and assuring he will be in a Celtics uniform for almost a decade.

Garnett’€™s new deal sets in motion an offseason that now takes on a defined shape. The Celtics are still contenders, and team president Danny Ainge has flexibility to build the rest of the roster. Salary cap economics being what they are, Ainge is limited to a degree, but he has a host of options at his disposal that weren’€™t as obvious 24 hours ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
Grizzlies to make O.J. Mayo an unrestricted free agent 06.29.12 at 2:32 pm ET
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The Grizzlies seem to be undergoing a little bit of a transition as the reality for the contracts due to Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay are beginning to come into focus. Between them, that’s about $48 million tied up in three players for each of the next two years.

Add in Mike Conley‘s more modest but still long-term deal, and the Grizzlies are bumping up against the salary cap before they even get started, and that’s also getting into luxury tax territory.

In that context, their decision to not extend a $7.3 million qualifying offer to O.J. Mayo makes sense. The decision means that on July 1, Mayo will be an unrestricted free agent and able to sign with any team without the Grizzlies being able to match.

Mayo immediately becomes a target for the Celtics, who are looking to add some scoring punch to a bench that was one of the worst offensive units in the league. The C’s expressed their interest in Mayo at the trade deadline in a deal involving Ray Allen, but they weren’t able to complete the trade.

He will be among a group of five unrestricted free agent scoring guards that includes Ray Allen Jason Terry, Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford.

Mayo will turn 25 in November and is the youngest player in the group. Terry, Allen and Crawford are all defined players, but even after four years in the league, Mayo still appears to have untapped potential.

A starter his first two years in Memphis, Mayo averaged 18 points a game and shot 45 percent from the floor and 38 percent from 3-point range. He moved to a reserve role in his third year and his numbers dropped to 40 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range. He’s settled into a perimeter-oriented role that may have been a function of Memphis’ offensive design as much as anything.

Mayo also is intriguing to the Celtics because he offers a dimension they’ve lacked over the years: the ability to create his own shot. He ranked seventh among shooting guards who played more than 25 minutes in Usage Rate, per Hoop Data, while remaining a decent playmaker. He’s also a good defensive rebounder for his position.

As it stands, Mayo is a solid NBA player who can help a team. But what if there’s more?

Here’s the tough part for the Celtics. If Kevin Garnett comes back, they will be looking to re-sign their other free agents using their Bird rights. That will take them over the cap and into interesting territory.

One of the main provisions of the new collective bargaining agreement is a stiffer penalty for teams that go over the luxury tax, estimated to be around $70 million. Not only will teams be charged more money (See Larry Coon’s invaluable Salary Cap FAQ for a chart), they also are subject to lesser exceptions than teams that are over the cap but under the tax line.

In plainer language, teams that are under the tax line can offer the full mid-level exception: a four-year deal worth starting at $5 million annually. Teams that are over the tax line can only offer a three-year deal starting at $3 million. The difference in total is around $11 million.

There’s no guarantee that the mid-level would even be enough for Mayo or that he’d want to come to Boston, where he’d likely come off the bench behind Avery Bradley. (It would, however, be an interesting combination, and the starter designation may not ultimately matter if it ever happened.)

Regardless, if the C’s are going to get into the running for players like Mayo they’ll have to be creative. First, by making sure the price tag on their free agents keeps them under the tax, and second, with the possibility of a sign-and-trade. Unless, of course, Garnett doesn’t come back, and that’s a whole other story.

Either way, the free agent class just got a little more interesting.

Read More: 2012 NBA free agency, O.J. Mayo,
2012 NBA Mock Draft: Version 2 06.26.12 at 11:15 pm ET
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Since last we mocked, there has been a fairly significant trade involving the Wizards and Hornets and a half-dozen juicy trade rumors involving the Rockets, Raptors, Warriors and Bulls, to name four. It seems likely that there will be more movement between now and Thursday’s draft because after Anthony Davis there is no clear-cut pecking order.

This is the kind of draft that makes general managers look back with regret a few years down the line. Is it worth making a big move for say, Florida guard Bradley Beal, if the cost is a player like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and later picks in what should be a deep draft for rotation players?

What of Jared Sullinger? The Ohio State forward can play, but a back injury has killed his momentum and could send him tumbling down the draft. How far is too far before the potential value outweighs the risk?

Behind that backdrop is the possibility of a blockbuster trade for Magic center Dwight Howard. The Rockets now have three picks in the first round at 14, 16 and 18. That won’t get it done, but if the Rockets could grab a couple of top 10 picks … that’s when it gets interesting.

Predicting who goes where will at this point depends entirely on who is actually doing the selecting. As for the Celtics, I’ve still got them taking Andrew Nicholson and Fab Melo. That assumes that somebody doesn’t fall and that Iowa State forward Royce White is off the board.

To the picks:

1. Hornets: Anthony Davis, C, Kentucky (Previously: Davis)

The obvious choice, and the only question is whether Davis will be good, exceptional or transcendent.

2. Bobcats: Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas (Previously: Robinson)

It’s still Robinson, and no one seems to be totally enthused about the selection, but he is the closest thing to a sure thing after Davis. The only issue is it seems assured that Robinson will be pretty good and not great. The Cats could still trade the pick, which would throw the rest of the top five into a blender.

3. Wizards: Bradley Beal, SG Florida (Previously: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist)

Having missed the days of milk and honey as a 40-win playoff team with no real upside, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld threw Rashard Lewis‘ $20 million-plus expiring contract to New Orleans for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. We’ll leave the part about Okafor and Nene playing together for another time, but what really stands out about the Wizards’ new-look roster is the complete lack of outside shooting. Enter Beal, an 18-year-old shooter/scorer who would look mighty intriguing playing alongside John Wall. The Wizards still aren’t anyone’s idea of a contender, but they’d no longer be a joke. That’s progress, right? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft,
NBA Offseason: Wizards trade Rashard Lewis for Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza 06.20.12 at 3:04 pm ET
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This was a bit of a surprise. According to a report by Draft Express, and confirmed by several others including the Washington Post’s Michael Lee, the Wizards have agreed to trade Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in the draft to the Hornets for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.

First, the contract numbers: Lewis has one-year left on his albatross contract that pays him more than $23 million but he can be waived for $13.7 million, per Draft Express. Okafor is due about $14 million this season and he has an early termination option for the 2013-14 season, while Ariza will make over $7 million and has a player option for the following season at $7.2 million.

This could potentially save the Hornets up to $30 million and open up major cap space for next summer. With two first round picks and no long-term salary obligations — yet — the Hornets are well-positioned to build an entirely new team in new owner Tom Benson’s first season.

Eric Gordon is set to hit restricted free agency, but suddenly re-signing him to a large deal is less daunting minus that $20 million in contracts for Okafor and Ariza. A core of Gordon, Anthony Davis, whoever they get with the 10th pick and cap space isn’t a bad starting place.

For the Wizards, well, this is yet another step in yet another major overhaul. After years of being good with nothing to show for it, they settled into a painful rebuild around young players with no veteran experience, an approach that was criticized by Celtics coach Doc Rivers among others.

GM Ernie Grunfeld signaled the new direction when he traded Javale McGee for Nene at the deadline. Now he adds two more veterans at the cost of future cap space. If Grunfeld really wanted to clean house, he could use the amnesty provision on Andray Blatche who has been a major disappointment.

This move could also affect the draft where Washington could set their sights on Florida guard Bradley Beal with the third pick, rather than Kentucky forward Michael-Kidd Gilchrist, setting up a backcourt of Beal and John Wall to go with the veteran bruisers up front. They still have recent first rounders: Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesley, so it’s not as if Washington is going the veteran route completely.

Whether Okafor and Nene can play together up front remains to be seen, but with Wall entering his third season it’s time to find out exactly what they have in the 2010 top overall pick.

Read More: 2012 NBA Offseason, Emeka Okafor, John Wall, Rashard Lewis
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