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Stan Van Gundy on M&M: My guess is Rajon Rondo stays in Boston through trade deadline 02.18.14 at 12:26 pm ET
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Speaking with WEEI’s Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning, NBA analyst Stan Van Gundy said that he sees Celtics guard Rajon Rondo staying in Boston after this week’s trade deadline. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Van Gundy said that while Rondo is one of the best in the league at his position, he’s not necessarily a good fit with any of the potential trade partners that have been kicked around.

“He’s a hard guy to classify, because he’s very unique,” Van Gundy said of Rondo. “I don’t think he can carry a team without a ton of talent. But on a championship-level team, he’s as good as anyone.”

With that in mind, Van Gundy said that among those teams, Rondo wouldn’t necessarily be a good match.

“I’m not sure any of the contenders are lacking at that spot,” said Van Gundy, who added he would be “shocked” if any team gave Boston two unprotected first-round picks for Rondo.

Maybe the Pacers would be the best fit,” he said. “But my guess is that he stays in Boston through the trade deadline.”

Van Gundy also said that the two best teams in the Eastern Conference are Miami and Indiana, and added he “can’t imagine what would happen at the trade deadline to change that.”

He also had some nice things to say about Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens, indicating the addition of Stevens was “a great hire.”

“I think it was a perfect situation for a college guy to go in to, in that he has time,” Van Gundy said of Stevens. “Brad is a very smart, very analytical guy who relates to players very well. I think he’s done a great job late in games this year in terms of situational stuff.

“I think he’s very good, and will continue to get better,” he added.

For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Celtics trade rumor: More Rajon Rondo rumblings 02.18.14 at 9:42 am ET
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The NBA trade rumor mill is really churning now, and it should come as no surprise Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo‘s name repeatedly rises to the surface.

As Rondo said, “It’€™s been like that my last eight years as a Celtic.” Other teams want an All-Star, All-Defensive point guard, and they want him cheap.

Here’s the latest that’ll make Danny Ainge chuckle.

According to the Toronto Sun (h/t SB Nation), the Raptors would like Rondo, and the C’s may budge on the alleged asking price of two first-round picks, citing a source who believes Ainge would welcome “at least one lottery pick and talented young player.”

It’€™s no secret Boston has dangled four-time all-star Rajon Rondo league-wide and while the asking price is steep, he has piqued the interest of Toronto’€™s front office, according to multiple sources. Toronto is eager to up its ‘€œstar’€ quotient and is also enamoured with Rondo’€™s resume, particularly his four all-defensive team selections (two all-NBA first team). He has many backers in the organization.

Oh, one of the game’s top five point guards has piqued their interest? Well, then, we might as well lump the remaining 28 teams into this rumor. And is it no secret the C’s have dangled Rondo league-wide? Time and again, Ainge reminds everyone willing to listen the phone may ring but he’s not making the calls about his lone star.

Take this retread rumor, for example. As a number of less reputable outlets reported two months ago, the Kings offered Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a pick in exchange for Rondo, according to Yahoo’s Marc J. Spears. Except, “Rondo wasn’t interested in re-signing with Sacramento and the Kings strongly value McLemore.” Let me get this straight: Sacramento didn’t want to part with Ben McLemore for Rajon Rondo. That must be it. And there’s the small matter of that deal missing roughly $10 million in salary to make it work.

 

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Celtics trade rumor: Danny Ainge wants two first-round picks in exchange for Rajon Rondo 02.17.14 at 4:05 pm ET
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The first ambiguous Celtics trade rumor of NBA trade deadline week comes courtesy of Sam Smith at Bulls.com (h/t HoopsHype): “The asking price if you can get [Rajon] Rondo is said to be two unprotected first rounders.”

Seven teams other than the Celtics currently own two first-round picks in the 2014 NBA draft: Charlotte, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Utah. Only the 76ers and Magic currently own a pair lottery picks this June, and Philly already appears to have a point guard of the future.

Naturally, a host of other teams would have multiple picks to offer over the next couple years, but the hard part is also finding a lottery-bound trade partner with expiring contracts to match Rondo’s $12 million salary (because who wants late first-round picks and more money on the books?). Plus, the Celtics already own as many as 10 first-round selections over the next five seasons, and at some point they have to find players rather than assets to rebuild the franchise.

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Kelly Olynyk starting to figure out NBA 02.13.14 at 9:25 pm ET
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This is the Kelly Olynyk that Danny Ainge saw all along.

Heading into his first All-Star weekend, the rookie is showing real signs of finally getting into an NBA groove.

In 31 minutes Wednesday night, Olynyk had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. On Monday night, in a win in Milwaukee, the rookie out of Gonzaga had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 21 minutes. He’ll take the momentum with him to New Orleans for the Rising Stars game Friday night, joining teammate Jared Sullinger on Team Webber.

In six games in February, Olynyk is averaging eight points, 6.7 rebounds and 20 minutes off the bench. Drafted 13th overall by the Mavericks last June and immediately acquired by Ainge in a trade, Olynyk was seen as an athletic big man who could draw bigs out of the paint, shoot effectively and create his own shot on drives to the basket.

“He’€™s starting to get a good feel for [the offense],” coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday of Olynyk. “There’€™s a base offense, there’€™s a set offense, and then there’€™s play-in and space and understanding and picking where your opportunities are when you have those kind of structured-but-unstructured opportunities. And he’€™s really starting to figure that out. On all the pick and rolls where he’€™s playing off, whether he’€™s rolling, whether he’€™s picking and popping, whether he’€™s playing in the seam and then when he catches, where does he go from there?

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Weekly NBA draft prospect watch: Marcus Smart’s stock likely dropping 02.13.14 at 4:12 pm ET
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The Celtics head into the All-Star break with a record of 19-35. With this season’€™s diluted NBA product, that gives them the sixth-worst record in the league.

Marcus Smart returned to school for his sophomore season to work on his outside shooting and maturity, but he still struggles with both. (AP)

Marcus Smart returned to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season to work on his outside shooting and maturity, but he still struggles with both. (AP)

Even the smallest of streaks makes a difference when it comes to the number of ping pong balls owned come lottery time. Boston got hot and won 4-of-5 games starting on Super Bowl Sunday, a streak that took them from the third-highest odds of winning the lottery to the eighth. The C’€™s fell to the Spurs on Wednesday night, though, which, combined with unlikely recent wins by the Jazz and Cavaliers, has them sitting in the sixth spot.

The Celtics are on pace for about 28 wins by season’€™s end, but with the trade deadline around the corner, and the tanking only expected to become more obvious, no predictions are safe. The C’s could find themselves selecting anywhere in the lottery, which makes for excitement but also causes uncertainty.

Here’€™s a look at what some of the top draft prospects have done in the past week, plus a brief look at some players on the rise.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, sophomore ‘€“ As everyone knows by now, Smart only hurt his draft status in the past week. On Saturday night at Texas Tech Smart had a decent game, but his name was in the headlines for another reason.

With 6.2 seconds left, and the Cowboys on their way to a fourth consecutive loss, Smart’€™s frustration boiled over in the worst way. Falling into the crowd going for a block, Smart was helped up, but he did not head to the court as expected. Instead he went deeper into the crowd and argued with a fan who had been heckling him. Smart then shoved the fan, which isn’€™t tolerated in any sports forum.

Both the fan and Smart have since apologized for their actions, but that was not enough to save Smart from a suspension. Smart missed his team’s blowout loss to Texas on Tuesday, and will miss the next two games to round out a three-game ban. His return, oddly enough, will come against Texas Tech, but this time on Oklahoma State’€™s home floor.

“Marcus made a big mistake [Saturday] night, he knows that,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said Sunday. “We talked about it extensively. He knows we don’t condone things of that matter. He has owned up to it.’€

Added Ford: ‘€œMarcus is a young man that has been in the public eye for quite a bit. And I think we’d all agree for the highest percentage of the time, he’s conducted himself as a tremendous young man. But he made a mistake that he’s going to pay for.”

Smart probably will end up paying a steeper price than his three-game suspension once the draft rolls around.

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Jared Sullinger has chip on his shoulder as he heads into All-Star break 02.13.14 at 12:28 pm ET
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An athlete can take anything and use it as motivation.

Sometimes it’s just for a game or a season but listening to Jared Sullinger after the final game before the All-Star break Wednesday night, being snubbed in the 2012 NBA draft is having a lingering effect.

With concerns over his back, which required surgery in his rookie year, Sullinger fell to No. 21 on draft night, just weeks after leading his Ohio State Buckeyes to the Final Four.

Usually for younger players selected to All-Star activities – like Friday’s “Rising Stars Challenge” – the weekend provides a chance to chill and show off their skills. But to Sullinger, this weekend means more, much more.

‘€œTo me, it means everything,’€ Sullinger said. ‘€œAll the hard work. And also on top of that, being picked where I was picked, it was kind of a slap in the face towards me even though I had the back injury. But it’€™s a blessing.’€

The slap in the face has apparently lit a fire under the big man. Only sickness (which required IVs earlier) Wednesday night could bring an end to his career-best string of six straight games with a double-double. He was named the Eastern Conference player of the week last week as he averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds. Sully had just four points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes in the 104-92 loss to the Spurs.

“I was a little sick. Still feel it a little bit, but I’€™m all right,” said Sullinger. “I missed a lot of shots, but I don’€™t really think [the illness] affected me. I think it was just that I was a little bit off in my routine, came in a little bit later because (team trainer) Eddie [Lacerte] wanted me to stay in bed. Just off my routine a little bit. As a result, I missed a lot of shots that I normally make.”

Just how long does Sullinger plan on using the motivation?

‘€œA long time? For the rest of my career,’€ Sullinger answered.

Sullinger isn’t the first Celtics star to use a chip on his shoulder as motivation. Rajon Rondo does it every time people bring up his career at Kentucky with Tubby Smith. Paul Pierce, like Sullinger was projected by some as a “Top-5″ pick. He fell to 10th in the 1998 NBA Draft.

Now Sullinger, like Pierce and Rondo, are busy proving NBA executives wrong for passing on him. Sullinger is averaging 13.2 points and 8.2 rebounds in his second season in the NBA, earning a spot on the “Rising Stars” squad this weekend.

‘€œI don’€™t want to get satisfied,’€ Sullinger said. ‘€œI never will get satisfied. I’€™ve got a lot more work to do.’€

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Celtics captain Rajon Rondo on Valentine’s Day, trade rumors, Mexico and snowboarding (seriously) 02.13.14 at 1:45 am ET
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As Kris Humphries left on Wednesday night to begin a six-day NBA All-Star break leading up the Feb. 20 trade deadline, he gave his best to some of the team’s locker room attendants “in case I don’t see you again.”

Likewise, rookie Kelly Olynyk wanted to make sure Phil Pressey didn’t leave Chris Johnson hanging on a high five because “you never know what day will be your last.” (Pressey left him hanging anyway.)

But Rajon Rondo — the subject of so many trade rumors surrounding this team — kept a poker face. As if Rondo has another face. “I don’t watch TV,” he said of handling the uncertainty of his team’s future and his future with the team. “It’s been like that my last eight years as a Celtic. Until the trade gets pulled, I’ll play as a Celtic.”

Still, while Rondo hears the rumblings — Jeff Green to the Hawks and Brandon Bass to the Warriors, Bobcats or Suns — he knows not to trust a word, because he’s seen every other member of the 2008 championship team leave that locker room and never come back with little warning (see: Perkins, Kendrick).

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