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What it would take for Celtics to acquire Picks 1-5 06.25.14 at 11:08 am ET
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If Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge didn’t call the five teams in front of him in Thursday’s NBA draft, he wouldn’t be doing his job, so it should come as no surprise he’s inquired about what it would take to acquire a top pick from the Cavaliers, Bucks, 76ers, Magic and Jazz.

In fact, Ainge also has discussed the possibility of landing picks later in the first and into the second round, according to the Boston Herald’s Mark Murphy. In all likelihood, Ainge has contacted the front offices of all 29 other teams in preparation for a draft with an infinite number of possible C’s outcomes.

As for the potential of the C’s trading into the top five, a draft-day deal of top-six picks hasn’t happened since 2008, when Minnesota and Memphis swapped No. 3 (O.J. Mayo) and No. 5 (Kevin Love), exchanging a handful of inconsequential players in the process (Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner to the Grizzlies; Mike Miller, Brian Cardinal and Jason Collins to the Timberwolves).

While Love has since become the centerpiece of blockbuster trade discussions, neither he nor Mayo were considered franchise-altering acquisitions six years ago. Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley were the big catches of that draft, just as Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins are the clear prizes this season. Love and Mayo (sing to Frank Sinatra‘s “Love and Marriage,” please) were more akin to Julius Randle and Marcus Smart this season.

The lack of top picks changing places in recent years has a lot to do with the increased value of those players in the new collective bargaining agreement and the scarcity of teams with win-now mentalities ending up in the top five.

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Read More: Andrew Wiggins, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Danny Ainge
Sad turn for NBA prospect Isaiah Austin an important lesson for all athletes 06.25.14 at 11:05 am ET
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Draft prospect Isaiah Austin was just days away from seeing his dream of playing in the NBA come true. Instead he becomes another sad but true reminder why all college student-athletes should prepare for life after sports. And it’s another reason why colleges should do more to help prepare these young men for what lies ahead.

In a terrible turn of events, the 20-year-old, 7-foot-1 center from Baylor was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a career-ending condition “caused by a genetic mutation that leads to problems in connective tissues throughout the body.” Marfan.org states that “about 1-in-5,000 people have the condition that can affect the heart, blood vessels, bones or joints.”

I know the pain of having your life’s dream come to an abrupt end at an early age. I will never forget being a 24-year-old rookie sitting in then-Heat coach Pat Riley‘s office and having my career come to an end due to an ankle injury.

Riley shared his experience as a former player and talked about how he felt after his body could no longer withstand the pounding in the NBA. “Huck, I have to let you go,” are the words that I’ll never forget. For a 24-year-old who had just signed an NBA contract, it was like dying. I was blessed enough to be able to play for a paycheck in the NBA and Europe, but like so many I had never thought about what I would do when basketball ended.

I’ve heard about some of the quirky questions general managers ask draft prospects in the NFL and NBA (Michigan’s Nik Stauskas said he got a Justin Bieber question). But I wonder if they ask every draft prospect how prepared they are to go out into the general workforce (non-sports-related field) and obtain a job?

I make it a point now to talk to every player I interview while doing games for ESPN about preparing for life after sports. There is nothing wrong with chasing a dream of playing professionally, but it is bad business to not have a succession plan of what you will do afterward.

Unfortunately, Isaiah Austin, like myself, had his career come to an abrupt end. Hopefully he can go back to Baylor, finish his education and share his story with other student-athletes about the importance of a backup plan.

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Read More: Aaron Gordon, Isaiah Austin, Malcolm Huckaby, Pat Riley
Chris Mannix on D&C: ‘I just don’t think that Boston has enough’ to acquire top pick 06.25.14 at 10:16 am ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix checked in with Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning to discuss the Celtics and the NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The Celtics hold the No. 6 and 17 picks in Thursday’s draft, but the C’s reportedly are interested in acquiring the top overall pick from the Cavaliers.

“If Boston moves up in the draft it’s to get the player they want,” Mannix said. “And I think there are a couple of cornerstone players still available in [Andrew Wiggins] and [Jabari Parker] that can change the shape of a franchise. I don’t think Boston has abandoned the pursuit of Kevin Love by any stretch.

“Cleveland, really since they won the lottery, has let teams know that if you’ve got an offer for the No. 1 pick, we’re willing to listen to it. David Griffin, the GM out there, has been reluctant to trade it, but certainly he’s been fielding offers.

“I just don’t think that Boston has enough. ‘€¦ I just think it’s a long shot at best that the Celtics are able to get in that position.”

If the Celtics were to obtain the top pick, Mannix said general manager Danny Ainge would be deciding between Wiggins and Parker after Joel Embiid‘s stock fell following a foot injury.

“Danny has had a thing for Jabari Parker for a while. He scouted him extensively,” Mannix said. “The Celtics think that he can come into the NBA and be a ready-made scorer immediately at either forward spot when he gets there.

“Andrew Wiggins, I just see teams having a hard time passing him up with the top overall pick. I thought that he would’ve been a tough call for Cleveland if Joel Embiid were healthy. I just think Wiggins, even though he’s got some issues with his aggressiveness and he’s going to have to polish the game once he gets to the pros, the games you saw him play at Kansas, when he was on he was spectacular. He’s a two-way player, can defend multiple positions already.

“I just see him being the biggest star in this draft, and I include Joel Embiid in that mix.”

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Read More: Chris Mannix, Dennis & Callahan,
The persistent Rajon Rondo to Sacramento rumor 06.25.14 at 8:54 am ET
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The once strange Rajon Rondo to Sacramento rumors continue to persist, and the latest development makes more sense than any previous narrative.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Kings and Pistons have discussed a deal that would pair Josh Smith with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins in the Sactown backcourt. So, what does that have to do with the Celtics point guard?

The hope, at least from Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro‘s standpoint, may be to leverage longtime friends Smith and Gay as recruiting coordinators in convincing the C’s captain to sign a long-term contract with a team that has not made the playoffs since 2006. Smith, Gay and Rondo all have openly discussed their desire to play with each other at various points over the last few years.

Sacramento’s interest in Rondo is nothing new. In February, the Kings and Celtics reportedly discussed a trade that would send Rondo packing in exchange for a package including Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas and a pair of picks.

None of those pieces are involved in the reported Smith swap (Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams and/or the expiring contracts for Carl Landry and Jason Terry).

Thomas is a restricted free agent, so he could still be included in a sign-and-trade, and the possibility of adding last year’s No. 7 overall pick (McLemore), Sacto’s No. 8 pick this season and a future pick is an increasingly intriguing haul should C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge not land Kevin Love and instead deal Rondo.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Josh Smith, NBA, Rajon Rondo
Celtics pre-draft chat with Ben Rohrbach at noon 06.24.14 at 12:00 pm ET
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Live Blog Celtics pre-draft chat with Ben Rohrbach
 

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If Celtics can’t land Kevin Love, then Rajon Rondo should be traded 06.24.14 at 11:59 am ET
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I recently wrote that Kevin Love is going to become a member of the Celtics on draft night.  I still believe that. However, there’€™s a whole other question that needs to be addressed.

What does Danny Ainge do if he is unable to add an All-Star to the core he has right now? The answer is to trade Rajon Rondo.

There are two clear-cut directions in which the Celtics can head. They can trade their assets for a proven veteran, like Love, or they can break ties with Rondo, Jeff Green and their older players to start a youth movement. Most fans prefer to win now, but if that option is not available, selling off pieces to rebuild is the right move.

So what is a reasonable trade offer for Rondo?

If you remember from the start of the season, there was a pretty realistic offer rumored to be coming from Sacramento. If the trade offer remains something in the ballpark of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a draft pick (which would be No. 8 overall), that would be something Ainge considers. One note: Thomas is a restricted free agent, meaning Boston would be getting his rights. The C’s could re-sign him or let him walk for a higher offer.

Rondo has no interest in sticking around for a full rebuild, nor should he. Ainge knows this, and also is smart enough to know that there is no purpose to keep his star player on a roster that is not ready to win. The Celtics would then become one of the youngest teams in the league, with building blocks that have the potential to make them even younger.

Boston’€™s core would look something along these lines next season if Rondo were to be dealt to Sacramento (an easy example to use): The Celtics would roll out a lineup of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, McLemore, Thomas, Avery Bradley (a restricted free agent like Thomas) to go along with the players they draft at Nos. 6, 8 and 17. Keep in mind Ainge also would hold two first-round picks in the next two drafts.

No doubt there is risk involved with having so many young prospects on the roster. Some disappointing draft picks and developments are expected. At the same time, a couple of those players likely would become stars, while another couple should turn into good role players.

It’€™s nerve-racking to think about if you’€™re a Celtics fan, simply because there would be so much that would need to occur just to contend. But with other teams deep into trade talks for Love, this is a realistic alternative that everyone needs to be ready to accept. You know, just in case I’€™m wrong about Love.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.

Read More: Ben McLemore, Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on D&C: LeBron James ‘probably gone’ from Miami after opting out of contract 06.24.14 at 10:15 am ET
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ESPN basketball analyst Jeff Goodman checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss LeBron James‘ decision to opt out of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent, and if there is any chance James might end up in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The question on people’s minds is why James — who still could re-sign with Miami — would opt out of his deal with a team that has reached four straight NBA Finals (winning two).

“Because he’s LeBron. He’s LeBron and he’s got people around him that just don’t know how to deal with these things, as proven by a few years ago,” Goodman said. “Whether it’s Rich Paul, his agent, or Nike, or whoever’s telling him to do these things …

“I agree, I think he’s probably gone. Because you don’t make this move publicly and put yourself out there unless you’re ready to leave. Miami’s made it clear they obviously want him. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep him. Again, it comes back to it’s a dumb move to put yourself out there like this. You could be the hero by just saying, ‘Hey, listen, I’m not opting out, I’m just coming back, I want to be in Miami.’

“But you guys are right, listen, if he’s opting out at this point it certainly means he’d rather be elsewhere. He’s got questions with Miami — which he should have, to be honest, in some regards. Because Dwyane Wade looked like the broken-down Dwyane Wade. They don’t have enough help around him right now, with Wade at the level he’s at. When Wade was a top-15 player in the league you could see them continue to win titles. But how are they going to do it now if Wade — who I think will probably finish his career in Miami — sticks around. You don’t have a lot of flexibility.”

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
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