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Report: Celtics to offer lottery pick in package for Kevin Love 05.18.14 at 7:09 pm ET
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Kevin Love is “anxious” to leave Minnesota, and the Celtics are among a handful of teams in pursuit of the three-time NBA All-Star, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge reportedly plans to offer the team’s lottery pick as part of a package for Love. The lottery is Tuesday night.

Love has told the Timberwolves brass he plans to exercise his 2015 early termination option and sign elsewhere if he is not traded, according to ESPN. The Warriors, Lakers and Suns also covet Love, who reportedly sees Golden State and Chicago as attractive destinations. Any trade partner would require assurance he would sign a five-year, $100 million maximum contract extension.

For more on the C’s pursuit of Love, similarities to the Kevin Garnett trade in 2007 and potential trade packages: “Double ’07: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love and Celtics Restoration.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Kentucky G/F James Young 05.16.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

JAMES YOUNG

Position: Wing
School: Kentucky
Age: 18
Height: 6-foot-7
Weight: 215 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2013-14 stats: 14.3 points, 34.9 3PT%, 46.9 2PT%

Scouting report: Highly recruited out of high school, Young failed to meet the expectations set for him at Kentucky. However, he still managed to prove his potential as a go-to scorer with some terrific performances, including his 20 points game in the national title game.

The 18-year-old’€™s greatest potential comes as a spot-up shooter or as a “triple threat.” Young has great perimeter shooting mechanics, with a fast release and a long wingspan, which allows him to get shots off cleanly. Even though Young lacks high-end athleticism and advanced dribbling moves, he has the potential to be a scorer driving to the basket, as he showed in flashes throughout the season.

Young is an extremely poor defender and rarely stayed in his stance, often appearing disinterested about defending. Pre-draft interviews will be important to determine his willingness to play hard on that end of the floor; players with Young’€™s offensive skill-set are a dime a dozen, but the ones that can defend even at an average level manage to stick in the league.

A prospect like Young would benefit greatly from time spent learning the game in the D-League. Considering his raw abilities on both ends of the floor, being thrust into action may only stunt his development. But as the fourth-youngest player in the draft, Young has ample time to progress his skills and take advantage of his ideal body for an NBA wing.

How he fits: Young is so far away from making an impact in the NBA that it’€™s hard to see the Celtics selecting him. Even though the potential is there for him to be a quality scorer, the C’s have said they plan on being competitive next season and Young wouldn’t be able to immediately contribute.

Related articles:

Rant Sports: Young may be best prospect not getting much hype

Bleacher Report: Why Gary Harris is a safer pick than James Young

Video: Here is a video of Young’€™s 2013 performance against Michigan State.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, James Young, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan SG Nik Stauskas 05.15.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

NIK STAUSKAS

Position: Shooting guard
School: Michigan
Age: 20
Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 200 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-7

Key 2013-14 stats: 17.5 points, 3.3 assists, 44.2 3PT%, 82.4 FT%

Scouting report: Stauskas is a fairly safe pick since the NBA will always have a need for players who can spread the floor and shoot 3-pointers at a high level. At worst, Stauskas projects as a 3-point shooting specialist, though he brings more to the table.

Stauskas possesses excellent shooting mechanics, as proven by his ability to hit shots from all over the court and score equally as well on both attempts off the dribble or the catch. With pure athleticism and fantastic footwork, Stauskas will have no problems getting his shot off in the NBA.

But the 6-foot-6 Canadian (who prepped at St. Mark’s in Southboro) is considered a potential lottery pick because of the other intangibles he brings. Stauskas isn’t expected to be an isolation scorer, but he could work as a secondary pick-and-roll ball-handler, as he can penetrate the lane, finish in the paint or accurately dish the ball out to the perimeter.

With below-average lateral quickness, Stauskas will initially struggle defending NBA wings, but there is hope he improves as a team defender. Stauskas added 16 pounds of muscle and six inches to his vertical during the 2013 offseason, which took his game to the next level, so teams should expect him to at least become an adequate defender. Even if he doesn’t, the team that drafts him is getting a player that will knock down 3′s at a 40 percent clip, and there is a lot of value there.

How he fits: Stauskas would make an immediate impact for the Celtics because of his versatility as a shooter, but they probably would have to trade up from 17 into the back of the lottery to have a chance at selecting him. If Avery Bradley signs with another team, the need for a replacement shooting guard will be significant.

Related articles:

SB Nation: If Avery Bradley leaves in free agency, which draft pick could replace him?

The Detroit News: Stauskas gives Michigan a shot

Video: Here is a video of Stauskas shooting the lights out against Iowa.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, NBA, Nik Stauskas
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Free agents to watch in ’15 05.14.14 at 11:02 am ET
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In my last column, I wrote about some free agents who potentially could catch Danny Ainge‘€™s eye this summer. However, if you expect a 2007-ish rebuild to happen overnight again, I’€™m afraid your expectations are too high. The Celtics are going to take a couple of years to build back up, making 2015 an equally important offseason.

A lot can happen between now and next summer, but a strong free agent class is anticipated. Much like the last column, not all of the names may look like fits now, but under the right circumstances could be in the future. Following is a handful of names that should be on Ainge’€™s radar for 2015.

Brook Lopez First and foremost, Lopez needs to prove he can stay healthy. He’€™s had serious foot issues so far in the NBA, but he also is one of the best scoring centers in the league when healthy. Lopez is a legit 7-footer, something Ainge is looking for in his next big man.

Lopez signed a four-year extension in 2012, but 2015-16 is a player option, so he could choose to opt out if the Nets begin to fade from contention. The Nets have the potential to implode over the next couple of seasons due to age and bad contracts. Even as players begin to come off the books, Brooklyn still should be over the cap for years to come, making the team’s future a delicate situation.

This signing would be a risk, but if the price is right, Lopez could be the perfect fit next to Jared Sullinger … on offense, that is. Defensively Ainge still would need to find a solution. That said, a frontcourt that features and healthy Lopez and Sullinger is scary for any team to face.

Robin Lopez – For twin brothers, Robin and Brook sure have different games. Robin is much more of a low-post defender and shot-blocker than his brother, but he is nowhere near as developed on offense.

With the scoring ability of Sullinger, Robin would be just as good a fit as his brother in Boston. Robin would not be leaned upon to score, allowing him to do what he does best — defend and rebound. He has had a ton of success in Portland this season playing alongside scorers, including in the playoffs. The more I think about it, despite Brook’€™s All-Star appearance; Robin is the Lopez brother to watch in 2015.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Anderson Varejao, Brook Lopez, Danny Ainge, Kenneth Faried
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Kansas C Joel Embiid 05.14.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

JOEL EMBIID

Position: Center
School: Kansas
Age: 20
Height: 7-foot-0
Weight: 240 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-5

Key 2013-14 stats: 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks

Scouting report: No player in this draft has the potential to make such a monstrous impact on both ends of the floor as Embiid does. His ideal combination of size, length and instincts make him a dominant rebounder. Embiid averaged 14 boards per 40 minutes, leading this year’€™s crop of prospects, but he will be even better as he adds muscle to his frame.

Despite only playing organized basketball since 2011, the native of Cameroon has displayed an ability to quickly learn the game. It would not be a surprise if Embiid — who also averaged 4.5 blocks per 40 minutes (the second most of 2014 prospects) — pans out to be one of the best defensive big men in the league once he reaches his prime.

Embiid idolizes legendary big man Hakeem Olajuwon, already borrowing some of his moves on the post, including “The Dream Shake.” While it’€™s unfair to make that type of comparison for Embiid, it’s rare to see an inexperienced player with such a wide repertoire of post moves, including drop steps, jump hooks, face-ups, spins and other secondary counters.

Even though Kansas’ system rarely called for Embiid to shoot jumpers, he thrived in his limited opportunities, displaying smooth mechanics and a soft, natural touch. He must improve his mechanics — especially his follow through — but the building blocks are there for him to quickly develop into a reliable pick-and-pop mid-range shooting option, as well as a scorer down on the block.

At this point, Embiid might be underrated. After his back injury scare in March, many draft enthusiasts soured on Embiid’s stock, but from what we know, the injury was no big deal and it’s already in the past. With that said, the focus should be on Embiid’s skill as a basketball player until alarming medical reports are released, if ever. And if that’s the focus, then general managers are looking at a player who could potentially become one of the best bigs in the league.

How he fits: It’d be shocking if Embiid wasn’t at the top of the Celtics‘ draft board considering their desperate need for a rim protector and a go-to scorer. If Embiid reaches his sky-high potential, he’ll fill that void and then some more. There is a chance Embiid slips past the top three picks, but it’€™s hard to see him falling any further than that.

Related articles:

CBS Sports: Joel Embiid best center prospect in decade — but not a slam dunk?

ESPN: Kansas’ Joel Embiid a secret no more

Video: Here is a video of Embiid’s performance against Iowa State in 2014.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Joel Embiid, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Louisiana-Lafayette PG Elfrid Payton 05.13.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

ELFRID PAYTON

Position: Point guard
School: Louisiana-Lafayette
Age: 20
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 190 pounds
Wingspan: 6-foot-7

Key 2013-14 stats: 19.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.3 steals

Scouting report: Despite growing up in the small town of Gretna, La., Payton beat the odds, possessing has all the tools necessary to be a classic pass-first point guard in the NBA. Payton makes all the right passes and consistently feeds the ball into the shooter’€™s pocket. He can pass and dribble equally well with both his right and left hand — an underrated talent. The 6-foot-4 guard has also demonstrated on-court leadership skills, as he does a tremendous job of quickly getting his team into their half-court offensive sets.

Payton’€™s knack for handling the ball will make him a quality playmaker in the pick-and-roll, since he doesn’€™t lose speed when changing directions and he’€™s able to get all the way to the rim without settling for floaters. Payton often struggled with contact at the rim, but that’€™s due to his lanky upper body; with a professional training staff guiding him, it’€™s fair to expect his success rate to increase.

However, Payton is a dreadful shooter and will need to spend extensive time with a shooting coach. He has poor footwork, he has a hitch on his release, and his elbow is almost always out, which leads to an obvious lack of confidence from the perimeter. And the stats support this, since he shot only 25.5 percent from behind the arc, 25.8 percent from mid-range and 60.9 percent from the line. But he is the youngest upperclassman in the draft, as he doesn’t turn 21 until next year, so he has plenty of time to improve his mechanics.

Payton also was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2013-14 after proving his ability as a tenacious defender. With terrific lateral quickness, a long wingspan and swift hands, Payton certainly will find a spot in the NBA as a role player. Point guards as efficient and reliable as Payton don’€™t go unnoticed, even if they can’€™t shoot worth a lick.

How he fits: Payton is a poor man’€™s Rajon Rondo. He can’€™t shoot, but he does everything else extremely well, including passing, rebounding and defending. However, the Celtics may prefer a point guard that can shoot, since Brad Stevens‘€™ motion offense calls for a spread floor, unless the C’s believe they can improve Payton’€™s shooting mechanics and production.

Related articles:

Grantland: Who’€™s That Guy? Louisiana’€™s Elfrid Payton!

WCHB Detroit: Elfrid Payton: The Underrated NBA Prospect That You Need to Become More Familiar With

Video: Here is a video detailing Payton’€™s progression as a player.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, Elfrid Payton, NBA
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Indiana PF Noah Vonleh 05.12.14 at 9:00 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.

NOAH VONLEH

Position: Power forward
School: Indiana
Age: 18
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 240 pounds
Wingspan: 7-foot-4

Key 2013-14 stats: 11.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 56.0 eFG%

Scouting report: Vonleh, a Haverhill native, is an elite rebounder, as he proved with 13.6 boards per 40 minutes this season (the second most of all 2014 prospects). He consistently boxes out and knows how to use his enormous 88-inch wingspan to sprawl out for boards.

Offensively, Vonleh is raw but was still underutilized in Indiana’€™s broken offensive system. With a sweet jumper (48.5 3P%) and smooth mechanics, Vonleh will be a threat as a pick-and-pop shooter. He also has a soft scoring touch around the rim, which bodes well for his potential in the pick-and-roll and on second-chance opportunities.

While his status as one of the youngest players in the draft is a positive, it also works as a weakness. Vonleh is underdeveloped, which makes it difficult to project his ceiling. With robotic footwork on the block, there are no guarantees he ever develops post moves despite his fantastic combination of height and length. He also needs to add strength to his frame, as he shot only 59.3 percent at the rim this season.

Defensively, Vonleh often looks lost, missing rotations and failing to protect the rim.

Overall, Vonleh seems like a good bet to at least be an efficient NBA role player, but his upside is impossible to predict due to his inexperience. Depending on where he’€™s selected, Vonleh could easily become the steal of the draft or one of the biggest mistakes. But, with ideal size and prototypical skills as a modern NBA big, Vonleh should be guaranteed as a top-10 pick.

How he fits: The Celtics have a logjam of talent at power forward and center, but they lack a player with the potential to be a rim protector. Vonleh is at least three years away from making that type of impact, but a forward-thinking franchise like the C’s might see too much upside to pass up on him with the fifth, sixth, or seventh pick.

Recent articles:

CelticsBlog: NBA draft consolation prizes

Bleacher Report: Why Noah Vonleh is a safer pick than Julius Randle

Video: Here is a highlight reel of some of Vonleh’€™s top plays this season.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA.)

Read More: 2014 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Boston Celtics, NBA, Noah Vonleh
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