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Kelly Olynyk ‘should be ready to rock’ when training camp begins 08.26.16 at 2:54 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

How much have the Celtics changed over the past four years?

Think of it this way: entering his fourth year of NBA service, all with the Celtics, center Kelly Olynyk is currently the second-longest tenured member of the team after Avery Bradley.

“That’s pretty crazy. I think from the year I got here, me and Avery are the only people still from that team. We had 15 guys when we came in here, and there’s only two of us surviving,” Olynyk said at his annual trip to Canobie Lake Park with children from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children as part of the Shamrock Foundation on Wednesday. The 25-year-old jokingly added, “So it’s either me or Avery, one of us has got to go.”

The trip was later than usual as a result of the shoulder surgery Olynyk underwent on May 16 due to recurrent subluxations in response to his Feb. 10 collision with Clippers center DeAndre Jordan.

And with Celtics training camp set to begin in a month on Sept. 26, things are looking up in the 7-footer’s recovery

“My shoulder’s doing alright, man. I should be ready to rock,” he said. “It’s good. Still got about a month or so left, which you can put a lot of work in in a month, get it stronger. It’s coming along, motion’s pretty good, need to get it stronger, give it time to heal.

“We’ll get everybody together and just see how not only if it’s ready, but when it’s the best time to ease into it and gradually improve it and kind of roll things out.”

Olynyk has been a consistently valuable asset off the bench since being taken 13th overall by the Mavericks and promptly traded to the Celtics in the 2013 NBA draft. Appearing in 69 games in 2015-16 — starting just 8 — he averaged 10 points and 4.1 rebounds in 20.2 minutes per game. He also shot 45.5 percent from the field., and for a big man was not afraid to pull the trigger from downtown, averaging three attempts a game with a team-leading 40.5 shooting percent from three.

 

With all that in mind, he’s still got his work cut out for him. The Celtics still have Tyler Zeller and Amir Johnson at their disposal, as well as newly-acquired Al Horford.

Horford does address multiple needs for the Celtics, and for Olynyk, who was on the team’s private plane en route to court then-free agent Kevin Durant when President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge received the call Horford chose them, it will do nothing but help the team improve.

“It was awesome. We were just super happy Al was going to join us. A player of his caliber and of his talent level and of his character is huge. It’s something that we kind of wanted and needed and we’re really looking to him coming to us and him helping us get to where we want to be,” Olynyk said.

“He’s a great player and he’s so good because he can play with a lot of different guys. He’s really skilled, he can make things happen offensively he can play defensively, he can fly around. His length and his ability to guard different spots, and play different spots on the floor, really helps us and our versatility.”

One void that will rear it’s head this season is the loss of sixth man Evan Turner, who departed for the TrailBlazers this offseason. That hasn’t stopped Olynyk from corresponding with his former teammate.

“I did talk to Evan, he came to my camp, actually. Unbelievable guy, it’s too bad that he had to go, but it was good for him, really good for him. It’s tough anytime, the business is different. You’ll see over the years you get close to guys and you have great teammates like Evan and, you know, they’ve got to do what’s best for them.”

For the full interview with Olynyk on Celtics.com, click here.

Read More: Al Horford, Evan Turner, Kelly Olynyk,
4 candidates eager to grab Celtics’ 6th man role this season 08.26.16 at 10:11 am ET
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Apr 28, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) reacts against the Atlanta Hawks during the second half in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Smart will look to fill Evan Turner’s role on the Celtics this season. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

One of the biggest questions the Celtics will have to answer at the start of the regular season is this: Who will emerge as the team’s sixth man?

 In a two-year span, Evan Turner (now with the Trail Blazers) flourished as the Celtics’ first option off the bench. He provided scoring and rebounding and was the team’s secondary ball handler. He averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season, and his production surely will be missed.

Turner finished fifth in voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year and made game-deciding plays, so there’s certainly a void left behind. However, the Celtics have more than a few options off the bench — guys who have the potential to perform on both ends of the floor at a high rate and are very much capable of becoming the team’s newest sixth man next season. 

Here are their best options.

1. Marcus Smart 

Smart is heading into his third NBA season, and expectations are at an all-time high for him. Last season he carved out a role for himself as the team’s second-best backcourt defender (behind Avery Bradley), while also showing flashes of scoring prowess. Most notably there was a 26-point performance against arguably the best point guard in the league — Thunder star Russell Westbrook — as Smart made 9-of-14 shots from the floor, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc, and led the C’s to a 100-85 win at Oklahoma City. 

An impressive showing for the young guard, but what’s often frustrating about Smart’s offense is his lack of consistency — something Westbrook (who finished with 27 points that night) reminded us about Smart after the loss:

“[Smart] had a good game. But there’s 82 games I do this,” Westbrook said.

The following night, Smart finished with four points in 30 minutes against the Rockets — a big drop-off from what was the best scoring night of his career.

Although Smart’s suffocating defense helped limit Westbrook to 25 percent shooting (5-of-20), in order for him to slide into the team’s sixth man role he’s going to have to find consistency on both ends of the floor. If he can build off Game 4 of April’s playoff series against the Hawks — another fantastic performance from Smart — there’s a strong chance that Stevens will see his backup guard reach new heights next season.

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Read More: Gerald Green, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier
Marcus Smart looking to become ‘more of an offensive threat’ this season 08.25.16 at 9:40 pm ET
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Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

It’s a big year for Marcus Smart.

With the departure of Evan Turner, the 22-year-old’s role on the Celtics will organically be stepped up, not to mention the pressure that will be put on him to up his offensive game to match his solid defensive skill.

After Smart was thrust into a big spot when Avery Bradley went down in the first game of last season’s playoff series against the Hawks, suffice to say Brad Stevens will need to lean on Smart quite a bit this season.

And the third-year pro seems to be ready for that challenge.

“Becoming more aggressive. Becoming more of an offensive threat,” Smart said when asked how he will raise his overall game in an interview with Celtics.com. “I’m improving and trying to improve every aspect of my game. Trying to become more of a second to third, fourth option on the team in scoring, assists and everything. Just anything I can do to help my team on the offensive end.”

Added Smart, “My defense, I know I’m going to be there with it. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about, my teammates don’t have to worry about. But I think it’s time for me to step up on the offensive end.”

In 27.3 minutes per game last season, Smart averaged 9.1 points and 3.0 assists per game with 1.5 steals. He was seventh on the team in points, behind then-fellow shooting guard Turner, who finished fourth on the team, and Bradley, who finished second.

More concerning, however, was the inconsistency of his shooting. He shot a mere 34.8 percent from the field — a decline from his rookie season in which he shot 36.7 percent — and just 25.3 percent from beyond the arc.

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Agent: Abdel Nader to remain in U.S., join Celtics’ D-League team 08.23.16 at 9:26 am ET
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It appears it’s time to put all of the Abdel Nader question marks to rest, for now at least.

According to Nader’s agent Cervando Tejada, the Celtics’ 58th pick in this year’s draft will sign with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ D-League affiliate.

According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Nader did receive a “lucrative offer” from an unnamed European club.

 

Nader is an interesting situation for Boston. The former Iowa State forward was expected to head straight overseas, but that changed after a stellar summer league performance that saw him average 10 points per game while shooting 36.3 percent from behind the arc and 49 percent from the field.

The problem is if he went to Celtics training camp and did not make the roster — the most likely outcome — the Celtics would lose his draft rights. This signing will circumvent that process, allowing the Celtics to retain his rights regardless of what happens at camp.

Though not officially invited to camp, Nader would serve as the 20th and final member of the training camp roster should the team extend the invitation. In any case, the C’s would have to cut the roster to a maximum of 15 by the beginning of the season.

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Celtics reportedly sign former Georgia Tech guard Marcus Georges-Hunt 08.23.16 at 9:23 am ET
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The Celtics added another body to their backcourt, signing former Georgia Tech guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, per multiple reports.

The 22-year-old went undrafted in June but played four summer league games with the Nets, averaging 2.8 points and one board in 13.2 minutes of work.

As a senior, the All-ACC player averaged 16.9 points, 2.4 boards, 3.3 assists and 0.9 steals per game. He was a four-year starter for the Yellow Jackets.

Though the signing is small, the ripple is much larger, as it brings the Celtics training camp roster to 19 of 20 available spots. (For more on the Celtics roster and how training camp rosters work, click here). All things considered, Georges-Hunt is not a likely candidate to crack the opening day roster and will be on a fast-track to the D-League.

The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder does not bring anything to the table that does not already exist, and as for the gaping hole that still remains with the Celtics — 3-point shooting — Georges-Hunt shot a mere 32.9 percent from beyond the arc in his college career, including 34.2 percent as a senior.

Read More: Marcus Georges-Hunt,
Current, former Celtics gather for Isaiah Thomas’ wedding 08.23.16 at 8:37 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas finally took some time for himself during his action-packed summer, marrying his longtime girlfriend Kayla Wallace in Seattle. The C’s All-Star point guard noted via Instagram it was “by far the best day of my life.”

 

My beautiful wife and kids #ThomasFamily

A photo posted by Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) on

 

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Read More: Isaiah Thomas, Jared Sullinger, Jason Terry,
Why a Ray Allen comeback isn’t best for Celtics 08.17.16 at 6:54 pm ET
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Jan 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Ray Allen (34) shoots the ball against the Boston Celtics during the first half at TD Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Allen, 41, has reached out to the Bucks and Celtics about making a comeback (Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports)

Although it would be a sweet storybook ending to see the NBA’s greatest 3-point shooter donning a green and white uniform one final time, I’m afraid there’s no room for a Ray Allen comeback in Boston.

For a young up-and-coming team that continues to steadily climb toward the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, the Celtics are a team that’s better off without Allen.  

Allen, 41, told the Hartford Courant he’s reached out to the Celtics and the Bucks about a comeback — a report that left me torn as I asked myself: Is seeing Ray Allen back in Boston best for the Celtics or best for Ray Allen?

Only five players have played in the NBA at the age of 41 — Bob Cousy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish, Kevin Willis and Dikembe Mutombo.  

Cousy, the only guard on the list, was pressed into service for seven games in an attempt to boost ticket sales while coaching the Cincinnati Royals in 1970, seven years after he retired from the Celtics. Abdul-Jabbar averaged 10 points in 22.9 minutes in his final season (1988-89), Mutumbo’s 1.2 blocks per game average for two seasons (2007-09) helped extend his career to the age of 42, and Parish scored 4.8 points in 16.7 minutes a night for the Hornets at age 41. Willis averaged 3.4 points in 7.8 minutes and eventually became the oldest player in NBA history when he retired at age 44 with the Bulls (2006-07).

If there’s anyone who could become the sixth 41-year-old and first guard to play valuable minutes for a club, it’d be Allen.

However, at this stage, this young team led by coach Brad Stevens still is predicated on developing young talent into impact players. This is the same place where Isaiah Thomas blossomed into an All-star, where Avery Bradley became an NBA All-Defensive first-team guard, where Evan Turner was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and where Jae Crowder arrived as a bench warmer from the Mavericks and transformed into one of the better small forwards in the Eastern Conference.

This isn’t the place for Allen to turn back the clock for one final hurrah.

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Read More: Ray Allen,
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