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NBA draft prospect profile: Purdue C A.J. Hammons 06.06.16 at 9:26 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

A.J. HAMMONS

Position: Center

School: Purdue

Age: 23 (turns 24 on Aug. 27)

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 278 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 15.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 59.2 field goal percentage

Scouting report: One of the biggest players available in this year’s draft, Hammons was a top post scorer in college basketball last season. His size and strength makes him unmovable down low, but he has the soft touch on hook shots and fadeaway jumpers to have his way against opponents. For a player his size, Hammons is a good athlete who uses his quickness to excel in transition. His best skill may be his shot-blocking, applying his wingspan and instincts to be a dominant rim protector.

As NBA-ready as he is, Hammons is only projected as an early second-round selection. He tends to disappear on the court at times, one of the reasons he’s been viewed as a lazy player. He also was suspended for three games his senior year for undisclosed issues, which is sure to be a red flag for NBA teams. Finally, he will be 24 later this summer, meaning it’s likely that Hammons will reach his peak potential very soon, if he hasn’t already.

Notes: Hammons was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and made All-Big Ten first team last season. He led the conference in blocks in three of his four seasons and finished first in defensive rating (88.7) in the Big Ten. A former McDonald’s All-American nominee, he has been suspended for six games in his collegiate career.

Related articles:

Chicago Tribune: Once perceived as lazy, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons now viewed as elite

News Sentinel: Modest or not, Purdue’s A.J. Hammons delivers big

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, AJ Hammons,
NBA draft prospect profile: Maryland PF Robert Carter Jr. 06.05.16 at 8:03 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

ROBERT CARTER JR.

Position: Power forward

School: Maryland

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 250 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, 55.4 field goal percentage

Scouting report: A redshirt junior in 2015-16, Carter led the Terps in rebounding and was third in scoring, shooting 62.9 percent on shots inside the arc. He has a reputation as a hard worker and vocal leader. “I’ve never had anybody as consistent as Robert in terms of his effort and his enthusiasm,” Maryland director of basketball performance Kyle Tarp said (via WTOP.com) early this past season when commenting on Carter’s dedication to getting in top shape. “He’s one of the most fun athletes I’ve been around. He’s the strongest guy on the team right now in the traditional sense, but he can do a lot of things that 6-9, 235-pound guys can’t usually do.”

Carter did not help his cause with his performance in the NCAA Tournament, as he averaged just 7.3 points in his team’s three-game run as he struggled to stay out of foul trouble.

During one of the five-on-five scrimmages at the NBA combine Carter was impressive, scoring 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting from a variety of spots — especially standing out in the pick-and-pop — and recording seven rebounds and foul steals while playing strong defense. In two games at the combine he finished with 35 points and 14 rebounds in 45 minutes of action. He went into the combine as someone who was considered a fringe second-rounder but came out with analysts predicting he was sure to get drafted — possibly even sneaking into the late first round if one team finds him appealing enough.

Carter does not have explosive athleticism, but he’s helped by his 7-foot-3 1/4 wingspan. He has drawn comparisons to Jared Sullinger, and, like Sullinger, his weight has fluctuated a bit, which could concern NBA executives. After starting this past season at 235 pounds — dropping 18 pounds and 6 percent body fat in a year — he weighed in at 250 pounds at the combine with a body fat percentage of 12.5, ranking him fourth worst of those tested. However, with the Celtics owning eight picks, this could be the kind of player on whom they might gamble.

Notes: Carter was named All-Big Ten honorable mention in his lone season at Maryland. He also won the conference’s sportsmanship award. A Georgia native, Carter started his college career at Georgia Tech, averaging 10.5 points and 7.4 rebound as a sophomore before transferring to Maryland. He reportedly was not happy that Georgia Tech used him mainly in the post and did not give him a chance to show his range. “I just felt like I needed to put myself in a better position to accomplish the goals that I set for myself, and that’s it,” he explained.

Related articles:

Fansided: Robert Carter impresses at NBA scouting combine

WTOP.com: How Robert Carter Jr. transformed himself into Maryland’s most complete player

Bleacher Report: Breaking down future of Maryland’s Robert Carter Jr.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Robert Carter Jr.,
Isaiah Thomas reportedly ‘all-in’ on bringing Kevin Durant to Boston 06.05.16 at 2:53 pm ET
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May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State’s Klay Thompson (11) in Game 7 of the Western finals. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas isn’t going to give up on Kevin Durant without a fight.

Despite numerous reports and rumors indicating that Kevin Durant is staying put in Oklahoma City and not seriously considering Boston, the Celtics point guard told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach that he has acquired the superstar forward’s phone number and will be hot on the trail this summer trying to convince him why he should be considering Boston.

Thomas told Himmelsbach via phone from China that he will “do everything I can to get him to sign.”

Durant, whose Thunder teammates blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors in the Western finals, is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. An hour after Durant and the Thunder lost Game 7 Monday night in Oakland, Thomas tweeted out the No. 35 (Durant’s number) and a Shamrock and then quickly deleted it

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported earlier this week that those close to the situation believe that Durant is most likely going to sign a two-year extension with Oklahoma City (including an opt-out after the first year), staying put with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka for another run at glory. 

Jackie MacMullan told WEEI’s OM&F that Celtics fans “can forget” about Durant being lured to Boston and signing with the Celtics. 

This week, FOX25’s Butch Stearns told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan that the Celtics have been told which players would need to be acquired by any team hoping to sign Durant. 

But that might be putting the cart before the horse. Thomas must first get a hold of Durant and work his magic and charm, letting him know just what he would mean to the Celtics roster. 

“That’s who I’m trying to get,” Thomas told Himmelsbach. 

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Durant
Full Court Press: How the Brad Stevens deal got done, the kids are alright with Danny Ainge 06.04.16 at 8:46 pm ET
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Jul 5, 2013; Waltham, MA, USA; New Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and his wife Tracy are interviewed after he was introduced as the new coach during a news conference. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens and his wife Tracy have worked closely on all contractual matters with the Celtics. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

When Brad Stevens eventually took the plunge and decided to move his family to Boston in the summer of 2013, he did so having completed a very thorough vetting process of what he was getting into.

After all, what would any Stevens move be without first having given plenty of thought to it beforehand?

Helping him to uncover every stone and make sure he was ready to jump in with both feet (as he and Danny Ainge made reference to this week) was his representative — and wife — Tracy Wilhelmy Stevens. An attorney by trade, she negotiated the initial contract with Wyc Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Rich Gotham — and, of course, Ainge.

“She gets a fee,” the Celtics coach deadpanned in classic Stevens form.

She played a big role this time again, when the Ainge told Grousbeck he was perfectly happy staying in Boston and that the real priority should be to lock up the prized head coach beyond the three years left on his $22 million deal signed around Independence Day 2013. Stevens said this week that actual talks on an extension began in the middle of this season.

“The first time I was approached it was midseason, and it was a real brief conversation,” Stevens said. “But it was during a time when we were weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, so it makes you feel even better about where you are when that happens. And so, after the season, Danny came in and we talked real briefly about it. It’s never been much of a question for me. Obviously, I’m flattered to be considered to be here. Then also to get a chance to continue to do it.”

That means it was early January, when the Celtics had lost six of seven, including consecutive ugly home defeats against the Lakers and Nets. That stretch just happened to coincide with rumors swirling of some prime college gigs possibly opening up.

“I guess I was kinda surprised,” Stevens said of the extension with still three years remaining on the original deal. “Again, it tells you the way that they think and the way that they value people around here. It’s why you enjoy working here.

“I’m not big into negotiations and I don’t have a third party doing that for me. It’s just, ‘Hey, we want to extend you, here’s what we’re thinking and what do you think?’ Then, a little bit of back and forth between us. It was a pretty quick process. It wasn’t very long. Again, we were flattered to be asked to do that and it provides good stability for our family, too. I understand that these things can change in coaching. Ultimately, we’re excited to be offered that opportunity.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge
NBA draft prospect profile: LSU F Ben Simmons 06.04.16 at 12:57 pm ET
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As part of WEEI’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

BEN SIMMONS

Position: Forward

School: LSU

Age: 19 (turns 20 on July 20)

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 239 pounds 

Wingspan: 6-foot-11

Key 2015-16 Stats: 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists

Scouting report: At the beginning of the season Simmons was the consensus No. 1 overall pick. He was proclaimed by many to be the next LeBron James or Magic Johnson. After the season some experts are unsure if Simmons still should be the first selection, but he’s unlikely to slip to the Celtics at No. 3.

At LSU some of Simmons’ weaknesses became apparent, and that has left some NBA teams wondering if Simmons was overhyped. Over the course of the year Simmons’ shooting ability never improved. One of the biggest critiques of Simmons has been his attitude. Simmons looked bored toward the end of the season, as his team failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. NBA general mangers will have to examine whether Simmons has enough of a competitive drive to last in an 82-game NBA season.

Simmons, a native of Australia (his father, Dave, is an American who played professionally Down Under), did impress scouts with his passing and ball-handling ability — especially considering his size. Making Simmons a more attractive prospect is his athletic ability that allows him finish strong above the rim. His skill set has some believing that he will become an elite primary ball-handler in the NBA.

Notes: Simmons was a consensus selection for the All-America team. He was the USBWA Freshman of the year and a finalist for USBWA Player of the Year. In addition, he was a semifinalist for the Naismith Award. Simmons was the first collegiate player since 1986 to average over 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. If Simmons is drafted by the 76ers he will be going to a familiar coach. Brett Brown was an assistant coach for the Melbourne Tigers from 1988-93, when Simmons’ father was a star for the Australian team, and Brown has remained friendly with the family through the years. If drafted by the Lakers with the second overall pick Simmons will be joining his high school teammate D’Angelo Russell.

Related articles: 

ESPN: What is Ben Simmons’ NBA ceiling?

Yahoo Sports: Why Ben Simmons isn’t the top prospect in the 2016 NBA draft

USA Today: LSU’s versatile Ben Simmons has a natural position: Star

Philly.com: Brett Brown can’t deny strong Aussie ties to Ben Simmons

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2106 Potential Celtics, Ben Simmons,
NBA draft prospect profile: Notre Dame PG Demetrius Jackson 06.04.16 at 9:54 am ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DEMETRIUS JACKSON

Position: Point guard

School: Notre Dame

Age: 21 (turns 22 on Sept. 7)

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 194 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-5

Key 2015-16 stats: 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists

Scouting report: Over the last decade Notre Dame has only sent six players to the NBA, but last year the Irish sent two and this year Demetrius Jackson should continue the trend. Jackson is extremely athletic and quick, but his most impressive physical tool is his leaping ability. At the combine he recorded a 43.5-inch max vertical, which is the fourth highest in combine history. With the ball Jackson has the right fundamentals for a point guard — he is unselfish and makes smart decisions. One of Jackson’s biggest strengths is his shot. He was able to shoot 52 percent from inside the arc this past season. From beyond the arc Jackson shot 33 percent, which was a lower percentage than his sophomore season (43-percent), but scouts believe that is due to Notre Dame using Jackson more as a ball handler. Jackson will need to place more emphasis on his defense, but that shouldn’t be a problem given his physical tool set. Jackson has drawn a lot of comparisons to current Knicks point guard Jerian Grant. The two were teammates two seasons ago at Notre Dame and have similar body statures. Jackson is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the middle of the second.

Notes: Jackson was named second-team All-ACC. Jackson is the first Notre Dame player since 2011 to leave school early for the draft. He was named to the NCAA East Regional All-Tournament team after ending his college career by shooting 10-for-16 and scoring 26 points to go along with four assists in Notre Dame’s loss to North Carolina in the Elite Eight. In the previous game against Wisconsin, Jackson hit a layup with 19 seconds remaining, stole pass and scored another layup six seconds later, then stole the ball at midcourt, was fouled and hit two free throws to secure the 61-56 win.

Related articles:

Chicago Tribune: Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson out to prove he’s worthy of first-round pick

CBS Sports: Demetrius Jackson the latest to revive Notre Dame’s NBA draft reputation

ESPN: Demetrius Jackson of Notre Dame Fighting Irish declares for NBA draft

Read More: 2015 Potential Celtics, 2016 NBA draft, Demetrius Grant,
NBA draft prospect profile: Florida SF Dorian Finney-Smith 06.03.16 at 4:26 pm ET
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As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DORIAN FINNEY-SMITH

Position: Small forward

School: Florida

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 215 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2015-16 stats: 14.7 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists

Scouting report: Finney-Smith is a forward who has all the physical tools necessary for today’s NBA. A projected late second-round pick, he has the wingspan and leaping ability to excel above the rim, and his natural athleticism helps him defend both small forwards and point guards. He improved his outside jumper while at Florida, and can contribute on the glass for any NBA team.

“His ceiling compared to some of these guys people are weighing against, him in terms of drafting him or Dorian, might not measure up,” Florida coach Mike White told NBA.com. “We’re talking about 6-9 freak [athletes] with vertical leaps. But I think [Finney-Smith] is a guy that right now is ready. He played in the Final Four. He can contribute to a winner, get out there and not hurt you, guard a couple of positions.”

One of the question marks with Finney-Smith is whether or not he can become a 15-point-per-game scorer at the next level. He did most of his scoring on set shots or on putbacks, and he hasn’t shown that he can create his own shot. Finney-Smith turned 23 in May, so he likely has very limited upside. He’s not outstanding in any one area, often relying on his size and length to make plays.

Notes: At the NBA combine last month, Finney-Smith posted a 38.5-inch standing vertical leap, the highest this year and the third highest in combine history. He made second-team All-SEC after ranking second in the conference in total rebounds (300) and fourth in player efficiency rating (23.9). Finney-Smith, whose nickname is Doe-Doe, spent his freshman year at Virginia Tech before transferring to Florida for his sophomore year. In 2008 he witnessed his brother Ra-Shawn shot multiple times at a party. Ra-Shawn, who was a high school senior and star football player, died two weeks later. Finney-Smith has a 4-year-old daughter.

Related articles:

NBA.com: Having overcome obstacles, Finney-Smith ready for NBA

SB Nation: Dorian Finney-Smith has the type of versatility the Celtics value

MassLive.com: Boston Celtics auditioning Dorian Finney-Smith, Sheldon McClellan, among others

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 potential celtics, Dorian Finney-Smith,
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