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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
Double ’07: Carmelo Anthony, Ray Allen and Celtics triumvirates 05.08.14 at 3:01 pm ET
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This is the third in a series on the parallels between Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s last team to miss the NBA playoffs and this year’s lottery-bound squad. A deeper look at the C’s player personnel, potential trade packages and financial flexibility should offer insight into whether or not Ainge can recreate the 2007 magic of acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen seven years later in 2014. (Hence, Double ’07.)

Part 1: Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Celtics captaincy
Part 2: Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love and Celtics restoration

As if acquiring Kevin Love or another perennial All-Star to pair with Rajon Rondo weren’t difficult enough, in order to restore the Celtics to championship caliber, Danny Ainge faces the harsh reality that Love is not enough.

In today’s NBA, three isn’t a crowd. It’s a necessity. The Celtics don’t win the 2008 title without Ray Allen, just as the Heat don’t win the past two without Chris Bosh (or Allen, for that matter). Making matters worse, few — if any — elite players will realistically change teams in the next couple years. Other than Love, of course.

Of the top-25 players listed on ESPN’s NBA Rank this past season, only Love, Kyrie IrvingCarmelo Anthony and an injured Kobe Bryant failed to make the playoffs. Irving remains on his rookie contract through next season, and Bryant just signed an obscene two-year, $48.5 million deal, leaving Anthony as the next most likely candidate.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Gordon Hayward, NBA
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Free agent possibilities for Celtics this offseason 05.01.14 at 12:33 pm ET
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After a flurry of draft-related news, we finally have reached a standstill. The date for underclassmen to declare has passed, and as expected all the big names are in. So what do we have to look forward to?

The draft combine will take place in Chicago from May 14-18, and it’s something Celtics fans will want to keep an eye on. Many of the top prospects will attend, a great way to gauge how each player looks on the exact same measuring stick. Much of the Celtics‘€™ destiny relies on May 20, when the lottery reveals what pick Boston will hold. Of course, June 26 is the actual draft date, when everything will come to a head.

But the draft is not the only way to acquire talent this summer. Whether Danny Ainge decides to use or trade his draft picks, there is a solid free agent pool that Ainge will not be able to ignore. Trading for Kevin Love is the sexy solution to Boston’€™s problems at the moment, and it’€™s not all that unrealistic. Other stars are bound to be available come draft day as well.

Draft picks and trades rely on different variables, however. You can’€™t make a GM trade you a player, nor can you make a player fall to you in the draft. Free agents, on the other hand, come with far less complications. Of course they can choose their destination (or be matched by their current team if they are restricted), but there is nothing standing in Ainge’€™s way of pursuing free agents this summer.

With that said, following is a look at some free agents who have a realistic chance of at least being on Boston’€™s radar.

Lance Stephenson – Stephenson has had a breakout season for the recently struggling Pacers. At one point, this looked like a team destined to stay together. But Indy is self-destructing in the first-round against eighth-seeded Atlanta. Something will need to change next season.

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Read More: Danny Ainge, Gordon Hayward, Greg Monroe, Kevin Love
ESPN’s Jason Whitlock on D&C: Banning Donald Sterling ‘a blown opportunity’ for NBA to address culture issue 04.30.14 at 8:35 am ET
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ESPN columnist Jason Whitlock checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss his column questioning the NBA’s decision to issue a lifetime suspension to Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Whitlock, who is black, wrote that removing Sterling from the league “solves nothing,” because it does not address the bigger issue of society’s culture problem.

“I don’t think my point is counter. I think it’s looking further down the line than the mob that ran Donald Sterling out of basketball was looking,” Whitlock said. “Listen, Donald Sterling put it on the table and addressed the culture that he felt had put pressure on him to be racist. I think addressing that culture that I think a lot of people think doesn’t exist that Donald Sterling has said does exist, I think that was important and a blown opportunity.

“I do think that a dangerous precedent has been set by taking this man’s private conversation and using it to run him out of basketball. I think that’s a dangerous, slippery slope. And if I think people were honest they would say that’s something that could blow back and burn all of us. Because I think in private we’re all capable — especially if we think we’ve been hurt in a relationship or at any time in any way hurt — we could all say stupid things said in private in the heat of the moment that if broadcast to the world would make us all look very stupid and ignorant.”

Whitlock noted that Sterling has come a long way since his early days of ownership.

“I disagree with removing the guy for life. And this is a big, complicated issue, but I look at Donald Sterling more objectively and I think more fairly than most,” Whitlock said. “The guy’s 80 years old. He has evolved and done the best that he can. He has a head coach/general manager that I think is maybe the highest-paid coach in the NBA, Doc Rivers, who is African-American, that he’s basically put in charge of his organization and is paid at the highest level.

“He’s got a team with Chris Paul, one of the biggest stars, and Blake Griffin, another one of the biggest stars. So, this guy has gone from ignoring his team, dealing with his organization in perhaps a bigoted fashion and has evolved from that to putting a good product on the court that is more fair to African-Americans. And he’s clearly done a few things that have pleased the Los Angeles NAACP enough for them to give him two lifetime achievement awards.”

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Read More: donald sterling, Jason Whitlock,
Celtics ‘fully support the decisive action taken’ by Adam Silver 04.29.14 at 3:31 pm ET
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In a statement issued on behalf of managing partners Wyc Grousbeck, H. Irving Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca and Robert Epstein, the Celtics have announced their support for NBA commissioner Adam Silver‘s lifetime ban of Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

“The entire Boston Celtics organization and our ownership group fully support the decisive action taken by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver today,” the statement said. “The Celtics stand for inclusion and equality, and we are proud to be a part of a league that shares the same values.”

NBA announces lifetime suspension for Clippers owner Donald Sterling 04.29.14 at 2:25 pm ET
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he is issuing a lifetime ban to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on top of a $2.5 million fine following the league’s investigation into the racially insensitive comments made by the 80-year-old business magnate. In addition, Silver announced that he will urge the Sterling family to sell the Clippers franchise.

Here is Silver’s statement:

Shortly after the release of an audio recording this past Sunday morning of a conversation that allegedly included Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the NBA commenced an investigation which among other things included an interview of Mr. Sterling. That investigation is now complete. The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording and on a second recording from the same conversation on Sunday is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling.

The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multi-cultural and multi-ethic league. I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically had such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their association with the league.

To them, and pioneers of the game like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, “Sweet Water” Clifton, the great Bill Russell and particularly Magic Johnson, I apologize. Accordingly, effective immediately,

I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He will also be barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings or participating in any other league activity.

I am also fining Mr. Sterling $2.5 million dollar, the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution. These funds will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will jointly be selected by the NBA and its players association.

As for Mr. Sterling’s ownership interest in the Clippers, I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens. This has been a painful moment for all members of the NBA family.

I appreciate the support and understanding of our players during this process and I am particularly grateful for the leadership shown by coach Doc Rivers, union President Chris Paul and Mayor Kevin Johnson of Sacramento, who has been acting as the players’ representative in this matter. We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views. They simply have no place in the NBA.

The suspension and fine act under Paragraph 24(1) of the NBA constitution that states that the commissioner can suspend an owner indefinitely and fine him up to $2.5 million for situations where owners’ conduct is not otherwise covered.

In order for the Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the team, three-fourths of the owners will need to vote in favor of such movement under Paragraph 13 of the NBA constitution. Silver expects to receive full support from the rest of the owners. Sterling purchased the Clippers prior to the 1981-82 season.

Silver also made clear that the rest of the Sterling family is not part of the ban.

The suspension and fine follows heavy backlash against Sterling following the release of an audio tape where a man, allegedly Sterling, chastises Vanessa Stiviano over posting pictures of herself with black people to her Instagram account, most notably pointing to a photo with Magic Johnson. Many prominent figures around the country have spoken out against Sterling in the last couple of days.

“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” said President Barack Obama. “That’s what happened here.”

“As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views,” said NBA legend Michael Jordan in a statement. “As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed.”

“He shouldn’t own a team anymore,” said Johnson on ABC’s NBA playoff pre-game show. “I had a friendship with him. So for him to then make these comments, or alleged comments, about myself as well as other African-Americans and minorities, there’s no place in our society for it. There’s no place in our league, because we all get along. We all play with different races of people when you’re in sports. That’s what makes sports so beautiful.”

Sterling’s own team has stepped up and protested against him. Before their game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, the Clippers players removed their shooting shirts, revealing inside-out warmup gear and hiding the Los Angeles Clippers logo. Miami Heat players reproduced the Clippers’ silent protest in an act of solidarity, removing their team-branded shirts and wearing inside-out warmup shirts to hide their team logo.

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