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Jordan Mickey, Abdel Nader shine for Celtics in summer lague 07.11.16 at 11:15 am ET
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In a game where the Celtics struggled offensively, some unusual suspects led the scoring for Boston.

Jordan Mickey carried the Celtics in their second game of the Las Vegas Summer League, totaling 18 points and six rebounds in an 87-74 loss to the Suns. The LSU product played in just his second summer game, but looked comfortable out on the court. He managed to convert on extra looks in the post in the fourth quarter to help Boston cut into the Suns lead. Mickey, 22, also excelled on the defensive end, stuffing Phoenix big man Marquese Chriss on a transition layup that riled up the crowd.

— Rookie Abdel Nader came off the bench to provide a spark for the Celtics, scoring 13 points and tying Mickey in rebounds with six. The 22-year-old showed a lot of promise scoring off of the dribble and created scoring opportunities for himself with ease. He has made smart decisions with the ball in his hands, and the No. 58 overall pick of this year’s draft should see an increase in minutes in the future.

“You’ll probably see him in the starting lineup next game,” C’s coach Jamie Young said of Nader following the loss.

— R.J. Hunter dropped 17 points in over 26 minutes, shooting 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. The most impressive part of Hunter’s game, however, was his tenacity. He got into a tangle with Suns star Devin Booker in the second quarter and stepped up his aggressiveness until he was taken out of the game. The Georgia State product would eventually get a nice block on Booker off the dribble, highlighting the second-year guards hustle. He’ll need to fully utilize that tenacity if he wants to break into Brad Stevens’ rotation this season.

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Spurs great Tim Duncan announces retirement after 19 seasons 07.11.16 at 10:45 am ET
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There was no retirement tour for Tim Duncan, who called it quits on Monday in appropriately low-key fashion.

The 15-time All-Star and five-time champion wrapped up a Hall of Fame career via an announcement on the team’s official web site that didn’t even include a quote.

Duncan, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, compiled a .710 winning percentage over his 19 seasons, the highest in any pro sport over that time, according to the Spurs, and just percentage points ahead of the Patriots (.704).

The Celtics had hoped to land Duncan in the ’97 lottery, but the ping-pong balls bounced the way of the Spurs and everything else is history.

Duncan finishes his career having averaged 19 points and 10.8 rebounds a game. The Spurs made the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons, and he’s the only player in history to start for champions in three different decades.

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Larry Bird says he couldn’t imagine leaving Celtics to join forces with Magic Johnson in Los Angeles 07.10.16 at 2:51 pm ET
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Larry Bird

Larry Bird

Larry Bird understands why Kevin Durant chose the Warriors. But back in his own playing days, the former Celtics great wouldn’t have considered joining forces with rival Magic Johnson.

Speaking on SiriusXM NBA radio, Bird said Durant didn’t do anything wrong by leaving Oklahoma City to join the rival Warriors, but it’s not a choice he would’ve made.

“I know back in the day, I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson,” Bird said. “I’d rather try to beat him. But these guys are different, and I understand a lot of it and it’s within the rules, so they can do whatever they do. I can remember years ago, we were fighting when I played for free agency, pure free agency, so there’d be more movement. But I could never imagine myself going and joining another team with great players, because I had great players and I was in a great situation.”

A case can be made that Durant had a great situation in OKC, with point guard Russell Westbrook, big man Steven Adams, and a roster that took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.

Bird played with Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, among others. He won three titles and reached the Finals five times in his career.

Durant has reached the Finals once since entering the league in 2007.

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Celtics renounce Jared Sullinger’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent 07.10.16 at 1:53 pm ET
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Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)

Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)

It appears as though the Jared Sullinger era is drawing to a close in Boston.

The Celtics backtracked on the qualifying offer they made the 24-year-old big man, renouncing the offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. He’s now able to sign with any team. The decision by the Celtics was first reported by RealGM’s Keith Smith.

Taken No. 21 overall by the Celtics in the 2012 draft, the Sullinger era was a tumultuous one in Boston to say the least. At times, he was a valuable body in the low post who could occasionally shoot from the perimeter, and other times — this past postseason against the Hawks — was totally absent.

This season he averaged 10.3 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, with the latter being a career high for him.

At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Sullinger’s time in Boston was often characterized by his big frame, in which he was constantly overweight and out of shape and often possessed a poor, lazy attitude at multiple points, leading to him being benched.

Sullinger was originally offered a qualifying offer alongside Tyler Zeller on June 29, with Sullinger’s being valued at $3,695,169. The decision to renounce the qualifying offer will create needed cap space in the aftermath of the Al Horford signing.

Sullinger could still sign with the Celtics, but in light of the decision made today, the C’s would be offering much lower than what he’s is looking for.

Read More: Al Horford, Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller
Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown struggles in return to summer league action 07.09.16 at 10:34 pm ET
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Celtics fans hoping to see a glimmer of what Danny Ainge saw in Jaylen Brown before drafting him No. 3 overall will have to wait at least another day.

Brown, returning to action in the C’s Las Vegas Summer League opener Saturday after missing the final two games of the Utah Summer League with a bone bruise in his right knee, played 24 1/2 unimpressive minutes in a 71-62 loss to the Bulls. Brown scored nine points, hitting just 3-of-13 shots, and grabbed one rebound. He had a strong drive to the basket in the closing minutes but missed a dunk. Defensively, he got faked out of his shoes a couple of times, biting badly on shot fakes while looking for a block.

Brown acknowledged that he didn’t feel right Saturday.

“I felt a little slow, I felt like I was stuck in the mud a little bit, but it will pick up,” he told reporters afterward. “I missed some baskets easily to my left hand because I was exploding off my right leg. Just got to get it stronger, get better and make the right plays.”

— Terry Rozier continues to be the C’s summer star. Although it wasn’t his best outing — he made some questionable decisions running the fast break and was a minus-19 during his 29 minutes — he scored a team-high 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

“We got our butt kicked today, offensively and defensively,” he said. “I take full responsibility for it.”

Added C’s assistant coach Jamie Young: “I thought tonight was actually his worst game. I think he could have been better. But Terry’s come a long way. We need Terry to keep improving.”

— While the Celtics struggled inside against the bigger and stronger Bulls — Chicago held a 46-28 rebounding advantage and outscored the C’s in the paint 40-24 — first-round draft pick Guerschon Yabusele came ready to bang. The French forward finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

— Rookie Abdel Nader was a bright spot. The 58th overall pick showed the ability to get to the basket and finish. The Iowa State product ended the night with 12 points on 4-of-8 field goals in 16 minutes.

— James Young hit just 1-of-7 shots and scored three points, and he still appears to have no interest in playing any defense.

— Jordan Mickey made his first appearance of the summer and recorded five points and seven rebounds in almost 23 minutes. R.J. Hunter, who missed the previous two games, also returned and scored six points in just under 21 minutes.

Read More: Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier,
Al Horford marks new beginning with Celtics: ‘You have to consider this is a special place’ 07.08.16 at 1:48 pm ET
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Even though Al Horford wasn’t officially a Celtic at the time of Friday’s introductory press conference due to his contract not being finalized, the mere image of the 6-foot-10 center sitting next to Wyc Grousbeck, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens marked a big step in bringing Boston basketball back to prominence.

Stevens talked about how Horford’s shooting ability and size will help the Celtics offense. 

“I think that [Horford’s] hard work and his adaptability to the way the game has been played in a lot of ways has just enhanced him even more by adding to what was probably one of the better mid-range shots in the league to extending that range and being not only a reasonable 3-point shooter, but a good 3-point shooter and a guy that is constantly thinking about now adding to perfecting that,” Stevens said. “I think that anytime that you have the opportunity to pop, roll or play in the seam [off the pick-and-roll] is a huge advantage and he is excellent at all three and the numbers bear that out. We play through our bigs a lot and that is something we have desire to continue to do. It is great from a fit standpoint in a lot of ways, but certainty in the way that we play.”

More importantly, Horford marks the first big-name free agent the Celtics have been able to attract — and Horford indicated he expects more will follow.

“It is a great organization. There is a lot of history here. I feel like everyone around the league respects it, we acknowledge it and that is a big part of the reason why I chose to come here,” Horford said. “In years to come I feel like this will open the doors for many other big free agents. You have to consider this is a special place and I think people that are open to it they will see how special this place is.”

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Danny Ainge, C’s brass welcome Al Horford to Boston: ‘He plays with a passion that is contagious to his teammates’ 07.08.16 at 11:25 am ET
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Friday’s press conference to introduce free agent forward/center Al Horford started on a curious note, as Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck announced after a 40-minute delay that the paperwork on Horford’s deal is not finalized, making him a “pending” acquisition.

Horford, who reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth $113 million to join the C’s, did not sound like a player who had concerns about a holdup with his contract, saying he’s looking forward to a new challenge.

“I always admired the Celtics from afar, just how everything gets carried over here, and how committed the team and the city is to winning and doing things the right way,” he said. “I’m very, very excited, and I can’t wait to get started. I know we have a lot of work ahead. So that really excites me.”

Horford played all 82 games for the Hawks last season, averaging 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. The 30-year-old helped the Hawks end the C’s season in the opening round of the playoffs.

Said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: “He plays the way that great Celtics in the past have played. He plays with a passion that is contagious to his teammates. He’s a player that can fit with all sorts of different players. He can play outside, he can play inside, on both ends of the court. But he is a player that watching him play against us in the playoffs this year and flying around and contesting shots and bringing an energy and passion, I think he is a player that our fans will fall in love with. And his teammates will fall in love with. And our coach will fall in love with him as well.”

Coach Brad Stevens said Horford’s legacy of success on the court should have a big impact on the young Celtics.

“The best thing that I can say about a basketball player as a person is that he constantly enhances his teammates on the floor,” Stevens said. “And the No. 1 thing that his career has been defined by is winning. That goes back to his days in college [at Florida]. That goes obviously through the nine years in Atlanta, leading Atlanta to the playoffs in every single one of those years. For us to have an opportunity here with a person who has achieved all that he’s achieved, who has not only the ability to help your team on the court with everything that he does well but also an ability to lead what is a still fairly young team in the way that you prepare, the way that you carry yourself and everything else. I don’t think that there is a better example out there for our players. So we’re thrilled, and I’m thrilled.”

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