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Avery Bradley offers explanation as to why he wasn’t at recruitment of Kevin Durant 08.29.16 at 7:15 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

It’s been nearly two months since Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Golden State Warriors over a slew of other bidders — the Celtics being one of them.

The Celtics brought the cavalry, including players Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart as well as President Danny Ainge and co-owner Steve Pagliuca. Tom Brady was also in attendance.

But there was one glaringly obvious absence.

The longest-tenured member of the Celtics Avery Bradley was not in attendance, and, addressing it for the first time, there was a reason behind his absence. The pair both played at the University of Texas and interface frequently as a result of it, the guard thought it was best to stay out of it.

“I didn’t do that much,” the 25-year-old told the Boston Globe at a court makeover in Belmont. “Me and Kevin are like brothers, so we talk all the time. So I’m not going to talk to him about that, you know what I mean? I was more asking him how he’s doing.

“I was actually with him a week before all that stuff went down at a camp in Austin, so I really wasn’t that much involved.”

Though he stayed largely away from the Durant luring process, the All-Star’s decision did not seem to turn the head of Bradley as wildly as it did the rest of the basketball world.

“You know what, I can’t really say,” he said. “All I can say is that I’m happy for him, and I feel like he’s part of a great organization. And I wish the best for him. Kevin’s a really good guy and an even better player.”

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Read More: Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Kevin Durant,
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,
What to know about 2016-17 Celtics schedule 08.15.16 at 10:07 am ET
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Some experts say the Celtics have the easiest schedule in the NBA. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Some experts say the Celtics have the easiest schedule in the NBA. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

With the release of the 2016-17 NBA schedule, the start of what has on paper begun to shape up as one of the most interesting season’s in recent Celtics memory is inching closer and closer.

So what challenges stand in front of the Celtics?

According to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg and a group of other insiders, the Celtics actually have the easiest schedule in the league. Let’s take a look:

Five notable games

Nov. 3 at Cavaliers

What a way to really get the season going. The Celtics’ fifth game of the year will be against the team that is one of the top contenders to stand in their way in the East. Though you’re hard-pressed to say a game at the beginning of November will have a long-term impact of the makeup of the season, this game will be a good jumping off point for the Celtics to see how they stack up against a top team when (most likely) both sides are healthy. What’s more, it will be the second game of a back-to-back, with the C’s squaring off against the Bulls the night before.

Nov. 18 vs. Warriors

A game that needs no explanation, the Celtics’ home matchup against the most highly-touted side going into this season comes a few weeks in. At that point, team identities will have been formed and an indication as to where teams are headed in their seasons should start becoming clear. Oh, and Kevin Durant too. That will be an interesting reception for the prized free agent who snubbed Boston this offseason.

Nov. 25 vs. Spurs

Another measuring stick to how the Celtics compare to top talent, it will also be the first time they see the Spurs without the incessant reminder that they didn’t get Tim Duncan in the 1997 draft.

Jan. 13 at Hawks

The Celtics don’t see the team that bounced them in the first round of the 2016 postseason until mid-January, and it will be on the road as well. For redemption sake, it will be a good matchup to see how they stack up against the new-look Hawks eight months later, but it will also be compelling to see how Al Horford squares off against his former team.

April 5 vs. Cavaliers

The Celtics in a sense bookend their season with the Cavs, and if the season goes in the direction everyone imagines it will, this will be a gargantuan game in terms of postseason preparation. It will be at home with just four more games following and will likely have postseason seeding implications as well.

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Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Eastern Conference,
Isaiah Thomas wants to prove he’s ‘just as good as any other point guard in the NBA’ 08.11.16 at 11:27 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas has had a busy summer. From recruiting Kevin Durant, to jet-setting to China to handing out ice cream at Faneuil Hall, the Celtics point guard has hardly been off this offseason.

In an interview with Celtics.com on Wednesday, Thomas talked about his trip to China, the team’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown, and what else he’s been doing this offseason when not recruiting, flying or giving away ice cream.

For the full interview, click here.

The 27-year-old went to Beijing as part of NBA Cares, an initiative to help continue to grow the game. He was joined by Karl-Anthony Townes of the Timberwolves as well as Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers. While there, they hosted clinics, meet-and-greets and NBA Finals viewing parties.

“It was a blessing to be able to be considered to go. Once they asked me to go I definitely wanted to see Beijing and what it was like,” Thomas said. “I’ve been to China before but it was definitely a smaller, but it was a good experience. I was hoping to meet Yao Ming but I didn’t get to, but it was nice to be in China and experience their culture a little bit.”

In his All-Star 2015-16 season in which he played in all 82 games (while starting 79), Thomas admittedly was a little banged up when the season concluded with their first round departure at the hands of the Hawks. As a result, he cited that he gave himself a little bit of time away from basketball at the start of the offseason.

“The first four to six weeks of offseason I didn’t play basketball, my body was hurting,” he said. “I needed some injuries to heal in my body so I really relaxed, spent time with my family, my kids and watched the playoffs so that was my biggest thing. Now I’m back working out, I’m healthy and I’m trying to just continue to get better each and every day so I can get ready for the season.”

Added Thomas on how the team plans to get better: “Work. Continue to work, continue to get better. Don’t be satisfied with what we did cause honestly we felt like we came up short, we felt like — give credit to Atlanta — but we felt like we could’ve beat them.”

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Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown
Celtics reportedly to play Knicks in New York on Christmas Day at 10:21 am ET
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Even with temperatures in the 90s in the dead of August, it’s not to early to start thinking about Christmas, and it appears the Celtics will be decking the halls of Madison Square Garden on December 25.

According to a report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Celtics and Knicks will be one of five games to be played on Christmas, with the Warriors and and Cavs set to tangle in a NBA Finals rematch, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.

The Celtics haven’t played on Christmas Day since 2012, when they ran through Brooklyn on the road 93-76. For reference, Rajon Rando was the leading scorer with 19 points, Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards and Paul Pierce had 10 assists. The Celtics still have had less than favorable results on the holiday posting an overall record of 12-17 on Christmas.

The Celtics/Knicks matchup will feature some new faces tossed into the Boston/New York rivalry with Celtics’ addition of Al Horford and the Knicks’ addition of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

The league generally schedules the games based on how a team stands in terms of their marketability, so don’t be surprised to see the Heat, Lakers, Clippers or Bulls (all of whom played on Christmas last season) potentially get thrown into the mix this year.

Read More: Al Horford, Celtics, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah
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
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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