|Celtics extend qualifying offer to Jeff Green, make him restricted free agent||06.30.11 at 1:56 pm ET|
The Celtics extended forward Jeff Green a one-year qualifying offer at $5.9 million, which will make the forward a restricted free agent. The move was procedural and gives the team the right to match any offer Green receives once the league opens — or rather re-opens — for business following a lockout that could start as early as midnight on July 1.
The team also announced that they have exercised the third-year option on Avery Bradley. For first round picks, the first two years of their contracts are guaranteed. The team has options on the third and fourth years before a player can become a restricted free agent like Green is now.
Green can still sign a long-term extension with the team once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules in place or he could return for the one-year offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Celtics could also let him walk if another team offers a huge deal, but that seems unlikely as they have maintained that he is a part of their long-term plans.
Yet the Celtics have also carefully planned to have as much cap space as possible after next season and it will be interesting to see how much they ultimately invest in his services. It wouldn’t be the worst thing for the franchise if Green simply came back for the one-year offer and kept the books clear for the summer of 2012. Of course all the roster speculation is premature until the new CBA rules are in place.
The question for the Celtics and Green — assuming he does return — is what kind of player will he be for them?
Green arrived from Oklahoma City in the Kendrick Perkins trade with the expectation that he would provide scoring and athleticism off the bench, as well as a solid backup for Paul Pierce. Green averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games for the Celtics and while his minutes were cut from 37 in OKC to 23 with the C’s, that was essentially the same production he gave the Thunder. On the plus side his field goal percentage jumped from 44 to 49 percent, but his 3-point shooting dipped under the 30-percent line.
After four years in the league, Green seems to have settled in as a good but not great player, which doesn’t exactly translate into future franchise cornerstone. But the Celtics believe that he still has room to develop, particularly with a full training camp under his belt.
“I think Jeff played excellent,” team president Danny Ainge said in an end of the season media session in May. “Maybe the expectations were too high. We knew he wasn’t going to start. We knew he wasn’t going to play 35 minutes. We needed a veteran player, an experienced player, an athletic player. We know what Jeff Green is. He’s a highly efficient offensive player who plays good defense. That’s what we need and he’s young and I think he’s just going to get better because of his character and work ethic.”
The problem — as it was last season — is finding a role for Green. Ainge floated the idea of starting Green and using Pierce off the bench, which seems like a reach considering Pierce is one of the best players in franchise history and still playing at an All-Star level.
While Pierce’s minutes are likely to go down next season that’s still only about 15 minutes of action. Green also struggled defensively as a four-man, although that had a lot to do with whoever was playing center. When he was in the lineup with Pierce and Kevin Garnett for example, he did just fine. When he teamed with Glen Davis to form an undersized frontcourt, not so much. Adding legitimate depth at center behind Jermaine O’Neal and rookie JaJuan Johnson can only help Green.
The Celtics believe that they can contend for a championship again next season with their core players in place, provided they receive some help from free agency and their young players develop into contributors. But no player needs to help more than Green.
If Ainge is right that Green’s best years are ahead of him he can give the Celtics a dimension they’ve lacked since the big three era began. If this is as good as it gets then it doesn’t seem likely that Green will be enough to get them past Miami and Chicago.
|JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore are ready to contribute||06.27.11 at 2:35 pm ET|
The Celtics introduced their newest players — JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore — to the media at Edison school in Brighton on Monday and if first impressions count for anything both players came across as engaging and mature. That’s to be expected of a pair of four-year college players, both of whom earned degrees at Purdue.
Education was the theme of the day as Johnson and Moore were on hand to dedicate a new mobile computer lab through the Celtics Shamrock Foundation with 25 new Mac’s for the kids in the K-8 public school. With their parents in attendance, Johnson and Moore mixed easily with the kids.
Both acknowledged that it was a strange but pleasant coincidence that they would wind up on the same team in the NBA. That process didn’t begin on draft night. It started when both players decided to return for their senior seasons after going through the draft evaluation last year.
The extra year in school wasn’t wasted as Johnson increased his scoring average from 15.5 to 20.5 points per game and was named Big 10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Moore also raised his scoring average for the fourth straight season with the Boilerrmakers and shot 40 percent from the college 3-point line.
“These guys have both improved a lot over the course of their college careers,” team president Danny Ainge said. “They’ve played a lot of big games in a lot of hostile environments. I think that can only help.”
The knock on Johnson is that he’s thin and he acknowledged that he wants to add to his 220 pounds in the weight room and with a nutritional program. The negative for Moore is that at 6-foot-4 (in shoes) he may be too small to matchup with NBA 2-guards and he rarely played the point at Purdue. Johnson said that he sees himself as a four-man — as do the Celtics. Moore described himself as a combo guard and said he knew he had to be prepared to handle any backcourt assignment.
The NBA is filled with undersized, or oddly sized, players and each player brings something different to the equation for the Celtics who are trying to add pieces that can help this season, as well as in the future.
“I can run the floor, rebound, defend and be able to knock down that 15-18 foot shot pretty consistently,” Johnson said. “That’s what I can bring to the team.”
Moore was an accomplished scorer at Purdue and had a memorable game against Ohio State when he scored 38 points and knocked down seven 3-pointers. Johnson noted that in college Moore was the player the other Boilermakers counted on to make a big shot.
Their roles are reversed now as the pressure will be on Johnson to provide some interior help and athleticism to a frontline that can use both. Moore will have a chance to earn a roster spot and he may have competition. The Celtics brought University of Pittsburgh guard Gilbert Brown in to get acclimated with the facilities.
Brown told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Ainge was in contact with him after the draft and compared his situation to Wes Matthews, an undrafted free agent out of Marquette who has already carved out a niche in the NBA, as well as a five-year $32 million contract from the Blazers. The Celtics can’t sign undrafted free agents — or free agents of any kind — until July 1 and if there is a lockout Brown told the paper he was likely to play in Germany.
On a team with so many open positions and a determination to get younger, more athletic and affordable there’s a decent chance that both Moore and Brown could find their way on to the Celtics roster. Ainge told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan last week that he did not intend to mess with the team’s cap space after the 2012 season when they will be way below the cap, regardless of whatever system is in place in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
That’s why this draft was so important for the Celtics. They want to remain competitive for a championship this season, while also laying the foundation for the future. Ainge told D & C that one more year with the big three was realistic, but two was probably asking too much. With Johnson, Moore, possibly Brown and last year’s first round pick Avery Bradley vying for playing time, the Celtics will have not only youth, but experienced youth to try and alter the dynamic of the team.
Johnson will wear No. 12 as a tribute to his mother, Rhonda Curlin. That was her number in high school. Moore will wear No. 55. He said he was a fan of Jason “White Chocolate” Williams growing up.
Johnson said he was looking forward to learning from Kevin Garnett. “If he tells me something I’ll definitely do my best to execute what he’s saying,” Johnson said. “I don’t want him to shut me down. I want to learn as much as I can from him.”
Ainge said the team would extend a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jeff Green before the deadline as expected.
One area Ainge wouldn’t address was any potential free agent plans. Anything and everything related to the new CBA has been off-limits in keeping with NBA policy.
|Delonte West sprains ankle, out for Utah game||02.28.11 at 1:28 pm ET|
During an informal workout Sunday, Celtics guard Delonte West sprained his right ankle when he stepped on another player’s foot and will be out for the Celtics game Monday night against Utah. Doc Ricers told reporters in Utah that West is also questionable for Wednesday’s game with Phoenix when the team returns to the Garden.
This latest injury once again puts the Celtics in a bind as West is the only experienced point guard on the roster behind Rajon Rondo, following Nate Robinson‘s trade to the Thunder. Rookie Avery Bradley, who has played 10 minutes in his five games since returning from the D-League will likely back up Rondo for the time being.
Another option for Rivers is using Paul Pierce as a point-forward. That worked in stretches earlier in the season when Rondo was out with injuries.
|Celtics recall Avery Bradley from D-League||02.07.11 at 11:28 am ET|
The Celtics announced Monday that they have recalled rookie guard Avery Bradley from their D-League affiliate in Maine. Bradley is expected to join the team in time for its game with Charlotte Monday night.
With Marquis Daniels out with a serious spinal injury for at least the next month, if not longer, and Delonte West rehabbing from a broken wrist, their numbers were getting thin. Before Bradley’s recall they were down to just 10 healthy players as Shaquille O’Neal is also out with an Achilles injury and Jermaine O’Neal is out 6-8 weeks following knee surgery.
Bradley averaged 17 points, 4.8 rebounds, five assists and three steals with the Red Claws, and tied a D-League record with nine steals against Tulsa on Jan. 30. The rookie guard from Texas has played just 66 minutes for the Celtics this season and has seemed overwhelmed at times, but he has also shown a willingness to play through his mistakes and compete.
|Irish Coffee: Avery Bradley’s stock rising||02.01.11 at 11:34 am ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘¦
Avery Bradley‘s move to Maine has been the best thing for both him and the Celtics.
The C’s first-round selection in the 2010 NBA draft, Bradley took his talents to Portland when the team sent him to the NBA Development League, and he’s beginning to prove himself as one of the (minor) league’s best.
The 20-year-old is flourishing in the NBADL, gaining valuable experience. But the value of his performance might be even greater for the Celtics. Because there’s no urgency to force a young kid into the rotation, the C’s — if necessary — can either call on a kid who two years ago was ranked higher than John Wall as a high school player or shop him with all the leverage in a trade discussion.
Either way, it’s a win-win — another great pick by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. Bradley is a valuable member of this Celtics team, even if he’s not playing for them. Look at his averages while playing just 30 minutes a night in seven games (4 starts) for the Maine Red Claws:
- Points: 15.3
- Assists: 5.0
- Rebounds: 3.9
- Steals: 0.4
- Blocks: 0.4
- Turnovers: 4.3
- FG percentage: 39.8
- 3-point FG percentage: 36.4
- FT percentage: 83.3
Sure, his turnovers and field-goal percentage could use some improvement, but his offensive production has been better than expected, considering his defensive ability has always been his greatest strength. Here’s how ESPNU described his game when they ranked him as the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2009:
|What Avery Bradley’s D-League assigment means for the Celtics||01.14.11 at 3:20 pm ET|
As expected, the Celtics assigned rookie guard Avery Bradley to their D-League affiliate in Maine, Friday. Bradley has played in just two game since Rajon Rondo returned from an ankle injury, and he has logged only four minutes total when he played.
The Celtics are sending Bradley to Maine, who is coached by Danny Ainge‘s son Austin, to get him on the court. Bradley missed all of the summer and most of training camp following ankle surgery and while he filled in admirably during desperate situations, he also clearly has a lot to learn. He’s appeared in 14 games with four assists and nine turnovers in just 66 minutes of action.
Since this is the first D-League assignment of the season, we thought it would be helpful to preemptively answer a few questions:
1. Does this move affect the Celtics roster?
The Celtics have 15 players under contract, the maximum allowed by the NBA, and Bradley’s assignment does nothing to change that. The D-League is not a true minor league in this regard.
In other words, this doesn’t mean the Celtics can sign a veteran free agent while Bradley is in the D-League. They can’t.
2. Why send him to the D-League?
Bradley needs games and practices and he wasn’t getting enough of either in Boston. This allows him the chance to get both, while working on his point guard skills. They can also bring him back at any time.
3. Is Maine the Celtics version of Pawtucket?
Yes and no, but mainly no.
The Celtics have an affiliation agreement with Maine. That means that when they send any of their eligible players — that also includes Luke Harangody and Semih Erden — to the D-League, they are automatically assigned to the Red Claws. The Celtics share an affiliation with the Charlotte Bobcats, meaning both teams can send their first or second-year players to the Red Claws. Most D-League teams operate with dual affiliation agreements.
Where it differs is that the rest of the Maine roster is made up of players who are eligible to be signed by any other NBA team.
|And the hits keep on coming as Semih Erden pulls his groin||01.13.11 at 4:13 pm ET|
“This is who we are right now,” Rivers said in announcing the latest injuries to hit the Celtics‘ front court.
Jermaine O’Neal had an MRI Thursday on his sore left knee that acted up in the second half of Monday’s game against Houston.
Rivers is concerned that surgery will likely be needed to correct the issue.
“Don’t know yet,” Rivers said following practice Thursday. “I know he did [have] an MRI. Honestly, my guess is they’re going to have to do something. So, I don’t know that. I’m just using my doctorate right now. My guess is they’ll probably have to do something.”
Complicating matters is a groin pull sustained by back-up center Semih Erden, which kept him out of practice Thursday and limited the Celtics to nine healthy players. With Kevin Garnett still out with a strained right calf, Kendrick Perkins (right knee) not yet cleared for contact practice and Shaquille O’Neal getting limited minutes to save his stamina for later in the season, the Celtics are struggling with depth in the front court.
“It puts more pressure on them,” Rivers said of his remaining healthy front-court players. “Semih couldn’t practice today. He has a groin pull. So, that’s what we are. We have 15 players. We’re going to send Avery [Bradley] down [to D-League] pretty soon, too, so he can get some reps playing basketball. I just think he needs to play basketball. It’s part of it.”
The Celtics face Charlotte on Friday night at TD Garden as they continue their season-long six-game homestand, likely without Garnett, Erden and Jermaine O’Neal.
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