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Asset Management: Marcus Smart’s Celtics future 09.17.14 at 11:17 am ET
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I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Marcus Smart.

Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart

We can’t blame Smart for the Celtics landing the sixth overall overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. It would’ve be nice to score Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, as the 76ers did, or Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, as the Magic did. But the Celtics had the sixth and 17th picks — not third and 12th or fourth and 10th — so they’re banking on Smart and James Young being the best available talents at those slots, and so far at least we have no reason to believe otherwise.

The more we hear about Smart, the better fit he seems in Boston. He’s a defensive bulldog on the court, a likable character off it and a leader in both arenas, all traits the Celtics have sorely lacked since Kevin Garnett‘s departure.

If nothing else, Smart completes quite the defensive triumvirate in the backcourt. With him and Avery Bradley each capable of hounding the ball-handler, Rajon Rondo is free to gamble while defending the NBA’s dearth of off-guards — or, better yet, Smart and Bradley annoy the hell out of everyone, and they all rub off on Marcus Thornton — providing the Celtics a puncher’s chance on that end of the floor, despite the absence of a paint-protecting frontcourt.

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Read More: Asset Management, Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA
Asset Management: Kelly Olynyk’s Celtics future 09.16.14 at 4:51 pm ET
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I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Kelly Olynyk.

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

Olynyk’s run-in with a billboard has been the lasting image of his summer, a hilariously perfect reminder of all the long-haired 23-year-old 7-footer’s flaws — the sign accentuating his limitations both athletically and defensively.

In reality, the past year hasn’t changed opinions much on Olynyk. This is a guy Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge dubbed upon drafting “just a really good complementary player. He’s not a go-to guy, not a star player. He’s like a really good teammate type of player and complements other guys.”

I wasn’t sure how to feel about that then, and I’m not sure how to feel about it now. The Celtics traded up three spots to draft Olynyk, declared him “not a go-to guy, not a star player,” and then watched the Bucks take the most promising player in the draft two spots later. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but to the best of my knowledge Ainge doesn’t own a DeLorean, so we look to the future.

We learned a bit about the Canadian’s exchange rate when Minnesota turned its nose on a Celtics package of Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and multiple first-round picks for Kevin Love, which is to say his value elsewhere in the NBA isn’t what it’s perceived to be in Boston — despite those 36-minute averages of 15.6 points, 9.4 boards and 2.8 dimes.

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Read More: Asset Management, Boston Celtics, Kelly Olynyk, NBA
Celtics officially hire Scott Morrison as Red Claws coach at 2:19 pm ET
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As expected, the Celtics officially announced Prince Edward Island native Scott Morrison’s hiring as head coach of the Red Claws, their NBA Development League affiliate in Maine.

In a press conference last month, Morrison stepped down from the same position at Ontario’s Lakehead University, where he compiled a 185-174 record over 10 seasons. He had been working as an assistant for the Red Claws under Mike Taylor during a leave of absence from Lakehead this past season.

“I am truly honored to have this opportunity,” said Morrison. “I want to thank both the Boston Celtics and the Maine Red Claws, two top-notch organizations, for believing that I am the right coach for this job. I was fortunate enough last year to spend the season with the Red Claws, and I am excited to be coming back to this great community with the best fans in the NBA D-League.”

Morrison has also coached the Canada National Junior Team for the past three years, mentoring 2014 first-round selections Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis as well as projected 2015 lottery pick Trey Lyles. He served on the World Team staff at the 2014 Nike Hoop Summit, guiding future lottery picks Emmanuel Mudiay and Karl Towns Jr.

The Red Claws are one of 17 D-League teams solely affiliated with an NBA club, meaning Morrison will be tasked with developing anybody the Celtics designate for assignment this winter in Brad Stevens‘ system.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Maine Red Claws, NBA, Scott Morrison
Asset Management: Tyler Zeller’s Celtics future 09.12.14 at 1:05 pm ET
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I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: Tyler Zeller.

Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller

The list of Celtics centers this season includes Tyler Zeller, Vitor Faverani and Joel Anthony, which seems like a good place to start with Zeller, since Faverani is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn left lateral meniscus and crashed his BMW hatchback into a bus this summer and Joel Anthony won last year’s Brian Scalabrine Legacy Award on a team full of worthy contenders.

Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass all have experience playing center, but the Celtics have rolled the dice with forwards starting at the 5 for far too long — since trading Kendrick Perkins, really, save for the Nenad Krstic, Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal cameos — so Zeller at least offers hope, and hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, or so says Andy Dufresne.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, Tyler Zeller of the 21-foot Zeller brother trio. He’s 24 years old, 84 inches tall and runs the floor like a gaZelle(r), which is all promising, particularly if Rondo remains his point guard. Transition dunks are fun, after all.

Offensively, Zeller improved from literally everywhere last season. After shooting an average to below-average percentage everywhere on the court but the free throw line as a rookie, his long legs took tremendous strides in 2013-14, improving as a more selective mid-range marksman and making a more concerted effort to get to the rim, where he lived during his 2012 ACC Player of the Year campaign.

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Read More: Asset Management, Boston Celtics, NBA, Tyler Zeller
Asset Management: Jeff Green’s Celtics future 09.11.14 at 2:59 pm ET
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I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. First up: Jeff Green.

Technically, this is a contract year for Green, who owns a $9.2 million player option for 2015-16. Considering the amount of money thrown around by NBA general managers each summer, he may opt out and bank another big paycheck before his 30th birthday, although picking up the option would put him in line to hit free agency just as the league’s rumored new $2 billion TV deal bolsters the salary cap in 2016, and his agent David Falk is as shrewd as they come.

Regardless, Green should be motivated this winter, although we’ve heard that before — in the final 26 games of his rookie contract in 2011, upon returning to the league after heart surgery in 2012 and when Pierce’s departure freed the starting small forward spot for him in 2013. Yet, inconsistency continues to plague the versatile forward, and neither of his Celtics coaches — Doc Rivers nor Brad Stevens — have been shy about acknowledging Green’s erratic effort.

Last summer, Green seemed ready to seize the reins from Pierce, submitting the best performance of his career in the second half of the 2012-13 season and leading the Celtics in playoff scoring that spring, albeit in a first-round exit opposite the Knicks. His declaration last training camp — “The [expletive] mentality is coming” — seemed to support that theory. Instead, his numbers regressed as his playing time increased.

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Read More: Asset Management, Boston Celtics, Jeff Green, NBA
Scouts: Marcus Smart ‘next great perimeter defender’ 09.04.14 at 11:51 am ET
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If Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s draft history has proven anything, it’s that he knows how to identify elite defensive guards. Since 2009, only 11 guards have made the NBA’s two All-Defensive teams, and Ainge drafted three of them: Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. According to anonymous scouts contacted by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Ainge may have added another one to the list.

For five straight years, a Celtic manned one of the league’s four top defensive backcourt spots — with Rondo sandwiching a pair of Second Team selections in 2009 and 2012 around two First Team nods and Bradley earning his first bid as a 2013 Second Teamer — but that streak ended last season, when Bradley’s defense took a backseat to his budding offense and Rondo’s already declining defense obviously didn’t recover faster than his knee.

Despite being teammates since 2010, Rondo and Bradley have rarely patrolled the backcourt together. Injuries robbed us of a chance to see Bradley’s on-ball defense mesh with Rondo’s gambling mentality, but the former has adapted his training regimen in hopes of preventing injury and the latter should be fully recovered from ACL surgery.

If indeed Marcus Smart emerges as a lockdown defender on the perimeter, the Celtics could field the league’s most ferocious backcourt on that end, assuming both Bradley and Rondo return to form. And that’s a pretty big deal in a league that’s recently seen the near extinction of traditional centers and a growing emphasis on point guard play.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, NBA,
Irish Coffee: Rajon Rondo rumor mill keeps churning 09.01.14 at 12:52 pm ET
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The Celtics are in the same old holding pattern, and Rajon Rondo doesn’t know where he’s going to land.

Over the weekend, video surfaced of a behind-the-scenes conversation between ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan and New York Daily News writer Frank Isola about the possibility of Rondo being traded.

“€œIt will happen, because he’€™s told them he wants out,”€ MacMullan said. “No one believes me, but that’€™s the truth. And I don’t see how you get 80 cents on the dollar for him. Tell me where. The Knicks? People keeping saying the Knicks; well, who are they going to give you? The Kings want him. … They’ll give up [Ben McLemore], but Rondo has already told [Sacramento] flat-out, ‘I will never re-sign with you.’ That’s no good, so where do you go?”

The footage has since been deleted from the YouTube account for ESPN’s “Around the Horn,” but lives on over at Deadspin. Few media members know the inner workings of the Celtics front office better than MacMullan, so her claim that Rondo has essentially demanded a trade is significant — however off the cuff that statement may have been. But Jackie Mac has for years held the opinion Rondo isn’t long for Boston, and yet he remains on the roster.

Meanwhile, Rondo and his agent have denied the trade speculation first discovered by MassLive’s Jay King.

So, here we are again. To be or not to be traded? That is the question. Don’t dismiss MacMullan’s stance simply based on Rondo’s denial, since the four-time NBA All-Star point guard has little choice but to claim he wants to remain in Boston until the time comes to move on elsewhere. He and the Celtics would gain nothing by making his desire to be dealt a public matter. Yet, the rumors persist, and it’s not all that difficult to discover why.

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