|Jaylen Brown (25 pts) continues to learn, Terry Rozier (24 pts) impresses in loss to Cavaliers, C’s end summer league Friday||07.14.16 at 9:46 am ET|
Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier both made big statements in Boston’s penultimate summer league game Thursday in Las Vegas.
Brown broke out offensively with 25 points but showed he still has a lot to learn about the fine details of crunch time in the NBA while Terry Rozier added 24 in a 98-94 loss to the Cavaliers in a first-round playoff game at Cox Pavilion.
The loss dropped the C’s to 1-3 in Vegas after they won all three games in Utah. They will not advance to the elimination round and conclude their game action Friday with a 6 p.m. ET game against the Trail Blazers.
Wednesday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, with the Celtics taking a one-point lead on a Rozier finger roll with 1:53 left.
The Cavaliers grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in consecutive possessions to help them take the lead for good, 94-91, with 53.3 seconds remaining.
“We had them stopped the last two minutes there where we had a chance to get the ball, and they got offensive rebounds there,” Jamie Young, Boston’s Vegas head coach, told reporters after the game.
After an empty possession and the Celtics still only down three, Brown made a mental mistake when he intentionally fouled with 24 seconds left. Brown apparently thought the Celtics needed to stop the clock. But there was an eight-second time differential between the shot clock and the game clock in a one-possession game.
|Report: Celtics ‘most likely destination’ in a potential Russell Westbrook trade||07.13.16 at 2:02 pm ET|
It’s looking more and more like the Oklahoma City Thunder will have to trade point guard Russell Westbrook before they lose him in free agency. According to Bleacher Report NBA insider Howard Beck, Westbrook’s most likely landing spot is Boston.
“Let’s just say there’s a very strong suspicion, a strong belief among rival GMs, that Russell Westbrook is not intending to stay, that he would leave next summer when he hits free agency,” Beck said in a video on the site. “And because of that, the logical next step is that [Thunder GM] Sam Presti — who is always ahead of the curve on these things — will look to trade him. I don’t know that that’s happening right this moment.”
Beck, who is at the Las Vegas Summer League, keeps hearing from rival GMs that the Celtics represent his most likely landing spot.
“Not only do they think Westbrook will get traded, [but] that it’ll be sooner rather than later, probably before the season starts,” Beck said. “And that the most likely destination right now would be the Boston Celtics.”
Blessed with two potential lottery picks via the Nets in 2017 and 2018, plus a number of promising young players, the Celtics make sense as trade partners with OKC. The only problem is that Westbrook is due to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, and there’s no reason for him to sign an extension now, since he’ll be able to earn a lot more money next summer when the salary cap expands.
The 27-year-old Westbrook is coming off a monster season that saw him nearly average a triple-double, with 23.5 points, 10.4 assists, and 7.8 rebounds.
|Report: Bulls pull Jimmy Butler off trade market, hope to build contender||07.12.16 at 4:15 pm ET|
The Celtics have had their eyes on Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler since last season, but for now, anyway, it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the retooling Bulls have decided to retain Butler and have taken him off the trade market “for now.”
It has been a busy offseason in Chicago, where the Bulls have said goodbye to former MVP Derrick Rose, as well as rugged frontcourt stalwarts Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. They have replaced them with former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, as well as longtime Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade.
But the star of the team remains Butler, the 6-foot-7, 26-year-old All-Star who has emerged as one of the best two-way players in the league. Butler averaged a career-high 20.9 points a game last year, along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
The Celtics were rumored to be in on him all offseason, but couldn’t convince the Bulls to swing a deal. With Chicago signing veterans, it becomes harder to try to pry Butler with draft picks.
Now it looks like he’s not going anywhere, at least for the time being.
|Celtics renounce Jared Sullinger’s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent||07.10.16 at 1:53 pm ET|
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.
|Report: Kevin Durant eliminates Clippers from consideration in free agency||07.03.16 at 10:18 am ET|
And then there were five.
Free agent forward Kevin Durant, the best player on the market by a country mile, has informed the Los Angeles Clippers he won’t be signing with them, per Ben Bolch of the LA Times:
Seems obvious by now but Clippers have been told that Kevin Durant will not be joining them.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) July 3, 2016
That leaves the Celtics as one of five finalists for Durant’s services, and perhaps the greatest threat to entice him to leave Oklahoma City, though the Thunder remain overwhelming favorites to retain him.
The Celtics pulled out all the stops in the Hamptons to wow Durant during their visit, flying in Tom Brady of the Patriots to help with their pitch. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz also tweeted his support.
The team’s best move in the negotiation, however, came right after their visit finished, when free agent Al Horford, a close friend of Durant, agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract.
With the Clippers out of consideration, Durant’s choice has been narrowed to the Thunder, Celtics, Warriors, Spurs, and Heat.
|Full Court Press: James Young has another chance to impress in summer league, Guerschon Yabusele is a ‘big dancing bear’||07.02.16 at 10:36 pm ET|
James Young is determined to make this summer different.
The 17th overall pick of the Celtics in the 2014 NBA draft has been slowed by injuries in his first two offseasons, as he has tried to make the right impression on Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge in summer league action.
Still just 20 years old, Young is starting to feel a little urgency to make a name for himself as the team has drafted the likes of Jaylen Brown, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil and Guerschon Yabusele. All four of those players will join Young on the Celtics’ 2016 summer league squad, which begins action Monday in Salt Lake City against the Sixers.
Remarkably, Young is the only player on the 14-player roster who will be playing his third straight summer league for the Celtics.
“I barely played the first two I was here both years so why not come back for a third and play a full? So that’s why I’m here just to do, just go out there and play basketball,” Young said Friday. “I’ve just been working on my overall game. Nothing specific, just everything. And everything’s starting to come together. I’m just ready to go out there and just play strong.”
Last year in summer league, Young averaged just 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in five games. He struggled badly from the field, shooting just 27.1 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from beyond the arc. This season, he bounced back and forth between Maine and Boston over 10 times, appearing in three of the Celtics’ six playoff games while averaging 14.8 and 5.6 rebounds in 16 games for the Red Claws.
“The thing about it is you think James has been forever,” said Micah Shrewsberry, who will coach Young and the Celtics summer team in Utah. “Man, he’s still 20 years old. I looked at different rosters the other day. James is still younger than almost everybody on Utah’s roster. He’s a young guy. He’s still learning. He’s been great. We’re trying, with an opportunity like this, for him to be able to use his voice more, something that he doesn’t do during the season when the older guys are doing a lot more talking. He can do that a little bit, he can lead, kind of come out of his shell a little bit. And then get more opportunities to play, show what he can do, have fun with it.”
|Celtics agree with former Hawks big man Al Horford on 4-year, $113 million deal, land marquee free agent||at 7:24 pm ET|
Al Horford is coming to the Celtics, and he wants everyone to know it.
The free agent big man agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract on Saturday night and immediately took to his official Twitter account to celebrate.
Celtic Pride!!!!!! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) July 2, 2016
Eagle-eyed Celtics fans will notice exactly 18 shamrocks in that tweet. That’s the number the C’s will have if they win another one.
Horford, 30, averaged 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds last year. He helped lead the Hawks past the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs in six games before being swept out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers.
The four-time All-Star gives the Celtics something they’ve lacked during the Brad Stevens era — a mobile big man who can defend the rim as well as the pick and roll, while also scoring inside, from medium range, and even from 3-point land.
He’s considered a winning player who does all the little things, from passing out of double teams to setting solid screens. He helped lead the Hawks to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15 and a trip to the conference finals, where they fell to the Cavaliers.
Horford’s arrival gives the Celtics a fighting chance on another front, as well. They met with free agent Kevin Durant on Saturday night in the Hamptons, and the two players are good friends. While the Celtics remain a long shot to sign Durant, Horford certainly helps their cause.
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