|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.
Tom Brady isn’t the only superstar athlete hoping to lure Kevin Durant to Boston. David Ortiz got in on the fun on Saturday, too.
Yo @KDTrey5 sorry I couldn’t make the meeting today but Brady will tell u they don’t call Boston the City of Champions for nothing 🏆🏆🏆
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) July 2, 2016
Brady reportedly attended the meeting with Durant and his representatives in the Hamptons on Saturday. Ortiz obviously had other commitments, with the Red Sox hosting the Angels, so he tweeted his support instead.
According to the Boston Globe, the Celtics’ meeting with Durant had ended by 7 p.m.
Not so fast on Al Horford, Celtics fans.
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski hears the Hawks believe they’ll be able to retain the free agent big man, who already has a max offer from the Celtics.
Sources: Boston, Washington falling back on Al Horford, with Hawks strengthening in belief that a deal can be reached to re-sign him.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) July 2, 2016
The problem is the most the Celtics can offer Horford is four years and $113 million, whereas the Hawks can extend to a fifth year and $153 million. To fit Horford on their roster, the Hawks would likely need to deal fellow big man Paul Millsap, and Wojnarowski reports the All-Star forward has drawn considerable interest.
If the Celtics lose out on Horford, they’ll have limited options in free agency … barring a miracle signing of Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant.
|Wrapping up a wild day in NBA free agency while waiting for Al Horford, Kevin Durant, Celtics to shake out||at 12:40 am ET|
NBA free agency has officially gone crazy. Here’s where things stand in relation to the Celtics as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off:
— According to the Boston Herald, the Celtics met with free agent center Al Horford on Friday and were prepared to offer him a max contract of four years and $113 million. Horford also met with the Wizards and Rockets.
He’s very much available at the moment because the Hawks signed center Dwight Howard to a three-year, $70.5 million deal, though NBA guru Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reported that Atlanta hadn’t closed the door on retaining Horford.
That seems unlikely, since the Hawks also agreed to a $70 million extension with Kent Bazemore. At the very least, Atlanta would have to reshuffle the roster to make room for a max Horford deal.
— Things with Horford get even more interesting, because according to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, the Celtics were hoping to sign Horford in time to bring him to Saturday’s meeting with free agent superstar Kevin Durant.
Horford and Durant are close friends, and the Celtics believe that one could help them land the other, even if it ends up being next offseason, when Durant is expected to jump back into free agency if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal this week.
— Speaking of Durant, multiple reports said he was “blown away” by the Clippers on Friday during a meeting in the Hamptons with owner Steve Ballmer, head coach Doc Rivers, and stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, among others.
In Los Angeles, Durant would join a top-heavy group of stars that also includes vacationing point guard Chris Paul, but with almost no supporting cast to speak of. The Celtics, by contrast, offer a deeper roster with more financial flexibility to improve.
Durant also met with the Warriors on Friday, incidentally. He is expected to meet with the Spurs and C’s on Saturday and the Heat on Sunday before circling back to the Thunder and making a decision next week.
— Elsewhere around the league, contracts continue to spiral upward, backed by $24 billion in TV money that will be flooding ownership’s coffers over the next nine years.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley, a nice player who has never sniffed an All-Star team, became the highest-paid player in NBA history when he signed a five-year, $153 million deal to remain with the Grizzlies. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan signed a $139 million deal that made him the second-highest paid player. The Pistons gave Andre Drummond $130 million. And so on.
— One of the beneficiaries of this largesse? Former Celtics guard Evan Turner, who signed a four-year, $70 million deal with the Trail Blazers and will join their starting lineup. Turner thanked Celtics fans and the organization for two great seasons that resurrected his career.
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