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Sixers to ‘host’ Celtics in preseason tilt at UMass 06.06.16 at 12:01 pm ET
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Oct 16, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) goes up for a shot and is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers forward Drew Gordon (30) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the Sixers 111 to 91. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics and Sixers will do battle in the preseason at the Mullins Center at UMass. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics and Sixers have agreed to a deal. 

No, they aren’t trading players or picks yet. The two teams announced Monday that the Sixers will host the Celtics in a preseason game at the Mullins Center on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

While the Mullins Center is obviously closer to Boston than Philadelphia, the Sixers have more ties to Amherst location. Julius Erving, the most famous UMass hoops alumnus, was an 11-time NBA All-Star, 1980-81 NBA MVP, 1983 NBA Champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Dr. J. starred at UMass from 1969-71, averaging 26 points and 20 rebounds in 38 minutes per game over his two collegiate seasons.

Former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby and former Sixers guard Al Skinner are among seven players in NBA history who attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The Sixers play in the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly, operated by Spectra Management, which also runs the Mullins Center. 

Tickets as low as $30 are available this Thursday, June 9, through MullinsCenter.com, at Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 800-745-3000 or in person at the Mullins Center box office. Group discounts are available by calling the box office by phone.

The Sixers and Celtics were recently awarded the first and third overall picks, respectively, in the upcoming 2016 NBA Draft. Philadelphia also owns the 24th and 26th overall selections. Boston is also scheduled to select at No. 16 and No. 23 in the first round.

Philadelphia and Boston last met at UMass on October 8, 2008 when the Sixers defeated the defending NBA champion Celtics 98-92 in a preseason opener at the Mullins Center. The game marked two-time All-Star forward Elton Brand’s debut in a Sixers uniform.

Read More: 2016 preseason, Boston Celtics, Mullins Center, NBA
Isaiah Thomas reportedly ‘all-in’ on bringing Kevin Durant to Boston 06.05.16 at 2:53 pm ET
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May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State’s Klay Thompson (11) in Game 7 of the Western finals. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas isn’t going to give up on Kevin Durant without a fight.

Despite numerous reports and rumors indicating that Kevin Durant is staying put in Oklahoma City and not seriously considering Boston, the Celtics point guard told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach that he has acquired the superstar forward’s phone number and will be hot on the trail this summer trying to convince him why he should be considering Boston.

Thomas told Himmelsbach via phone from China that he will “do everything I can to get him to sign.”

Durant, whose Thunder teammates blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors in the Western finals, is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. An hour after Durant and the Thunder lost Game 7 Monday night in Oakland, Thomas tweeted out the No. 35 (Durant’s number) and a Shamrock and then quickly deleted it

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported earlier this week that those close to the situation believe that Durant is most likely going to sign a two-year extension with Oklahoma City (including an opt-out after the first year), staying put with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka for another run at glory. 

Jackie MacMullan told WEEI’s OM&F that Celtics fans “can forget” about Durant being lured to Boston and signing with the Celtics. 

This week, FOX25’s Butch Stearns told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan that the Celtics have been told which players would need to be acquired by any team hoping to sign Durant. 

But that might be putting the cart before the horse. Thomas must first get a hold of Durant and work his magic and charm, letting him know just what he would mean to the Celtics roster. 

“That’s who I’m trying to get,” Thomas told Himmelsbach. 

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Durant
Full Court Press: How the Brad Stevens deal got done, the kids are alright with Danny Ainge 06.04.16 at 8:46 pm ET
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Jul 5, 2013; Waltham, MA, USA; New Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens and his wife Tracy are interviewed after he was introduced as the new coach during a news conference. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens and his wife Tracy have worked closely on all contractual matters with the Celtics. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

When Brad Stevens eventually took the plunge and decided to move his family to Boston in the summer of 2013, he did so having completed a very thorough vetting process of what he was getting into.

After all, what would any Stevens move be without first having given plenty of thought to it beforehand?

Helping him to uncover every stone and make sure he was ready to jump in with both feet (as he and Danny Ainge made reference to this week) was his representative — and wife — Tracy Wilhelmy Stevens. An attorney by trade, she negotiated the initial contract with Wyc Grousbeck, Stephen Pagliuca, Rich Gotham — and, of course, Ainge.

“She gets a fee,” the Celtics coach deadpanned in classic Stevens form.

She played a big role this time again, when the Ainge told Grousbeck he was perfectly happy staying in Boston and that the real priority should be to lock up the prized head coach beyond the three years left on his $22 million deal signed around Independence Day 2013. Stevens said this week that actual talks on an extension began in the middle of this season.

“The first time I was approached it was midseason, and it was a real brief conversation,” Stevens said. “But it was during a time when we were weren’t exactly lighting the world on fire, so it makes you feel even better about where you are when that happens. And so, after the season, Danny came in and we talked real briefly about it. It’s never been much of a question for me. Obviously, I’m flattered to be considered to be here. Then also to get a chance to continue to do it.”

That means it was early January, when the Celtics had lost six of seven, including consecutive ugly home defeats against the Lakers and Nets. That stretch just happened to coincide with rumors swirling of some prime college gigs possibly opening up.

“I guess I was kinda surprised,” Stevens said of the extension with still three years remaining on the original deal. “Again, it tells you the way that they think and the way that they value people around here. It’s why you enjoy working here.

“I’m not big into negotiations and I don’t have a third party doing that for me. It’s just, ‘Hey, we want to extend you, here’s what we’re thinking and what do you think?’ Then, a little bit of back and forth between us. It was a pretty quick process. It wasn’t very long. Again, we were flattered to be asked to do that and it provides good stability for our family, too. I understand that these things can change in coaching. Ultimately, we’re excited to be offered that opportunity.”

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Read More: Andre Iguodala, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge
Danny Ainge raves about ‘excellent workout’ with Jaylen Brown, plays it close to vest on Dragan Bender 06.01.16 at 11:45 pm ET
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March 18, 2016; Spokane , WA, USA; California Golden Bears forward Jaylen Brown (0) moves to the basket against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors guard Aaron Valdes (32) during the first half of the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

California Golden Bears forward Jaylen Brown (0) moves to the basket against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors guard Aaron Valdes (32) during the first half of the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – Count Danny Ainge among those impressed with Cal prospect Jaylen Brown. 

The Celtics executive responsible for pulling the trigger on the No. 3 draft pick (assuming the Celtics keep it) saw the 6-foot-6 swingman in a workout Wednesday before the press conference to announce the contract extensions of Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens. 

“So Jaylen, I thought he looked very good in a workout,” Ainge said. “It was an excellent workout. We had a lot of players in this morning – I don’t know what our number’s up to now, 40 or 50. And we’ve been around the country, traveling and watching all the players around the country, and agent workouts and so forth.”

Brown was among eight players who worked out for the Celtics in Waltham Wednesday. 

Ainge said his expedition, along with son Austin, through Europe and Israel last week were beneficial. Among the elite players the Ainge saw work out was Croatian center Ante Zizic. 

“We just got back from a weeklong trip to Croatia, Serbia and Israel,” Ainge said. “And those trips were excellent also. It’s just good to get to know the players that we’re considering in the draft. It’s good to watch them in their environment. But I think more importantly just getting to know them, and seeing some of their strengths and weaknesses, and where they are at this stage of their careers.”

 It was in Israel that Ainge saw the much-ballyhooed Croatian talent Dragan Bender in person. Bender is playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. 

“We had a 1-on-none and a 1-on-1 type of workout with his brother,” Ainge said. “Actually, [Ivan Bender] will be playing at Maryland next year. He’s a 6-10 kid.”

But then Ainge quick put the focus back on Dragan, whom the Celtics wanted to work out in person since his recent game action has been limited by his age (18) and experience. 

“And then we watched him in a full team practice, which we actually thought was better than a game because we’d seen all his games,” Ainge said. “We’d seen him play in person in games, and because he’s not playing a major role as an 18-year-old in a tough Israeli league, we were able to watch him practice. And we thought that was more beneficial than what we’d seen in games.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown
Wyc Grousbeck says Red Auerbach ‘would be very happy’ with Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens at 5:47 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Back in the day, Red Auerbach did the job Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens do now and won nine NBA titles, including a remarkable eight straight. 

Obviously, the NBA world of today is significantly more complicated and involved and it takes two people like Ainge and Stevens to try and win just one championship. 

Still, these are the Celtics, and anytime you talk long-term goals, as was the case Wednesday with the extensions of Ainge and Stevens, you go back to Auerbach for a reference point. That’s what owner Wyc Grousbeck did Wednesday at the press conference at the Celtics practice facility. 

“These jobs – the president of basketball operations and the head coach of the Boston Celtics are storied positions. Both were held by the incomparable Red Auerbach,” Grousbeck said. “I personally believe that Red would be very happy. This is the right thing for the Celtics, you represent excellent and Celtic pride on and off the court. These are the exact people we want to run the Celtics.

In signing Ainge and Stevens long-term, Grousbeck believes the team is setting a foundation for years to come.

“It’s the principal job of ownership to find the very best people, to run the basketball side, to find them, recruit them, bring them in and offer them all the support and encouragement we can and retain them – create an environment where they want to stay. These conversations happened recently, very forthrightly,” Grousbeck said. “There was great interest on both sides. They were easy conversations. It just represented a great re-commitment from Brad and Danny to the Celtics.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, NBA
Danny Ainge on unified Celtics with Brad Stevens: ‘Great things will happen in Celtics history’ at 5:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics sound like a unified group heading into what co-owner Stephen Pagliuca called the “most complex” offseason the franchise has had in the 13 years of the current stewardship. 

In announcing the contract extensions of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens, the common theme Wednesday afternoon was one of unity and commitment. 

“This foundation we have is very unique in the world we live in — pressure-packed, public world in pro sports,” Ainge said. “The fact we have such great unity with ownership I think is unique. I value that premium. It’s a great working environment, I have a great relationship here, stronger trust, year in and year out. As we work together I believe great things will happen in Celtics history.”

Perhaps most intriguing about Ainge’s opening comments Wednesday was his admission that it really didn’t take much to get him to sign on the dotted line to extend his current contract, which owner Wyc Grousbeck acknowledged expired before that of Stevens, who still had three years left on his initial $22 million deal signed in 2013. 

“To tell yoju a little bit, our negotiation was basically Stay, and I said Wyc, do you want me to stay? We had a 10 or 15 minute negotiation, and then our focus turned to Brad,” Ainge said. “It turned to what we need to do. We all understand it’s emotional and very challenging, him with two kids at home and all you have to manage. I’ve been there. We’re lucky to have Brad and Tracey with us in a long term situation.

“They don’t have to answer any more questions about Indiana and Butler, and Duke, North Carolina. We’re very excited to have Brad. Who he is and what he does on the court is unmatched. We’re grateful he wants to stay with us. In the three short years he’s been with us, and it’s good he’s making a long-term commitment to us as well.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Indiana
Wyc Grousbeck extends Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens: ‘[They] represent exactly what the Boston Celtics stand for’ at 11:40 am ET
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Sep 25, 2015; Waltham, MA, USA; Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge (left) and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, during media day at the Boston Celtic Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics GM Danny Ainge (left) and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck have lots to smile about in the future. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics have made their first big move of the offseason. 

No, they haven’t added or subtracted players yet. Owners Wyc Grousbeck and Stephen Pagliuca just recommitted themselves to the people who will be making those decisions. 

The team announced Wednesday that they have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and Head Coach Brad Stevens. Terms of the deals, including the length of the extensions, were not disclosed.

“Danny and Brad represent exactly what the Boston Celtics stand for: excellence on and off the court,” Grousbeck said in a statement. “With their long-term deals in place, we are continuing to build towards competing for Banner 18. Our ownership group thanks them for their hard work and their re-commitment to the Celtics.”

 Ainge, who just completed his 13th season as Celtics President of Basketball Operations, has compiled a record of 565-484 (.539) during his tenure, making 10 trips to the post-season, three Conference Finals appearances and two trips to the NBA Finals, including winning the NBA Championship in 2008. That season, fellow NBA executives voted Ainge the Executive of the Year for the 2007-08 season.

 “I am grateful to continue to work in an environment where I’m surrounded by so many people that are an integral part of our success,” Ainge said in the team release. “We have had great stability in this organization since the ownership group bought the Celtics. We know our strengths and weaknesses and as a group we work well together. Wyc, Irv, Steve, Rich, Brad and I have a common goal in pursuing Banner 18 and I’m looking forward to this next chapter in Boston Celtics history.”

As for Stevens, he completed his third season as the team’s head coach, guiding the team to a 48-34 record and clinching the team’s second consecutive playoff berth. Stevens is a two-time NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month winner, most recently for games played in February 2016, where he led the Celtics to the best record in the Eastern Conference (9-3) and a 6-0 mark at the TD Garden.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Stephen Pagliuca
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