|Brad Stevens sings praise of Avery Bradley: ‘You could make a strong case for him to be defensive player of year’||06.06.16 at 6:18 pm ET|
WALTHAM – If Brad Stevens has anything to say about it, Avery Bradley and his $8 million per year salary isn’t going anywhere this offseason.
The Celtics coach spoke for the first time since the star defensive guard was chosen first-team NBA all-defense last week.
“I think it was clearly deserved. I think that you could make a strong case for him to be Defensive Player of the Year or in consideration for that because he is so versatile in his ability to defend guards,” Stevens said after the second of two pre-draft workouts Monday in Waltham.
The Defensive Player of the Year award went to the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard, who won the honor for a second straight year.
But that didn’t keep Stevens from pointing out that Bradley could arguably be placed among the best defensive guards in basketball.
“I think if you polled the guards in the NBA, really 1 through 3, Avery’s name would come up a lot,” Stevens added. “So, obviously it’s against great competition. The guys who got honored all deserve it. But I don’t think it’s as simple as saying there’s one Defensive Player of the Year when you have somebody of Avery’s caliber and his ability to impact the game.”
Stevens said that he has been in contact with Bradley, and that rehab on his right hamstring is coming along after straining it badly in Game 1 against the Hawks, forcing him to miss the rest of the playoffs.
“I don’t have an update on where he is in the physical rehab part, but obviously after he won the award we communicated, and he’s getting better,” Stevens said.
Bradley’s name could come up in trade talk at some point this summer, as he is not only considered one of the more underrated guards in the league, he is affordably priced. Bradley is entering the third year of a four-year contract totaling $32 million.
WALTHAM – The Celtics are beginning to narrow down their potential choices for the No. 3 spot in the draft.
Brad Stevens acknowledged Monday that he is watching video clips of all the possibilities and discussing their strengths with his staff.
“I’ve got a good idea when I talk to Danny and the front office about who they are really targeting and focused on, as far as, again, there’s seven or eight guys,” Stevens said after Monday’s doubleheader workout that involved 12 players from college and Europe.
The names that come to mind most frequently after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown (who worked out last Wednesday), Dragan Bender, Kris Dunn and Jamaal Murray.
But what Stevens made clear is that, with eight picks overall, including five in the second round, the Celtics have to be ready to pick wherever and whenever, depending on what deals may or may not be made.
“We’ve got so many picks that you can’t stop there,” Stevens added. “Whether you’re watching clips, individual clips or highlight films or whatever the case may be, what I like to do is I like to watch full-game footage, and specifically end-of-game footage on a lot of different guys. We have so many picks, any game you turn on, almost might include somebody, so it’s pretty good.”
Austin Ainge joked that Stevens asked, as part of his new contract, that he not have eight rookies to coach next season. Stevens, appreciating the humor, said the number of picks doesn’t make the job any easier in terms of evaluation.
“I don’t know about easier. I think it’s hard any time you’ve got the volume of potential picks that we have and all that goes with that. I think that, again, my job is just to give an opinion when asked,” Stevens said. “So those guys have been watching all year. Those guys know what they are looking for, who they are looking at. Again, these workouts, I think, sometimes help validate some things for them. They are probably more beneficial for our staff because we haven’t seen guys as much, specifically we haven’t seen guys live.”
WALTHAM – Austin Ainge is very aware of how much interest there is in what moves the Celtics might be making leading up to the June 23 draft or in the immediate aftermath.
On Monday, the Celtics brought in 12 more players for pre-draft workouts, six apiece in two sessions. The workouts featured two from Kansas (Perry Ellis, Hunter Mickelson) and two from Brad Stevens’ old employer – Butler (Kellen Dunham, Roosevelt Jones).
With just over two weeks left before the draft, where does this leave the Celtics?
“I don’t know. I think that each one of us would give you a different answer on our staff,” said Ainge, the team’s director of player personnel. “We have so many picks and trade possibilities and all these other things that we’ve all been talking about all summer. There’s still a lot of work to be done.”
Ainge said he and his dad don’t yet have a good gauge on how active other teams might be in the days leading up to the draft.
“Not really. Not yet. Still too early. People are still trying to figure out who they like in different pick ranges and how valuable they are and what they might want to trade for,” Ainge said. “If you fall in love with a guy, maybe you should try to move up. We’re all just trying to figure out our own draft boards, still. I think it’s early for trades.”
The Celtics also worked out two players from France (Isaia Cordinier, Guerschon Yabuele) and one from Spain (Jordan Sakho).
“We really enjoy it. Get to know their level of English and get them outside of their systems a little bit, compare them against some of the college guys. I think it’s very valuable.”
What are they looking for from the European kids?
“Really, the same stuff as the college guys. We look for just how they’ll fit with the Celtics and get to know their personalities a little bit,” Ainge said. “Obviously, most of the things we judge them on we see in the games but this is a just a nice little piece. It is hard for young guys to earn minutes on professional teams sometimes. Sometimes we have a limited number of minutes we’ve seen them. This is always good to have them here.
“It’s case-by-case basis. We sit down with the coaches and discuss what we’d like to see from each guy in the workout. We put them in different situations to try to probe some of those strengths and weaknesses.”
|Sixers to ‘host’ Celtics in preseason tilt at UMass||at 12:01 pm ET|
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.
|Isaiah Thomas reportedly ‘all-in’ on bringing Kevin Durant to Boston||06.05.16 at 2:53 pm ET|
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.
Isaiah acquired Durant’s number & intends to call him soon, and eventually “do everything I can to get him to sign.” https://t.co/sSdjSE6VL9
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 5, 2016
|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|
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.”
|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|
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.”
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