|Report: Celtics, Hawks setting up meeting with Dwight Howard||06.29.16 at 9:04 am ET|
Dwight Howard is next up on the Celtics’ wish list.
Sources tell ESPN that the 30-year-old big man will sit down face-to-face with the Celtics, along with the Atlanta Hawks, as free agency begins this Friday.
ESPN reports that Howard is expected to meet with as many as five teams in free agency. Unlike the situation with Kevin Durant, where a return to Oklahoma City is a distinct possibility, Howard is not expect to return to Houston after turning down his $23.2 million option for next season
According to ESPN, sources say the Heat have not yet booked a meeting with Howard in free agency, but could emerge later in the process.
ESPN reported Tuesday that the Hawks are trying to make up their mind on whether to go after Kevin Durant or consider an Al Horford-Dwight Howard front court through free agency.
As was the case with Horford, Howard was considered to be a target of the Celtics at the February trade deadline before the team backed off.
|Report: Celtics will target Al Horford in free agency||06.28.16 at 8:49 pm ET|
Kevin Durant is not the only focus of the Celtics as free agency approaches.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Celtics will be among the teams approaching Al Horford when free agency begins on Friday.
The Celtics will be in for some serious competition, Stein reports.
“The Hawks, of course, face a stiff challenge in trying to retain Horford, who sources say is expected to draw free-agent interest from a number of teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets,” Stein writes.
As is the case with Durant, Horford has nine years of experience. That is significant because he can command up to 30 percent of his team’s cap this year. That figure goes up to 35 percent after next season.
This has led to wide speculation that both Durant and Horford would draw “1+1 contract” this summer, allowing both to cash in again next year. A “1+1” is a one-year contract with a player option for the following season.
Horford’s long-term role with the Hawks is unclear with the trade of Jeff Teague to the Pacers. Should he seek a max deal this year, he can re-sign with the Hawks at five years $152 million or move and sign for four years, $112 million. If he signs a one-year deal, it would be at an estimated cost of $26.4 million.
Horford, a 6-foot-10 stretch center who can run the floor and knock down a mid-range shot, has long been rumored to be a target of Danny Ainge, including at the trade deadline this past February.
Horford averaged just 12.5 points but hauled in 8.5 rebounds a game against the Celtics in Atlanta’s six-game first-round win. Horford improved slightly against the Cavaliers in the second round, going for 14.8 points a game.
|Marcus Smart: ‘I’m ecstatic to remain a Boston Celtic. I love Boston [and] I love their fans’||at 2:06 pm ET|
WALTHAM – There was one person very happy that the Celtics didn’t pull off a trade last Thursday night during draft night.
As one of the youngest and most talented defensive guards in the NBA, Marcus Smart was at the center of many trade rumors involving the Celtics. He knew there was a possibility that he might be dealt away as the Celtics tried to move out of the No. 3 spot and get a proven impact scorer.
As it turned out, the Celtics and Danny Ainge didn’t pull the trigger, leaving Smart to continue his plans for another season in Celtic green.
“I’m ecstatic to remain a Boston Celtic,” Smart beamed Tuesday at his youth basketball camp at Brandeis. “I love Boston. I love their fans. I love the organization and everything about it.”
There was also something else that didn’t happen Thursday that played to the apparent advantage of Smart. The Celtics didn’t draft another defensive-minded guard. They chose Jaylen Brown over Kris Dunn.
“That was weird because Danny being a defensive-minded guy, so you kind of would’ve thought that was where he was going,” Smart said. “We were excited for whoever we got and we are excited with the picks that Danny has picked, and the front office and we’re ready to go.”
Smart, like Isaiah Thomas, has started to make his pitch for Kevin Durant. But there are other areas that could be addressed with as much as $62 million of cap space to play with.
WALTHAM – Isaiah Thomas isn’t the only Celtics guard who’s pushing hard for Kevin Durant to come to Boston.
Speaking at his summer basketball camp at Red Auerbach Court at Brandeis Tuesday, Marcus Smart said it would be amazing for the Celtics to add the top name in free agency to their roster.
“Oh, no doubt. I think any team would love to see Durant and those type of caliber players on their team,” Smart said. “But we’re not the ones that make that call, so we just kind of sit back and wait. And whatever decisions that the front office makes, we’re ready to run with it.”
Durant would be a franchise-changer for the Celtics. To add a 7-footer of Durant’s caliber on the wing, their offense would taken on a different dimension and they would shoot the Celtics to the top of the NBA food chain, immediately making them top contenders in the East.
“It’s incredible. A guy his size to do what he does, it’s unreal,” Smart said.
Knowing all of this, Smart, like Thomas, is hoping and praying that Durant gives Boston serious consideration. Would he recruit Durant to Boston?
“If I get his number,” said Smart.
Smart played at Oklahoma State, practically in Durant’s backyard.
“I watched Durant growing up, even when I was at Oklahoma State,” Smart said. “He came to like a game or two and I talked to him. Not a whole lot, but he’s a great guy you can definitely tell.”
The Celtics are on the short list of six teams who have scheduled meetings with Roc Nation Sports, the agency that represents Durant. The Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Heat and Thunder will all be meeting with Durant. Free agency officially begins Friday.
|Full Court Press: Danny Ainge will go all out in free agency, and not just for Kevin Durant, Celtics going Eurostash||06.25.16 at 9:31 pm ET|
Remember the pursuit of Manny Ramirez? How about the ill-fated chase for Alex Rodriguez? Think back when Zdeno Chara was on the market in 2006. The Patriots and Darrelle Revis married for one season, and it yielded New England’s fourth Super Bowl title.
Well, the Celtics’ dream of putting Kevin Durant in green next season has the potential of eclipsing all of those in terms of media focus and civic involvement.
Danny Ainge knows, just from their reaction to the lack of trade on draft night, that the entire fan base is in a frenzy. The Celtics are in full-in mode to get their guy who could change the fortunes of the franchise for the next decade.
This is like the summer of 2007. They not only brought in Ray Allen on draft night in the trade for the draft pick that netted Jeff Green, they got Kevin Garnett in a trade at the end of July. There is the draft. There are trades and then there’s free agency. All three factor in Ainge’s roster building.
This summer could be similar to ’07 as Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are potentially on the radar (that is, if Durant wants Love). Roc Nation Sports, Durant’s agency, is not only calling the shots on Durant’s deal, they are sending the message that Durant wants a full supporting cast around him that will immediately compete for his first NBA ring.
The Celtics have a lot going in their favor. They have tradition, a red-hot young coaching talent, loads of cap space and something L.A., Golden State, Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City don’t have. Civic pride and brotherhood among the pro sports teams. That’s why Rob Gronkowski, Bill Belichick and David Ortiz showing up courtside really matter. The Celtics should give Gronk, Belichick, Ortiz and even Tom Brady a call to reach out to Durant. Isaiah Thomas continued this effort on Saturday.
At $27.685 million committed to salaries for next season, the Celtics are in remarkably good shape to attack free agency. They not only are a young team coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, they have more cap space than any team that made the playoffs in last season. As a matter of fact, only the Sixers and Lakers, the two worst teams in the NBA last season, have less money committed to salary for the 2016-17 season.
Of the teams pursuing Durant (Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, Thunder, Heat), only the Celtics could pull off two max-deal free agent signings. There’s Durant, Dwight Howard, DeMar DeRozan, Luol Deng and Al Horford among others.
Isaiah Thomas is not taking no for an answer.
The Celtics dynamic and personable point guard took to Twitter Saturday to continue his marketing effort to sell Kevin Durant on why he should come to Boston.
In a tweet, Thomas indicated he was ready to go out and get a new pair of shoes, “I need me a pair of those new @KDTrey5. They look comfortable lol”
The Nike “KD 9” basketball shoes go for roughly $150. The new shoe was released by Nike on June 20.
This, of course, is not the first time Thomas has taken to social media to woo the would-be free agent. Just an hour after the Warriors eliminated Durant and the Thunder in Game 7 of the Western finals on May 30, Thomas tweeted a picture of a Shamrock with the number ’35’ next to it.
Durant would not be able to wear that number with the Celtics, as it has been retired to honor the late Reggie Lewis. Thomas, perhaps realizing this, removed the tweet later that night.
Thomas had no need to remove Saturday tweet, as it is just the latest effort in a growing move to recruit Durant to Boston. The superstar has agreed, through his agency Roc Nation Sports, to meet with the Celtics and five other teams (Golden State, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, L.A. Clippers and Miami) before choosing his final destination.
A week after his Shamrock tweet, Thomas said he would be “all-in” in an effort to bring his friend to Boston.
Thomas is hardly alone among Boston athletes who would love to see Durant in Celtic green. Hartford native and lifelong Celtics fan Terrance Knighton took time after a Patriots practice in mini-camp to express a desire to reach out to Durant.
I need me a pair of those new @KDTrey5 they look comfortable lol
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) June 25, 2016
|Danny Ainge says he, not Wyc Grousbeck, should’ve taken fall for not pulling off trade||at 9:16 am ET|
WALTHAM – Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck had very different takes on what happened Thursday.
Grousbeck, as the team’s principal owner, addressed the angry and disgruntled fan base after the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown. He then told the fans and the media that the team was never close to pulling off a trade that many had hung their hopes.
The owner then acknowledged that Ainge, the president of basketball operations, would be in a much better position to explain why the team did what it did.
Ainge didn’t come out because he was getting ready for two more first-round picks. He chose Guerschon Yabusele at 16 and Ante Zizic at 23, two players that could wind up overseas next season. But Ainge said after the draft that there were many discussions about trading the third pick, just nothing that the Celtics could accept.
On Friday, Ainge made two things clear: He felt bad for Grousbeck having to take the heat for the lack of trade and don’t take out the frustration on Jaylen Brown.
“The only thing I felt bad about that is that Wyc went out there,” Ainge said. “If I would have known that or if I wasn’t in the middle of something, I should have been the one that went out there and I would have been happy to and I would have enjoyed it. It’s what I love about Boston. When you’re throwing a no-hitter they appreciate it. And when you get rocked in the second inning, they boo you.
“The only thing about that is I love the passion of Boston fans, I love that they feel and they care. I truly believe that. I never take that stuff personal because there’s so many differing views. I think that that’s what makes Boston fun. The only thing that I don’t like about that is that it’s a reflection of Jaylen.
“Instead of a reflection of me — like, ‘We don’t like YOUR choice.’ That’s like OK to boo me. But give him a chance, would be the only thing I would say. Like, let’s see. Let’s wait a year then boo me. Let’s not boo the kid when his name is announced. As far as criticism in my position, I expect it, I’m used to it, and I don’t think you guys can offend me. You can try, but I don’t think it’ll work.
“I think everyone wants a deal. I think everyone expects a deal. We’ve been working really hard on trying to get a deal and do something significant. But we just haven’t been able to do it yet. And it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s not because we’re turning down or we overvalue our players or any of that stuff. It’s because you need a partner. I’ve said this many times before: I tried three years to get KG before we got him. It just takes the right time and the right place and have a partner that wants to do a deal.”
Ainge knows what the expectations are for the Celtics heading into next season. He realizes the fan base has seen a young team with a bright coach go from 25 t0 40 to 48 wins. Now, what’s next?
“Maybe the public expects more — no, I think that’s pretty obvious,” Ainge said. “But not more than what we feel. I want to do a deal. But it’s my job to oversee the Celtics and not do what makes me look really good and do something that’s instant gratification. It’s like we’re trying to build something. It’s a big responsibility and I take it very seriously. We’re going to keep trying to do bigger deals that will people cheer instead of boo.”
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