|Report: Hawks appear to be overtaking Celtics in Al Horford sweepstakes||07.02.16 at 7:10 pm ET|
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.
|Celtics reportedly plan to offer Al Horford a max contract, hope to bring him to Kevin Durant meeting||07.01.16 at 10:33 pm ET|
With free agents vanishing from the radar screen at a steady clip, the Celtics appear poised to make an aggressive run at one of the premier names on the market — Hawks center Al Horford.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics plan to offer Horford a max contract on Friday night. The four-year, $113 million deal would give the Celtics one of the best defensive big men in the game, while also positioning them to make a run at Horford’s good friend, free agent prize Kevin Durant, either this offseason or next.
Horford is considered a winning player whose contributions exceed what appears on a standard stat sheet. He averaged 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds last year while leading the Hawks to the second round of the playoffs, where they were swept by LeBron James and the eventual champion Cavaliers. Before that, he helped the Hawks oust the Celtics in six games from the first round.
Horford, who just turned 30, is a four-time All-Star. The Hawks selected him third overall in the 2007 draft. According to the Herald, the Celtics want Horford whether or not they can sign Durant, and with Dwight Howard inking a three-year deal in Atlanta, Horford should end up with a new home next season.
It appears the Celtics are intent on making that home Boston.
UPDATE: And just to make things more interesting, now there’s this news . . .
It seems Celtics want to sign Al Horford, then bring him to their meeting with Kevin Durant tomorrow. May intrigue KD (especially in East).
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 2, 2016
|Report: Dwight Howard agrees with Hawks for 3 years, $70 million without meeting Celtics||at 7:12 pm ET|
This will probably come as a relief to plenty of Celtics fans, but Yahoo is reporting that Dwight Howard has agreed to a three-year, $70 million contract with his hometown Hawks.
Howard had been expected to meet with the Celtics in the coming days, but he canceled all of his remaining visits after striking a deal with the Hawks.
Howard, 30, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy by the Magic. He has averaged 17.8 points and 12.7 rebounds for his career, and has also played with the Lakers and Rockets.
He reached the Finals in 2009 by knocking out the defending champion Celtics in the second round after the C’s had taken a 3-2 series lead. He averaged 16.4 points and 17.1 rebounds in that series before losing in the Finals to the Lakers.
Howard had been linked to the Celtics this offseason, but his back-to-the-basket game didn’t necessarily fit Brad Stevens’ system. The C’s are expected to make a hard push for Hawks big man Al Horford, who becomes expendable with Howard now in the fold.
|Celtics release full Summer League roster||at 11:34 am ET|
WALTHAM – While Danny Ainge and the front office staff is furiously trying to build their roster for next season as free agency is officially underway, the Celtics have set one roster. The group that will head out and compete in the two Summer Leagues were announced Friday.
2016 Draft Picks Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ben Bentil, Demetrius Jackson and Abdel Nader will join current Celtics Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Jordan Mickey and James Young as members of the team’s Utah Jazz and Las Vegas Summer League squads.
Young, the 17th overall pick of Boston in 2014, sticks out on this list as he is the only two-year veteran. But at 20 years, 11 months, he’s still the third-youngest on the roster.
They will be joined on the roster by 2015 Celtics second round draft pick Marcus Thornton, free agents Malcolm Miller and Corey Walden, who both appeared on the 2015 Celtics Training Camp roster, and JayVaughn Pinkston and Mouphtaou Yarou, a pair of Villanovans, neither of whom played on this year’s national championship squad. Pinkston played this past season for the Maine Red Claws.
The Celtics continued Summer League practices Friday in Waltham. The team leaves Sunday for Salt Lake City.
The Celtics’ first game in the Utah Summer League will be Monday, July 4 at 7:00 p.m. ET when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics’ three-game schedule in Utah continues with match-ups against the host Utah Jazz on July 5 at 7:00 p.m. ET and the San Antonio Spurs on July 7 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Beginning on July 4, all Celtics games for Utah Summer League will be televised on CSN New England.
The Celtics will then travel to Nevada for the Vegas Summer League and compete in three preliminary round games from July 9-12 before being seeded in a tournament that starts on July 13 and concludes with the Championship Game on July 18. Their first game is on Saturday, July 9 at 6:00 p.m. ET against the Chicago Bulls.
|Isaiah Thomas: ‘Just hope we get a few more pieces. I think that’s what we need’||06.30.16 at 7:42 pm ET|
ROXBURY — Whether it’s Kevin Durant, Al Horford or Dwight Howard, Isaiah Thomas is just hoping Danny Ainge can work his magic to improve his team’s chances of getting past the first round and contend for a title.
“I just hope we get a few more pieces. I think that’s what we need,” Thomas said Thursday while speaking to kids on a Celtics CommUNITY stop at the Roxbury YMCA.
“I think that would be the next steps for us, and then we go from there. I’ve got a lot of trust in Danny and those guys in the front office because that’s their job, that’s what they do. And they know what they’re getting themselves into. So I’m just trying to do my part with telling people how special Boston is. And then hopefully they listen.”
Despite a report from ESPN’s Marc Spears that a source indicates Durant has nearly made up his mind to return to Oklahoma City, the Celtics will meet with Durant’s representatives on Saturday.
“I don’t know if you can say anything to convince him. He’s his own man,” said Thomas. “I don’t know if he even has his own decision already and he just wants to hear people out. But we just have to be as real as possible. He’s a fan of the game. He knows the game of basketball. He’s talked to me about how exciting it is to watch us on NBA LeaguePass and things like that. So he knows. And we’re just going to do what we can to try to seal the deal. And hopefully we can get in his ear. And maybe he’s a Celtic. Maybe he’s not. But we’re going to try. And I’m going to try.”
Thomas left the YMCA to head back to Waltham to meet with Danny Ainge and the Celtics to see if he could be of any further assistance in a last-ditch effort.
“It’s a crazy feeling just because years ago that didn’t even come close,” Thomas said. “I was worried about making the team the next year. So it’s a good feeling knowing that they I guess trust my word or anything, and they come to me for things that they need or they want me to do. Knowing that you have trust in the organization, that’s a great feeling.”
Las Vegas recently labeled the Celtics the favorites to land former All-Star center Dwight Howard, but reporters covering the team are hearing a different story.
Regarding Dwight Howard, hearing that right now Celtics have no plans for aggressive pursuit. Will always listen to see if a price is right.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 29, 2016
Himmelsbach covers the Celtics for the Globe, and frankly, his version of events makes more sense than a rabid pursuit of Howard, who has aged very quickly, even though he’s only 30. The eight-time All-Star averaged just 13.7 points last season for the Rockets, the lowest total since he put up 12 a game as a 19-year-old rookie in 2004-05.
Also, after missing just three games in his first six seasons, Howard has broken down in recent years, missing 63 games over the last three seasons.
For his career, he averages 17.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks a game. There’s a question of how he’d fit in the system of Celtics coach Brad Stevens, since Howard is a back-to-the-basket post player who doesn’t stretch defenses.
Howard recently declined his $23.2 million player option with the Rockets to become a free agent.
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