|Report: Jahlil Okafor was the unnamed target for Celtics on trade deadline day||02.20.16 at 1:56 am ET|
The unnamed star that would’ve surprised everyone is Philadelphia center Jahlil Okafor.
Ainge told WEEI’s OM&F he was “very close” to acquiring a player at the Thursday trade deadline but that the other team backed out at the last moment.
Okafor is having an impressive statistical season for the wretched Sixers, who fell to 8-46 this season Friday night. The rookie out of Duke is averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 45 games this season.
There’s a good amount of irony in the report about the pursuit of Okafor.
One of his nicknames is “Little Sully” while Okafor, then 19 years old, was the same person who found trouble in a Boston nightclub after Philadelphia’s opening night loss to the Celtics.
Okafor is considered one of the best pure offensive options in the low post, especially rare for a young player who just turned 20. But his biggest liability is defense.
Still, the Celtics apparently were all in on doing the deal for the rare low post offensive talent before the combination of Philadelphia team president Jerry Colangelo and general manager Sam Hinke pulled back.
|Studs and Duds: Celtics fall in Utah||at 1:07 am ET|
It was a disappointing and defenseless start to the post All-Star break run for the Celtics.
Utah, which lost in Washington the night before, shot 54.4 percent from the floor and the Celtics were reduced to 3-point shooting in the fourth-quarter of a 111-93 loss Friday night in Salt Lake City.
The Celtics, who were playing their first game in nine days, suffered their worst loss since a 19-point defeat in Orlando on Nov. 29.
“We were a step slow to everything.” Isaiah Thomas said. “We couldn’t get stops and we played right into their hands.”
The Celtics couldn’t make it all the way back from a 17-point third-quarter hole and fell in their first game back from the All-Star break.
Down 79-62, the Celtics went on a 14-4 run, cutting it to 83-76 on a Jared Sullinger hook shot with 10:41 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Jazz responded with a 15-5 run, capped by a Rudy Gobert dunk with 5:41 left that essentially put the game away. The Celtics, who had won five of six and 10 of 12 before the break, fell to 32-24.
They remain a game ahead of the 31-25 Hawks, who lost Friday night at home to Miami. The Jazz, tied for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race, improved to 27-27 on the season.
The Celtics led just once in the game, by one point in the first half but trailed just 54-49 at the half. They made it a four-point game, 64-60, early in the third before Utah went on a 15-2 run.
“We weren’t very good on either end tonight,” Stevens said. “I don’t think we played the right way for 45 minutes. The halftime score was a joke. It shouldn’t have been five. It should’ve been 15. It’s going to be a long night.
“We weren’t very good all night. We were very lucky to be down five at halftime.”
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics’ All-Star representative put up a team high 25 points, but on 7-of-19 shooting from the field.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Amir Johnson. Continuing his slump from before the break, the big man scored just two points and picked up one rebound in 17 minutes.
|Celtics officially waive David Lee||02.19.16 at 5:48 pm ET|
The David Lee era is over in Boston.
The team announced Friday that they have waived the 32-year-old forward/center.
“We thank David for his contributions to our organization and wish him nothing but the best in the future,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in a statement released Friday afternoon.
Ainge indicated Thursday afternoon that he would sit down and talk about Lee’s future within the next two days and Friday’s transaction would indicate that the two sides were able to reach an amicable buyout agreement. Ainge indicated at the time that Kelly Olynyk’s shoulder injury, which will sideline him for at least two weeks, would not impact Lee’s future in Boston, leading to the assumption that Lee’s days were done in Boston.
The Celtics did not release details of the buyout of the final year of his six-year, $79.5 million contract. Lee was due to be paid $15.49 million this season. If he clears waivers, he becomes a free agent and can sign with any team.
Lee has appeared in 30 contests for the Celtics during the 2015-16 season and averaged 7.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 15.7 minutes per game over that span. Lee sat the bench the last 18 games with the Celtics and hadn’t played since Jan. 10 at Memphis. Lee recorded a season-high 14 points, to go along with one rebound and one assist, in 15 minutes on Nov. 18 against the Mavericks.
The 6-foot-9 big man was originally acquired by the Celtics last July 27 in a trade from Golden State for Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb. Lee has career averages of 14.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 725 regular season games.
While the NBA trade deadline amounted to just a lot of hot air for the Celtics, Danny Ainge says he nearly pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal.
The Celtics‘ president of basketball operations said Friday on WEEI’s OM&F that he was ready to execute a big deal for a superstar but that the other team got cold feet at the last moment.
Ainge said there was a lot of discussion about their possession of Brooklyn’s likely lottery pick this June and said he and his staff made a significant offer for a big-name player from an undisclosed team.
“We were close to pulling off what I would classify a big deal,” Ainge said. “But it just didn’t happen. You’ve got to have two [teams] that want to do it. These deals are tough. They’re not easy. It was not a no-brainer for us. A lot of deliberation went on over the last couple of days and we felt it something we should do. But ultimately, the other team we were dealing with just did not want to do it, and I certainly understand why. It’s a tough call.”
Ainge said there was enough productive talks that occurred that could lead to something bigger this summer.
“I think that sometimes these can set the table if there are future conversations off ones that happen in this trade deadline,” Ainge said. “That does happen often. So much of it is going to depend on how good teams play down the stretch. Doing deals at trade deadline are tough. Most of the trade-deadline deals are book-keeping deals, cleaning house, sometimes with a player that doesn’t get along with a coach or team, or they’re preparing for summer, getting draft picks if your team isn’t going so well because of injuries or other things, not living up to expectations, but those are the kind of deals that are done mostly at trade deadline.
“I don’t think it’s a shock or coincidence that no blockbuster deals were done at trade deadline because you have only a third of the season left and it’s really even tough to maximize this last 27-game stretch we have with a new player and trying to implement those type of things and you’re taking one year away. That’s why more of the bigger deals are done in the offseason.”
The Celtics are 32-23 and in third place in the East behind the Cavaliers and Raptors. Ainge said he would’ve like to have added a piece to help the current roster but not at the asking price that was being demanded by several teams.
“There were no really close situations in taking on rentals, no,” Ainge added. “We weren’t selling any of our future assets. A rental for a small price is something that we would have considered. But certainly not a rental for the demanded price. Absolutely not, not even a thought or a close consideration.”
As for his purported adoration for Cleveland’s Kevin Love, Ainge said he laughs at many of the rumors that floated over the last two weeks.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there and flat out false rumors and interest in certain players,” Ainge said. “I don’t know where the media has their sources because I believe sometimes it’s just completely made up. Kevin is a good player. There’s no question about it. He’s an All-Star. He’s a very good player on a very good team right now.”
Ainge would not mention the names Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard or Al Horford and insists that they were never really on the team’s radar at the Thursday’s deadline. To hear the entire interview on OM&F, click here.
|Danny Ainge will sit down with David Lee ‘in next 24-48 hours’||02.18.16 at 7:23 pm ET|
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Thursday in the post-deadline conference call that he plans to discuss the options for both Lee and the team after Ainge was unable to execute a deal to send Lee and his $15.49 million contract out of town.
“We’ll sit down with David and his representatives and have some conversation about what’s best for us and what’s best for David in the next 24-48 hours,” Ainge said.
Lee, who hasn’t left the bench for any action in the last 18 games, is represented by Mark Bartelstein. Since the Celtics weren’t able to trade him, Lee is an eligible candidate to be bought out. Lee is averaging a career-low 7.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 30 games this season.
The game before the All-Star break, forward Kelly Olynyk injured his right shoulder. That injury would appear — on the surface — to possibly have changed Ainge’s thinking on Lee. But Ainge made it clear Thursday that’s not the case at all.
“I’m not sure that Kelly’s injury has much to do with that,” Ainge said, adding to the likelihood that Ainge will make every effort to pursue a buyout and cut Lee free and let him hook on with a playoff-bound team that might be willing to pick up a 32-year-old power forward.
There’s good news and bad news on Kelly Olynyk.
The Celtics forward will be out of action at least two week following the All-Star break with a right shoulder injury suffered in the first half of the last game before the break against the Clippers.
But Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a conference call Thursday that he doesn’t think surgery will be needed.
“Kelly was in L.A. and saw a doctor there,” Ainge said. “Him and Dr. [Brian] McKeon and the L.A. doctor and [Celtics trainer] Eddie Lacerte are trying to figure out exactly what the right protocol and treatment is. It’s still sore. He received treatment throughout the All-Star break in Canada from his trainer there.
“He definitely won’t be playing for the next couple of weeks, but we’re not sure. Right now, it’s still sore and bothering him. We don’t need any surgery or any long-term cures for him. But right now, it’s a short-term ailment that will keep him on the sidelines for, I’m guessing, two weeks. That’s just what I think. We’ll see, though.”
Olynyk is averaging 10.1 points and 4.3 rebounds this season in 54 games with the Celtics. He started off the season as one of the five starters but has found his place coming off the bench in 17 of the last 18 games for the Celtics.
|Danny Ainge: ‘There were no deals good enough to do’||at 4:49 pm ET|
Danny Ainge needed to have his socks knocked off to relinquish the likely Brooklyn lottery pick coming his way in June. And in the end, his socks stayed on.
“I think that everybody knows what the value of those picks are and I think everybody in the league would like to have a pick in the top echelon of the draft, but there’s certainly players that would be worth trading an unknown draft pick for right now,” Ainge said in a conference call just over an hour after the 3 p.m. deadline passed without the Celtics pulling the trigger on any deals.
There was plenty of speculation that the Celtics were in on talks to acquire Dwight Howard, Kevin Love or Al Horford. While not mentioning any of those players by name Thursday, Ainge indicated that he did have talks over players that would make him consider trading the Brooklyn pick.
“We did have some discussion in regard to that,” he said. “There are some players that did get our attention and some that did not get our attention in regards to that pick.”
In all, the Celtics have three first-round picks as it stands now. Ainge was asked if he sees a scenario where he’s comfortable making that pick at the draft in June.
“Of course,” Ainge answered. “Why wouldn’t I be? Why would I not be comfortable making that pick? We’ll continue through the rest of spring and summer and look at both options. We’ll be prepared to draft and be listening to offers at the draft.”
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