|Danny Ainge is ‘hopeful’ he can move way up in NBA draft Thursday||06.23.15 at 12:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Apparently, where there’s smoke, there’s fire with Danny Ainge and the rumors of his interest in moving way up in the draft Thursday night.
“Yeah, we’re having discussions with both of our picks in the first round, trying to move up with at least one of them. I think there’ll be some movement,” Ainge said at a pre-draft media availability at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday.
Ainge’s comments come as the Los Angeles Times reported that the Celtics offered Marcus Smart and a package of picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for center Nerlens Noel and their No. 3 overall pick on Thursday.
The Celtics have picks No. 16 and 28 and could package a deal to move up.
Is Ainge optimistic that he can pull the trigger?
“Yeah. Hopeful,” Ainge said, before adding an important qualifier. “Nobody wants to. You have to be enticed to. Nobody wants to move down. A lot of that just depends on who’s drafted ahead of us and what our position is. If we move up the chances are very good that we did not have them in for a workout. We saw a lot of workouts, mostly out in LA. I went out to LA for a week and watched, and maybe saw 70 or 80 guys workout.”
The Celtics offered Marcus Smart and both of their first-round picks to the 76ers for Nerlens Noel and the No. 3 overall pick, an unnamed NBA executive told the Los Angeles Times.
Naturally, Philadelphia declined, since a Second Team All-Rookie point guard (Smart) and two non-lottery picks don’t equal a First Team All-Rookie center (Noel) and a high lottery pick.
Still, recent reports indicate the Celtics are aggressively shopping for a high lottery pick, and team president Danny Ainge admitted as much in Tuesday’s pre-draft meeting with the media. Ainge also confirmed nobody on his middling roster is untouchable in trade discussions — all of which could be a smokescreen for ulterior motives in Boston’s front office.
The asking price for picks as high as No. 3 has historically been either an All-Star caliber player or another high lottery pick and additional assets — neither of which the C’s currently possess.
There are countless reasons the Celtics would be interested in trading for both a rim-protecting center of Noel’s caliber and a No. 3 pick that would net the best non-center in the draft (Justise Winslow, D’Angelo Russell, et al.). Among those reasons could be a desire to package those assets for DeMarcus Cousins.
Of course, there are also reasons rival executives would want this non-deal leaked, including an attempt to smoke out the actual value of the packages discussed on both sides. Don’t forget: Every executive has an agenda over the next 48 hours.
|Report: Kings coach pushing for DeMarcus Cousins trade||at 8:57 am ET|
The Kings made it pretty clear over the past week they aren’t trading All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins, as owner Vivek Ranadive told USA TODAY that there’s “zero interest” in dealing him and general manager Vlade Divac told The Sacramento Bee, “That is not happening.” But …
New Kings coach George Karl is urging Divac and multiple players to help convince Ranadive that Cousins must go, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a development that all but ensures Karl and Cousins will not enter the 2015-16 NBA season on the same page.
We’ve discussed at length the relative merits of pursuing Cousins from a Celtics perspective, but they would have serious competition on the trade market, including the Lakers and their No. 2 overall pick.
Cousins’ agents Jarrin Akana and Dan Fegan have a contentious history with Karl, and Fegan has experience pushing for a high-profile center’s move to Los Angeles from the franchise that drafted him, as he helped orchestrate Dwight Howard‘s trade from Orlando.
|Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts||06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET|
WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.
The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.
Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”
“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”
|An absolute mockery of a 2015 NBA mock draft v2.0||06.10.15 at 3:59 pm ET|
I’m not sure whether mock drafts got their name from the false premise that anyone could accurately mock what the front offices of all 30 NBA franchises will do come June 25 or the reality that everyone who projects to know such matters ultimately makes a mockery of themselves. It’s probably a hybrid of the two, but they sure are fun, so without further ado Green Street presents the second of four mock drafts leading up to the real thing in Chicago later this month.
For the first edition, check out: An absolute mockery of the 2015 NBA draft v1.0.
Keep in mind Celtics president Danny Ainge owns two first-round picks in this year’s draft — his own No. 16 selection and the Clippers’ No. 28 pick he received in exchange for letting Doc Rivers out of his contract — and predicting whether The Wolf of Causeway Street will stand pat, trade up or swap out of the draft is like guessing which ridiculous name Ron Artest will use next. Impossible.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Towns (Last week: Karl Towns)
- Position: Center/power forward
- School: Kentucky
- Birthday: Nov. 15, 1995 (19 years old)
- Height: 7 feet
- Weight: 248 pounds
- Wingspan: 7-foot-3.5
- 2014-15 stats (39 games): 10.3 points (62.7 true shooting percentage), 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.1 assists in 21.1 minutes per game (31.4 player efficiency rating)
- Fascinating fact: Towns studied kinesiology and wants to be a doctor after his hoop career.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor (Last week: Jahlil Okafor)
- Position: Center
- School: Duke
- Birthday: Dec. 15, 1995 (19 years old)
- Height: 6-foot-11
- Weight: 270 pounds
- Wingspan: 7-foot-5
- 2014-15 stats (38 games): 17.3 points (64.1 true shooting percentage), 8.5 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.7 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.1 per game (30.7 player efficiency rating)
- Fascinating fact: Okafor plays the tuba.
3. Philadelphia 76ers: Emmanuel Mudiay (Last week: Justise Winslow)
- Position: Point guard
- Country: Congo
- Team: Guangdong (China) Southern Tigers
- Birthday: March 5, 1996 (19 years old)
- Height: 6-foot-5
- Weight: 200 pounds
- Wingspan: 6-foot-8.5
- 2014-15 stats (12 games): 18.0 points (52.8 true shooting percentage), 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.5 minutes per game (18.9 player efficiency rating)
- Fascinating fact: Mudiay fled his home country as a child during the Second Congo War.
|Pat Connaughton ready to prove himself ready for NBA: ‘I think I look pretty good in green’||at 3:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Pat Connaughton didn’t lack confidence when he was setting school records at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, and he didn’t lose that swagger while leading the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to within a breath of the Final Four this spring.
The Arlington resident always has had a swagger about him, and a wicked good sense of sarcasm and wit for a 22-year-old.
Maybe it’s the fact that he is a legit two-sport pro prospect. As a sharpshooter, he was a key part of Notre Dame‘s ACC basketball title this spring. He also can throw a baseball consistently in the mid-90s, which made him an MLB prospect, drafted by the Orioles last year in the fourth round while making his professional baseball debut with the Aberdeen IronBirds of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League. His fastball was clocked at 96 mph.
“The way the baseball draft works is if you don’t sign someone you draft in the first 10 rounds, you lose that slot money. I was very clear before the baseball draft that I wanted to go back to school to play basketball,” Connaughton said. “So, whoever drafted me had to know I was going to do that. I think both the Orioles and myself weren’t sure how far basketball would go. I think they were hoping it would end after college. I was just playing it every single day like I normally do and taking it day-by-day because that’s the only thing you can do with two sports. I found myself here and excited to pursue the opportunity.
“I had a great time in Aberdeen. I thought that down the road, whether it’s after a 10-year NBA career or a two-year NBA career, when I put my mind to baseball I can succeed at it. But I wasn’t ready to give up one of the sports. I’ve been harping my whole life that you can do two sports at the highest level, to kind of be a role model for those kids that are pressured into choosing one. It would be kind of hypocritical of me to just be like, ‘By the way, there’s some money in baseball. I think I’ll go do that.’ ”
At the end of July 2014, he informed the Orioles that he was indeed going to leave the IronBirds to return to the Fighting Irish basketball team.
On Wednesday, after working out for the Celtics, he explained why his priority now is focused on the NBA, not MLB.
“For me, I try to take it like I may not get drafted,” Connaughton said after his workout. “I try to work as hard as I can every single day. It’s been such a whirlwind over the last few months. I hope to be drafted. I’m working as hard as I can. I have some confidence in myself that I have a chance to, but we’ll see what happens on June 25. Read the rest of this entry »
|Report: Celtics losing interest in Kevin Love||06.09.15 at 10:59 am ET|
Love has stated recently that he intends to return to the Cavs, but he can still hit free agency next month. Were Love to test the market, the Celtics are anticipated to be among the list of suitors. However, according to Bulpett: “The Celtics will very likely wind up an afterthought as Love examines his options in the next two months.”
Celtics‘ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was reportedly enamored with Love last offseason, wanting to pair the All-Star power forward with now-departed point guard Rajon Rondo. Last offseason, Ainge reportedly offered the Timberwolves a deal for Love, yet they were not amused by the offer. Instead, the Celtics went on to make the playoffs without Rondo and Love.
Based on reports, Love has raised some red flags due to persistent health issues. With weak knees and back issues, many in the NBA do not expect his career to last as long as the average player.
“I think he wants to be in a good situation,” one league exec from outside the area told Bullpett. “But I also think he’s concerned about his health, so he wants to get a good long-term contract. I still think he stays in Cleveland.”
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