|Full Court Press: James Young has another chance to impress in summer league, Guerschon Yabusele is a ‘big dancing bear’||07.02.16 at 10:36 pm ET|
James Young is determined to make this summer different.
The 17th overall pick of the Celtics in the 2014 NBA draft has been slowed by injuries in his first two offseasons, as he has tried to make the right impression on Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge in summer league action.
Still just 20 years old, Young is starting to feel a little urgency to make a name for himself as the team has drafted the likes of Jaylen Brown, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil and Guerschon Yabusele. All four of those players will join Young on the Celtics’ 2016 summer league squad, which begins action Monday in Salt Lake City against the Sixers.
Remarkably, Young is the only player on the 14-player roster who will be playing his third straight summer league for the Celtics.
“I barely played the first two I was here both years so why not come back for a third and play a full? So that’s why I’m here just to do, just go out there and play basketball,” Young said Friday. “I’ve just been working on my overall game. Nothing specific, just everything. And everything’s starting to come together. I’m just ready to go out there and just play strong.”
Last year in summer league, Young averaged just 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in five games. He struggled badly from the field, shooting just 27.1 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from beyond the arc. This season, he bounced back and forth between Maine and Boston over 10 times, appearing in three of the Celtics’ six playoff games while averaging 14.8 and 5.6 rebounds in 16 games for the Red Claws.
“The thing about it is you think James has been forever,” said Micah Shrewsberry, who will coach Young and the Celtics summer team in Utah. “Man, he’s still 20 years old. I looked at different rosters the other day. James is still younger than almost everybody on Utah’s roster. He’s a young guy. He’s still learning. He’s been great. We’re trying, with an opportunity like this, for him to be able to use his voice more, something that he doesn’t do during the season when the older guys are doing a lot more talking. He can do that a little bit, he can lead, kind of come out of his shell a little bit. And then get more opportunities to play, show what he can do, have fun with it.”
|Celtics agree with former Hawks big man Al Horford on 4-year, $113 million deal, land marquee free agent||at 7:24 pm ET|
Al Horford is coming to the Celtics, and he wants everyone to know it.
The free agent big man agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract on Saturday night and immediately took to his official Twitter account to celebrate.
Celtic Pride!!!!!! 🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀🍀
— Al Horford (@Al_Horford) July 2, 2016
Eagle-eyed Celtics fans will notice exactly 18 shamrocks in that tweet. That’s the number the C’s will have if they win another one.
Horford, 30, averaged 15.7 points and 7.3 rebounds last year. He helped lead the Hawks past the Celtics in the first round of the playoffs in six games before being swept out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers.
The four-time All-Star gives the Celtics something they’ve lacked during the Brad Stevens era — a mobile big man who can defend the rim as well as the pick and roll, while also scoring inside, from medium range, and even from 3-point land.
He’s considered a winning player who does all the little things, from passing out of double teams to setting solid screens. He helped lead the Hawks to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15 and a trip to the conference finals, where they fell to the Cavaliers.
Horford’s arrival gives the Celtics a fighting chance on another front, as well. They met with free agent Kevin Durant on Saturday night in the Hamptons, and the two players are good friends. While the Celtics remain a long shot to sign Durant, Horford certainly helps their cause.
Tom Brady isn’t the only superstar athlete hoping to lure Kevin Durant to Boston. David Ortiz got in on the fun on Saturday, too.
Yo @KDTrey5 sorry I couldn’t make the meeting today but Brady will tell u they don’t call Boston the City of Champions for nothing 🏆🏆🏆
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) July 2, 2016
Brady reportedly attended the meeting with Durant and his representatives in the Hamptons on Saturday. Ortiz obviously had other commitments, with the Red Sox hosting the Angels, so he tweeted his support instead.
According to the Boston Globe, the Celtics’ meeting with Durant had ended by 7 p.m.
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.
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