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ESPN’s Tom Penn: ‘I think there is significant interest’ in Kris Humphries 02.19.14 at 1:39 pm ET
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Tom Penn

Tom Penn

With Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline approaching, ESPN NBA analyst Tom Penn said Wednesday is the day to look for deals to take shape.

“Today’€™s always ‘€˜real deal’€™ day,” said Penn, who will appear on ESPN’s “Trade Deadline Special” Thursday at 3 p.m. “You start finally talking real deals, and then you’€™ll try to get them done tomorrow, and I expect to see quite a bit of movement. On a macro-picture, with the West being wide open, everyone should be looking to upgrade. In the East, strangely, you have some teams trying to get as bad they can get, so you have deals going in every direction.”

Penn worked as assistant general manager for the Grizzlies and then vice president of basketball operations for the Trail Blazers, and he has direct experience negotiating with Danny Ainge.

“Danny’€™s a pro,” said Penn, “a pro’€™s pro. He’€™s done everything in this league, and he’€™s had success making mega-deals and making smaller deals. He’€™s not bashful about asking for what he wants.”

Added Penn: “With Danny, he was always very confident in what he had and very direct in what he wanted to do. He tended to offer deals that were really good for the Celtics and really not so good for the other team, and he did so unashamedly.”

A major deal for Rajon Rondo seems unlikely, but Penn identified Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass as the C’€™s two most desirable trade assets.

“The main challenge finding a match to give the Celtics what they want,” explained Penn. “Humphries [earning $12 million this season] is a lively big on an expiring contract, so I think there is significant interest in getting him, but his contract is the only significant expiring contract for the Celtics.

Keith Bogans can go away, we know that, but the Celtics really need that money to go away. So they would be looking for a different combination of one-year expiring contracts and then something for the trouble, right? So that’€™s harder to see a match when you factor in what they need.”

Bass, who has another year left on his contract, is the most likely Celtic to be moved.

“A player like Brandon Bass is very valuable this year and next year to whoever’€™s looking at him,” Penn said. “His salary is [$6.4 million], and he’€™s been proven to deliver in the playoffs [most notably an 18-point quarter in game five of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals against the 76ers]. He can spread the floor, make shots, and isn’€™t going to hurt you too bad defensively.

“Unlike Humphries, who you’€™re just renting for the rest of this season, with Brandon you have in the fold for next year and see if he fits with you longer term. In Bass’€™ case, it’€™s easier to give up more of what the Celtics want — a younger piece, or a draft pick — when you know you have this player for two years.”

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m.

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Chris Mannix on D&C: Rajon Rondo will ‘be with this team through the offseason’ 02.12.14 at 11:21 am ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about Rajon Rondo, trade rumors, the NBA draft and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mannix predicts that Rondo will remain with the Celtics this year, and Danny Ainge will look to keep him on board for the long term if he shows an ability to work with the team’s new coach.

“€œI think he’€™s a guy that Danny wants to build around if he gets along with Brad Stevens. … It’€™s still very much a wait-and-see situation with Rondo,”€ Mannix said. “You’ve got to see what you get from him next year. He’€™s not going to get traded before this year’€™s trade deadline, he’€™s going to be with this team through the offseason.”

Mannix didn’t guarantee Rondo would be in Boston after the season, saying Ainge would always listen to offers.

“€œIf Danny gets a monster offer for Rondo, I don’€™t think he’€™s attached to him in the sense that he’s untradeable,” Mannix said. “But I think it’s going to take a huge, All-Star level Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen type of offer.”

Jeff Green, who has been part of recent trade rumors, might be writing his ticket out of town due to his inconsistency, following a strong start to the season.

“€œHe was off the table in the Omer Asik trade about a month ago,” Mannix said. “€œI remember talking to people in the organization and there was no way they were going to trade Jeff Green in an Omer Asik deal. They thought Green was too valuable in the short term and the long term. Now, a month and a half later, and we’€™re now realizing that Jeff Green is kind of this Jekyll and Hyde type of guy where some nights he can go for 30, other nights 2-for-12 from the floor and totally vanish.”

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Celtics trade rumor: Brandon Bass is Danny Ainge’s most likely deadline deal 02.10.14 at 1:32 pm ET
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Ten days before the NBA trade deadline, Celtics forward Brandon Bass is the most likely player on the roster to be dealt, according to a Sporting News report.

The Warriors, Bobcats and Suns are reportedly the most likely destinations for Bass, who is owed $6.9 million next season — the going rate for a player with his production (10.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.2 apg, 54.1 TS%, 15.0 PER, 1,425 minutes).

‘€œHe is a good fit in a lot of places,’€ a league executive told the Sporting News. ‘€œHe can start, he can come off the bench, he can make shots, he can play center against small lineups. A lot of teams need a guy like that.”

Golden State’s best offer? Something like Marreese Speights (owed $3.7 million next season), injured center Festus Ezeli, Jermaine O’Neal‘s expiring contract (bought out before he ever returned to Boston) and a future pick (the Warriors don’t have a No. 1 this season). But does that really upgrade their roster?

The Bobcats could package either of their protected first-round picks (Blazers, Pistons) along with expiring contracts (Ben Gordon, Ramon Sessions) or recent lottery disappointments (Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo). Bass and Keith Bogans‘ expiring contract for Gordon’s expiring deal and Portland’s No. 1 pick is an intriguing possibility that would save the Celtics $6.9 million next season and another pick in the loaded 2014 draft.

Likewise, the Suns’ best trade chips are Emeka Okafor‘s $14.5 million expiring contract and any number of four protected 2014 first-round picks (Timberwolves, Wizards, Pacers and their own). Given Suns general manager Ryan McDonough‘s prior work under Celtics president Danny Ainge, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the two sides hammer out a deal should their pursuit of Pau Gasol fall through. Bass and Jeff Green for Okafor’s expiring contract and the Pacers pick would save the Celtics $25.3 million over the next two seasons, for example.

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Donny Marshall on M&M: Celtics talking to Kings about trading Rajon Rondo for Isaiah Thomas, others 12.18.13 at 11:15 am ET
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Donny Marshall says a potential deal with the Kings might land the Celtics 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas. (AP)

Donny Marshall says a potential deal with the Kings might land the Celtics 5-foot-9 point guard Isaiah Thomas. (AP)

Donny Marshall, the former CSNNE Celtics analyst who now works for NBC Sports and the YES Network, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the trade rumors surrounding Rajon Rondo.

Marshall turned heads earlier this week when he said Sacramento is a possible landing spot for Rondo, who has yet to play this season as he works his way back from a torn ACL suffered in January. According to Marshall, there is a multi-player deal in the works between the Celtics and Kings.

“This is actually something that the teams are talking about,” Marshall insisted. “The name that people would understand and would know is a guy like Isaiah Thomas. He’s a great little guard. He’s having career highs right now, he’s averaging about 18, 19 points a game. He’s a scorer. He’s a guy who can run the point for you, but he can also score. He’s one piece.

“I think the other piece, you throw in some other athletes — remember, they just made a trade, Sacramento, to get Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray. And they’ve had some other guys there that they’re trying to move. The key for them is two future first-round picks. If you’re to stay on that same theme that the Celtics have been on, to get young and to be good for a long time, how do you do that? You get them through the draft. ‘€¦ I think here’s another opportunity to not only get a couple of good players now, young players, but you get two future first-round picks. To me, it makes total sense.”

Added Marshall: “Guys are always going to be talked about. In Rondo’s situation ‘€¦ it makes sense. Do you want to be mediocre? Do you want to finish sixth this year? Not that anyone is going to try to tank — this team is playing terrific. ‘€¦ I’m happy that they’re playing the way they’re playing. But for the fans and for that market, to be mediocre is not fun. ‘€¦ That, I don’t think the Celtics deserve. The fans don’t deserve that, the players don’t deserve that. The way you get past that sooner than later is trying to move a guy like Rajon Rondo. And that’s not to be disrespectful to a player like Rondo.”

The Celtics also reportedly are pushing to acquire disgruntled Rockets center Omer Asik.

“You talk about Omer Asik, they want to now try to find a package to get him out of Houston. Brandon Bass is a name that they’re throwing in there. I don’t think Jeff Green will be a guy that you would want to [trade]; I think he’s untouchable, in my opinion. I think that’s one guy you can try to continue to build around, but there are some other pieces that will go.

“A complete dismantling? No. But I think Danny [Ainge] will do what he’s always done. He will think these things through. He will talk to all of his guys around him. The one thing that’s great about Danny is he always has people around him that are smarter than him. I love that theory. Because now you go to them and you trust them, and those people are doing their due diligence to make sure the team is going in the right direction.

“I don’t think they’ll dismantle, but I do think Danny will take some pieces that he can build around and and not completely be in the basement, but put himself in a position to be able to get — I think they can get some of those lottery picks. I really think they can get some of those game-changers in the next two drafts.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

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Fast Break: Celtics avoid worst start in franchise history 11.06.13 at 9:49 pm ET
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The Celtics avoided starting 0-5 for the first time since 1946-47 — the organization’s inaugural season — and delivered coach Brad Stevens his first NBA victory in the process, a 97-87 beating of the winless Jazz.

Brandon Bass (20 points), Jeff Green (18 points), Kelly Olynyk (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Jared Sullinger (12 points) all reached double figures, and Gerald Wallace contributed nine points and nine boards off the bench.

Here’s all that went right and wrong in the C’s first win in five tries to start the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

Full-court Pressey: The former Waltham star didn’t score a point in his 12 first-half minutes, but at least the Celtics had a point guard. With the C’s trailing 20-10, Stevens yanked Jordan Crawford in favor of Pressey 8:17 into the first quarter. In his first four minutes, Pressey served up three assists — halving Crawford’s total for the entire season — and ignited a 13-6 run to finish the quarter trailing by just three.

A couple 3′s: By bringing Wallace off the bench for the first time this season and somewhat staggering the small forward minutes between he and Green, Stevens was able to ensure that one of his two best options was on the floor for the entire first half. Of course, the duo still saw the court together in spurts, too, combining for 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in leading the Celtics to a 50-34 halftime lead.

Getting possessive: The Celtics committed an average of 19.8 turnovers and allowed 15.0 offensive rebounds per game in their first four losses. That’s a whole lot of extra possessions. Against the Jazz, the C’s respectively limited those numbers to 10 and six through three quarters. Hence, a 22-point lead on their way to victory.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Worst first: Facing a starting frontcourt of Bass and Vitor Faverani, the Jazz dominated the interior from the start — just as the C’s first four foes did this fall. Enes Kanter scored eight of Utah’s first 14 points, including a trio of buckets within 3 feet of the basket, as the Jazz opened up a 13-point advantage to start the game. As a result, Stevens started Olynyk over Faverani in the third quarter, Sullinger’s minutes increased and Kris Humphries even saw the floor. Just like we drew it up.

Flash Gordon: The Celtics had few answers for Stevens’ protege, Gordon Hayward, who amassed 28 points (12-20 FG), nine boards and five assists. Keep in mind, he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Just saying.

So on and so fourth: The C’s fourth-quarter struggles continued, accentuated by an 11-0 Jazz run midway through the fourth quarter that helped slash what was once a 25-point Celtics lead down to eight with 6:26 to play.

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Stat man: Addressing Celtics’ big problem 11.05.13 at 2:12 pm ET
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The biggest problem facing these Celtics is the lack of a point guard, but that’s a story for a different day, since there’s no viable solution on the current roster until Rajon Rondo returns. Sure, a little more Phil Pressey might help, but is an undersized, undrafted rookie point guard really going to solve this thing?

So, let’s address a problem that Brad Stevens could possibly bandage with the current roster.

The Celtics are the NBA’s worst defensive rebounding team, allowing opponents to grab 33.9 percent of available offensive boards — a number that would rank among the worst in history over a full season. Opponents attempt 39.3 field goals per game within 8 feet of the basket; only the Blazers (43.3) are worse. The opposition scores 20.8 second-chance points per game; only the Nuggets (23.0) are worse. And just four teams (Wizards, Blazers, Clippers, Bucks) give up more than the C’s 44.5 points allowed in the paint per game.

The C’s interior defense needs work. Vitor Faverani, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Kris Humphries are allowing an average of 26.5 attempts at the rim, where opponents are shooting 52.8 percent.

The two biggest offenders, naturally, are rookies. Faverani is allowing 11 field goal attempts at the rim per game. Eleven! Per game! That’s the fifth-worst number in the league. He’s grabbed just 49.2 percent of his 14.8 rebound chances per game. The only other player with as many opportunities to snatch fewer than 50 percent is Al Jefferson, who hasn’t played since aggravating an ankle injury on opening night.

Meanwhile, the opposition is shooting 76.5 percent at the rim against Olynyk. That’s ridiculous. Only two bigs (Trevor Booker, DeMarre Carroll) are worse. And Olynyk snags fewer rebounds per chance than Faverani.

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Celtics need to rebound after opening loss to Raptors 10.31.13 at 9:20 am ET
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Avery Bradley puts up a shot during Wednesday night's loss to the Raptors. (AP)

Celtics guard Avery Bradley puts up a shot during Wednesday night’s loss to the Raptors in Toronto. (AP)

Brad Stevens had good reason to be optimistic following his team’s season-opening 93-87 loss to the Raptors in Toronto on Wednesday night, but the first-year Celtics coach also had plenty of reason for concern. Mainly, the C’s were dominated on the boards, getting outrebounded 48-33, including 19-7 on offensive boards.

“When they broke us down, they crushed us on the glass,” Stevens told reporters. “They shot 20 more field goals than us. It’s going to be hard to win a game when that happens.”

Added Brandon Bass: “We tried to help and got ourselves out of position. Their bigs were naked under the basket for the most part.”

Jeff Green scored 25 points, Bass netted 17 and Vitor Faverani added 13 points and three blocks for the C’s, who lost to Toronto for just the sixth time in 26 meetings. Kris Humphries had eight points and a team-high nine rebounds.

First-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk played 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting. Olynyk, a Toronto native, was a minus-19, tied for worst on the team with Faverani. Guard Avery Bradley struggled with his shooting, hitting just 4-of-13 from the field, and recording as many turnovers as assists (4).

The Celtics rallied from a 16-point third-quarter deficit and were tied at 78 with 7:42 left after a Jordan Crawford jumper, but they didn’t score again until 4:08 remained.

“At the end of the day we didn’t do everything perfectly,” Stevens said. “I didn’t coach a perfect game, but I think we can all rest assured we’ve got a team that will fight and we’ve got a team that will compete. And we can shore up a couple of those mistakes, maybe we can come out the other end of it.”

Rudy Gay led the Raptors with 19 points and eight rebounds.

The Celtics next host the Bucks on Friday night.

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