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Why Celtics shouldn’t and probably won’t trade 2017 Nets pick 05.31.16 at 2:11 pm ET
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Duke recruit Jayson Tatum is considered one of the best prospects in next year's NBA draft. (Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports)

Duke recruit Jayson Tatum is considered one of the best prospects in next year’s NBA draft. (Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports)

With the NBA draft three and a half weeks away, the Celtics’ ability to acquire an impact veteran has come into focus.

One school of thought has the C’s offering not only this year’s third overall pick, but next year’s New Jersey pick as well to acquire a veteran like Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Here’s why that approach is flawed — next year’s draft class is loaded, and might actually represent the team’s best chance at landing a franchise player.

ESPN draft guru Jeff Goodman told Bradford and Giardi recently that the Celtics shouldn’t trade next year’s Brooklyn pick, which could easily end up in the top five.

“I wouldn’t trade next year’s pick,” he said. “Absolutely no way would I trade next year’s pick. Next year’s draft is absolutely loaded.”

The consensus top three, not surprisingly, are all high school seniors, led by a pair of Duke recruits.

The first pick right now would probably be big man Harry Giles, a 6-foot-10 force who has committed to the Blue Devils. He’s considered an athletic marvel, though he has already undergone a pair of ACL surgeries.

Next is Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8 inch dynamo who might already be an NBA-level defender, followed by Duke’s Jayson Tatum, the 2016 Gatorade High School Player of the Year, a 6-9 scorer with a developing 3-point touch.

Add Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, and Arizona bomber Terrance Ferguson, and this has the makings of the best draft class of the decade.

So don’t be surprised if Ainge is hesitant to part with next year’s pick.

 

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2017 NBA draft, Celtics, Harry Giles
Celtics Choice: Kris Dunn vs. Marcus Smart 05.25.16 at 12:47 pm ET
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In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Providence College point guard Kris Dunn or keeping promising third-year player Marcus Smart

The case for Dunn

See if this sounds familiar: the Providence guard is powerfully built and physically gifted for his position, with the ability to defend multiple positions and a toughness NBA GMs like Danny Ainge love. If that sounds like Smart, it’s because Dunn shares many characteristics with the Celtics guard. Where he separates, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is a better ball handler, passer, and scorer than Smart. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn possesses tremendous defensive instincts and court vision. He’s a terror in the open court and can finish at the rim authoritatively with either hand. He’s a true playmaking point guard who can also score (37.2 percent on 3-pointers). Just call him Smart 2.0.

The case against Dunn

In the delicate ecosystem of an NBA locker room, one malcontent can lead to disaster, and it’s fair to question Dunn’s fit when his agents are already suggesting he won’t play for a team — including the Celtics — with an established point guard. They can’t stop anyone from drafting him, but they can make it more difficult by withholding Dunn’s medicals, which is what Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says they intend to do. This is an issue because Dunn required two shoulder surgeries during his PC career and teams will want a look before committing to him as their point guard of the future. On the court, there’s also the question of Dunn’s stroke — his inconsistent jumper includes a lot of moving parts — and his occasionally sloppy and reckless ball-handling.

The case for Smart

We have a much better idea of what type of NBA player Smart is and will be. A hawkish defender, he was often Brad Stevens’ secret weapon, shutting down opposing guards, but also spending time pushing 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis out of the post or shutting down Hawks star Paul Millsap in the midst of a 45-point playoff outburst. Smart is one of the best garbage players in the NBA, and that’s meant as a compliment, thanks to his ability to attack the offensive glass, pick up loose balls, and force mayhem on both ends of the floor. He also deserves credit for his willingness to take, and make, big shots, playing beyond his shooting percentages in pressure situations. He’s also only 12 days older than Dunn.

The case against Smart

Man, that shot. Smart’s jumper is not pretty and neither are his shooting percentages. He shot just .253 on 3-pointers last year, third-worst in the NBA. He has also demonstrated time and again an inability to score at the rim, where he’s often swallowed up by bigger players. Smart’s impressive athleticism tends to be of the horizontal variety, where his foot speed allows him to stay in front of opposing ball handlers. He’s vertically challenged, however, lacking explosiveness at the rim. There are also real questions about his ball handling, which is why Evan Turner ends up playing point guard when Smart’s on the floor. His shot selection remains extremely iffy — Smart has never met a contested 3-pointer early in the shot clock that he wouldn’t take. Then there’s the whole flopping/complaining thing.

The Verdict

The Celtics need scoring, not another athletic, defensive-minded point guard. Even accepting that Dunn will be a better pro than Smart, the C’s can do better with the third pick when they already have a reasonable facsimile on their roster. Keep Smart, use the third pick on a shooter.

Previous entries

May 24: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin
May 23: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
May 20: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
May 19: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender

Read More: Celtics, Celtics choice, Kris Dunn, Marcus Smart
Celtics coach Brad Stevens finishes sixth in NBA Coach of the Year voting 04.26.16 at 3:35 pm ET
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Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Celtics fans believe they have the best coach in the NBA prowling their sidelines. The Coach of the Year voters strongly disagree.

Fresh off a season that saw him take the Celtics to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, as well as a seven-win improvement over last year, C’s coach Brad Stevens finished a surprising sixth in the NBA Coach of the Year voting on Tuesday.

Golden State’s Steve Kerr won the award despite missing the first 43 games of the season with a back injury (Luke Walton, the fill-in who went 39-4 in his absence, earned five points). Kerr’s win was no surprise, given Golden State’s record-breaking 73-win season.

Kerr earned 64 first-place votes and 381 points, outdistancing second-place finisher Terry Stotts of the Blazers, who overcame the loss of free agent big man LaMarcus Aldridge to lead Portland to 44 wins and the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Stevens earned five first-place votes and 74 points, finishing behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (166), Charlotte’s Steve Clifford (98), and Toronto’s Dwane Casey (83) as well in the balloting of 130 broadcasters and journalists.

Read More: Brad Stevens, Celtics, NBA Coach of the Year voting, Steve Kerr
New Patriot Terrance Knighton wants to recruit Kevin Durant to Celtics 04.22.16 at 4:05 pm ET
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The Celtics are going to get some help in their recruitment of free agent-to-be Kevin Durant.

Count new Patriots defensive lineman Terrance Knighton as part of the contingent who will be helping lure Durant to the Celts.

It should be no surprise Knighton is on board in trying to upgrade the Celtics considering he grew up in the Hartford, Conn. area rooting for the C’s.

“I’m very excited about the Celtics,” Knighton said on a conference call with reporters earlier this month. “I think when you’re born in Connecticut, I think at birth you have a choice — either Yankees or Red Sox — and I chose to go with Boston. I’m a big Boston Celtics fan, Red Sox, Bruins, obviously Patriot fan growing up. I’m really excited about the Celtics right now, the playoff push. Hopefully when I get in town I can catch a few games. I’m very excited about it.”

Read More: Celtics, Kevin Durant, Terrance Knighton,
Jackie MacMullan on OM&F: ‘The thing about the Celtics is they control their own destiny’ 04.08.16 at 4:47 pm ET
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ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan joined the Ordway, Merloni & Fauria show on Friday and discussed the Celtics’ chances in the upcoming playoffs.

First off, she was extremely impressed with last week’s win over the Warriors.

“I thought it was incredibly meaningful, and I’ll tell you why,” he said. “They didn’t show up against the Clippers on that road trip. They have a really crummy practice in advance of that Portland game. And from what I understand, [coach Brad] Stevens called them all together and said, ‘You guys aren’t nearly as good as you make think you are. This is a good Portland team and we could lose to them tonight.’ And they went out and played pretty well in that game, but they lose anyway.

“Now, if they don’t come out of that road trip 3-2, we’re all going to say, ‘That was a disappointing road trip,’ right? So you know they’re going to beat the Lakers, or at least you hope they can. But that game, they’re the perfect team to play Golden State, because of the way they hawk the ball, the way they hawk those guards and pressure the ball defensively. They gave Stephen Curry trouble, there’s no question about it. To me, that win was more about the psyche of the team now going forward.”

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Read More: Brad Stevens, Celtics, Jackie MacMullan, NBA playoffs
Duke freshman Brandon Ingram declares for NBA draft on Players’ Tribune 04.04.16 at 6:04 pm ET
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Duke guard Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Yale's Brandon Sherrod during the NCAA tourney. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Duke’s Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Yale’s Brandon Sherrod during the NCAA tourney. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Add one name to the list of potential Celtics in the upcoming NBA draft — Duke scorer Brandon Ingram.

The 6-foot-9 freshman made it official on Monday in a story on the Players’ Tribune website, declaring for the draft to fulfill a dream of playing in the NBA.

“My time is almost over here in Durham,” Ingram wrote. “Today as I declare for the NBA Draft, I’m both excited and sad about this moment.

“On one hand, one year at Duke isn’t a very long time. I know that. But I’ve done a lot of growing, and growing up, in that time. I know by leaving I’ll miss out on a lot of friendships and opportunities. I’ll really miss all the students who showed me so much love. One of my favorite parts of the Duke basketball tradition is the high-five line at the end of home games. The students who camp out for seats for up to a week before a game — and get in their seats two hours early — are always still there after the final buzzer. Win or lose. You guys gave me the energy and support that I needed. I’ll never forget you all.”

Ingram averaged 17.3 points a game on 44.2 percent shooting, including .410 from 3-point land. Listed at just 190 pounds, the reed-thin Ingram will need to add bulk to excel in the NBA, where his body type and shooting ability have earned him comparisons to a poor man’s Kevin Durant.

Following  a disappointing season from LSU freshman Ben Simmons, Ingram has zoomed to the top of some draft boards. He’s expected to be no worse than the No. 2 overall pick.

The Celtics own the Nets’ pick in the first round. Brooklyn current owns a record of 21-56, the fourth-worst in the NBA, but it’s only a game behind the Suns for the third-worst record and a 15.6 percent chance at the first overall pick.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Brandon Ingram, Celtics,
Brad Stevens on Kelly Olynyk’s return: ‘He looked like a guy that hadn’t played in 5 1/2 weeks’ 03.16.16 at 11:14 pm ET
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Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) returned from a right shoulder injury Wednesday. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

Celtics center Kelly Olynyk returned from a right shoulder injury Wednesday. (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports)

It was pretty much what Kelly Olynyk and his coach expected Wednesday night.

The 7-footer made his return to the Celtics rotation against the Thunder after missing 12 games with a partially separated right shoulder. Before Olynyk entered the game for Marcus Smart with 4:47 left in the first quarter, his status was up in the air until shortly before game time, when the big man determined he felt good enough to get back on the court.

In his team’s 130-109 blowout loss, Olynyk played 22 minutes off the bench. He certainly showed signs of rust, shooting just 1-for-7 from the field, including 0-for-2 from beyond the arc. He finished with eight points, six of which came from the free throw line.

In his postgame press conference, Celtics coach Brad Stevens did not sugarcoat his evaluation of Olynyk.

“He looked like a guy that hadn’t played in 5 1/2 weeks, which is to be expected,” Stevens said. “Which is why we put him back in at the end of the game. The more minutes the better.”

Olynyk took several hits to his shoulder early in the game, including one from Kevin Durant with 19.4 seconds left in the opening quarter that resulted in him missing one of his two free throws. Olynyk appeared to be uncomfortable at times. He stayed in the game, however, playing through the pain.

“Yeah, took a couple hits to it, little pain and discomfort,” Olynyk said. “And you know, just trying to keep its strength and keep those muscles activated. … hopefully you don’t take too big of a bump, but other than that it felt all right out there. It was just good to get back in the rhythm.”

The Celtics now have dropped three straight games in what is a critical stretch of the season. Next, the team will travel to Toronto to face yet another formidable opponent in the Raptors. Olynyk hopes to put this game in the rearview and help his team pick up a much-needed win Friday.

“It was good to be back out there, unfortunately the game didn’t go the way we wanted,” Olynyk said. “But we have another Friday and we’ve got to keep pushing.”

Read More: Brad Stevens, Celtics, Kelly Olynyk,
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