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Report: Celtics to work out Croatian draft prospect Dragan Bender 06.07.16 at 12:33 pm ET
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Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

According to a published report, the Celtics have scheduled a workout with Croatian big man Dragan Bender, whom they could potentially select with the third overall pick.

Bleacher Report’s David Pick reports via twitter that Bender will visit the Celtics, Suns, and Timberwolves in the U.S.

The Celtics have already scouted Bender in Israel, where he’s playing professionally. Team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said watching him in a practice environment and playing one-on-one against his younger brother, Ivan, a Maryland recruit, provided a better look at his skills.

“We had a 1-on-none and a 1-on-1 type of workout with his brother,” Ainge told reporters. “Actually, [Ivan] will be playing at Maryland next year. He’s a 6-10 kid. And then we watched [Dragan] in a full-team practice, which we actually thought was better than a game because we’d seen all his games. We’d seen him play in person in games and, because he’s not playing a major role as an 18-year-old in a tough Israeli league, we were able to watch him practice. And we thought that was more beneficial than what we’d seen in games.”

The 7-foot-1 center is considered a project because of his age and experience, but he’s also one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft, thanks to his shooting ability and athleticism. While there had been rumors of the Lakers’ interest at No. 2, which would’ve upended the draft, Pick recently reported that L.A. will stick with Duke’s Brandon Ingram at No. 2.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Celtics, Dragan Bender, No. 3 pick
Celtics Choice: Al Horford vs. DeMar DeRozan 06.02.16 at 11:14 am ET
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In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we examine what the Celtics could do with the No. 3 overall pick and how they should approach this pivotal offseason. In that spirit, we present “Celtics choice.”

Today: Signing free agent big man Al Horford of the Hawks, or targeting free agent scorer DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors

The case for Horford

Did you watch the playoffs? The Hawks dominated the Celtics inside and even though he didn’t have a great statistical series, Horford was a big reason why. He’ll never be the focal point of an offense, but he does many things well that the Celtics value, especially on defense, where he’s capable of checking shooters on the perimeter on pick-and-rolls before retreating to defend the rim. He’d also provide a legitimate post presence and he’s an excellent inside-out passer. He’s a four-time All-Star for a reason and he’s selfless, which fits the Celtics’ model perfectly. He’d probably be good for 15-8-3 a night, conservatively, and he’s considered a winning player. If you’ve ever wondered what he’d look like in a Celtics uniform, an NBA2K16 player made that trade in the video below.

The case against Horford

He turns 30 on Friday and at times it looks like an old 30. He has suffered tears of each pectoral muscle during his career, limiting him to 11 games in 2011-12 and 29 games two years later, though he played all 82 this season. There’s also the philosophical matter of giving a max contract to a player on the wrong side of 30 who doesn’t exactly fill up the scoresheet. In a vacuum, any team would take Horford. But considering the money it will take to sign him, it’s hard to argue he’s worth it, particularly since the Celtics are looking to add an A-1 option to slot ahead of Isaiah Thomas. Horford isn’t that guy … unless he’d somehow get them Kevin Durant.

The case for DeRozan

The Celtics need scoring, and that’s basically all DeRozan has done since arriving out of USC with the No. 9 pick in the 2009 draft. He averaged a career-high 23.5 points a game this season and led the Raptors to their first Eastern Conference Finals, where they managed to deal the mighty Cavaliers their only two losses of the postseason. DeRozan is a classic scoring wing, with an excellent turnaround game in the post and the ability to get to the rim or get fouled almost at will. The majority of his points come from within 12 feet, but points are points. He finished second in the NBA in free throws made (555) and third in attempts (653), good for a career-high 85 percent from the line. He’s also a solid perimeter defender who doesn’t turn 27 until August. There’s the added bonus that signing him would rob a division rival of its best player. He’s a two-time All-Star.

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 NBA free agency, Al Horford, Celtics
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
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