|Wrapping up a wild day in NBA free agency while waiting for Al Horford, Kevin Durant, Celtics to shake out||07.02.16 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.
|Evan Turner agrees to 4-year, $70 million contract with Trail Blazers, thanks Celtics fans||at 6:58 pm ET|
Say goodbye to Evan Turner.
One of the symbols of the resurgent Celtics under coach Brad Stevens, Turner reportedly agreed to a four-year, $70 million deal with the Trail Blazers on Friday before taking to social media to thank the Celtics and their fans for two transformative years.
Boston, this was definitely one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made. I can’t say enough how appreciative I am for all the love and support. Every night I played at TD garden was like a dream come true. Thank you for showing me how a REAL sports city does things! You’ll forever be in my heart!! C’s up ☘☘☘
Turner told The Boston Globe that the Blazers told him to sit tight while they negotiated with forward Chandler Parsons, who ended up signing with the Grizzlies. The Blazers immediately turned their attention to Turner, telling him that he’d be a starter on a team that went 44-38 and won a round in the playoffs before being dispatched by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semis.
Turner, 27, averaged 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.4 assists last season. He signed with the Celtics as a free agent before the 2014-15 season, and over the next two years remade himself from bust of a No. 2 overall pick into a solid jack-of-all-trades on a playoff team.
“It’s tough to leave,” Turner told the Globe. “I liked Boston a lot, bro. The organization, and it’s just a sports city and the city is super nice. If you put money and everything aside, I would play in Boston every single day of the week. Seeing all those Hall of Famers come back and everything, that’s a real franchise.
“I was just having fun playing again. When I played in Philly, it was pure hell. But to go to Boston and rock out and play was crazy. And to play in Portland is going to be fun, too.”
|Report: Celtics not planning aggressive pursuit of free agent Dwight Howard||06.30.16 at 11:25 am ET|
Las Vegas recently labeled the Celtics the favorites to land former All-Star center Dwight Howard, but reporters covering the team are hearing a different story.
Regarding Dwight Howard, hearing that right now Celtics have no plans for aggressive pursuit. Will always listen to see if a price is right.
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) June 29, 2016
Himmelsbach covers the Celtics for the Globe, and frankly, his version of events makes more sense than a rabid pursuit of Howard, who has aged very quickly, even though he’s only 30. The eight-time All-Star averaged just 13.7 points last season for the Rockets, the lowest total since he put up 12 a game as a 19-year-old rookie in 2004-05.
Also, after missing just three games in his first six seasons, Howard has broken down in recent years, missing 63 games over the last three seasons.
For his career, he averages 17.8 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks a game. There’s a question of how he’d fit in the system of Celtics coach Brad Stevens, since Howard is a back-to-the-basket post player who doesn’t stretch defenses.
Howard recently declined his $23.2 million player option with the Rockets to become a free agent.
Kevin Durant may be the prize, and Dwight Howard an intriguing possibility, but the Celtics aren’t taking any piece of their roster for granted.
To that end, they plan to offer qualifying offers to big men Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller. Per Steve Bulpett of the Herald:
According to league-related sources, Celts to give qualifying offers to Jared Sullinger & Tyler Zeller, making them restricted free agents.
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) June 29, 2016
Qualifying offers must be made by Thursday, and extending them allows the Celtics to match any offer sheet Zeller and/or Sullinger sign in restricted free agency. Otherwise, they would’ve become unrestricted free agents.
Sullinger’s offer will be for $4,433,683, while Zeller’s one-year offer is for $3,695,169, according to the Herald.
Sullinger averaged 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds this year, though he was ineffective against the Hawks in the playoffs. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds, falling out of Brad Stevens’ rotation at times.
|Report: Mom of late Celtics star Reggie Lewis would be OK with team un-retiring No. 35 for Kevin Durant||06.28.16 at 7:49 pm ET|
Reggie Lewis passed away nearly 23 years ago, but the late Celtics star’s mom believes the team could honor his memory in an unexpected way — by giving his retired No. 35 to Kevin Durant.
That’s according to Kevin O’Connor of CSNNE, who got Lewis’ mom, Inez Ritch, on the phone recently.
“I don’t think it would take anything from Reggie because his number is still hanging up in the Garden,” she told O’Connor. “If I see Durant running up and down the court with the No. 35, I don’t know how my emotions would be until it happens.
“I don’t think I would be upset about it. I think it would be a good thing, because he is a very nice, humble young man. I don’t know a lot about him, but I know of some of the things he has achieved while wearing the No. 35.”
The similarities between the two players are obvious, O’Connor notes, with both Lewis and Durant lanky scorers who could shoot over the top or dunk at the rim. Lewis was just entering the prime of his career when he collapsed and died in July of 1993 at age 27 while shooting baskets at Brandeis.
Durant is an All-Star and former MVP who has the Celtics on his list of six teams that he’ll meet during free agency.
Add Lewis’s retired number to the list of enticements the Celtics could potentially offer to get him in green.
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