|An early look at potential Celtics draft prospects||05.18.11 at 6:56 pm ET|
Now that the lottery order has been set, the offseason focus turns to the NBA Draft held on June 23 in New York. Perhaps because of the uncertainty of the new collective bargaining agreement, this year’s draft is marked by who’s not in it as much as who made themselves available.
North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Baylor’s Perry Jones were all expected to be lottery picks and all three decided to stay in school diluting what was already considered a draft class devoid of franchise-changing talent. Consider that the likely top pick Kyrie Irving played exactly 11 college basketball games because of a foot injury.
After Irving, Arizona forward Derrick Williams looks like a ready-made NBA player, if not a star, and then there are a number of talented foreign players, along with points guards Brandon Knight from Kentucky and UConn’s Kemba Walker that will likely make up the bulk of the top 10.
The Celtics have the 25th pick, which doesn’t promise to provide much immediate help. Still, team president Danny Ainge has had an enviable track record of unearthing talent late in the draft including:
2003: Kendrick Perkins via Memphis with the 27th pick.
2004: Delonte West (24) and Tony Allen (25).
2005: Ryan Gomes (50).
2006: Rajon Rondo (21), Leon Powe (49).
2007: Glen Davis (35).
2008: Bill Walker (47), Semih Erden (60).
Like all NBA decision-makers, Ainge has missed on a few — Gerald Green in 2005 and J.R. Giddens over DeAndre Jordan in 2008 — and last year’s top pick Avery Bradley has yet to make his mark. But the name of the game at this stage in the draft is finding players talented enough to become pieces of a rotation and Ainge has delivered on far more picks than he’s missed.
The Celtics are in desperate needs of assets to aid the inevitable rebuilding process that will likely take place after the 2012 season. If Ainge can find a player who can contribute this season that would be a coup for a team with only five players under contract heading into the offseason.
The pre-draft camp in Chicago, which began on Wednesday will help untangle some of the first round clutter, but here’s an early look at some of the players who may be available with the 25th pick based on mock drafts from Draft Express, SI.com and ESPN (Insider).
Reggie Jackson, Boston College: Jackson looks like he made a wise decision to enter the draft after a breakout junior year for the Eagles. He may not be a true point guard, but he can score and he shot over 42 percent from 3-point range. Jackson looks like the kind of player who can step in and immediately compete for playing time.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU: Everyone knows about Jimmer at this point and there will be a loud and lengthy debate about whether his package of scoring skills will translate at the NBA level. He’s not likely to be there when the Celtics pick, but Ainge will have to be temped to take his fellow Cougar if he is.
Josh Selby, Kansas: The talented, and also troubled, Selby went from being one of the nation’s top recruits to a suspension and injury-filled freshman season. Selby shot less than 40 percent from the floor and had almost as many turnovers as assists. He’s the kind of player Ainge has taken chances on before, and he’s likely to be available at the end of the first round.
Travis Leslie, Georgia: Draft Express calls Leslie arguably the best athlete in college basketball and has him going to the Celtics in their recent mock. At 6-foot-4, Leslie is a bit of a tweener without a great 3-point shot. But in the right setting he could be an effective part of a rotation.
Kyle Singler, Duke: One of the few known commodities if only because he played four years at Duke. Singler has decent size at 6-foot-8, but isn’t considered an exceptional athlete. He’s a decent scorer and rebounder, but doesn’t stand out in either area. Singler is a solid, experienced player with limited upside, which is why he would be around late in the first round.
Tyler Honeycutt, UCLA: The easy comparison is Tayshaun Prince because of his thin 6-foot-8 frame. Prince was also drafted late in the first round, but he was a far more accomplished college player than Honeycutt who doesn’t have a defined offensive game. The tools are there for him to become a defensive specialist and at 20 years old, he has time to add to his game.
Davis Bertans, Latvia: He’s 6-foot-10, 18 years old and can shoot the lights out. He’s described as a project who may not be ready to come to the NBA just yet, but a talented project.
Tobias Harris, Tennessee: Harris is one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft and doesn’t figure to be around with his mock status ranging from the end of the lottery to the early 20′s. He had a strong freshman season amid in-season turbulence with the rest of the Tennessee program. The 6-foot-8 Harris is already a good scorer with room to improve.
Justin Harper, Richmond: At 6-foot-10, 225 pounds, Harper is one of the best long-range shooting big men in the draft. He averaged 18 points a game and shot almost 45 percent from 3-point range in his senior season for the Spiders capping a college career that saw steady improvement. The Celtics put a premium on big men who can shoot and Harper definitely fits the criteria.
Jordan Williams, Maryland: The comparison has been made to a young Kendrick Perkins because Williams is primarily a post player who has struggled with his conditioning at an early age. Both SI and ESPN have the Celtics taking Williams in their mocks, while Draft Express has him as a mid second-rounder. He made a significant jump in his sophomore season, averaging almost 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Note: Draft Express, considered the best online source for NBA draft news, has extensive scouting reports and statistics and is well worth exploring.
|Doc Rivers on D&C: ‘I just thought it was time to show’ loyalty||05.16.11 at 10:37 am ET|
Celtics coach Doc Rivers joined the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning, three days after agreeing to a five-year contract extension to remain with the team.
Rivers said that rumors he was contemplating whether to take a sabbatical from coaching so that he could spend more time with his family weren’t accurate — at least not this year.
“Last year, they were probably more right,” he said. “Last year I was absolutely leaning that way. This year I really never was. After last year’s summer and going through the decision that we went through, I was pretty sure I was coming back and I was pretty sure I wanted to come back here.
“This is a special place. And I’ve said that before. You can’t get a lot of these jobs where you coach teams like the Celtics, or the Red Sox, or the Yankees, and I have one of them. I work with a great GM in Danny Ainge and I have good ownership. So, why change?”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Doc, if you don’t mind revealing this, whose idea was it for the longterm contract? Was it you that wanted the extra years, or did Danny want to lock you up for the extra years? Whose idea was it?
Danny brought it up to me. When he first brought it up, I was surprised by it. This was a while ago that he brought it up. I think actually he brought up even more years to start.
I never thought of it in those terms. Because we kept doing these one-year or two-year deals, and I never thought of it. Danny walked in my office and said, “Listen, I want you to be here with me for a long time. And I want to make this something where we’re together for a long time.” And so he brought up the number of years.
You’ve got to process that when you commit to something for that long. We did, and we thought it was the right thing to do.
|First things first: Examining the Celtics roster for 2011-12||05.13.11 at 6:04 pm ET|
The first item of business for Celtics president Danny Ainge was locking up coach Doc Rivers to a long-term contract, which they agreed upon Friday for five years. With Rivers on board for more than just a last run with the big three, the Celtics will enter an offseason where they are looking at the long-term, while also trying to stay contenders for next season.
The real overhaul is likely to begin after the 2012 season when Kevin Garnett‘s contract comes off the books and a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. The 2012 free agency class in also much stronger than this summer’s crop with Dwight Howard expected to be the main prize.
Building around the core for one more shot at a championship is really the only option for Ainge unless he is willing to trade one of his aging stars. In an end of the season meeting with the media, Ainge said that he always considers all options. Still, it would be a surprise.
Assuming Ray Allen picks up his player option, which he said he intends to do, the Celtics will have over $64 million committed to six players. That would put them over the salary cap under the current rules and while they are likely to be altered under a new CBA, the cap number is not likely to go up from its current $58 million.
“I know this about the big three: they still have a lot of basketball in them,” Ainge said. “How much can they carry a team, [and be] 20-point a game scorers, I don’t know. I do know they’re still very talented but we need to add talent around them.”
It’s important to note that no one knows what the new salary cap rules will look like under a new CBA. Therefore it’s impossible to predict what kind of moves Ainge will be able to make this offseason. Under the existing rules, Ainge would be able to go over the cap to re-sign his own players and offer free agents from other teams money from the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, as well as the veterans minimum.
Before we get to a new CBA — and free agency — here’s a look at the current roster, with comments from Ainge. Read the rest of this entry »
|Irish Coffee: Cutting Big Three’s minutes to win it||at 1:04 pm ET|
Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …
Plenty of Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge‘s comments on The Big Show on Thursday incited debate, and perhaps none more than the potential of bringing team captain Paul Pierce off the bench in favor of starting Jeff Green next season.
“Maybe Paul comes off the bench to cut down on his minutes. … That’s just hypothetical,” said Ainge. “I have no idea if that’s going to happen. If Jeff is back next year, I think his role will be expanded, and it wouldn’t shock me if the starting five is different.”
Now, whether or not Pierce becomes the team’s Sixth Man in 2011-12 (doubtful, in my eyes), Ainge’s larger point is a good one: The Celtics need to cut down on the minutes next year for Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and possibly even Rajon Rondo, and the best way to do that is to increase opportunities for young talent like Green (age 24), Avery Bradley (20) and Free Agent X.
As a result of injuries to Delonte West, Marquis Daniels and the O’Neal “brothers,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers called on the Big Four more over the course of this regular season than he did in 2009-10, when the C’s reached the NBA Finals. With three of those guys entering the autumn of their careers and the other dealing with injuries to almost every part of his body, that’s not what the Doc was looking for.
Here are the per-minute averages for the Celtics’ core for the last two regular seasons …
- Paul Pierce: 34.0 in 2009-10, and 34.7 in 2010-11
- Ray Allen: 35.2 in 2009-10, and 36.1 in 2010-11
- Kevin Garnett: 29.9 in 2009-10, and 31.3 in 2010-11
- Rajon Rondo: 36.6 in 2009-10, and 37.2 in 2010-11
Those numbers should be declining, not climbing (unless, in Rondo’s case, he’s completely healthy). It’s kind of like when people sell their grandfather’s 1988 Buick with only 97,000 miles on it: “Other than running a few errands during the week, he mostly drove it on the highway to see his grandchildren every Sunday.” In this scenario, the playoffs would be that Sunday drive out on the highway.
|Doc Rivers agrees to five-year deal to remain with C’s||at 12:32 pm ET|
Celtics president Danny Ainge said that the team and coach Doc Rivers have come to an agreement on a five-year contract. Yahoo! Sports reports the deal is worth $35 million.
“We wanted him for five years and he wanted to stay for five years,” Ainge said. “I think Doc is the best coach in the league, so I think it’s great for us.”
Rivers indicated it was likely he would return to the Celtics after Wednesday’s season-ending loss to the Heat. “I’m leaning heavily [toward] coming back,” he said. “I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will. I’ve kind of come to that over the last couple of weeks.”
Rivers has coached the Celtics for seven seasons, posting a regular-season record of 336-238 and a playoff mark of 46-34. He led the C’s to the 2008 NBA championship. If he serves out the length of the contract, Rivers will pass Tom Heinsohn for second on the list of longest-tenured coaches in franchise history behind only Red Auerbach, who coached for 16 seasons.
“He’s a great leader in the face of adversity,” Ainge said. “There’s nobody I’d rather have on my side more than Doc.”
Rivers decided after last season to come back for one more year. The two sides talked about a long-term deal, but the feeling was that it was too rushed and they agreed to resume talks in training camp. They let the issue be until mid-season when they talked some more and then essentially decided on a direction as the playoffs began. “He understood that it was important for me to know,” Ainge said.
With Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo under contract and Ray Allen likely to exercise his player-option for next season, the Celtics will return the core of the team that Rivers has coached the last four seasons. Garnett and Allen will both be free agents after next season and the Celtics will likely undergo an overhaul, but Ainge said Rivers was committed to the long haul.
“He knows the circumstances of our team as well as anyone, the players, the ages the contracts, he gets it all,” Ainge said. “He wants to be part of this franchise and he wants to be working with us. We have a great relationship with owners, management and coaching that I think is unique.”
|AP: Doc, Celtics working on a new multiyear deal||05.12.11 at 7:52 pm ET|
The Celtics and Doc Rivers are working on a multiyear deal that would keep Rivers in Boston for the foreseeable future, according to the Associated Press.
The AP quotes a source saying the deal would be for “more than two or three years.” Celtics GM Danny Ainge did not return calls to the AP, but did acknowledge in an on-air appearance with WEEI’s “Big Show” on Thursday that the sides were working on a long-term deal. After Miami eliminated Boston on Wednesday night, Rivers sounded like a man who was intent on returning to the Celtics’ bench.
“I haven’t made that decision, but I can tell you I probably will,” he said. “I’m a Celtic and I love our guys. I want to win again here, and I’m competitive as hell. I have a competitive group, so we’ll see. I can tell you that is where I am at today. Tomorrow I may change my mind, but that’s where I am at today.”
To listen to Ainge’s full interview, click here.
|Danny Ainge: ‘We could be up 3-2 in this series’||at 6:00 pm ET|
Following his team’s disappointing Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Heat in five games, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made his final weekly appearance of the season on The Big Show. Already working on the draft, Ainge pretty much touched on everything, so here’s a quick rundown of the hot stove topics (for audio of the complete interview, click here).
On the Heat: “I’m a little frustrated. Without taking credit away from the Heat — and they made tough shots and big plays when they needed to — we could be up 3-2 in this series. …
“They’re the team that we’re going to have to compete with for the next six or seven years — maybe longer.”
On Rajon Rondo’s injury: “That was a huge factor. We were playing without one of our key guys — if not the most important guy. I give Rondo a lot of credit for doing all he could to get ready to play, but he had some back issues as well. That made it extremely difficult for us.”
On coach Doc Rivers’ future: “I think Doc is coming back. We talk all the time, and I got that impression a few weeks ago. I think we’ll get something done, and we could get something done very shortly on a long-term contract.”
More on the long-term possibility: “I think it’s the wrong assumption about Doc that he would just want to be here with these guys. He’s a coach at heart. He likes being in Boston. We have a great relationship. We work together as an organization, and we like each other. He’s a coach, and he’s a teacher. I think he likes the idea of being a Jerry Sloan-type, being with one team for a long time. I think we could sign him to a long-term contract.”
On the Big Three’s future: “I think there’s a lot of basketball left in them, but Father Time always loses. Their days of carrying a team night in and night out might be over, but their ability to still contribute to a championship team is still there.”
On the collective bargaining agreement: “We need to figure out the rules we’re all playing under. Once we figure that out, we can start coming up with answers.”
On potentially trading the Big Three: “I would have to look into that if a good trade came about.”
On potentially training Rondo: “Probably not. I can never say never, but that’s not our plan right now. Absolutely not.”
On the Kendrick Perkins trade: “I don’t believe that the trade was the reason we are done today. Our offense failed us in the last few games. Our defense was terrific. We were missing shots 10 feet from the pin, and they were making them from the sand trap. I think the injuries to Rajon and even Delonte West were more of a factor. … Read the rest of this entry »
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