|Report: Danny Ainge ‘definitely wants to do something’ on trade market, Jahlil Okafor best bet||07.16.16 at 12:04 pm ET|
Danny Ainge is still hungry to make a deal.
According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations wants to add one more big piece. But the price tag has been too rich.
“Another sticking point in that and in other deals Boston is talking about is that pick from the Nets next year (2017 pick swap). Danny will make it available in the right situation, but he’s not going to give it up with core players, too,” a league source told Bulpett. “That’s going to be a good draft, and that’s going to be a high pick.
“Everyone’s been talking about how Danny’s trying to make a killing out here, but when it comes to certain pieces you have, I get that you have to be careful. You can give up equal assets, but you don’t want to take away your best opportunities to keep things going down the line.”
Bulpett also reports there have been no recent discussions on two rumored high-profile players Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin. But an NBA general manager told Bulpett that Philadelphia big man Jahlil Okafor is a different matter.
“Oh, Danny definitely wants to do something,” the GM told Bulpett. “We’ve got nothing that really works with Boston, but I bet something happens there. I still wouldn’t be surprised if something happened there [with Okafor].”
The Celtics were reportedly close on Jimmy Butler on draft night as they held the No. 3 pick in the draft. The Bulls made no secret about their desire to trade up and grab Providence College point guard Kris Dunn. But, according to Bulpett, the Bulls also wanted two players, while the C’s only were willing to deal one.
Now with the Bulls inking Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, the Bulls seem committed to keeping Butler and making a run next season.
A Western Conference exec says there are injury concerns w/Griffin. Another thinks a C’s deal for Okafor fits well. https://t.co/TR1iTiLBhR
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) July 16, 2016
|Danny Ainge: ‘I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance’ to land Kevin Durant||07.07.16 at 1:12 pm ET|
Since Kevin Durant’s Fourth of July fireworks on Monday announcing that he would be joining the Warriors, Danny Ainge has had time to mull over what exactly happened to see Durant slip from the Celtics’ grasp.
“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge said to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had some chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.
“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen.”
Ainge admitted he was incredibly disappointed when he got the courtesy call from Durant saying he was going to Golden State shortly before his Players’ Tribune piece came out.
The Celtics certainly pulled out all the stops trying to sway Durant into wearing green next season, bringing a cavalry of team personnel, coach Brad Stevens, players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder and even Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete — to meet with the star in the Hamptons on Saturday.
Even David Ortiz tweeted at Durant to apologize for not being able to make the meeting. And upon signing Al Horford — who multiple times indicated him and Durant had discussed playing together — the Celtics seemed like legitimate contenders for the prized free agent.
“I felt like the meeting and presentation couldn’t have gone any better. I think we all felt that,” Ainge said. “I think it went as well as it could have, and we got a really good sense that it was going to be a really hard decision for him, but that we were a strong consideration.
“We felt like that was the most important part of the whole presentation — who he’d play with and how he’d be utilized. He had some good questions about that and about his role – how he would play, how we would use him. I think we did a great job of explaining and making a great presentation, and I think it was tempting for him. I think he is very, very excited about Boston and the history, the Celtics, all of that. I think he loved what Brad had to say. I think he was impressed with Brad’s preparation, and we had a really good feeling about it.”
|Report: Kevin Durant eliminates Clippers from consideration in free agency||07.03.16 at 10:18 am ET|
And then there were five.
Free agent forward Kevin Durant, the best player on the market by a country mile, has informed the Los Angeles Clippers he won’t be signing with them, per Ben Bolch of the LA Times:
Seems obvious by now but Clippers have been told that Kevin Durant will not be joining them.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) July 3, 2016
That leaves the Celtics as one of five finalists for Durant’s services, and perhaps the greatest threat to entice him to leave Oklahoma City, though the Thunder remain overwhelming favorites to retain him.
The Celtics pulled out all the stops in the Hamptons to wow Durant during their visit, flying in Tom Brady of the Patriots to help with their pitch. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz also tweeted his support.
The team’s best move in the negotiation, however, came right after their visit finished, when free agent Al Horford, a close friend of Durant, agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract.
With the Clippers out of consideration, Durant’s choice has been narrowed to the Thunder, Celtics, Warriors, Spurs, and Heat.
|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
|Isaiah Thomas on OM&F details what he would say to Kevin Durant to get forward to join Celtics||06.30.16 at 4:44 pm ET|
Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas joined Glenn Ordway and Lou Merloni Thursday afternoon to discuss Kevin Durant and being a part of the Celtics organization. For the full interview, visit the OMF audio on demand page.
With the Celtics reportedly meeting with Kevin Durant Saturday, Thomas was unsure if he was going to be a part of it, but is ready if called upon.
“I’m going to call Danny today and see what he needs me to do, but if that’s what he wants me to do I’ll be there,” said Thomas.
Despite 48 wins and a first-round playoff exit, when asked how he would pitch the Celtics to Durant, Thomas had very much thought through what he would say.
“48 wins without a so-called superstar I guess they say, in the best city in the NBA, the best fans in the NBA, the history of Boston is self-explanatory,” Thomas said. “… If I am in that meeting on Saturday or whatever day it is, or I’m able to talk to Kevin Durant face-to-face I’ll just be as real as I possibly can and tell him how I feel about Boston. How I felt Boston before I got before I got here and how I feel about it now and that’s all I can really do. In this predicament in this situation everybody is going to try to sell him the world, or sell any free agent the world, and my job is just as a player to keep it as real as possible and try to get him to a great city and get situation and try to get him to Boston to where with him or with any other superstar we can give us that muscle to raise the 18th banner.”
A week removed from the NBA draft, Thomas expressed the utmost faith in the organization’s decision making.
“[Jaylen Brown is] a talented basketball player, somebody that I think will help us,” Thomas said. “I know Danny and the guys in the front office have done their background checks on all the guys that they worked out. So I guess they thought that was the best fit for us as a team. I’ve got all faith in the front office in the Celtics organization and Danny Ainge and what they’re doing because they’ve been through it, that’s their job. And they know the in’s and out’s of the draft and free agency and all those types of things. My job is just to go out there and play. But I’m excited, hopefully Jaylen Brown is ready to contribute and ready to get to work. I’m excited about the future and hopefully we can get a few free agents this summer and build on what we have.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics
|Danny Ainge says he, not Wyc Grousbeck, should’ve taken fall for not pulling off trade||06.25.16 at 9:16 am ET|
WALTHAM – Danny Ainge and Wyc Grousbeck had very different takes on what happened Thursday.
Grousbeck, as the team’s principal owner, addressed the angry and disgruntled fan base after the Celtics drafted Jaylen Brown. He then told the fans and the media that the team was never close to pulling off a trade that many had hung their hopes.
The owner then acknowledged that Ainge, the president of basketball operations, would be in a much better position to explain why the team did what it did.
Ainge didn’t come out because he was getting ready for two more first-round picks. He chose Guerschon Yabusele at 16 and Ante Zizic at 23, two players that could wind up overseas next season. But Ainge said after the draft that there were many discussions about trading the third pick, just nothing that the Celtics could accept.
On Friday, Ainge made two things clear: He felt bad for Grousbeck having to take the heat for the lack of trade and don’t take out the frustration on Jaylen Brown.
“The only thing I felt bad about that is that Wyc went out there,” Ainge said. “If I would have known that or if I wasn’t in the middle of something, I should have been the one that went out there and I would have been happy to and I would have enjoyed it. It’s what I love about Boston. When you’re throwing a no-hitter they appreciate it. And when you get rocked in the second inning, they boo you.
“The only thing about that is I love the passion of Boston fans, I love that they feel and they care. I truly believe that. I never take that stuff personal because there’s so many differing views. I think that that’s what makes Boston fun. The only thing that I don’t like about that is that it’s a reflection of Jaylen.
“Instead of a reflection of me — like, ‘We don’t like YOUR choice.’ That’s like OK to boo me. But give him a chance, would be the only thing I would say. Like, let’s see. Let’s wait a year then boo me. Let’s not boo the kid when his name is announced. As far as criticism in my position, I expect it, I’m used to it, and I don’t think you guys can offend me. You can try, but I don’t think it’ll work.
“I think everyone wants a deal. I think everyone expects a deal. We’ve been working really hard on trying to get a deal and do something significant. But we just haven’t been able to do it yet. And it’s not because we’re not trying, it’s not because we’re turning down or we overvalue our players or any of that stuff. It’s because you need a partner. I’ve said this many times before: I tried three years to get KG before we got him. It just takes the right time and the right place and have a partner that wants to do a deal.”
Ainge knows what the expectations are for the Celtics heading into next season. He realizes the fan base has seen a young team with a bright coach go from 25 t0 40 to 48 wins. Now, what’s next?
“Maybe the public expects more — no, I think that’s pretty obvious,” Ainge said. “But not more than what we feel. I want to do a deal. But it’s my job to oversee the Celtics and not do what makes me look really good and do something that’s instant gratification. It’s like we’re trying to build something. It’s a big responsibility and I take it very seriously. We’re going to keep trying to do bigger deals that will people cheer instead of boo.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Celtics may not be frontrunners in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, but they’ll at least get an audience.
According to Yahoo NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and other interested clubs will travel to a central location to meet with Durant and his representatives from Roc Nation Sports starting on July 1.
The other teams that Durant will meet are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and his incumbent Thunder, according to the report.
Oklahoma City remains the favorite to retain Durant, since it can offer him a two-year deal with an opt-out that makes him a free agent again next offseason. The Warriors are also considered strong contenders if he wants to join Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to build the league’s next super team.
But the Celtics at least have a seat at the table, which is more than interested clubs like the Lakers, Nuggets, Knicks, Rockets, and Durant’s hometown Wizards can say. The C’s can sell Durant on their cap space, as well as the presence of coach Brad Stevens on one of the better up-and-coming teams in the relatively weak East, which could provide a clearer path to the Finals than the loaded West, even with the defending champions from Cleveland and LeBron James standing in the way.
Durant, 27, is a seven-time All-Star and former MVP who led the Thunder within a win of their second NBA Finals this season. He averaged just over 28 points a game.
According to the Yahoo report, he’d like to decide on his future by July 9, when he begins a publicity tour in the Far East.
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