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Danny Ainge: 2012 NBA Draft ‘will be better’ 06.22.11 at 3:49 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Danny Ainge has crafted a reputation as a GM who isn’t afraid to wheel and deal. Just don’t expect it Thursday night. So, in other words Celtics fans, be patient.

The Celtics president of basketball operations said Wednesday that he doesn’t foresee trading his two draft picks on Thursday to move up for an elite position in the NBA Draft. The Celtics are currently slotted to select at position 25 in the first round and 55th overall in the second round.

“We don’t want to move next year’s pick to [move up] in this year’s draft because the picks we have aren’t good enough to get to the very, very top of the draft and we think next year’s draft will be better,” Ainge said.

The Celtics will get a 2012 first-round pick via their Feb. 24 trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for Kendrick Perkins. It will be the less favorable pick from either the Minnesota Timberwolves or Los Angeles Clippers, and is “Top-10″ protected.

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Report: Celtics trading up for USC’s Nikola Vucevic? at 1:14 pm ET
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Southern California's Nikola Vucevic, from Montenegro, dunks the ball over UCLA's Tyler Honeycutt, left, and Anthony Stover, center, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. UCLA won 64-50.

The Celtics reportedly have interest in trading up for USC center Nikola Vucevic. (AP)

When we profiled University of Southern California center Nikola Vucevic as a potential Celtics NBA draft target two weeks ago, the 7-foot European was expected to be around when Danny Ainge and company picked at No. 25. Now, if the C’s want Vucevic, they may have to move up to select him, and one report indicated they may be willing to do just that.

Here’s the relevant nugget of the story from the Daily News in Los Angeles, where Vucevic played three seasons under USC head coach Kevin O’Neill:

NBA personnel said this week Vucevic will probably be drafted somewhere between the No. 9 and No. 17 picks, which makes it seem silly there were doubts he would turn pro a few months ago.

“He’s moved up drastically during his workouts,” said an NBA general manager who did not wish to be identified. “A lot of teams like him now.”

The Knicks are believed to be highly interested, along with the Houston Rockets. The Boston Celtics are even interested in trading up in order to select Vucevic, according to sources.

In Chad Ford’s latest mock draft on ESPN.com, Vucevic is slotted to go to the Bobcats with the 19th pick, and the Celtics are projected to select Jeremy Tyler at No. 25. Ford’s analysis:

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Chris Mannix on D&C: ‘Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year’ at 9:35 am ET
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Sports Illustrated NBA writer Chris Mannix checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Celtics and Thursday’s NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mannix said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will not shy away from dealing any player in order to avoid a slow descent into mediocrity, and he noted that even the team’s young star, Rajon Rondo, has been the subject of trade talks in the recent past.

“I think he’s talking about moving everybody. I really do,” Mannix said of Ainge. “I’ve had conversations with different people around the league; I would throw Rajon Rondo on that list as well. … He has explored dealing Rajon Rondo in the past. He has talked to other GMs about him in the past. I’m not saying he’s been willing to pull the trigger in the past, but Rajon Rondo has been on the table in the past year or so.

“This is just something that Danny does. He’s not afraid to make the blockbuster deal if he thinks it helps him in the long term. So, I think Danny is absolutely working the phones right now. I think every one of those guys is on the table for a potential deal that he’s sure is going to help him.

“This goes back to what I thought the second after Doc Rivers signed that five-year extension,” Mannix continued. “Doc didn’t sign on for five years to be part of a team that just decomposes as it goes back to the Gerald Green era from a few years ago. He believes this team is going to be able to contend in Year 3, 4 and 5, when presumably Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are gone. But to do that, I think Danny is going to have to shake up the roster. And I absolutely believe, right now, before the draft, after the draft, in the offseason, whenever he’s able to talk to these teams again once the lockout is lifted, he is going to be aggressive on the phone lines trying to improve his team.”

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: BYU G Jimmer Fredette 06.21.11 at 11:54 am ET
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Jimmer Fredette shoots during a pre-draft workout for the Utah Jazz NBA basketball team, Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Salt Lake City.

Is there any chance Jimmer Fredette will fall all the way to the Celtics at No. 25? (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Jimmer Fredette

Position: Point Guard

Team: BYU

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 195 pounds

Stats: 28.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.4 rpg

What he brings: Holed up in his hideout with no Internet connection before he got shot in the face, even Osama bin Laden had probably heard of Fredette. When your first name is entered into Urban Dictionary as a verb (Jimmered: “to be repeatedly scored upon with a variety of off-balance 3-point shots, off-balance drives and amazing long shots”), you know you’ve arrived.

If Matt Christopher wrote a book about Jimmer, it’d be called “The Kid With Unlimited Range.” College basketball’s leading scorer, Fredette could put up points from anywhere on the floor — contested or uncontested, from mid-range to long-range, off the dribble or off screens, off-balance in the lane or squared up at the free-throw line. Didn’t matter, as evidenced by his 59.4 percent true shooting percentage despite defenses designed to stop him.

There’s no questioning his shooting ability, but there are serious doubts about how well Fredette’s game will translate to the next level. Despite a lightning-quick release and impressive passing ability, he’s undersized and unathletic (by NBA standards), so legitimate concerns exist about Fredette’s ability to get open looks on the perimeter and score at the rim.

And then there’s the issue of Fredette’s defense. Considering he wasn’t a great — or even good — defender at the collegiate level, it’s hard to imagine him stopping many guys in the association. How far Fredette falls in the first round will indicate the number of naysayers about his NBA potential, but at some point that shooting stroke will be too hard for any team looking for scoring punch off the bench to ignore.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round.

What they’re saying: “Jimmer is really a fun guy to watch. Jimmer’s a blast to watch. Jimmer is a terrific offensive player. He shoots deep. He scores in a variety of ways. He’s a really fun guy to watch play, because he’s a throwback. I don’t know who to compare him to. I haven’t really seen a player like Jimmer.” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge

Notes: Most NBA mock drafts have Fredette slotted to go to the Suns at No. 13, so it’s unlikely he could fall all the way to the Celtics at No. 25. … If he should drop a la Brady Quinn, there are the obvious BYU ties between Fredette and Ainge, as the former surpassed the latter’s school scoring record. … A fellow USA Basketball participant, Kevin Durant once tweeted: “Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world.” … This profile of Fredette by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix — in which Jimmer compares himself to Steve Nash and Deron Williams — is probably the best out there.

Video:

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Impromptu Irish Coffee: Celtics awesome at high-fiving 06.10.11 at 9:59 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your dose of Irish Coffee …

With only Northeastern product J.J. Barea‘s role in the demise of the Heat left for Boston NBA fans to root for, I’m not sure the news that the Celtics were the best team in the league at touching each other is any consolation.

But a recent study by researchers at the University of California indicated that the C’s are not only among the league’s elite in skill but also in chemistry, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The study analyzed the number of times NBA teammates touched each other, and the Celtics are some of the best high-fivers in the league.

After reviewing broadcasts of games from the 2008-09 season, they concluded that good teams tend to be much more hands-on than bad ones. Teams whose players touched the most often were more cooperative, played better and won more games, they said.

While there’s no evidence that an NBA team can touch its way to victory, the two touchiest teams in the study, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, finished the season with two of the NBA’s top three records.

So, where do they hang the banner: 2008-09 NBA Touchy-Feely Champions? Or is it a trophy of two players in a James Posey-Paul Pierce-like embrace? Does this make Brian Scalabrine Hall of Fame eligible as one of the great high-fivers in league history? So many questions.

And obviously Danny Ainge cost the Celtics another high-five title by trading Kendrick Perkins.

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Transcript of Shaquille O’Neal on D&C: ‘I didn’t want to let the people of Boston down two years in a row’ 06.03.11 at 11:06 am ET
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Shaquille O'Neal (AP)

Future Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning, the day of his scheduled press conference at his Orlando house to formally announce his retirement after one injury-plagued season with the Celtics and 19 years in the NBA.

Asked if this is a happy or sad day, O’Neal said: “A little bit of both. Business-wise, I felt that the Boston organization and the people of Boston treated me very, very well. I could have gotten a little minor surgery and then been out for nine months, but then we would have been in the same situation again, everybody sitting around waiting for me. So, I thought it was great business to let Danny [Ainge] go out and get some younger talent.”

Added O’Neal: “I didn’t want to let the people of Boston down two years in a row.”

Asked if he’s 100 percent certain that he will stay retired, Shaq coyly replied: “For now, yes.”

Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The big question is where does Shaq appear on the Mount Rushmore of big men in the NBA. Is that a question you want to deal with?

I never really deal with it. For me, coming from where I come from, how I was taught to play the game — my father used to mention all those great names to me. Like, “Son, when you block a shot, don’t show off and knock it out of bounds. Keep in inbounds, like the great Bill Russell. Son, I need you to dominate. I need them to change the rules for you like they with Wilt Chamberlain. You know what, son, the jump hook is nice. I need you to shoot the little hook like Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar].”

So, for me to have my name mentioned next to those guys — and you can’t forget Chief, Robert Parish. He was great. too. So, for me to have my name mentioned up there, it’s a blessing.

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An early look at potential Celtics draft prospects 05.18.11 at 6:56 pm ET
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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).

GUARDS

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.

FORWARDS

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.

CENTER

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.

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