|Jackie MacMullan on OM&F: ‘You can forget about [Kevin] Durant’||05.24.16 at 2:58 pm ET|
Appearing on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria program Tuesday, ESPN basketball columnist and Hall of Famer Jackie MacMullan gave Celtics fans a huge reality check when it comes to Kevin Durant.
The superstar in the midst of playoff run with the Thunder, helping them to a 2-1 series lead over favored Golden State, could become a free agent this summer. The speculation is that he would sign a one-year deal and then sign his mega-deal starting with the 2017-18 season, when the NBA salary cap is around $108 million.
Celtics fans chanted “Come to Boston” and he acknowledged, “I like the city a lot,” when Oklahoma City came to town in March and spanked the Celtics. That was the same week Philadelphia fans did the same in the hopes of luring him to their town.
MacMullan said a reality check is in order.
“You can forget about Durant,” MacMullan said. I’m not sure Durant is going to go anywhere. Suppose they win the championship, you think he’s going to leave there?
“The truth is: All these people put words in Kevin Durant’s mouth about leaving in the first place. Has he ever said that he wanted to leave? He never has. That, to me, is a bit of a pipe dream.”
Another name that’s been tossed around is Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler. He’s got four years left on a five-year, $92.3 million deal. MacMullan thinks the asking price from Chicago could be too steep, even for the Celtics.
“Jimmy Butler, what’s the price? That matters, that matters,” she added. “You can’t give away everything away for Jimmy Butler. I would love to have Jimmy Butler here.”
Then the most realistic scenario came up. MacMullan thinks the Celtics are “most realistic” contenders for Philly big man Jahlil Okafor.
|Danny Ainge provides some insight on where he’s headed with No. 3: Be the best ‘without selling out’||05.23.16 at 3:10 pm ET|
If you’re wondering what Danny Ainge is thinking heading into June 23, think long-term instead of short-term.
Appearing on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night, the president of basketball operations for the Celtics suggested that there’s a lot to consider when weighing trading the No. 3 pick or holding onto it for the best player available at that spot.
“[The pick] certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker, so that sets that back a little bit. Or we’d have to give up more [talent as part of a trade],” Ainge told the show. “I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”
So, it appears that Ainge is suggesting that making any trade to bring back a reasonable piece would involve trading one of his existing pieces, not necessarily a deal it sounds like he’s ready to make, at least not yet.
“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Ainge told the show. “We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something that’s sustainable for a longer period of time.
“I think that that’s my job in the organization. I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know my players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it. I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think we’re all on board. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit that sacrifices future assets.”
There’s been plenty of speculation as to whether the Celtics would trade the No. 3 to Philadelphia for a chance to take Providence College star Kris Dunn, after presumably taking either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram.
But if the Celtics hold onto the pick, it’s not likely that they go with Dunn. Instead, names like 7-footer Dragan Bender, sharp-shooter Jamaal Murray and scoring phenom Buddy Hield are in the mix.
Then Ainge made his biggest point, something to consider whether the Celtics draft a player, sign one in free agency or acquire a player this summer in a trade.
“A player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that player’s the best player, we have to take him,” said Ainge. “We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance. There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans haven’t been excited about on draft day.
“Last year, I remember [Kristaps] Porzingis was drafted in New York and they were booing all over the place and you’re like, ‘Well, why would they be booing so much on Porzingis?’ When you draft players, I remember when I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash and we were booed. I remember being booed when Dan Majerle was drafted in Phoenix. You can’t base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do. You just really have to use our experience, our work, and our eyes, and we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is.”
|Austin Ainge to lottery-bound players: ‘We’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range’||05.19.16 at 11:27 am ET|
WALTHAM – One takeaway from the news that Kris Dunn reportedly doesn’t want to be chosen by the Celtics with the third pick is that he and his handlers are fairly confident that he’ll be the first guard taken.
This nugget is of keen interest to the Celtics, and in particular director of player personnel Austin Ainge.
“Over the next little while we’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range and who wants to come in and who doesn’t,” Ainge said Wednesday after the Celtics held pre-draft workouts for several prospects. “The picks between 3 and 16, there’ll probably be a couple of guys who’ll say, ‘We’re not going 3, we’re not going 16, so we’re not going to come in.’ So, there’ll probably be a couple.”
Now Ainge and the Celtics can narrow down the pre-draft field to those players they are targeting.
“We’ll start that coming up here,” Ainge said. “Probably a little of both but we’ll have to see.”
In addition to owning the third overall pick, the Celtics have the 16th and 23rd picks in the first round and five picks in the second round.
“The higher the draft pick, you have a better chance,” Ainge said. “There’s going to be really good players available at 16, there’s going to be really good players available at 23. It’s just harder to identify in that range. It’s a little harder. We’re going to work really hard to do the best we can.”
Ainge’s comments Wednesday were interesting because they came before the news of Dunn’s wish not be drafted by the Celtics came out.
With the Celtics in the market for a wing shooter and rim protector, a guard wouldn’t seem to be at the top of their list. But Danny Ainge said Tuesday after the lottery that his objective would be to take the best player available with the third overall pick. If the Celtics are looking at guards, especially later in the draft, the ideal situation would be to get a lot of them on the court at the same time to compete against one another.
To do that, the Celtics must first contact those players who have already hired agents and get in touch with others who have not.
“Everything has been on hold for a lot of the guys that feel they’re in the range for No. 3 until the lottery and so, we’ll start those negotiations with the agents coming up here,” Austin Ainge said. “So, I don’t know yet, to be honest.”
|Possible picks at No. 3 for Celtics||05.18.16 at 5:57 pm ET|
On Tuesday night, the Celtics were slotted into the third overall pick in the NBA draft, meaning Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have a tough decision to make should he hold onto the pick. With the draft about a month away and many experts predicting Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram will be the top two players selected, here’s a look at the players Boston is most likely to draft at No. 3 in June.
1. Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia
Bender, 18, is one of the more mysterious players in this year’s draft. A 7-foot-1, 215-pound big man, Bender played in only 36 games for Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 2015-16 season, averaging only 12.3 minutes per game. Despite the Croatian’s limited playing time, scouts are impressed by his offensive playmaking ability and potential on the defensive end. It might make sense for Ainge and the Celtics to take a chance on the power forward, considering Boston will be looking to address its frontcourt issues.
2. Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky
It was a successful freshman season for the 19-year-old Murray, who was Kentucky’s go-to scorer for most of the year. The Ontario native averaged 20 points per game, shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from behind the 3-point line. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard has shown he can score at will, but teams will be hesitant to draft Murray when considering his ball-handling skills. He averaged 2.3 turnovers and 2.2 assists, which raises the question if Murray will ever be able to become a combo guard in the NBA.
|Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard on Celtics No 3 pick in NBA Draft Lottery||05.17.16 at 11:48 pm ET|
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard discuss what the Celtics and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will do now that their lot in the 2016 NBA draft is sealed after finishing third in the NBA lottery held Tuesday night in New York City. The Celtics will pick after the Philadelphia 76ers (No. 1) and the Los Angeles Lakers (No. 2). Will the Celtics keep their pick or trade it away? How hard will that be?
WALTHAM — In the end, the Celtics and Kelly Olynyk had seen enough from his right shoulder.
The team and the player decided to make the decision this week to have surgery to repair an injury that hampered the 7-footer in the final two months of the season and in the final three games of the playoff series against the Hawks.
The team also indicated that Olynyk will begin an immediate rehabilitation program and the time frame for his return to basketball activities has not yet been determined.
“It wasn’t a certain shoulder surgery,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Tuesday night. “It wasn’t an easy decision but Kelly’s shoulder just [had] a lot of movement, slipping in and out. I think everybody finally concluded there’s no guarantee it was going to get better without surgery. Through a summer of rehab, there’s still a risk of it slipping in and out of play. So, he chose and we chose collectively for him to get surgery and try to end it once and for all.
“Usually this shoulder surgery is five months [for rehab]. I’ll let you do the month. Every player is different. Every situation is different. That’s approximate.”
If the timetable is indeed five months, that would put Olynyk out until mid-October, the middle of preseason. If all goes well, he should be ready for the start of the regular season.
Olynyk initially injured the shoulder on Feb. 10 against the Clippers. He missed 14 games before returning for the rest of the season. He re-injured the shoulder in Game 1 against the Hawks and missed Games 2 and 3. He was severely limited in his return to action in Games 4, 5 and 6.
Olynyk, who completed his third year with the team, averaged 10.0 points, including shooting 40.5 percent from beyond the arc, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 20.2 minutes per game during the 2015-16 regular season. At the time of the injury, Olynyk was leading the team in 3-point shooting and his ability to stretch the floor and spread the offense was noticeable when he was not on the court.
Olynyk recorded a season-high 28 points on 11-21 (.524) shooting from the field, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block on Dec. 11 against the Golden State Warriors.
WALTHAM – Danny Ainge wanted to be perfectly clear Tuesday after being awarded the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery in New York City. The Celtics president of basketball operations was disappointed at missing out on the top two picks, yes, but not devastated to tears.
So before taking any questions, he decided to get out ahead of the questions that were coming about his red eyes.
“And by the way, I have allergies. I haven’t been crying up in my office. My eyes are puffy,” Ainge said. “Anybody have any questions?”
Then the questions began. With Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram apparently just out of their reach, what are the plans for the third overall pick?
“We don’t know that yet. We’ll obviously explore that,” Ainge said. “We’re in the middle of that process right now of figuring out who’s in the draft and who’s the best fit for us. We’ll also probably get some calls for that pick I’m guessing, so there’ll be discussion of that too. But right now we’re really in the mode of preparing for the draft.”
The level of disappointment?
“Hey, listen, there’s a lot more things to be disappointed about in this life,” Ainge said. “It could have been worse and it could have been better. It is what it is and we’ll move on and do the best we can to build a great team.”
Still, behind closed doors in the Celtics training facility in Waltham, there was disappointment. But there was no cursing Isaiah Thomas for being in the lottery room in New York and not bringing home the big prize.
“There were some groans. I think the buildup, once we weren’t sixth and we weren’t five and we weren’t four, there was a lot of hope that we could get a good pick,” Ainge said. “But we’ll take it. We’ll give Isaiah a passing grade. We’ll keep him.”
The second level after Ingram and Simmons starts with names like Dragan Bender of Croatia, Jamaal Murray, Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield.
“Last year at this time I think everybody saw that and it sort of changed between what everybody thought at this time and what happened in the draft,” Ainge said. “So it’s still too early. There’s still a lot of evaluation. When you’re looking and evaluating in some cases 18 and 19-year-old kids there’s a lot that changes between the end of their college careers and the draft, so I wouldn’t say anything is in stone in how the draft order is gonna go. We’ll just evaluate them all and see how it falls.”
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