|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.”
|Can Danny Ainge lure free agents to Boston this summer? ‘We will be attractive to some’||05.04.16 at 3:47 pm ET|
WALTHAM — With the cap flexibility and the possibility of names like Kevin Durant and Al Horford on the free agent market this summer, there’s one question at the top of everyone’s mind: Can Danny Ainge make Boston and the Celtics attractive to free agents next season?
“I think our team is attractive to some,” Ainge said. “I think Boston and the tradition and the Celtics and their winning ways and our fan base and ownership group and sort of the chemistry that we have as an organization between coach, management, and ownership, I think that we’re an attractive place for free agents.”
Ainge is not permitted to talk about any free agents at all, not even potentially his own as they apply to next season, including Tyler Zeller, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger.
What Ainge did make clear was that he believes with the coaching staff in place — led by wunderkind Brad Stevens — and the winning chemistry of a team that won 48 games a year ago, there is a lot to be drawn to in Boston.
“But, ultimately, free agents want to come to a place where they can win,” Ainge said. “Where they get paid. Where they get an opportunity to play their game. There’s many factors. And some places people want to be closer to the sun, closer to equator, and I think that there’s just a lot of factors. But I do think that we are and we will be attractive to some free agents.”
|Danny Ainge sending Isaiah Thomas to NYC to bring Celtics lottery luck: ‘He’s our leprechaun’||at 2:19 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics are going in a different direction to change their lottery luck.
Danny Ainge, the team’s president of basketball operations, confirmed the big news after draft workouts Wednesday that they’re not sending one of the legends like Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn or Jo Jo White to New York City for the May 17 draft lottery.
Instead, they’re sending a current star who seems perfectly suited to fitting the bill of bringing good luck: Isaiah Thomas.
“Sure. Yeah. He’s our leprechaun,” Ainge joked Wednesday.
Ainge said it was actually a decision made after consultation with owners Wyc Grousbeck and Stephen Pagliuca and team president Rich Gotham.
“Wyc and Rich and I collectively, and Pags, we talked about it and thought it would be a great idea,” Ainge said. “And Isaiah when he was told, it was like his eyes lit up. He loves that stuff.”
Ainge was asked to respond to those who argue that Thomas is not a foundational piece of the Celtics and key to their team moving forward.
“Have they been to any games?” Ainge replied.
|Danny Ainge could be very busy this summer building: ‘We have a lot more things to trade, a lot more things to move’||at 1:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The comparisons have already begun with the Celtics this offseason.
Many Celtics fans are hoping for the kind of reset that the franchise underwent in the summer of ’07, when Ainge was able to trade for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and put together a team with just enough youth, veteran talent and depth that resulted in Banner 17 the following June.
With Brooklyn’s lottery pick on the horizon as one of three first-round picks and eight overall in the draft and the prospects of a Kevin Durant in free agency, the potential is there.
Does Ainge see any similarity with summer of ’07?
“I’m not sure we have a Paul Pierce on our roster,” Ainge said. “But I do think we have a lot more things to trade, a lot more things to move.”
This, of course, brings up the next point, is anyone on the current roster untouchable?
“Nobody’s ever untouchable. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar gets traded, you know there’s no such thing as an untouchable in the NBA, or in any league for that matter,” Ainge added. “There’s certain guys that we want to keep and build around and move forward with.”
Ainge acknowledged there are certain players he’d like to keep, a not-so-thinly veiled reference to Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder.
Ainge said he doesn’t have a good feel for the pending salary cap (estimated at $89 million next season and $109 the next) and how that might alter trade market.
“I don’t know that. I don’t know. This is new territory for all of us,” Ainge said. “We can all make our predictions but really, I’m not sure. Every team is in a unique situation and a different situation. We’ll be making lots of calls, trying to make trades. Listen, the transcendent players, the good players that you all need to win and to be successful in the NBA, they’re very hard to find and there’s not that many of them. And there’s 30 very qualified teams out there trying to find them all.”
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