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Austin Ainge admits his dad would’ve taken Kevin Durant over Greg Oden in 2007 06.21.14 at 2:54 pm ET
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Austin Ainge says his dad was prepared to take Kevin Durant over Greg Oden in 2007. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Austin Ainge says his dad was prepared to take Kevin Durant over Greg Oden in 2007. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Now we know.

In 2007, when the Celtics finished 24-58, they had a theoretical chance to finish first in the NBA draft lottery and choose between either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden.

On Saturday, as the Celtics continued to work out players for the 2014 NBA draft, Celtics director of player of personnel Austin Ainge announced what his father Danny would’ve done.

“€œI personally was not working here. But I was in college and I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant. I did have some inside information there,” Ainge said.

Of course, that became moot when the Celtics wound up with only the fifth pick of the draft class. Everything turned OK when Danny Ainge convinced Minnesota’s GM and good friend Kevin McHale to trade him Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson before drafting Jeff Green at No. 5 and then swung a deal that netted Ray Allen. Oden was eventually chosen No. 1 overall by Portland while Durant was taken by the then-Seattle SuperSonics. Oden has been plagued by various injuries, including two bad knees and microfracture surgery. Oden played this season for the Heat.

Durant is the reigning NBA MVP, four-time scoring champ and led his team to the NBA finals in 2012.

Why is this relevant now?

The Celtics might get a chance to take another injury-riddled big man at No. 6 this year after it was revealed this week that Joel Embiid, another highly-touted center, has a stress fracture in his right foot. Throw in concerns about his back and those are serious medical red flags.

“€œProbably best not to share all of that, but I think we all want to know exactly what it is,”€ Ainge said. “€œEven when you have a lot of information, sometimes it’€™s still just a best guess. I’€™m not sure what the conclusions will be by the doctors. I’€™m sure, as with Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger when we drafted them, the medical staffs all had different opinions for every team. It’€™s hard to predict.”

The Celtics have had a track record of taking players with an injury background, taking Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger in previous drafts.

“It’€™s case by case. There have been many, many guys we passed on,’€ Ainge said. ‘€œOur medical staff told us to pass on Greg Oden, our medical staff told us to pass on Brandon Roy. Brandon ended up having some very good years, and that may or may not have been the right decision. It ended up costing them a lot of money in the end but he did give them a few great years ‘€“ four or five, I think, maybe six. So there’€™s two we’€™ve taken the chance on. There have been many others that we’€™ve not decided to (take a) chance on.”

Before picking Bradley, the Celtics were able to examine him and determine the extent of his ankle injury.

‘€œWith Jared, we weren’€™t (able to look at him),’€ Ainge said. ‘€œWe were just emailed and sent things. So it’€™s different. You just do the best you can.’€

Ainge acknowledged that taking Embiid would be a risk, given what is known so far.

“€œFoot and back, those are not good body parts to injure,” Ainge said. “We try to focus on the long-term health more than the short-term when you’re dealing with draft picks,” he added. “Free agency, it might be a little different. But when you’re drafting kids that are 19, 20, 21, it’s usually best to think: ‘Two years, five years down the road, will it be a concern?’ Those are the ones we usually try to avoid.”

The four that did work out on Saturday morning in Waltham were Louisville‘s Chane Behanan, UConn’s Niels Giffey, Glenn Robinson III of Michigan and St. John’s JaKarr Sampson.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Greg Oden, Joel Embiid, Kevin Durant
Report: Celtics in running for Greg Oden 07.02.13 at 6:22 am ET
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Greg Oden

Greg Oden

According to an ESPN report, free agent center Greg Oden, who is looking to make a return to the league after sitting out since 2009 with knee problems, is likely to choose from a list of five teams that includes the Celtics. The Spurs, Heat, Cavaliers and Grizzlies are the other top candidates, with the Cavaliers and Spurs the favorites, the report indicates.

Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft out of Ohio State, has not played since Dec. 5, 2009. He had his third microfracture knee surgery in February 2012.

Oden has averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 82 career games with the Trail Blazers.

Read More: Greg Oden,
Doc Rivers on possibly adding Greg Oden: ‘He’ll come with a long list of scenarios’ 02.03.13 at 1:11 pm ET
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Coach Doc Rivers, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics may very well be interested in adding Greg Oden to their roster but they’re doing a job of not going overboard in expressing their enthusiasm after meeting with him on Saturday while the rest of the team had the day off.

“I got the Clippers tonight,” Rivers said before Sunday’s game with the Clippers. “I said hi to him, reminisced about high school days when I watched some AAU, but other than that, I can tell you I thought far more about the guys we are playing tonight than next year.

“We really haven’t talked about [additions]. Honestly. We obviously can, because we need a body. But we really haven’t talked about it much at all. Nothing really. What I think Danny is doing is probably doing all the work right now and I’m sure this week maybe, or who knows in two weeks, he’ll come with a long list of scenarios.”

The Celtics are in the market for a big man after losing Jared Sullinger for the season to back surgery on Friday. Rivers said he has only heard from Sullinger via text since the surgery and expects him out of New England Baptist Hospital this weekend.

Other Sunday pregame notes: Eric Bledsoe started for Chris Paul (knee), who missed his seventh game in nine contests Sunday. “In some ways, they are harder to guard and some ways they are not. Obviously, Chris Paul is fantastic. But when he plays, at least you know where the ball is at a lot, because it’s in his hands and that helps you somewhat defensively. When he doesn’t play, the ball is going all over the place, and they are in some ways difficult to guard.”

As for Doc Rivers’ Super Bowl prediction: “Oh, San Fran; it’s not even really close. It won’t be close, it’ll be a blowout,” he said, before hinging his bet bigtime. “Three points. No I do think San Fran, but who knows? I think they are the better team, but clearly I don’t know enough about football. That’s why I’m here.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Doc Rivers, Greg Oden
Reports: Celtics meet with center Greg Oden 02.02.13 at 8:09 pm ET
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Greg Oden

According to multiple reports, the Celtics met with Greg Oden in Boston on Saturday as part of an informational exchange with the free agent center. However, with Oden having stated that he is targeting a return to the NBA in 2013-14, the meeting was described as an opportunity for the two sides to talk without any expectation of a deal being imminent.

“We wanted to talk to Greg to see where he is physically,” Ainge said.

The 7-footer was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007, but he played just 82 games for Portland after sitting out his rookie year with the first of multiple knee injuries. He last played on December 5th of 2009.

The fact Oden is still drawing strong interest from teams despite his medical history is a testament to his talent. He had five double-doubles — including a 13-point, 20-rebound night — in the 21 games he played before being injured in his last year.

“We’re just finding out as much as we can and letting Greg know what we have here,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Boston Herald. “He’s not ready to play now, but he’s someone who’s very interesting.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Danny Ainge, Greg Oden,
Celtics ‘monitoring’ Greg Oden’s comeback attempt 01.17.13 at 3:17 pm ET
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Greg Oden

In their everlasting search for frontcourt depth, “the Celtics are among the team’s monitoring” 2007 NBA draft No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden‘s comeback attempt, according to CBSSports.com columnist Ken Berger.

Plagued by a series of knee injuries, the 7-foot, 250-pound Oden played just 82 games in a Blazers uniform, the last of which was played on Dec. 5, 2009. Portland waived him in March 2012 after his third surgery in five years.

Last week, ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein reported several teams, including the Heat, have already shown interest in signing Oden this winter with the hope of bringing him to training camp this fall. The Spurs and Cavaliers also appear to be in the mix for the former Ohio State star, CBSSports.com said.

Oden’s appeal is obvious. He’s a 7-footer who averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game in his limited NBA action. The Celtics can’t offer more money than either the Heat or Spurs, but Jared Sullinger apparently has a relationship despite playing for the Buckeyes five years apart.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Greg Oden, NBA,
Jackie MacMullan on M&M: Veteran teams play well in shortened seasons 11.29.11 at 1:30 pm ET
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ESPN.com’s Jackie MacMullan joined Mut & Merloni to give her thoughts on the Celtics and how they will fare now that the union and the owners have come to a tentative agreement to end the NBA lockout. Boston is set to face the Knicks on Christmas day in the first game of a shortened 66-game season.

MacMullan pointed to the 1999 NBA season, which was shortened to 50 games due to another lockout, and how older teams like the Spurs, the Magic and the Knicks were among the best in the league.

“You look at who came out of that shortened ’99 season, it was all veteran teams,” MacMullan said. “The Orlando Magic had one of the oldest teams in the league, the New York Knicks were dragging Patrick Ewing along and of course the San Antonio Spurs, who ended up winning the whole thing. They didn’t do well in those back-to-back-to-back games, in fact they did somewhat poorly, the older teams.

“But over the long haul, you had a bunch of veterans. Do you think anyone needs to tell Kevin Garnett how to stay in shape during the lockout? Do you think anyone needs to tell Ray Allen? And I would daresay even Paul Pierce has figured it out at this point. So the veteran teams tend to do well in these shortened seasons because they know what it takes not just to get into shape, but to stay in shape as the lockout goes along.”

While many think that the Celtics’ window to win another championship has closed, MacMullan said that the team has the ingredients to still be a contender.

“These guys know how to do it, they play the kind of defense that can get it done,” MacMullan said. “The question of course we always have with them is, can they score enough points? Because they really do get bogged down offensively.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On what moves the Celtics will make before the start of the season: “I think it will be small moves. They have a core that they can try to go out a win. Don’t laugh, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried going after Grant Hill one more time, another old guy, a veteran that Doc loves and I think would be great in their locker room. They need a big body. My guess is they’ll go for a defensive type of center, like Kendrick Perkins, who’s going to cost them less money. Maybe a Joel Przybilla, his name has been out there. Do they go after a young, athletic guy like Al Thornton? They might.

“I was intrigued with one thing. Greg Oden is a restricted free agent in Portland. We know about his terrible, terrible foot problems. Do you take a flyer on him, one that doesn’t cost you a ton of money? My guess is whatever you did Portland would match it. But I just go all the way back to when we thought the Celtics might have a No. 1 pick, they were in the Greg Oden camp. Not the Kevin Durant pick, and by the way, that’s true of 99 percent of the people in the NBA at that time. So do you take a shot at Greg Oden? I don’t know. I doubt you overpay for him. You maybe overplay a little, but I doubt you throw big, big bucks at him and my guess is Portland would match no matter what. But he’s just a guy to throw out there because if he could at all be healthy, he’d really help you.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Glen Davis, Greg Oden, Jackie MacMullan, Jeff Green
Celtics free-agent options at center 06.27.11 at 6:46 pm ET
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Sure, the NBA is on the precipice of a July 1 lockout, but we can still examine what options will be available to the Celtics at each position once the salary cap landscape is determined (God knows when). We’ll start with the C’s biggest need: Centers.

The Celtics started the 2010-11 season with four centers on the roster (Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden) along with sometimes center Glen Davis. Now, a year later, only JO remains from that list. While Big Baby remains an option depending on his value on the open market, the C’s still need at least one if not two more guys who can play the five.

The Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason. That leaves little wiggle room for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, no matter how the collective bargaining agreement shakes out.

As a result, don’t expect any big-name free agents. So, let’s start by crossing Nene (early termination option), Marc Gasol ($4.5 million qualifying offer) and Tyson Chandler (unrestricted) off the list of potential targets. While any of those three would be a fantastic fit on the 2011-12 Celtics (assuming, of course, there’s a 2011-12 season in the NBA), they’re all out of their league.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at center, separating the current free-agent players into four categories …

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 NBA free agents, Boston Celtics, DeAndre Jordan, Greg Oden
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