|Full Court Press: What Game 7 could mean to future of Celtics, Warriors try not to join 2007 Patriots||06.18.16 at 9:42 pm ET|
Danny Ainge, son Austin and head coach Brad Stevens don’t have a horse in the race but they will be watching Game 7 of the NBA finals Sunday night with more than just a passing interest.
A pair of scoring forwards could be on the move after the game, and both have been rumored on the radar of the Celtics.
Cleveland’s Kevin Love could be playing his final game in Cleveland if they decide to unload him this offseason. He has four years and approximately $93 million left on his $113 million deal, which includes a $25 million kiss in the final season (2019-20), when he will be 31.
Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, 24, could be a much cheaper option. He is due a qualifying offer of about $5.2 million and is in the same contractual boat as Jared Sullinger. Both are set to become restricted free agents after next season but both could be cut loose after this season. Barnes has already rejected a four-year, $64 million deal, turning down the Warriors last September.
Both players are represented by agent Jeff Schwartz, the same rep for projected No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram. Danny Ainge reportedly met recently with Schwartz and, while it certainly would not be uncommon for Ainge to talk with agents before next Thursday’s draft, it would be tampering for him to publicly discuss players currently under contract with other teams.
A quick glance at Love’s stats in the NBA finals and it’s easy to understand why Celtics fans are so very skeptical of bringing his $93 million anchor to Boston. He’s averaged just seven points and 21 minutes in five games (DNP Gm 3). He’s again been beset by injuries (concussion) but when he has played, he’s looked out of place. It’s up to the Celtics to determine if that mostly because he’s being misused and kept on the perimeter or if he’s not looking for his shot. He is shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor in the finals and 38 percent in the postseason. On the bright side, he is averaging 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in 19 playoff games heading into Game 7 in Oakland.
By comparison, Barnes is coming off his worst game of the postseason, missing all eight shots in Thursday’s Game 6 loss in Cleveland. He was held scoreless in 16 minutes. In Games 1, 3 and 4, he was in double figures and a key part of Golden State wins in two of them. But he went 2-for-14 in Game 5 last Monday and 0-for-8 on Thursday, making him 2-for-22 in potential title-clinching games so far. He is averaging nine points and 4.8 rebounds in 31 minutes during the playoffs. He is someone to keep an eye on in Game 7 if the Warriors need some offense. The “Death Lineup” has been exactly that to Barnes’ hopes of promoting his value to potential suitors this summer.
We haven’t even mentioned the fact that LeBron James is a free agent this summer as well. There always exists the possibility that James could leave Cleveland, especially if the Cavs come back and finish off the first 3-1 comeback in NBA finals history. Not likely, but then again, it is LeBron and worth mentioning, even if in passing.
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: UNC SF Harrison Barnes||06.19.12 at 1:24 pm ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.
Position: Small forward
School: North Carolina
Weight: 228 pounds
Achievements: 2012 All-ACC first team, 2012 All-America second team, 2011 ACC Rookie of the Year
Key 2011-12 stats: 17.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 29.2 minutes
What he brings: Barnes is an athletic 6-foot-8 small forward who has the range and accuracy to be effective with mid-range and 3-point shots at the NBA level. While he used to be an interior player in high school, he is projected to play the wing at the next level, and he is still learning the position. Barnes has the potential to be a go-to player at the NBA. He has been compared to the Pacers’ Danny Granger.
While his shooting ability is unquestioned, the main flaw for Barnes is the lack of an explosive first step. Barnes has the ability to make tough shots, but struggles to create easy shots for himself off the dribble. If he can improve his ball-handling and ability to attack the basket, Barnes could be a star in the league.
Where the Celtics could get him: Barnes is projected to land somewhere between picks 4-9, so the Celtics would need to create a big trade package if they have interest in him.
Notes: Barnes was a highly recruited prospect coming out of high school before attending North Carolina, winning the Morgan Wootten player of the year award in 2010. In the 2010 Jordan Classic, Barnes was named co-MVP with Kyrie Irving. Barnes could end up playing alongside Irving next season should the Cavaliers take Barnes at No. 4.
Video: Here’s a compilation of Barnes highlights from the 2011-12 season.
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