|Isaiah Thomas reminds us that Michael Jordan was 3rd overall pick||05.18.16 at 9:37 am ET|
Isaiah Thomas might not have brought home one of the top two picks in the NBA draft, but he did bring a little perspective.
In the wake of missing out on the top two picks in the NBA draft, it was the Celtics’ good luck charm of a point guard who, after sitting in the conference room of the Midtown Hilton in Manhattan, reminded everyone that a very good player can still be had at No. 3.
“Man, the No. 3 pick. Wasn’t Jordan No. 3? Say no more after that,” Thomas told Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com.
Indeed, Michael Jordan was selected third overall by the Bulls in the 1984 draft.
What, of course, remains to be seen is how the 2016 class compares with the ’84 class, which featured three Hall of Hamers in the top five picks. Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Rockets. Sam Bowie was selected second by Portland. Jordan went third to the Bulls, followed by Sam Perkins to Dallas and Charles Barkley to Philadelphia. Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley are enshrined in Springfield.
How deep was that class? Another Hall of Famer, John Stockton, was taken 16th overall by Utah. There’s also recent results to suggest that you don’t have to land the top two picks to come away with a haul.
|Danny Ainge on plans for the No. 3 pick: ‘We don’t know that yet’||05.17.16 at 10:12 pm ET|
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.”
|Danny Ainge on Kelly Olynyk: ‘Surgery is an option,’ no surgery on Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley||05.04.16 at 3:37 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Turns out Kelly Olynyk may need surgery after all to fix a shoulder that never fully healed after an injury that slowed his season.
On Feb. 10 at TD Garden, he injured his shoulder in a collision against the Clippers in the first half. It was partially separated but began to heal after a 14-game absence.
But upon his return he never fully regained the form that produced the most effective 3-point shooter on the team at 41 percent. He did help lengthen the Celtics bench and the spacing on the court but when he re-injured the same shoulder in Game 1 against the Hawks, he was reduced to a small bit player off the bench, missing Games 2 and 3 and playing sparingly in the final three games of the series.
“Kelly is still deciding what to do with our medical staff and with the opinions that he’s received,” Danny Ainge said Wednesday. “We should know within the next week or so of what that decision will be, but surgery is an option and it is being discussed. He’ll make that decision soon.”
As for other injured Celtics at the end of the season, Ainge said none will require surgery. Jae Crowder (right ankle), Isaiah Thomas (left wrist) and Avery Bradley (right hamstring) should all be back to full strength with rest and rehab.
“Jae’s is a bone bruise in the foot,” Ainge said. “Some things just linger. He’ll be OK. Same with Isaiah, same with everybody else. I think the only surgery possibility is Kelly’s shoulder.”
Ainge made it clear that Bradley almost certainly would not have been able to return to the Atlanta series, simply because the team did not want to risk future injury. And returning soon after that was a “long shot” as well.
“I think that first of all, the hamstring injury Avery had, a Grade 1 strain, it’s risky,” Ainge said. “You want to be really careful with that because if you get a second hamstring injury then they sort of have a tendency to linger throughout your career. So we probably wouldn’t have let Avery go back out unless he was just 100 percent and felt absolutely nothing. But I think that was always a long shot.”
|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.
|Mike Petraglia, Sam Packard explain how Hawks eliminated Celtics in Game 6||04.29.16 at 1:07 am ET|
WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard break down how the ice-cold shooting of the Celtics combined with Atlanta’s defense on Isaiah Thomas powered the Hawks to a 104-92 win over Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Thursday at TD Garden, ending Boston’s season in the first round for the second straight season.
|Teary-eyed Isaiah Thomas: ‘This should hurt everybody’||at 12:59 am ET|
After spending 20 minutes with a towel draped over his head in front of his locker, and after emptying his tank for six games, Isaiah Thomas had to get up the energy to walk to the postgame podium.
He did so with red eyes, the product of emotion and tears following a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6 that suddenly ended his breakout season and began an offseason of questions.
“It was 2-2, we went down there and they made an adjustment to try and do whatever they can to stop me and guys continued to play through it, and that’s what I love about this group,” said Thomas, who had a team-leading 25 points on 9-of-24 shooting. “Guys continued to shoot their shot with confidence, it’s just we couldn’t make enough plays. They made more plays than us. There was a game where they went on that third-quarter run, it’s tough to get back into the game, especially against a good team. So, we’ve got to just learn from these battles, knowing that nobody said it was going to be easy, it’s tough to win a series and we know that. It was tough to even win two games. This should hurt everybody, and we will come back next year even stronger.”
For the second straight game, Boston had no answers when the Hawks threw two and three bodies at Thomas, in an effort to force others to pick up the slack.
But this time, unlike after Game 5, Thomas wasn’t calling out his teammates. He was praising them.
“Yes, it’s very emotional for me, just because we gave it our all,” Thomas said. ” We never put our head down, like I said, this group of guys is something special. I mean, I played, I gave it my all, so that’s why it hurts that much more. I wish I could have done more, but it just happened to be like that. So it is tough on me, though.”
|Isaiah Thomas ‘thumbs up, ready to roll’ for Game 6, no lineup changes for Celtics||04.28.16 at 6:59 pm ET|
With the season on the line, Isaiah Thomas is indeed ready to go for Game 6 against the Hawks.
“He told me on Tuesday night after the game, he sent me a text late in the night that said he’s fine, I saw him again [Wednesday] before we met and in film and on the plane, and he felt fine,” Brad Stevens before Thursday’s Game 6 at the Garden. “No issues with swelling, per se, and today it was just as simple as a non-verbal thumbs up. So he’s fine. He’s good to go; he’s ready to roll.”
The Celtics will start the same lineup they debuted in Game 3, going with Thomas, Evan Turner, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson.
This is the second elimination game Stevens has faced as head coach of the Celtics, losing Game 4 to the Cavaliers last year in the four-game sweep. Stevens said this has a much different feel.
“I think it’s so different, the series is so different, you’re playing a much-different team that plays much differently,” Stevens said. “Certainly, Cleveland did some things, defensively, that Atlanta is doing, but Atlanta just systematically, on both ends of the floor, is a just a totally separate entity to what Cleveland was at that time, or is now.
“And I think the biggest thing that you take away or, when the guys walk in, they came in, we went through our shootaround. Typical day. The focus is always pretty good. It was good again today. Just ready to compete and excited to play in this building.”
The Celtics did not have a full practice but Stevens is confident his team will be ready mentally and physically for the elimination game.
“It’s obviously not the second night of a back-to-back, 48 hours later. Both teams traveled [Wednesday], we did a typical light film session and then went on our way,” Stevens said. “Came back together today and got ready for it. When you’re playing a team for the 10th time, the seventh time in the last few weeks, and so a lot like a back-to-back, or maybe not a back-to-back, but you know these guys, they know you. We gotta make small, potentially minor changes.
“At the end of the day, we just have to play better than we did the other day. That’s the thing. The best adjustment we can make: Keep our guy in front of us, challenge shots, and, on the other end, spray the ball around and make them. That’s the way it goes.”
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