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Ric Bucher on M&M: Tyler Hansbrough is ‘best-case scenario for Jared Sullinger’ 07.02.12 at 1:10 pm ET
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ESPN’s Ric Bucher joined Mut & Merloni Monday morning to discuss Kevin Garnett‘€™s contract, what the future holds for Ray Allen, what the Celtics’€™ expectations should be for Jared Sullinger, and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While he didn’€™t think it was a surprise that Garnett would return to Boston, Bucher said Garnett’€™s reported three-year, $34 million contract offer was far more than expected.

The deal was ‘€œpretty surprising considering the length and the size of it,’€ Bucher said. ‘€œWe all know that KG has been battling through a number of things the last few years, and while I thought that [the Celtics] might make him a healthy offer, I never expected that it would be that long.’€

Bucher said he felt that Garnett’€™s effectiveness away from the basket, with his height and shooting ability, was a major factor in the Celtics’€™ decision to offer the 36-year-old a three-year deal.

‘€œKG has demonstrated with his length and with that silky jumper that he can still be effective,’€ Bucher said. ‘€œAnd with that size and ability to space the floor, it doesn’€™t really come down to athleticism. He can probably make that shot over guys when he is 40 years old, and now we may get the chance to see him prove it.’€

As for his prediction regarding the Ray Allen sweepstakes, Bucher said he’€™s come full circle since Garnett agreed to come back, at first believing Allen would definitely return, then wondering whether the Suns would lure him away with a huge contract. However, Bucher said he ultimately he made up his mind when he heard Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘€™ comments.

‘€œDoc coming out and saying, ‘€˜Hey, I feel like Ray’€™s going to be here,’€™ and knowing Doc usually doesn’€™t talk empty-handed in those sorts of tones, and knowing just the general relationship between KG, Ray, Doc and Paul [Pierce], I’€™m back around to finding it hard to believe that with KG in the fold for that period of time that they’€™re going to let Ray Allen walk.’€

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Kevin Garnett, Mut & Merloni
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Ohio State PF Jared Sullinger 06.22.12 at 1:33 pm ET
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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.

JARED SULLINGER

Position: Power forward

School: Ohio State

Age: 20

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 268 pounds

Achievements: 2012 All-America first team (Sporting News), 2012 All-Big Ten first team, 2011 All-America first team (Sporting News), 2011 All-Big Ten first team, 2011 USBWA National Freshman of the Year

Key 2011-12 stats: 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 51.9 FG%, 40.0 3P%

What he brings: Sullinger is slightly undersized as an NBA post player but should be able to use his strength and length to have success at the next level. He not only is a very good rebounder but a good finesse shooter in the paint, which makes him the type of forward who can record double-doubles consistently in the NBA.

Sullinger also surprised many as a 3-point shooter in his sophomore year at Ohio State, recording a .400 3-point field goal percentage on the season (16-for-40). While he may need to adjust to NBA 3-point range, he has the ability to knock down mid-range shots consistently.

He is a little undersized and is not the best athlete, but Sullinger has the skill and work ethic to be a starter in the NBA after two years at Ohio State.

Where the Celtics could get him: Many experts had Sullinger being taken by the Warriors at No. 7 overall. However, recent concerns about Sullinger’€™s back plus unimpressive pre-draft tests have him falling down draft boards in the 15-25 range, so the Celtics might have a shot at him.

Notes: In his senior year of high school in Columbus, Ohio, Sullinger led his Northland High School team to a 21-0 record, averaging 24.5 points and 11.7 rebounds on the season. In the 2010 McDonald’s All-American game, he was named co-MVP along with Harrison Barnes.

Recent articles:

ESPN: Jared Sullinger’€™s back a concern

Sports Illustrated: Sullinger measures up as prospects face the tape at pre-draft combine

Video: Here are highlights from Sullinger’s 2011-12 season.

Read More: 2012 NBA Draft, 2012 NBA Draft's Potential Celtics, Celtics Picks, Jared Sullinger
Why Celtics fans should pay close attention to Cincy’s Yancy Gates 03.22.12 at 10:51 am ET
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Size, power and quickness. Toughness, fearlessness and the ability to rebound.

All of those are qualities the Celtics could use. It’s a commodity they’ve been desperately seeking since Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O’Neal were lost for the season.

The Celtics won’t be in the lottery this season so scouts like Ryan McDonough will be searching long and hard in the college and amateur ranks for someone who might fall through the cracks and be available in the NBA Draft this June.

Meet Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates.

At 6-9, 260 pounds, he’s certainly powerful. He can rebound, currently ranked ninth all-time on Cincinnati’s all-time rebound list with 911. He is one of only six players in the school’s illustrious history with at least 1,400 points and 900 rebounds.

He’s a senior who’s been through the wars.

Oh yeah, about that last line. Arguably the ugliest moment in Cincinnati’s basketball history came on Dec. 10 at the Cintas Center against the archrival Xavier Musketeers.

With just 9.4 seconds remaining in a 23-point loss, Gates was in the middle of college basketball’s ugliest chapter of the season. He threw a right cross that landed flush on the left eye brow of Xavier big man Kenny Frease. It opened a gash and dropped him to the ground. Frease was then stomped on by Cheikh Mbodj and blood started flowing from above Frease’s eye.

To his credit, he served a six-game suspension handed down by the school and expressed remorse. It was a complete loss of self-control and judgment. But in saying that, he has showed something else in the following three months – competitive fire.

While inconsistent at times, Gates has been the backbone of the interior game for the Bearcats, rebounding and playing defense, as coach Mick Cronin directed the team not to rely on his offense but the other things he brings to the table, like nine rebounds a game in the Big East, still considered the toughest in college basketball.

“Defense and rebounding,” Cronin said Wednesday. “We lost Ibrahima Thomas and Yancy really had to change his basketball personality from an offensive player to an all-around player. He needed to be our defensive anchor this year because we’re small in the other areas. It took him time. When he came back [from suspension] he realized here’s what I have to do to help this team win – I have to be an anchor on defense.

“These guys are scoring, they’re running around, hitting shots, beating their man off the dribble. ‘I have to finish plays around the rim, fit in and give these guys an anchor inside.’ And he’s done that. Maybe I should’ve been using him more in that capacity. So, sometimes as a coach, you stumble on to some things.”

With his presence in the middle, he led the team to road wins over Pittsburgh, Georgetown and Connecticut and home wins over Louisville and Marquette. Then, in the Big East, the Bearcats did it again to Georgetown and sent No. 2 Syracuse packing before their offense was a no-show against Louisville in the Big East championship.

Fast-forward to the tournament, they handled Texas and eliminated No. 10 Florida State, the team that beat North Carolina in the ACC title game.

This is a Bearcats team tournament-tested, and ready to take on Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes. This is a great chance for NBA scouts to see how Gates does against a big-man who projects as a potential lottery pick. And the Celtics will be watching Gates very closely. You can count on it.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cincinnati Bearcats, Jared Sullinger, NBA
Irish Coffee: What Jared Sullinger’s decision means to the Celtics’ future 03.28.11 at 11:44 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee ‘€¦

Over the weekend, when Ohio State freshman forward Jared Sullinger vowed to return to Columbus for his sophomore season, the thought struck me: Because of the uncertainty surrounding the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, could many college underclassmen be targeting 2012 rather than this year’s NBA draft?

It sure looks that way, and that benefits the Celtics — considering they own their 2012 pick and the selection that came with Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic for Kendrick Perkins.

That pick from the Thunder is a little complicated. It’s top-10 protected and falls in the less favorable spot between the Clippers and Timberwolves. Basically, if either the Clips or Wolves capture any pick from 11-30, the lower one belongs to the Celtics. If both teams get top-10 picks, the pick gets pushed to the next season — until 2016, when it’s unprotected.

Considering the Clippers own the eighth-worst record this season and should improve based on a young roster that includes Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, there’s a legitimate chance the Celtics could own two picks in a draft that will be much better than anticipated.

Of the 40 college underclassmen projected as potential first-round picks, only three have declared to enter the 2011 NBA draft — and none of them is a lottery projection. Of course, the remaining 37 players have until April 24 to declare.

Still, two w0uld-be lottery guys (Sullinger and Texas freshman forward Tristan Thompson) are going back to school. According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, 23 of those 37 — and six potential lottery picks, including North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Arizona’s Derrick Williams and Kentucky’s Brandon Knight – are “50-50″ with less than a month to decide. The remaining 12 still reportedly have “one foot in the door.”

So, if half of those 50-50 guys – along with Sullinger and Thompson — wait until 2012, that could push as many as 15 more potential first-round picks to a draft that might also include Celtics coach Doc Rivers‘ son Austin Rivers. With possibly two picks in that draft, the C’s should be able to add some serious young talent for cheap dollars in 2012.

With a lockout looming, at least Celtics fans have something to look forward to.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jared Sullinger, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett
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