|Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts||06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET|
WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.
The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.
Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”
“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”
|Brad Stevens details exactly what Celtics get out of pre-draft workouts||06.03.15 at 9:15 am ET|
Brad Stevens is in a good place right now.
The Celtics coach is coming off a season in which his team surprised everyone by making the playoffs, winning 15 of their final 21 games to make the postseason for the first time in the Stevens era.
Now, Danny Ainge and son Austin are bringing in players who could serve as reinforcements to a roster that was overhauled midway through the season, and it’s Stevens’ job to identify players they might want to scoop up with any of their four picks they have in the upcoming draft.
“There have been some guys that been through that I think could help, but there are also some guys that have been through that are pretty impressive [who play positions where] I think we have pretty good depth,” Stevens said. “So then it becomes a decision of do you draft a young guy and develop him at a position where you already feel pretty strong, or do you try to fill positional needs? Luckily that’s above me and I just run the workouts.”
That is somewhat unusual for an NBA head coach, as assistants are usually delegated to such tasks. But with Stevens, he prefers to be hands on and have some input into what he might be working with next year.
“I really like it,” Stevens said. “You get a chance to really interact with guys, meet them face to face, spend time with them, watch them go through tough things, watch them go through good things, and respond to both. It’s good. These guys [front office] have said it many times, and I totally agree with it: it’s not the end-all, be-all. These guys have watched these guys play for years in games, this year, so for me you can maybe go and watch film on some of these guys, and then the workout validates what you saw. Or maybe it doesn’t. So it is fun to have them in here.”
|Wyc Grousbeck: Drafting Marcus Smart doesn’t have ‘any impact’ on Rajon Rondo||06.26.14 at 11:12 pm ET|
Well, according to owner Wyc Grousbeck, the answer is not much at all. The reason for Grousbeck’s public stance is Brad Stevens, who proved through a 25-win season that he could handle most of what Rondo could throw at any first-year coach.
“It’s interesting, that wasn’t a topic of conversation tonight,” Grousbeck said. “We have confidence in Brad that he can manage a roster but we also had confidence that of the top six we were going to take the best available as opposed to trying to slot in. That’s a strategy when you’re rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and then you let it all work out. We’ve got an All-Star point guard, so that’s not a question here.”
“I don’t think this has any impact on Rajon at all.”
Grousbeck acknowledged he hadn’t spoken with his star point guard before the selection was made.
Earlier this offseason, Grousbeck hinted at possible “fireworks” this summer if Danny Ainge found a trade partner.
“I always said fireworks were a possibility,” he said. “It takes two to tango around here. There just hasn’t been that much movement tonight. Typically on draft day, we make two trades if not three. That’s just the way we roll, ‘Trader Danny,’ and it’s had great effect for us. We like to be aggressive about rebuilding this team. We like to become contenders again as quickly as possible. So, we’ll keep working the phones, but it takes two partners to make a trade.”
So the Celtics did what Ainge predicted they would at the beginning of the night — hold onto their selections at 6 and 17 overall, taking Smart and Kentucky wing James Young.
“We knew there were six or seven kids that we wanted,” Grousbeck said. “So, the idea of moving to 8 or 10, moving slightly higher in the draft really wasn’t of interest. Maybe there’s a cliff in the draft. We wanted to stay at 6 or move up. We wanted to make other trades in recent days. We’d been on the phone quite a bit with other teams about other ideas. Nothing ever really seemed close to fruition, no matter how hard we tried. I remember trading for Kevin Garnett in ’07 and I got a call from Minnesota on July 30 or 31st, [so] the trade season is not over yet.”
|Wyc Grousbeck thinks of Red Auerbach in drafting Marcus Smart: ‘He’s an instigator [and] a bull’||at 9:23 pm ET|
Apparently Red Auerbach paid very close attention to the Big Bad Bruins.
When the Celtics chose Oklahoma State fireplug point guard Marcus Smart with the sixth pick overall Thursday night, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck thought back to something Auerbach told him when he bought the team.
“We like the fact that he’s an instigator,” Grousbeck said. “Back to Red, as Red told me personally right when I came in, ‘You need instigators, not retaliators.’ This kid is energetic. He’s a bull. He is a force, and when I met him, he filled the doorway. He’s just got that physique and that drive and that attitude that we really like around the Celtics.”
Grousbeck said Smart has been on the radar of the Celtics for some time, including three sessions in front of team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
“Our war room is very happy with the pick,” Grousbeck said. “My job is to be part of that and be supportive. Our basketball guys are very excited and have been focusing on Marcus for several weeks. [They] really like the top six or seven kids in the draft quite a bit but really thought he’s pretty exceptional in a couple of ways and really looking forward to having him in green.
“He’s been on our list for a month as we started setting up the draft workouts. He came back here twice and Danny saw him again in a third workout elsewhere. He’s seen him personally three times in the last two or three weeks. We really think there’s a lot of quality in the top of the draft here and think that it’s not always clear how to differentiate among the quality. I’m repeating things as opposed to giving you my own personal evaluation. That’s not my role with this team. But we think this kid really has some special attributes.”
|NBA draft roundup: Celtics, 76ers, Lakers rumored landing spots for Joel Embiid; Kings likely keeping No. 8 pick||at 2:57 pm ET|
Foot and back injuries have caused Kansas center Joel Embiid — once expected to be the first overall selection in Thursday’s NBA draft — to slide down the boards.
Joel Embiid’s seriously in play for three spots in top part of lottery: 76ers (3), Celtics (6), Lakers (7), league sources tell Yahoo.
‘ Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 26, 2014
Embiid, a 7-foot center from Cameroon, averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in his only season with the Jayhawks, despite only playing organized basketball since 2011.
— It appears that the rumored deal between the Celtics and Kings, which would include point guard Rajon Rondo and Sacramento’s eighth overall pick as the two main components, may not come to fruition.
Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Kings seem to be content to keep their pick.
The Kings appear poised to keep the 8th pick, sources said.
‘ Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) June 26, 2014
— With the draft fast approaching, it seems that the 76ers are going all in in an effort to acquire the first overall pick from the Cavaliers and draft Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins.
Tom Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News tweeted that the 76ers are doing everything they can to pry the top pick from Cleveland.
According to league source, Sixers in full court press with Cleveland to get No. 1 pick. “They really, really, really want Wiggins.”
‘ Bob Cooney (@BobCooney76) June 26, 2014
Philadelphia certainly has many trading chips at its disposal, including the third and 10th overall picks and a host of promising players such as Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.
The move benefits the Rapotors because it would put them in position to select Syracuse guard (and Ontario native) Tyler Ennis.
By making the trade, the Grizzlies would be able to take Prince’s $7.7 million salary cap hit off their books for next season.
Joel Embiid‘s foot and back injuries have created a domino effect leading up to the draft – especially with the holder of the fourth overall pick, the Magic.
The Kansas center’s medical issues have caused him to slide on most mock drafts, pushing players such as Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum higher up in the draft order, and potentially out of Orlando’s reach.
As a result, the Magic could use both their fourth and 12th overall picks in an effort to trade into a top-three position in the draft.
“Everything’s really fluid at the moment,” said first-year Magic general manager Rob Hennigan. “I think there’s a possibility we could select at [No.] 4 and [No.] 12, and I think there’s a possibility that one or both of those picks could be in play. So our job … is to prioritize what we feel is the best opportunity for us, and then go ahead and try to capitalize on that.”
While the Magic have tradeable pieces in Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic, Hennigan would not give any hints on what his team plans to do Thursday night.
“I think the big thing for us is to just stay the course — continue to add to the team, continue to improve the team, and do it in a fashion that allows us to show improvement, [and] allows us to play in more meaningful games next season,” Hennigan said. “But at the same time we don’t want to skip steps. We don’t want to compromise our vision to build a competitive team for a long time.
“If there’s an opportunity out there that will allow us to speed that up – great. If not, I think onus is on us to continue to chip away and stay disciplined.”
Meanwhile, the Magic reportedly made a move, acquiring Evan Fournier and the No. 56 pick from the Nuggets for Arron Afflalo.
The 21-year-old Fournier, a 2012 first-round pick from France, is heading into his third NBA campaign. The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds last season.
The 28-year-old Afflalo, who would have been Orlando’s top returning scorer (18.2 ppg), returns to the team he played for from 2009-12 before being sent to the Magic as part of the Dwight Howard multi-team trade. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard from UCLA has an option to become a free agent after the 2014-15 season.
The Knicks center, along with point guard Raymond Felton, was traded to the Mavs in exchange for guards Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Wayne Ellington and center Samuel Dalembert.
The Knicks also receive both of Dallas’ picks in Thursday’s draft — the 34th and 51st selections (both in the second round). New York previously did not have a pick in what should be a deep draft on Thursday.
|Don’t forget: Danny Ainge loves to deal (remember 2006?)||06.22.14 at 7:30 am ET|
Let’s not forget Danny Ainge‘s history. He loves to trade away his lottery picks.
Everyone remembers 2007, when Ainge famously acquired Ray Allen from Seattle, which in turn brought Kevin Garnett to Boston. The Celtics traded away the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green) along with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak in return for Allen as well as the No. 35 pick (Glen Davis). It really goes without saying, but that trade played an enormous role in the 2008 championship banner that now hangs in the TD Garden.
No one remembers 2006, when Ainge inexplicably gave away the No. 7 pick (Randy Foye) for minimal value. The pick was shipped to Portland along with Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau in exchange for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick. Foye was then swapped for Brandon Roy, who made three All-Star teams before a knee injury derailed his career. Who’s to say Roy wouldn’t have remained healthy in Boston, though?
Telfair and Ratliff did happen to be involved in the Garnett deal a year later, but there’s no way anyone can argue that was part of Ainge’s master plan. Any other average point guard and expiring contract would have filled in just fine in Minnesota’s eyes.
At the time, the word was that Ainge favored Telfair over other guards in the 2006 draft. By doing so, he passed on the likes of Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and Roy (whom the pick could have been traded for). In the end, the move didn’t hurt the Celtics at all, but at the time it was very controversial. 2014 is a much stronger draft class than ’06, but the lesson here is to keep in mind that Ainge has no problem dealing away a lottery pick in a questionable move.
Fortunately, for Celtics fans, there is another lesson. On the whole, Ainge is fantastic in the draft.
Let’s stay with the ’06 draft. One of the prospects Ainge was considering with the No. 7 pick, before trading it away, was Rajon Rondo. As we know, Ainge later purchased the No. 21 pick from the Suns and used it to select him anyway.
Today, Rondo is arguably the best player in his draft class. LaMarcus Aldridge (the No. 2 pick) probably believes otherwise, but either way, it’s one of the two. Which means Ainge snagged a top-two player in his draft class with the 21st overall pick. Impressive.
The lesson? Well, who knows … maybe the No. 17 pick in the 2014 draft could turn out to be an even better player than the No. 6 pick. Ainge has done it before.
Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow
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