|With his lesson learned, Marcus Smart ready to prove he can play at ‘next level’||06.13.14 at 7:48 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Marcus Smart has high expectations.
Those expectations include a high draft position on June 26, a long, successful and financially beneficial career and the chance to compete for an NBA title.
Now, the issue is whether the Celtics help Smart fulfill those dreams. The Celtics held a pre-draft workout on Friday morning that featured six guards. The group was headlined by the 20-year-old who spent two seasons at Oklahoma State.
Several mock drafts, including the most recent on WEEI.com’s Green Street, have the former Cowboy selected between spots 4-8 on June 26. So, landing in Boston with the No. 6 overall pick is a strong possibility.
“I just came out here and competed,” Smart said of his workout, “I wanted to prove that I can play at the next level.”
Coach Brad Stevens had a strong takeaway from watching Smart work out.
“I thought he was good, he was physical, he’s a leader,” Stevens said. “[I] thought he shot the ball well in drills. He’s got a way about him that people follow. He’s a very tough guy, he competed the whole time. My expectations for him were high in that regard, but he certainly met them. He’s going to be a good player.”
Not surprisingly, one of the first questions Smart fielded was about the altercation he was involved with back on Feb. 8 when he shoved a fan at Texas Tech.
“Surprisingly, not many teams have asked me about it,” he offered, “They kind of just understand it’s the competitiveness in [me]. … And I know I’ve learned my lesson from it.”
Stevens had little concern as well. When asked if he had any concerns about Smart’s maturity, Stevens replied, “No, not at all.”
WALTHAM — After one year at Kentucky, forward Julius Randle feels he’s ready to take on the NBA.
Friday, following a pre-draft workout for the Celtics, the 19-year-old showed just how ready he is by answering a non-stop stream of questions from reporters about the state of his right foot, which had a pin placed in it in his senior year of high school to help heal a break.
There were reports Thursday that some NBA general managers believe the foot did not heal properly and that it could be an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
“My foot is fine,” Randle said. “Everybody has their opinion on what [I] should do but I’m pain-free. There’s no pain before, during or after. I’m fine.”
Randle said surgery has not been considered to this point.
“It’s never been considered,” he said. “I’ve met with my own doctor and talked to specialists, some of the best doctors in the world and they said they wouldn’t do anything with it. [I] broke it back in high school. I have a pin in it. I guess some people may think they want to put a different one in. I don’t know. I have no clue. It’s the draft and they want to know about it.
Where did he get the advice on how to handle the barrage of questions that he knew would be coming? Another Kentucky product — Rajon Rondo – spoke with him before his workout and gave him some advice.
“I talked to him a little bit today and yesterday,” Randle said. “We kind of have that Kentucky connection. Rondo is a great guy. I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s a great guy, competitor. I’d love to play with him.
“Just be myself, just enjoy the process. A 19-year-old kid going through this can be a lot. Just really enjoy the process, have fun with it, and don’t let outside distractions take away from your joy of the process. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, that’s what my family has told me to do and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
The media hype Friday over a pre-draft workout in Boston gave him a little taste of what to expect in the NBA, especially if he’s selected by the Celtics.
“It’s a little bit of the same. Kentucky prepares you a lot for things like these,” he said of playing for John Calipari for just one season. “At Kentucky, this is all they know, Kentucky basketball. So, it really prepared me from an expectation level. The fans of Boston, city of Boston has great expectations for their team. This is a winning organization, a championship organization. Kentucky is the same way. Our season is a lot shorter, they don’t expect to win maybe two games at the most.”
|Jared Sullinger, Jerryd Bayless provide offensive punch, lead short-handed C’s to win||02.07.14 at 9:50 pm ET|
The short-handed Celtics have suddenly won three straight.
Jared Sullinger scored a career high 31 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to lead the short-handed Celtics to their third straight win, a 99-89 victory over the Kings Friday night at TD Garden. All three wins (Orlando, Philadelphia and Sacramento) come against losing teams that figure to provide much stiffer competition for draft position in the NBA lottery this spring.
Gerald Wallace added eight points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished nine assists as the Celtics have followed up their worst month in history (2-15 in January) with three straight wins to open February.
Jeff Green added 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting to help the Celtics improve to 18-33, which may not be great news in the long run. Boston moved 3.5 games ahead of last place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.
The Kings took advantage of the depleted Celtics early on, building a 29-19 lead late in the first quarter. DeMarcus Cousins was big early on, scoring 13 of his team-high 31 points in the opening quarter. Cousins and Sullinger each finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds. Sacramento led 29-21 after 12 minutes.
But Olynyk led the Celtics back in the second quarter, scoring nine of his 11 first-half points off the bench. Olynyk couldn’t miss in the first half, hitting all three field goals, including a 3-pointer, while draining all four free throws. Olynyk had eight of Boston’s 12 points in a 12-0 run that put the Celtics on top, 31-29. Boston outscored Sacramento, 28-17, in the second quarter to grab a 49-46 halftime lead.
The Kings scored the first six points of the second half, taking a 52-49 lead, moving coach Brad Stevens to call a time out. After the break, the Celtics responded with a 10-0 run. The Kings responded with the game’s next seven points to tie the game again, a trend that continued for most of the third quarter as the Celtics led, 71-69, heading into the final 12 minutes.
Isaiah Thomas added 24 points for the Kings and got into a brief scuffle with Bayless late in the fourth quarter under the Kings basket. The tussle came close to spilling into the stands but was brought under control just in time. Both players were assessed technicals but remained in the game.
The Celtics opened the fourth quarter on an 18-4 run and were never threatened down the stretch. The Celtics have Saturday off before hosting the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday evening (6:30 p.m. ET) at TD Garden.
For more, visit the Celtics team page at weei.com/celtics.
|A mom’s NBA draft diary: Hard to handle a disappointing team workout||06.12.13 at 3:28 pm ET|
Hamilton resident Mandy Carter-Zegarowski, the mother of Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams and the girls basketball coach at Ipswich High School, is chronicling the days leading up to the June 28 NBA draft through blog entries for WEEI.com. Carter-Williams, who prepped at Hamilton-Wenham High School and Rhode Island’s St. Andrews School before spending two seasons at Syracuse, is projected to be a lottery pick.
Michael left Phoenix and flew to Sacramento this past Friday night. He was in great space and felt really good about his Phoenix workout and interviews with the GM and president. His agent received really positive feedback from Phoenix but reminded us that the positive feedback did not mean Phoenix was going to take him. He told me not to get too high or too low through this process, which we could understand. [Carter-Williams' stepfather] Zach [Zegarowski] and I always tell our kids, don’t ever get too high or too low in basketball. It is a little more difficult not to do this during this process because we feel and have been told a lot will weigh on Michael’s workouts. So after Phoenix, we were looking for houses in Phoenix. Just kidding, but we were happy his first workout went well. Sacramento was a different story.
My family was at a friend’s son’s graduation party on Saturday. I have been friends with Ellen since the fifth grade, so her family is our family. We are very close. We lived with them for a while after our house burnt down. Our kids are best friends. I had actually forgotten Michael was working out because of the time difference, I was not even thinking about when he would be done. I got a text message from him at 4 our time saying: It didn’t go well. My body felt a step behind and I did not defend like I can or shoot as consistently as I have been…..I stayed positive but I did not feel great….
He said he felt dehydrated and had trouble sleeping the night before. I felt sick after reading the text, my stomach dropped. I removed myself from the crowded table I was sitting at and went to an area in the yard where no one was so I could text him back without distraction. I signaled to Zach who was in the middle of a horseshoe game and mouthed, “It did not go well” to him. He continued to play the game, which made the pit in my stomach turn to fire. Is he really not running over here to deal with this, I said to myself!
My fingers were moving furiously as I text Michael he should have been drinking water on the plane the night before and how important preparing yourself physically and mentally is for these workouts. I asked him what the hell he was thinking about and that he must have been distracted. I told him he has to immediately move on from one workout to the next mentally and start thinking about what he needs to do to be ready. The time change, the travel, sleeping in a hotel, he has to adjust quickly and he will need to do that in the NBA. I texted him he has seven workouts in 15 days, he has to be disciplined.
“Mandy, come back and join us,” my friend yelled from what felt like another state as I stood there anxiously wondering how to find out what this means. How bad was the workout? Michael is usually accurate with his self-assessments. I looked over at the table of friends and yelled back, “Michael did not do well in Sacramento,” in a tone that let everyone know not to call my name again. I couldn’t believe it. He just did so well in Phoenix. I glared over at Zach with the threat stare letting him know that either the horseshoe game was going to end or I was going to end it.
I stopped caring about everything else around me and was in my own world. Michael was upset, and I did not have it in me to tell him it was OK. Or that things would work out. I knew Zach could spin it quicker than I could. He has the ability to help Michael learn from things and move on quicker than I do. He doesn’t tell Michael what he wants to hear like a friend would, but he is less intense with his tone and energy than I am, so Michael is more receptive to him. But I don’t care in the moment. It takes me a while to process and regroup. I am working on it, but it’s who I am.
|Five worst Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era||06.27.12 at 7:20 pm ET|
When Danny Ainge was hired as Celtics president of operations in 2003, he inherited a team on the upswing that had just come off of a pair of playoff exits following six straight seasons missing the playoffs.
Nine years later, Ainge has become known across the league for his bold decision-making, something that has helped the Celtics rise back to the elite of the NBA over the last five seasons. But despite the success, it hasn’t gone without some controversy and questionable moves.
As Ainge enters his 10th NBA draft in the Celtics front office, here’s a look at the top five worst draft day moves Ainge has made and how they’ve panned out.
5. J.R. Giddens, 30th pick, 2008 – Heralded as one of the best scorers in the 2008 draft class, Giddens simply just never panned out in the NBA. Considered to be a potential replacement for Tony Allen, who eventually left the Celtics in free agency, Giddens couldn’t live up to the defensive standards that Doc Rivers stresses and never received much playing time.
It didn’t begin well for Giddens, who declined to participate in minicamp after being drafted because he hadn’t agreed to a contract. After finally signing, the 6-foot-5 guard was put on assignment with the Utah Flash of the NBA D-League before getting called up to the Celtics in February 2009. He saw very limited action and saw eight minutes during the season.
In 2009-10, Giddens saw an increased role but still didn’t see much playing time. He played 4.7 minutes per game in 21 appearances, which even included a start on Jan. 2, 2010. He scored a career-high 10 points and posted nine rebounds against the 76ers on March 19, 2010, as a member of the Knicks after being traded by the Celtics. For his career, Giddens averaged 1.9 points, 1.4 rebounds and 6.5 minutes per game.
Where is he now?: On Feb. 18, 2010, Giddens was traded by the Celtics as part of a deal that sent him, Bill Walker and Eddie House to the Knicks in exchange for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry. He saw an increased role with the Knicks but chose to leave the NBA after the season to pursue a career overseas. He spent 2010-11 in Poland before signing with PAOK Thessaloniki, in Greece, where he currently plays.
|Five best Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era||at 7:05 pm ET|
When he was hired as Celtics president of basketball operations in 2003, Danny Ainge was asked to bring the team back to its glory days from when he was a player on the team in the 1980s.
It may have taken a few years to fit the right pieces together, but it’s hard to argue Ainge’s success in his nine-year tenure as president. He’s made some questionable decisions, but he’s also responsible for bringing the Celtics their first championship in over two decades. With the NBA draft taking place Thursday night, here’s a look at five of Ainge’s best draft day moves.
5. Kendrick Perkins, 27th pick, 2003 – In the same deal that brought Boston one of its most disappointing acquisitions of the Ainge era in Marcus Banks, the Celtics also acquired Perkins, who proved to be one of the Celtics’ most valuable additions of the Ainge era. After barely getting playing time during his rookie season, he slowly moved into the rotation and developed into a dominant defensive center who repeatedly shut down the league’s best big men.
After Mark Blount was traded in 2006, Perkins became the regular starting center for the Celtics. He went on to start 78 games in 2007-08 and was a big contributor to the championship team that season. He was such a key contributor that in 2010, when the Celtics reached the NBA finals again, his inactivity in Game 7 after tearing his MCL and PCL in Game 6 has been argued to be the reason why the Celtics didn’t win their second championship in three seasons.
Where is he now?: Perkins was traded to the Thunder in 2011 in what is considered to be a questionable move by Ainge. Perkins signed a multi-year extension with Oklahoma City and this month made an NBA finals appearance against the Heat.
|How the proposed CBA affects the Celtics: The draft||11.30.11 at 8:20 pm ET|
While we wait for the players and owners to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, we’ll be taking a look at how various parts of the proposal could affect the Celtics. If you’d like to check out the full proposal, Sports Illustrated obtained a copy and posted it here.
Part I: Free Agency
Part II: The Luxury Tax
There hasn’t been much to talk about regarding the Celtics recent draft history for the simple fact that Danny Ainge hasn’t been in position to select a difference-maker since the 2007 draft-day deal that sent the rights to the fifth pick to the then-Seattle Sonics for Ray Allen. (That pick of course was Jeff Green).
Since then Ainge has drafted J.R. Giddens, Avery Bradley and now JaJuan Johnson with his first round selections. Giddens never saw a third season in Boston, Bradley barely played in his first year and Johnson is a rookie. As such, the Celtics haven’t had to make a decision on whether to extend a rookie deal since signing Rajon Rondo to a five-year deal before the 2009-10 season.
The rookie scale will remain as is, with two years guaranteed for first round picks followed by two more years of team options before a player can hit restricted free agency like Green is now. The biggest change comes in the amount of the qualifying offer where rookie who outperform their draft position can earn a higher salary. Here’s the language:
- Any first round pick who, over his prior two seasons, starts an average of 41 regular season games per season or averages 2000 or more minutes of playing time per season (the “starter criteria”) will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the player who was the 9th pick in the draft;
- Any second round pick or undrafted player who meets the starter criteria will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the player who was the 21st pick in the draft; and any first round pick selected in the first 14 picks in the draft who fails to meet the starter criteria will receive the same Qualifying Offer amount as the 15th pick in the draft.
This won’t have an effect on Bradley who played just 30 games last season and it probably won’t affect Johnson either — if it did he’d either be much better than previously thought or something has gone horribly wrong — but it’s something to keep in mind.
There’s also the so-called Derrick Rose rule that would allow a player to earn a max payday if he meets the following criteria:
- (i) named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team two times, (ii) voted in as an All-Star starter two times, or (iii) named NBA MVP one time. A 30% max contract cannot be signed as part of a sign-and-trade transaction.
Again, interesting, but doesn’t have much relevance to the Celtics at this point.
There is one other piece to the draft equation and it’s potentially a good one for Boston: The minimum-age requirement. This is one of the so-called “B-List” issues that has yet to be worked out but there are indications that the NBA will keep the one-and-done parameters for the time being.
Why is that important? The Celtics own a top-10 protected first round pick from the Clippers and under ordinary circumstances one might think it wise to wait for the Clips to inevitably screw up the Blake Griffin-era, wait until 2016 when it’s unprotected and swoop in with a prime pick, or simply keep it in their back pocket for a trade sweetener.
All of that may be true, but the 2012 draft will be loaded thanks to a number of underclassmen who stuck around for an extra year rather than wait for the lockout mess to be resolved and the Clippers may be good enough to get that pick next year.
While that wouldn’t put the C’s in the running for top prospects like Anthony Davis, Harrison Barnes and Jared Sullinger there should be a number of good players to be had in the middle part of the first round. Here’s the list of players ranked 11-15 on Draft Express Top 100 board:
- 11. Jeremy Lamb, G UConn
- 12. James McAdoo, F UNC
- 13. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, F Kentucky (an early-season Green Street favorite)
- 14. Tyler Zeller, C UNC
- 15. Patric Young, F Florida
Just for kicks, Duke guard Austin Rivers is No. 16 and while the prospect list will undoubtedly fluctuate, the point is that this is a draft where any team will want to have multiple picks.