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Five best Celtics draft day moves of Danny Ainge era 06.27.12 at 7:05 pm ET
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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.

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Read More: Al Jefferson, Avery Bradley, Celtics, Danny Ainge
How the proposed CBA affects the Celtics: The draft 11.30.11 at 8:20 pm ET
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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 ‘€œstarter 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.

Read More: CBA, NBA Draft,
Report: Celtics trading up for USC’s Nikola Vucevic? 06.22.11 at 1:14 pm ET
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When we profiled University of Southern California center Nikola Vucevic as a potential Celtics NBA draft target two weeks ago, the 7-foot European was expected to be around when Danny Ainge and company picked at No. 25. Now, if the C’s want Vucevic, they may have to move up to select him, and one report indicated they may be willing to do just that.

Here’s the relevant nugget of the story from the Daily News in Los Angeles, where Vucevic played three seasons under USC head coach Kevin O’Neill:

NBA personnel said this week Vucevic will probably be drafted somewhere between the No. 9 and No. 17 picks, which makes it seem silly there were doubts he would turn pro a few months ago.

“He’s moved up drastically during his workouts,” said an NBA general manager who did not wish to be identified. “A lot of teams like him now.”

The Knicks are believed to be highly interested, along with the Houston Rockets. The Boston Celtics are even interested in trading up in order to select Vucevic, according to sources.

In Chad Ford’s latest mock draft on ESPN.com, Vucevic is slotted to go to the Bobcats with the 19th pick, and the Celtics are projected to select Jeremy Tyler at No. 25. Ford’s analysis:

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jeremy Tyler, NBA Draft
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Brazil C Lucas Nogueira 06.07.11 at 1:04 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Lucas Nogueira

Position: Center

Country: Brazil

Team: Estudiantes B (Spain)

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 225 pounds

Stats: 11.3 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.5 bpg

What he brings: Still 18, Nogueira is one of the youngest prospects in the draft. But with a 7-foot-6 wingspan, he’€™s also one of the longest. Nogueira will make plenty of highlight reels wherever he plays because of his athletic blocks and thunderous dunks. His rebounding skills are also solid.

Nogueira has not yet been able to fill out his youthful frame. That will hurt him in position battles down low against stronger big men, and he can’€™t rely solely on his length under those situations. His points mostly come from over-the-top passes or put-back dunks on offensive rebounds because his skills with his back to the rim are still a work in progress.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round (or second)

What they’re saying: ‘€œNogueira is a long, freakish athlete who has a chance to be the next Brazilian in the league.’€ ‘€“ SLAM Online’€™s Rodger Bohn

Notes: Nogueira had his coming-out party in the U18 FIBA Americas tournament where he averaged 15.6 points, 10 rebounds and 5.4 blocks per game against players that included Austin Rivers, the son of the Celtics coach. In the gold-medal game against the United States, Nogueira played 34 minutes and scored a team-high 22 points, along with 14 rebounds and three blocks. But the Americans bested the Brazilians 81-78. In that same game, presumed first overall pick Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and grabbed 10 boards.

Video:

Read More: Lucas Nogueira, NBA Draft, Potential Celtics,
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: USC C Nikola Vucevic 06.06.11 at 12:11 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Nikola Vucevic

Position: Center

Team: University of Southern California

Height: 7-foot

Weight: 260 pounds

Stats: 17.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg

What he brings: Nikola Vucevic may be a European center, but unlike many before him he’s not an unknown commodity. He played his senior year of high school at Stoneridge Prep (Simi Valley, Calif.) before earning a scholarship to USC.

After averaging just 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds as a freshman, he captured Pac-10 Most Improved Player honors in his sophomore campaign and produced 17.1 points (50.5 FG%, 34.9 3-PT FG% & 75.5 FT%), 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks before declaring for the draft after his junior season.

The tallest player at the 2011 NBA combine, Vucevic possesses a lot of qualities generally associated with European bigs — touch around the rim, a reliable mid-range jump shot (as well as developing 20-foot-plus range) and a lack of athleticism. He’s been criticized for his failure to play “above the rim” and his lack of success against athletic NBA-caliber big men. However, his high motor, particularly on the defensive glass, has separated him a bit from the stereotype.

More skilled than a guy like Semih Erden, Vucevic is expected to be a valuable backup center in the NBA — a role the Celtics most definitely need to fill. Touted for his high character, Vucevic has hinted that he may play in Europe for a year should a lockout threaten the 2011-12 NBA season, and such experience could actually serve the still-developing center well.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “His strength, his conditioning, and the key, for me, for Nik to make it in the NBA, he has to become a proficient NBA 3-point shooter, which is a much harder shot than the college 3. And he’€™s not a totally proficient college 3-point shooter, yet. He’€™s got to be shooting four times a week, 1,000 NBA 3s a day. That’€™s what he needs.” — USC coach Kevin O’Neill

Notes: The Swiss-born Vucevic was raised in Belgium before moving to Montenegro as a teenager. Both of his parents — father Borislav and mother Ljiljana — played both professionally and for the Yugoslavian men’s and women’s national teams, as chronicled in this LA Times piece. Vucevic himself has played for the Montenegro U20 national team, averaging 15.5 points and 10.8 rebounds during the 2009 European Championships. Oh, and Vucevic, who said he would want to be an actor if he weren’t a basketball player (hence, USC), learned English partly as a result of watching “Love & Basketball” over and over.

Video:

Read More: 2011 NBA Draft, Boston Celtics, NBA Draft, Nikola Vucevic
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Duke F Kyle Singler 05.31.11 at 6:07 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Kyle Singler

Position: Forward

School: Duke

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 228 pounds

Stats: 16.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg

What he brings: Singler had a distinguished four-year career at Duke and has experience at the highest levels of the college game. That’s a double-edged sword in the modern era of the draft where potential has a great currency than production. He’s also 23 years old, which is ancient for a prospect.

Singler has a reputation as a shooter, but his 3-point shooting also fell dramatically this season down to 32 percent. He’s not much of an inside player so he’ll have to be able to knock down jumpers. There are also questions about his athleticism and who he will guard in the NBA, but he’s a smart player and a good passer. In the right system and with the right team, he could become a solid role player. It’s difficult to project him being more than that as a pro.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round.

What they’re saying: “Kyle Singler is rock solid. He’€™s got the Duke pedigree. He plays with a Shane Battier enthusiasm. He came back to school for all four years. Let’€™s not punish him for that and then have all these discussions about guys coming out too early. This kid came back to school, left his imprint on that school, had a wonderful experience and now he’€™s ready for NBA life. He has limitations physically. But if you’€™re a good team drafting late in the first round, you slot him right in.” — ESPNU analyst Tom Penn.

Notes: Singler is a great trick-shot artist (see video below). The YouTube clip, “Kyle Gets Buckets” has over 800,000 page views.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Boston College guard Reggie Jackson 05.30.11 at 2:23 pm ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Reggie Jackson

Position: Guard

School: Boston College

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 208 pounds

Stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.5 apg

What he brings: Local hoop fans already know all about Jackson, who had a standout junior year, averaging 18 points and enjoying a huge upturn in his 3-point shooting from 29 percent as a sophomore to 42 percent as a junior. Jackson isn’t a pure point guard but he is a guard in the traditional sense. Perhaps most intriguing about Jackson is his wingspan, which has been measured at 7 feet. That length, combined with his athletic ability and on-court savvy could make for a destructive defensive-minded guard with scoring ability. In a best-case scenario Jackson has the skills to help a team this year.

There are questions about Jackson’s ability to duplicate his long-distance shooting and he falls into the tweener category — maybe not a point guard, too small for the 2-guard. That has him in the range of low lottery to mid-20s like a handful of players in this draft.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round.

What they’re saying: “The amazing thing for Reggie has been his IQ for the game. I think he has a great feel for the game.” ‘€” Boston College coach Steve Donahue

Notes: Jackson came into the draft combine with a decent buzz, but he didn’t participate in the combine citing an injury. That has dropped him a few pegs in various mock drafts and in the Celtics range.

Video:

Read More: NBA Draft, Potential Celtics, Reggie Jackson,
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