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Report: Celtics will target Al Horford in free agency 06.28.16 at 8:49 pm ET
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Apr 28, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) during the second half in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford is shooting for a big payday in free agency. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Kevin Durant is not the only focus of the Celtics as free agency approaches. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Celtics will be among the teams approaching Al Horford when free agency begins on Friday. 

The Celtics will be in for some serious competition, Stein reports.

“The Hawks, of course, face a stiff challenge in trying to retain Horford, who sources say is expected to draw free-agent interest from a number of teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets,” Stein writes. 

As is the case with Durant, Horford has nine years of experience. That is significant because he can command up to 30 percent of his team’s cap this year. That figure goes up to 35 percent after next season.

This has led to wide speculation that both Durant and Horford would draw “1+1 contract” this summer, allowing both to cash in again next year. A “1+1” is a one-year contract with a player option for the following season. 

Horford’s long-term role with the Hawks is unclear with the trade of Jeff Teague to the Pacers. Should he seek a max deal this year, he can re-sign with the Hawks at five years $152 million or move and sign for four years, $112 million. If he signs a one-year deal, it would be at an estimated cost of $26.4 million.

Horford, a 6-foot-10 stretch center who can run the floor and knock down a mid-range shot, has long been rumored to be a target of Danny Ainge, including at the trade deadline this past February

Horford averaged just 12.5 points but hauled in 8.5 rebounds a game against the Celtics in Atlanta’s six-game first-round win. Horford improved slightly against the Cavaliers in the second round, going for 14.8 points a game. 

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart: ‘I’m ecstatic to remain a Boston Celtic. I love Boston [and] I love their fans’ at 2:06 pm ET
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WALTHAM – There was one person very happy that the Celtics didn’t pull off a trade last Thursday night during draft night. 

As one of the youngest and most talented defensive guards in the NBA, Marcus Smart was at the center of many trade rumors involving the Celtics. He knew there was a possibility that he might be dealt away as the Celtics tried to move out of the No. 3 spot and get a proven impact scorer. 

As it turned out, the Celtics and Danny Ainge didn’t pull the trigger, leaving Smart to continue his plans for another season in Celtic green. 

“I’m ecstatic to remain a Boston Celtic,” Smart beamed Tuesday at his youth basketball camp at Brandeis. “I love Boston. I love their fans. I love the organization and everything about it.” 

There was also something else that didn’t happen Thursday that played to the apparent advantage of Smart. The Celtics didn’t draft another defensive-minded guard. They chose Jaylen Brown over Kris Dunn.

“That was weird because Danny being a defensive-minded guy, so you kind of would’ve thought that was where he was going,” Smart said. “We were excited for whoever we got and we are excited with the picks that Danny has picked, and the front office and we’re ready to go.”

Smart, like Isaiah Thomas, has started to make his pitch for Kevin Durant. But there are other areas that could be addressed with as much as $62 million of cap space to play with. 

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Jaylen Brown, Kevin Durant, Marcus Smart
Isaiah Thomas plans to support push for Kevin Durant by pushing his shoes 06.25.16 at 6:13 pm ET
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The Kevin Durant "KD 9" shoe was released by Nike on June 20. (NIKE)

The Kevin Durant “KD 9” shoe was released by Nike on June 20. (NIKE)

Isaiah Thomas is not taking no for an answer.

The Celtics dynamic and personable point guard took to Twitter Saturday to continue his marketing effort to sell Kevin Durant on why he should come to Boston.

In a tweet, Thomas indicated he was ready to go out and get a new pair of shoes, “I need me a pair of those new @KDTrey5. They look comfortable lol”

The Nike “KD 9” basketball shoes go for roughly $150. The new shoe was released by Nike on June 20. 

This, of course, is not the first time Thomas has taken to social media to woo the would-be free agent. Just an hour after the Warriors eliminated Durant and the Thunder in Game 7 of the Western finals on May 30, Thomas tweeted a picture of a Shamrock with the number ’35’ next to it.

Durant would not be able to wear that number with the Celtics, as it has been retired to honor the late Reggie Lewis. Thomas, perhaps realizing this, removed the tweet later that night.

Thomas had no need to remove Saturday tweet, as it is just the latest effort in a growing move to recruit Durant to Boston. The superstar has agreed, through his agency Roc Nation Sports, to meet with the Celtics and five other teams (Golden State, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, L.A. Clippers and Miami) before choosing his final destination.

A week after his Shamrock tweet, Thomas said he would be “all-in” in an effort to bring his friend to Boston. 

Thomas is hardly alone among Boston athletes who would love to see Durant in Celtic green. Hartford native and lifelong Celtics fan Terrance Knighton took time after a Patriots practice in mini-camp to express a desire to reach out to Durant

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Isaiah Thomas
Jaylen Brown: ‘I’m here in Boston. I’m ready to rip somebody’s head off’ 06.24.16 at 5:47 pm ET
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WALTHAM – On Friday afternoon, Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told WEEI’s OM&F that Boston fans should give their No. 3 pick a chance because “they don’t know who Jaylen is.”

During his introductory press availability with the Boston media, Jaylen Brown went a long way to giving everyone a clearer idea of not only who he is but how confident he is that he can help the Celtics take the next step right away. 

“I’m overly confident. I believe in myself 100 percent,” Brown said. “I believe in my game and I believe in my work ethic. I don’t think anybody works as hard as me, especially not in this draft class. I’m going to go out and show what I can do. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’ll take time. You’ll see.

“It’s set in but it but it hasn’t hit me yet. I haven’t like broken down emotionally. I’m just super ready. I haven’t had time for it to set in. I’ve been traveling. Things have been kind of a whirlwind but I’m ready for Summer League and show the Boston Celtics fans what I can do.”

Maybe it’s the fact that he played his one year of college basketball in the backyard of the Golden State Warriors but Brown believes his versatility will make him a big-time contributor, even in his rookie season, when he will be only 20. 

“If you look at kind of the way the league is progressing, you look at the best teams in the world, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, a lot of those guys can play multiple positions and lot of those guys are around the same size as me,” Brown said. “You look at like Draymond Green, LeBron James, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, they play a lot of multiple positions and are able to defend multiple spots on the floor and it helps their team be extremely successful. So, following that [model] has been extremely helpful for me and I think that’s what Brad Stevens, and I’m willing to follow it.” 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Cal, Jaylen Brown
Celtics’ complete summer league schedule finalized 06.21.16 at 2:47 pm ET
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Celtics draft picks this Thursday will have a busy summer ahead of them. Now, we know their schedule. 

The Las Vegas Summer League finalized its schedule Tuesday, and it includes three games for the Celtics and a playoff schedule. 

The two venues are the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

The Celtics will play the Bulls on July 9 at Cox Pavilion (6 p.m. ET), the Suns on July 10 at Thomas & Mack Center (10:30 p.m. ET) and the Mavericks on July 12 at Cox Pavilion (6 p.m. ET). 

There will then be six days of playoffs from July 13-18. Earlier this month, the Utah Summer League announced its slate of games. The Celtics play Philadelphia on July 4, Utah on July 5 and San Antonio on July 7. The games on July 4 and 5 will be at Vivint Smart Home Arena while the July 7 contest is set for the University of Utah’s Huntsman Center.

Summer league play consists of draft picks, first-year free agents and second-year players. 

Read More: 2016 NBA Summer League, Boston Celtics, NBA, Utah Summer League
Isaiah Thomas wants Team USA to look at him for Olympics: ‘I wish I could get a chance’ 06.10.16 at 7:28 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas . (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas tweeted that he has not been selected to Team USA this summer in Rio. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas is nothing if not honest.

He spent the last couple of weeks pushing hard for Kevin Durant to come to Boston and join him on the Celtics.

Now, the 5-foot-9 dynamo is making another pitch. He wants to play on Team USA in Rio. 

“I wish I could get a chance to play on the USA team!” Thomas tweeted Friday evening. “Looking at the history of it, I’ve never seen a small guard selected 2 even try out.”

Of course, the most famous “Dream Team” snub involved Thomas’ namesake in 1992 in Spain, when the Pistons’ Isiah Thomas was not offered a spot. Many theories have been suggested over the years. The most common involves Thomas burning a bridge with Michael Jordan when he led a walk-off against Jordan and the Bulls at the end of the 1991 Eastern finals, a move that struck a raw nerve with Jordan.

This Thomas has no such intention of burning a bridge. 

USA Basketball will have a 12-man roster in Rio. ESPN reported Friday that Kings forward (and a player perpetually tied to the Celtics) DeMarcus Cousins has been selected.

There’s a who’s who list of NBA stars who have already turned down Team USA, including NBA MVP Stephen Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and John Wall.

The Celtics’ point guard would seem to be a natural fit to replace the likes of Curry, Wall or Paul.

Read More: 1992 dream team, 2016 Olympics, Boston Celtics, dream team
Jamal Murray, Cheick Diallo part of busy workout day Wednesday for Celtics 06.08.16 at 11:32 am ET
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Feb 29, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Cheick Diallo (13) shoots against Texas Longhorns forward Connor Lammert (21) during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. Kansas won 86-56. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas Jayhawks forward Cheick Diallo (13) shoots against Texas in Big-12 action this season. (Brendan Maloney/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – Several potential first-round choices came to Waltham Wednesday as the Celtics gear up their scouting and preparations for the NBA draft two weeks from Thursday.

Jamal Murray (Kentucky) and Cheick Diallo (Kansas) were invited to the Celtics’ practice facility.

Also attending were Zach Auguste (Notre Dame), Farad Cobb (Cincinnati), Adam Pechacek (Czech Republic), Adam Smith (Georgia Tech), Terry Allen (Richmond) and Domanatas Sabonis (Gonzaga).

Murray and Sabonis were invited for individual workouts while the rest worked in a group, concentrating on 3-on-3 and other drills.

Wednesday marked the second of three workout days in a busy pre-draft week for the Celtics.

There was no word from the team as to whether Dragan Bender would be working out on Thursday after it was reported Tuesday that the 7-foot-1 big man from Croatia would be taking part in workouts for three NBA teams, including the Celtics.

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Cheick Diallo, Cincinnati
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