|Report: Jahlil Okafor was the unnamed target for Celtics on trade deadline day||02.20.16 at 1:56 am ET|
The unnamed star that would’ve surprised everyone is Philadelphia center Jahlil Okafor.
Ainge told WEEI’s OM&F he was “very close” to acquiring a player at the Thursday trade deadline but that the other team backed out at the last moment.
Okafor is having an impressive statistical season for the wretched Sixers, who fell to 8-46 this season Friday night. The rookie out of Duke is averaging 17.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 45 games this season.
There’s a good amount of irony in the report about the pursuit of Okafor.
One of his nicknames is “Little Sully” while Okafor, then 19 years old, was the same person who found trouble in a Boston nightclub after Philadelphia’s opening night loss to the Celtics.
Okafor is considered one of the best pure offensive options in the low post, especially rare for a young player who just turned 20. But his biggest liability is defense.
Still, the Celtics apparently were all in on doing the deal for the rare low post offensive talent before the combination of Philadelphia team president Jerry Colangelo and general manager Sam Hinke pulled back.
|Report: Celtics not showing ‘any interest’ in Dwight Howard||02.18.16 at 2:56 pm ET|
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, neither Boston nor Charlotte (another team rumored to have need for the Rockets big man) ever had serious discussions with Houston to acquire the 12-year veteran center.
“To my knowledge, neither [team] has ever shown any interest in making a real offer for Dwight. I’m not sure any team has,” Lowe tweeted.
Howard, who has an option for $23 million next season, is averaging 14.6 points and 12 rebounds for a team that is in ninth place in the Western Conference, with a 27-28 record.
The Lowe report echoes the same sentiment of Adrian Wojnarowski, who reported earlier Thursday that the Celtics had not shown any interest in paying “premium” prices for any of the high-profile big men that were reportedly on the block before the trading deadline.
To my knowledge, neither BOS/CHA has ever shown any interest in making a real offer for Dwight. I'm not sure any team has. 52 minutes to go.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) February 18, 2016
|Report: Celtics lead Al Horford sweepstakes if Hawks make him available at deadline||02.17.16 at 4:48 pm ET|
Are the Celtics about to get their big man at the trade deadline?
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, Danny Ainge is the front-runner to land Atlanta center Al Horford if the Hawks make him available before Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
The nine-year veteran is averaging 15.3 points and 6.9 rebounds while starting all of Atlanta’s 55 games this season. The 31-24 Hawks are just one game behind the third-place Celtics in the Eastern Conference.
This all begs the question why Atlanta would want to deal one the league’s best big men right now? The Hawks are staring down the barrel of the free agency gun with Horford set to hit the open market this summer.
Horford is in the final year of a five-year, $60 million contract and is earning $12 million this season. Blakely reports that the Hawks have not made a decision on whether they will trade Horford but a league source told CSNNE.com that “the Celtics have emerged as one of the favorites to land him.”
But the big caveat is whether the Hawks even decide to part ways with the veteran forward at all. Atlanta would likely demand one of Boston’s three first-round picks.
If Ainge feels the true value is in the lottery pick, and could package the other first-rounders and some other enticements, then the deal might happen.
What would it mean for the short-term? Horford, a four-time All-Star, would easily step in and become Boston’s best post player, as Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson and Jae Crowder has formed the starting front court the last 11 games and 16 of the last 17 games.
|2016 Celtics Mock Draft Pick Power Rankings v3.0||01.07.16 at 11:28 am ET|
The Celtics own as many as eight draft picks in June 2016 — only one of which is their own — and the unprotected selection from the Nets is legitimately one of the most fascinating storylines in the entire NBA this season. We’ll regularly update the status of those selections, speculating when and who the Celtics will pick.
3. Boston Celtics (from Brooklyn): Jaylen Brown.
Just as there will be what-ifs when it comes to the C’s end-of-season record, the same will be true for the Nets. Now that their season series is complete, we can surmise how vital those two Boston losses to Brooklyn will prove to be come April. Currently, had the Celtics swept the Nets (10-25) rather than split their four-game set, Boston would have as many wins as the No. 2 seed and Brooklyn would have as few wins as the Lakers.
Regardless, Jarrett Jack‘s season-ending ACL injury likely ensures the Nets will finish no worse than third in the lottery, which means the C’s should have a 15.6 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick. And if they aren’t lucky enough to win the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, Brown or Brandon Ingram are the next-best wings.
|Studs and Duds: Kobe Bryant delivers one last dagger to sink Celtics||12.30.15 at 10:26 pm ET|
After exacting NBA Finals revenge against the Celtics in 2010, Kobe Bryant has softened on Boston, and for the first time since the infamous 2007 “MVP” chants, the city returned the sentiment, offering a standing ovation during the starting lineup role call before playfully booing him on his first few possessions.
It was exactly the sort of reaction Boston reserves for its most worthy adversaries – Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and, yes, Bryant, a five-time NBA champion and one of the greatest players ever to play the game of basketball.
The Boston brass presented Bryant with a piece of the parquet before his final game in the Garden, and then the Celtics gave him more ground on the floor, as the 17-time All-Star sunk a 28-foot dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:40 remaining in a 112-104 victory.
Bryant finished with a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) in 33 minutes, as the Lakers won for just the sixth time all season. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 24 points and seven assists. Evan Turner (20 points, 8 assists), Jae Crowder (17 points) and Avery Bradley (13 points) also reached double figures for the Celtics, who fell to 18-14 and had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Marcus Smart was benched for the first quarter after missing the team’s walk-through due to a flat tire, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. Smart scored four points in 11 minutes.
For a complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
|Kevin Garnett on Celtics vs. New York fans: ‘Bostonians all day’||12.21.15 at 7:36 am ET|
As Kevin Garnett arrives with the Timberwolves for what could be his last visit to Boston as a player, he’s coming off a 15-point victory against the Nets on Sunday in Brooklyn — his third of three NBA homes. So, the Minneapolis Star Tribune took the opportunity to ask the former Celtics superstar if he preferred Boston or New York fans.
“Bostonians all day,” said Garnett. “And they know that.”
While Garnett conceded he enjoyed his “living experience” in New York City and “playing before the crowd in Brooklyn was dope,” nothing tops winning a title in Boston, where he also made a second trip to the finals and a third appearance in the conference finals. “Every time I go to Boston I’ll have that sentimental feeling,” he said.
Garnett grabbed seven boards over 10 minutes in the 100-85 win against the Nets. The Celtics host his Wolves at 7:30 p.m. on Monday night. He is signed through 2017 for another $8 million, but there’s some speculation that as his minutes dwindle while he approaches age 40 that salary could be folded into a front-office gig in Minnesota.
Interestingly, Celtics coach Brad Stevens compared Jae Crowder’s tireless approach to the grit and balls that Garnett famously brought to the locker room whether it was practice time or Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
“I’m far from that. I can say that,” Crowder told reporters gathered at Sunday’s practice. “That’s a guy I look up to and I heard a lot of stories about him and that’s what I try to mold myself into being. I mean that’s an honor for him to say that, but I’m far from that. That’s a goal of mine to become a guy like him. That’s my approach is to try to become the most vocal leader at practice and when the cameras and stuff aren’t around.”
And how would Stevens know Garnett’s work ethic so well? Well, funny story about the two 39-year-olds …
“I was playing an AAU tournament with him on the court next to me,” Stevens told the media. “I don’t think I could be playing right now, physically, let alone as well as he does. But it’s pretty impressive what he’s done.”
|Studs and Duds: LeBron James, Cavaliers win ugly over Celtics||12.15.15 at 9:50 pm ET|
After taking a 46-40 lead into halftime, the Celtics were outscored by 18 in the second half, and the final outcome of an 89-77 loss to LeBron James and his Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers should have been a lot worse.
Cleveland (16-7) shot 51.3 percent to the C’s 26.2 percent after the break, turning what initially was a hard-fought playoff rematch into an ugly laugher of a game. The Celtics fell to 14-11 and seventh in the East with the loss.
Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 17 points, but required 15 shots to get there. Likewise, Jae Crowder scored 14 points on 13 attempts and Isaiah Thomas netted 12 points on 15 shots. They were the only three C’s in double figures.
For the complete box score, click here. To go beyond the box, read on.
STUD OF THE NIGHT: David Lee?
Even if he wasn’t much help on defense, at least Lee did some work in the post offensively. He collected eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes off the bench. He finished the night as the C’s only player with a positive plus/minus.
DUD OF THE NIGHT: Take your pick.
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