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Sixers to ‘host’ Celtics in preseason tilt at UMass 06.06.16 at 12:01 pm ET
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Oct 16, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) goes up for a shot and is fouled by Philadelphia 76ers forward Drew Gordon (30) during the second half at Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the Sixers 111 to 91. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics and Sixers will do battle in the preseason at the Mullins Center at UMass. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics and Sixers have agreed to a deal. 

No, they aren’t trading players or picks yet. The two teams announced Monday that the Sixers will host the Celtics in a preseason game at the Mullins Center on the University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

While the Mullins Center is obviously closer to Boston than Philadelphia, the Sixers have more ties to Amherst location. Julius Erving, the most famous UMass hoops alumnus, was an 11-time NBA All-Star, 1980-81 NBA MVP, 1983 NBA Champion and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Dr. J. starred at UMass from 1969-71, averaging 26 points and 20 rebounds in 38 minutes per game over his two collegiate seasons.

Former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Camby and former Sixers guard Al Skinner are among seven players in NBA history who attended the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

The Sixers play in the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly, operated by Spectra Management, which also runs the Mullins Center. 

Tickets as low as $30 are available this Thursday, June 9, through MullinsCenter.com, at Ticketmaster outlets, by calling 800-745-3000 or in person at the Mullins Center box office. Group discounts are available by calling the box office by phone.

The Sixers and Celtics were recently awarded the first and third overall picks, respectively, in the upcoming 2016 NBA Draft. Philadelphia also owns the 24th and 26th overall selections. Boston is also scheduled to select at No. 16 and No. 23 in the first round.

Philadelphia and Boston last met at UMass on October 8, 2008 when the Sixers defeated the defending NBA champion Celtics 98-92 in a preseason opener at the Mullins Center. The game marked two-time All-Star forward Elton Brand’s debut in a Sixers uniform.

Read More: 2016 preseason, Boston Celtics, Mullins Center, NBA
Danny Ainge raves about ‘excellent workout’ with Jaylen Brown, plays it close to vest on Dragan Bender 06.01.16 at 11:45 pm ET
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March 18, 2016; Spokane , WA, USA; California Golden Bears forward Jaylen Brown (0) moves to the basket against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors guard Aaron Valdes (32) during the first half of the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

California Golden Bears forward Jaylen Brown (0) moves to the basket against Hawaii Rainbow Warriors guard Aaron Valdes (32) during the first half of the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. (Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM – Count Danny Ainge among those impressed with Cal prospect Jaylen Brown. 

The Celtics executive responsible for pulling the trigger on the No. 3 draft pick (assuming the Celtics keep it) saw the 6-foot-6 swingman in a workout Wednesday before the press conference to announce the contract extensions of Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens. 

“So Jaylen, I thought he looked very good in a workout,” Ainge said. “It was an excellent workout. We had a lot of players in this morning – I don’t know what our number’s up to now, 40 or 50. And we’ve been around the country, traveling and watching all the players around the country, and agent workouts and so forth.”

Brown was among eight players who worked out for the Celtics in Waltham Wednesday. 

Ainge said his expedition, along with son Austin, through Europe and Israel last week were beneficial. Among the elite players the Ainge saw work out was Croatian center Ante Zizic. 

“We just got back from a weeklong trip to Croatia, Serbia and Israel,” Ainge said. “And those trips were excellent also. It’s just good to get to know the players that we’re considering in the draft. It’s good to watch them in their environment. But I think more importantly just getting to know them, and seeing some of their strengths and weaknesses, and where they are at this stage of their careers.”

 It was in Israel that Ainge saw the much-ballyhooed Croatian talent Dragan Bender in person. Bender is playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. 

“We had a 1-on-none and a 1-on-1 type of workout with his brother,” Ainge said. “Actually, [Ivan Bender] will be playing at Maryland next year. He’s a 6-10 kid.”

But then Ainge quick put the focus back on Dragan, whom the Celtics wanted to work out in person since his recent game action has been limited by his age (18) and experience. 

“And then we watched him in a full team practice, which we actually thought was better than a game because we’d seen all his games,” Ainge said. “We’d seen him play in person in games, and because he’s not playing a major role as an 18-year-old in a tough Israeli league, we were able to watch him practice. And we thought that was more beneficial than what we’d seen in games.”

Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Dragan Bender, Jaylen Brown
Wyc Grousbeck says Red Auerbach ‘would be very happy’ with Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens at 5:47 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Back in the day, Red Auerbach did the job Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens do now and won nine NBA titles, including a remarkable eight straight. 

Obviously, the NBA world of today is significantly more complicated and involved and it takes two people like Ainge and Stevens to try and win just one championship. 

Still, these are the Celtics, and anytime you talk long-term goals, as was the case Wednesday with the extensions of Ainge and Stevens, you go back to Auerbach for a reference point. That’s what owner Wyc Grousbeck did Wednesday at the press conference at the Celtics practice facility. 

“These jobs – the president of basketball operations and the head coach of the Boston Celtics are storied positions. Both were held by the incomparable Red Auerbach,” Grousbeck said. “I personally believe that Red would be very happy. This is the right thing for the Celtics, you represent excellent and Celtic pride on and off the court. These are the exact people we want to run the Celtics.

In signing Ainge and Stevens long-term, Grousbeck believes the team is setting a foundation for years to come.

“It’s the principal job of ownership to find the very best people, to run the basketball side, to find them, recruit them, bring them in and offer them all the support and encouragement we can and retain them – create an environment where they want to stay. These conversations happened recently, very forthrightly,” Grousbeck said. “There was great interest on both sides. They were easy conversations. It just represented a great re-commitment from Brad and Danny to the Celtics.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, NBA
Danny Ainge on unified Celtics with Brad Stevens: ‘Great things will happen in Celtics history’ at 5:25 pm ET
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WALTHAM — The Celtics sound like a unified group heading into what co-owner Stephen Pagliuca called the “most complex” offseason the franchise has had in the 13 years of the current stewardship. 

In announcing the contract extensions of president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and coach Brad Stevens, the common theme Wednesday afternoon was one of unity and commitment. 

“This foundation we have is very unique in the world we live in — pressure-packed, public world in pro sports,” Ainge said. “The fact we have such great unity with ownership I think is unique. I value that premium. It’s a great working environment, I have a great relationship here, stronger trust, year in and year out. As we work together I believe great things will happen in Celtics history.”

Perhaps most intriguing about Ainge’s opening comments Wednesday was his admission that it really didn’t take much to get him to sign on the dotted line to extend his current contract, which owner Wyc Grousbeck acknowledged expired before that of Stevens, who still had three years left on his initial $22 million deal signed in 2013. 

“To tell yoju a little bit, our negotiation was basically Stay, and I said Wyc, do you want me to stay? We had a 10 or 15 minute negotiation, and then our focus turned to Brad,” Ainge said. “It turned to what we need to do. We all understand it’s emotional and very challenging, him with two kids at home and all you have to manage. I’ve been there. We’re lucky to have Brad and Tracey with us in a long term situation.

“They don’t have to answer any more questions about Indiana and Butler, and Duke, North Carolina. We’re very excited to have Brad. Who he is and what he does on the court is unmatched. We’re grateful he wants to stay with us. In the three short years he’s been with us, and it’s good he’s making a long-term commitment to us as well.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, Indiana
Full Court Press: Celtics look for their next big thing; Klay Thompson goes off 05.29.16 at 4:00 pm ET
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May 28, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) scores over Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) during the fourth quarter in game six of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Warriors guard Klay Thompson scores over Thunder forward Kevin Durant during the fourth quarter in Game 6 Saturday night. (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)

Maybe what the Celtics should really be looking for is the next Klay Thompson in the June 23 draft.

For all the talk about who to take with the third pick or if they should trade for Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel, the Celtics could use a long scorer like Thompson, the somewhat overshadowed other half of the Splash Brothers. For anyone who missed Saturday night’s epic 41-point effort from Thompson, they missed one of the greatest performances in an elimination game.

Thompson led one of the most dramatic comebacks in the fourth quarter. He made an NBA playoff record 11 3-pointers in 18 attempts and powered the Warriors to a 33-18 fourth quarter that turned an eight-point deficit into a stunning 108-101 Warriors win in Game 6 that sent the Western finals back to Oakland for Game 7 Monday night.

Thompson was the 11th overall pick of the Warriors in the 2011 draft, behind Brandon Knight (8th), Kemba Walker (9th) and Jimmer Fredette (10th). Thompson has been playoff MVP of the Warriors quest to finish off their historic season. He’s been averaging 26.5 points in the postseason, including 31.0 points in the five-game win over Portland, a series they were without the injured Steph Curry for the first three games.

There are a number of shooters like Thompson in the draft, including Jamaal Murray, who would be available at No. 3, and possibly No. 16. NBADraft.net has the Celtics taking Buddy Hield, the shooting guard and Wooden Player of the Year in college basketball. Hield doesn’t have the height of Thompson, who is 6-foot-7, but he is considered one of the most mature players ready to contribute right away in the pros.

NBADraft.net also has the Celtics taking Cheick Diallo, the big man out of Kansas. Those mocks, of course, don’t take into consideration potential trades.

Trippin: Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge left for Israel Friday to watch Dragan Bender, the highly-touted prospect and potential No. 3 draft pick play, along with another European star in Ante Zizic.

The Celtics have three first-round picks at Nos. 3, 16 and 23.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson, NBA
Danny Ainge heads overseas to scout Dragan Bender, Ante Zizic 05.27.16 at 5:41 pm ET
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Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

The buzz over Dragan Bender is getting louder. 

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge left for Israel Friday to watch the highly-touted prospect and potential No. 3 draft pick play, along with another European star in Ante Zizic. 

The Celtics have three first-round picks at Nos. 3, 16 and 23. 

According to the Herald’s Mark Murphy, both Ainge and son Austin, the team’s director of player personnel left for Israel on Friday to watch Bender in two practices Saturday and Sunday. There will be no game action. 

18-year-old Bender plays for one of the top teams in Israel (Maccabi Tel Aviv). This season, he’s been had his playing time limited to coming off the bench, averaging just 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds on the season. But Danny Ainge has longed for a player with his height (7-foot-1) and shooting ability. He is still underweight for the NBA but many scouts feel he has a great upside that make him worthy of a top-5 pick.

Austin Ainge has made several trips to Europe in the past two seasons and acknowledged that last week but indicated that pre-draft rules prohibited him from talking about Bender until the early-entrant deadline, which passed on Wednesday. 

International basketball reporter David Pick confirmed Thursday that Ainge was in Croatia to scout Ante Zizic, another potential big man candidate who would likely need development before entering the NBA. 

Zizic is a 19-year-old with a 6-foot-11 frame who has excelled in the Adriatic League despite his youth. Boston has 11 players under contract for the 2016-17 season. That means Ainge could have Zizic follow in the steps of Dario Saric (Sixers) and Nikola Mirotic (Bulls), who spent time overseas getting ready for the NBA. Saric may or may not join Philly this season. 

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Ante Zizic, Boston Celtics, Dragan Bender
Celtics choice: Kevin Love vs. Paul George 05.26.16 at 10:39 am ET
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As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Cavaliers forward Kevin Love or Pacers forward Paul George.

The case for Love

May 25, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward Luis Scola (4) during the second half in game five of the Eastern conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 116-78. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward Luis Scola (4) in the playoffs. (Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports)

At 27, one of the best pure scoring forwards in the game is in his prime. Returning from shoulder surgery, he scored 27 of his season-high 34 points in the first half of the Cavaliers’ win over the Magic in November. On Jan. 29, 2016, he had his best game since November 23, scoring 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting in a win over the Detroit Pistons. That game also marked the first time all season that Love, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each reached 20 points in a game. He helped the Cavaliers finished the regular season as the first seed in the East with a 57–25 record. For the second straight season, he was the perfect complement to James and Irving, after overcoming his shoulder problems that started with Kelly Olynyk in the first round of the ’15 playoffs. He finished this season averaging 16 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. In the first round of the playoffs, Love recorded playoff career highs with 28 points and 13 rebounds in a Game 1 win over the Pistons.

The case against Love

Consistency. Last July, Love re-signed with the Cavaliers on a 5-year, $113 million max deal. He has four years left on it. Love can have games where he shows exactly why he’s paid so handsomely. He can also go long stretches where his production drops way off. In Games 3 and 4 against the Raptors, both losses, Love was 5-for-23 with 13 points total in the two games. Starting with a Christmas Day loss at Golden State, he went a full month and scored just 20 points once in 17 games. His numbers have dropped off in Cleveland. The drop from 26 points per game to 16 a game the last two seasons in Cleveland is understandable with LeBron and Irving scoring so much. But the falloff in rebounding is more alarming, as he’s gone from a league-leading 15.4 rebounds a game in Minnesota in 2011-12 to 9.9 rebounds per game in Cleveland. Danny Ainge has always like long, athletic shooters from the wing and has been looking for one but the question is whether Love is really worth the $113 million?

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers
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