By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Danny Ainge provides some insight on where he’s headed with No. 3: Be the best ‘without selling out’
Danny Ainge has lots to consider before the June 23 draft. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)
If you’re wondering what Danny Ainge is thinking heading into June 23, think long-term instead of short-term.
Appearing on WBZ-TV’s Sports Final Sunday night, the president of basketball operations for the Celtics suggested that there’s a lot to consider when weighing trading the No. 3 pick or holding onto it for the best player available at that spot.
“[The pick] certainly doesn’t have the same cachet in trade conversations, in trying to get better quicker, so that sets that back a little bit. Or we’d have to give up more [talent as part of a trade],” Ainge told the show. “I think that there are good players, if we end up using that draft pick. We’re excited about the potential players.”
So, it appears that Ainge is suggesting that making any trade to bring back a reasonable piece would involve trading one of his existing pieces, not necessarily a deal it sounds like he’s ready to make, at least not yet.
“Right now, we’re trying to become a better team as fast as we can without selling out. I guess that’s the best way to put it,” Ainge told the show. “We want to become a more significant team this upcoming year. And, at the same time, we want to build something that’s sustainable for a longer period of time.
“I think that that’s my job in the organization. I think that ownership would like to see something happen faster. I know my coaches would like to see something faster. I know my players want to see something faster. I’ve been in their positions and I get it. I want to see something faster, too. But I just have to protect us from doing something irrational, just to get a little bit better. If it’s something that gets us to be a true championship contender faster, then I think we’re all on board. As long as it’s a sustainable formula and not a one-year quick hit that sacrifices future assets.”
But if the Celtics hold onto the pick, it’s not likely that they go with Dunn. Instead, names like 7-footer Dragan Bender, sharp-shooter Jamaal Murray and scoring phenom Buddy Hield are in the mix.
Then Ainge made his biggest point, something to consider whether the Celtics draft a player, sign one in free agency or acquire a player this summer in a trade.
“A player that is going to take time to develop or a player that may not come over to the NBA for a year or two, if we really believe that player’s the best player, we have to take him,” said Ainge. “We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting. We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance. There are just too many examples of really good players that the fans haven’t been excited about on draft day.
“Last year, I remember [Kristaps] Porzingis was drafted in New York and they were booing all over the place and you’re like, ‘Well, why would they be booing so much on Porzingis?’ When you draft players, I remember when I was in Phoenix and we drafted Steve Nash and we were booed. I remember being booed when Dan Majerle was drafted in Phoenix. You can’t base any of your decisions based on what the public thinks and based on what other people think you should do. You just really have to use our experience, our work, and our eyes, and we communicate all the time on what the best road to go is.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Celtics choice: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
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 Wizards guard Bradley Beal (assuming he re-signs in Washington or somewhere else) or Jazz guard Gordon Hayward.
The case for Beal
At 6-foot-5, Beal has the ideal length to be a shooting guard, the role he’s most prominently served in Washington next to John Wall. He averaged a team-leading and career-best 17.4 points per game over 55 games this past season. He led the Wizards in their 10 playoff games from 2015 when he averaged 23.4 points. He is a career 40 percent shooter from 3-point range, another huge plus in the Stevens system. He is still very, very young, only turning 23 in June.
The case against Beal
Not worth the trouble and way too complicated. To acquire Beal, the Celtics could either go out and spend for him as a restricted free agent, opening the door for the Wizards to match or use Bird rights on him. Beal’s spent his first four years trying to prove he is a part of Washington’s future. Beal is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1 because he and the team didn’t come to terms on a contract extension before a Nov. 2 deadline. “I want to be here. I don’t know,” Beal said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t even know what I’m getting into right now. It’s like choosing colleges again. But I’m happy where I am. Hopefully, we can agree with each other this summer and we can get it done. But if not, it’s a business at the end of the day.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Nigel Hayes tells Celtics: ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you’
Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes shoots against Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson in the NCAA tournament. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)
WALTHAM — Nigel Hayes knows you need confidence to play in the NBA.
The 6-foot-6 forward from Wisconsin also knows you need a jumper to play for the Celtics.
Hayes showed this week he has the first component. And he told the Celtics he can definitely work on the second.
“We were talking in the locker room, we need a wing player, someone who can really shoot the ball well. I told the guys, ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you. I’ll go stand in the corner and knock down shots for you.’
“Just show them that if they need a wing player, I could fill that void. All you’ve got to do is just put in the time to be a good shooter. Putting in the time would be no problem, make a lot of shots a day, hopefully get in some games. Hopefully, make some shots in a game and have a great career.”
Hayes was a 44.1 percent shooter from the field in his three years at Wisconsin, which included 12 points and five rebounds in the 2015 NCAA national semifinal stunner over Kentucky. In that game, he knocked down 2-of-5 from 3-point range.
When Hayes spoke Wednesday, he was asked why confidence is such a big part of his game.
“I always think it’s a great thing. The number one question they ask: ‘Why should we pick you on our team?’ My first response is always, ‘I’m a winner.’ Obviously, you need winners. Winners know what to do to win. They can help those around them win. Also, I’m a basketball player and I think if you want to be good or great at any level at anything you do, you need confidence in yourself. I’ll always have confidence in my abilities on the basketball court.”
Assistant general manager and team counsel Mike Zarren, with the help of director of basketball analytics David Sparks have released all possible combinations that, if they come up on Tuesday night in New York City, will give the Celtics the top overall pick.
To keep it as simple as possible, there are 14 teams in the lottery. There are 14 ping pong balls. The process is as follows: Each team is assigned to a particular numbered ball. That process is repeated two more times. Then after the third draw of balls, the order of the lottery is determined by the 11 remaining teams in reverse order of overall record finish this past season.
The four steps in this process is called a “four-ball” lottery method. In four-ball lottery, there are 1,001 possible combinations. The NBA has eliminated one of the combos by assigning no team to it, thereby drawing it down to an even 1,000. The Celtics have been assigned 156 possible combinations, giving them a 15.6 percent chance of “winning the lottery” and getting the No. 1 overall pick.
This is the third-best chance, as the Nets finished with the third-worst record in the NBA. The Sixers, who finished with the worst record (10-72) have been assigned 250 combinations and own the best chance at 25 percent. The Lakers own 199 combinations or a 19.9 percent chance. That covers the first three picks.
Thanks to Sparks, who did the math, the Celtics can count on a 15.7 percent chance to capture the second pick and a 15.6 percent chance of winning the third pick. Put them together and the Celtics have a 46.9 percent chance of landing in the top three spots. But the bigger number might be 31.3 percent.
Those are the odds that the Celtics wind up with one of the top two picks, ensuring them the chance to draft either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. They are considered the elite two picks of the draft, even ahead of the likes of Dragan Bender, Jamaal Murray, Jaylen Brown or Buddy Hield.
The Celtics also own their own pick (No. 23) and Dallas’ picks (No. 16) in the first round. The results of the lottery are announced on ESPN at the New York Midtown Hilton in Manhattan at 8 p.m., just before Game 1 of the Eastern Finals between the Cavaliers and Raptors, also on ESPN.
The odds for the first three picks of the 2016 draft. (Boston Celtics)
Every possible combination for the 14 lottery teams. (Boston Celtics)
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Evan Turner makes it clear he wants to return to Boston, but ‘a lot of variables that are going to occur … I can’t control’
Was Thursday Evan Turner’s swan song in Boston?
“I really don’t know,” Turner said after scoring just eight points on 4-of-17 shooting in 37 minutes in a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6. “I would love to come back, but at the same time, a lot of things, a lot of variables that are going to occur and things like that that I can’t control. Whenever July hits we’ll talk about it.”
Turner, the No. 2 overall pick of the 76ers in 2010, made $3.425 million this season, finishing out a two-year, $6.7 million deal. He could be in line for a big payday, somewhere in the neighborhood of an $8 million-$10 million annual salary.
What will Turner be looking for?
“Just fit, obviously. I want to get a decent amount of money, you know what I’m saying? But at the same time the fit is going to be huge and the opportunity to play on a winning team,” Turner said. “I have played on [expletive] teams a couple times and it’s not fun. But obviously the fit, the opportunity to play, and the opportunity to progress and win.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Teary-eyed Isaiah Thomas: ‘This should hurt everybody’
After spending 20 minutes with a towel draped over his head in front of his locker, and after emptying his tank for six games, Isaiah Thomas had to get up the energy to walk to the postgame podium.
He did so with red eyes, the product of emotion and tears following a 104-92 loss to the Hawks in Game 6 that suddenly ended his breakout season and began an offseason of questions.
“It was 2-2, we went down there and they made an adjustment to try and do whatever they can to stop me and guys continued to play through it, and that’s what I love about this group,” said Thomas, who had a team-leading 25 points on 9-of-24 shooting. “Guys continued to shoot their shot with confidence, it’s just we couldn’t make enough plays. They made more plays than us. There was a game where they went on that third-quarter run, it’s tough to get back into the game, especially against a good team. So, we’ve got to just learn from these battles, knowing that nobody said it was going to be easy, it’s tough to win a series and we know that. It was tough to even win two games. This should hurt everybody, and we will come back next year even stronger.”
For the second straight game, Boston had no answers when the Hawks threw two and three bodies at Thomas, in an effort to force others to pick up the slack.
But this time, unlike after Game 5, Thomas wasn’t calling out his teammates. He was praising them.
“Yes, it’s very emotional for me, just because we gave it our all,” Thomas said. ” We never put our head down, like I said, this group of guys is something special. I mean, I played, I gave it my all, so that’s why it hurts that much more. I wish I could have done more, but it just happened to be like that. So it is tough on me, though.”
By Mike Petraglia | Comments Off on Can Celtics keep Hawks from running away with Game 6?
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (left) and Mike Budenholzer (right) are having quite the matchup in the first round. (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)
There’s been plenty of talk over the last three games about the coaching moves made by Brad Stevens and Mike Budenholzer.
There was Stevens changing his lineup and inserting Jonas Jerebko and Evan Turner into the starting lineup with great results before Game 3. There was Stevens going with a small lineup that gave the Hawks fits, especially in the fourth quarter of both games in Boston and there were the two timeouts call by Budenholzer with 15 seconds left in regulation of Game 4. He proceeded to watch his point guard dribble out the clock without actually getting a shot up at the rim as the game went to overtime, where the Celtics dominated and tied the series.
The advantage went back to Budenholzer on Tuesday as his decision to stay with a perimeter was rewarded when the Hawks connected on 14-of-35 shots from beyond the arc. Budenholzer also took a page out of Stevens’ book by going smaller and moving Paul Millsap to center for long stretches of the game.
But Stevens said in a conference call Wednesday it’s important not to become overly obsessed with turning the game into a chess match.
“I think that’s what you have to look at. I think that’s what you have to figure out. I think you always start with a mountain-load of information and your desire is to get to basketball in its simplest form,” Stevens said.
“I’ve shared this quote before, my old boss at Butler used to quote Lincoln when he said, ‘I apologize for the length of this letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one.’ I think that that’s a coach’s job, is to try to make it as short, simple and sweet as possible and then let guys go out there and play a fast game with a clear mind, and that’s the bottom line, that’s my job and that’s what I’ll stay up thinking about doing. The goal will just be to go out and do our stuff as well as we can.”