|Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins calls Rajon Rondo best PG in NBA||07.16.14 at 1:52 pm ET|
Cousins said Celtics star Rajon Rondo is the best point guard in the league, saying, “Absolutely” when questioned on it. He denied that his team’s feud with the Clippers and Chris Paul had any role in his thinking.
There have been rumors that the Kings were interested in trading for Rondo, although there hasn’t been much speculation lately.
Rondo and Cousins both went to Kentucky, although they were separated by three years.
|Where 2014-15 Celtics roster stands||at 10:52 am ET|
As the clock struck midnight, Phil Pressey joined a list of 14 Celtics under guaranteed contract, leaving only one roster spot for summer league standouts Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Colton Iverson and Mike Moser.
Obviously, Danny Ainge could have a trade or 10 coming down the pike, but the Celtics president of basketball operations currently has more than enough players available to fill out another hodgepodge of a roster in 2014-15.
Barring another deal, here’s the current salary structure for the coming season.
Rajon Rondo: $12.9 million
Gerald Wallace: $10.1M
Jeff Green: $9.2M
Marcus Thornton: $8.6M
Avery Bradley: $7.2M
Brandon Bass: $6.9M
Keith Bogans: $5.3M (non-guaranteed)
Joel Anthony: $3.8M
Marcus Smart: $3.2M
Vitor Faverani: $2.1M
Kelly Olynyk: $2.1M
Tyler Zeller: $1.7M
James Young: $1.7M
Jared Sullinger: $1.4M
Chris Johnson: $0.9M (non-guaranteed)
Chris Babb: $0.8M (non-guaranteed)
Phil Pressey: $0.8M
TOTAL: $78.7M ($71.7M guaranteed)
While Ainge will do his darnedest to pair Kevin Love or another franchise-altering player with Rondo before conversely considering deals for his All-Star point guard, it becomes more likely with each passing week that the Celtics will enter the season with 15 of these 17 players under contract.
Even without the trio of Bogans, Johnson and Babb, the Celtics are $8.6 million over the salary cap and $5.1 million under the luxury tax level. (Ainge would love to deal Bogans’ attractive $5.3 million non-guaranteed contract before cutting ties with the veteran waste of cap space.) Unless the C’s somehow become playoff contenders, they’re not paying that tax, leaving only the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception or minimum contracts to add free agents.
Unless Ainge can work his magic on a sign-and-trade for Greg Monroe, the Celtics will whiff on the NBA’s impressive 2014 free agent class. That’s strike two after the lottery pick came up sixth in the equally remarkable 2014 draft class, by the way. The trade market is all that’s left before the C’s strike out looking this summer.
|Report: Phil Pressey contract guaranteed for 2014-15||07.15.14 at 10:43 pm ET|
The Celtics have seen enough to believe little Phil Pressey can be a big part of their immediate future.
According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Pressey’s contract will be guaranteed next season after passing the midnight Tuesday deadline.
Barring late trade offer that forces Celts to use Pressey – and nothing’s in the works – his contract for next yr will be guaranteed.
‘ Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) July 15, 2014
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge last year signed the 5-foot-11 Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb to separate four-year non-guaranteed contracts. Under terms of the contracts, Pressey, Johnson and Babb will be paid under a million dollars annually through 2016-17. Pressey made approximately $490,000 last season, the rookie minimum.
After going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft, Pressey signed with the Celtics to play in the 2013 Orlando Summer League. He was no stranger to the Celtics. Pressey’s AAU team had practiced at the team facility in Waltham where the Celtics first had eyes on him. His performance in the Summer League led to Pressey signing a deal on July 22, 2013.
Pressey became valuable as the Celtics began the season without four-time All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, who was still rehabbing his ACL, torn in Jan. 2013. Pressey made his regular season debut in the 2013-14 Celtics season opener Oct. 30 at the Air Canada Centre against the Toronto. He did not play in the next three games, but after the Celtics got off to an 0-4 start, head coach Brad Stevens shuffled the lineup.
On Nov. 6, at home against the Utah Jazz, Pressey recorded the first three assists, first steal and first field goal of his career. On Jan. 22, with Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless all sitting out and Pressey making his second career start, Pressey scored a career-high 20 points against Washington before fouling out.
He posted a double-double on April 5 against the Detroit Pistons with 12 points and a career-high 11 assists. On April 11, he had another career high with 13 assists as part of a 10-point double double against the Charlotte Bobcats. He matched the 13 assists the following night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He finished the season averaging 2.8 points and 3.2 assists in 15.1 minutes in 75 games for the Celtics.
This month, Pressey traveled with the Celtics to Orlando for the 2014 NBA Summer League, where he averaged 10.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game in five games.
|The Rajon Rondo trade rumor mill begins in earnest||07.14.14 at 10:50 am ET|
Having missed out on Chris Bosh in free agency, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey‘s search for a third star to pair with Dwight Howard and James Harden continues with Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The Celtics captain is reportedly a “longtime Houston target” on the trade market.
While the Rockets have created a boatload of salary cap wiggle room, trading both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in addition to letting Chandler Parsons walk, Morey has few assets remaining to deal for either Rondo or Love, let alone both.
Houston reportedly dealt its 2015 first-round selection in the Lin deal and acquired a protected No. 1 pick from the Pelicans, but because teams cannot complete trades that could leave them without a top pick in consecutive seasons, the Rockets could not offer the Celtics or Timberwolves a first-rounder until 2017.
Likewise, following Parsons’ departure, the Rockets have few players to offer not named Howard or Harden. The newly acquired Trevor Ariza‘s four-year, $32 million deal by way of a three-team trade cannot be dealt for another two months.
While the Celtics and Rockets could both get themselves under the cap to complete a deal, Houston’s offer would have to include some combination of Terrence Jones (12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 1.1 apg, 57.7 TS%, 19.1 PER), Patrick Beverly (10.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 54.5 TS%, 12.4 PER) and unsigned first-round pick Clint Cappela. None of those names exactly scream equal value for either Rondo or Love.
Still, Rondo will be on the trading block should the Celtics not acquire Love themselves, and Morey is a creative GM capable of involving other teams in a package enticing enough to land the C’s point guard. This isn’t the first Rondo trade rumor you’ve seen, and it won’t be the last, but it may really be the beginning of the end of his Boston tenure.
|Rajon Rondo rides shotgun at fork in Celtics road||07.08.14 at 10:16 am ET|
Given the drafting of point guard Marcus Smart and the failure thus far of the Celtics to land a big name this summer via free agency or trade, the discussion has naturally turned to trading Rajon Rondo.
“I don’t think nothing of it,” Rondo said, shrugging his shoulders, according to the Globe. “I am who I am. …
“I don’t have too many feelings involved in this business. I’ve played my heart out for the game, but business is business. I can be here today, gone tomorrow. You never know. For me to get bent out of shape, or to feel threatened by the Celtics drafting a point guard, it means nothing.”
So, he’s good, then?
Meanwhile, the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett spoke to three NBA general managers who believe — despite a number of potential suitors for Rondo’s services — Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will struggle to receive fair compensation for his All-Star point guard this summer, suggesting the C’s could wait until the season starts before making a deal in hopes Rondo’s play increases his trade value.
Conversely, as the trade deadline approaches, opposing GMs will be circling like sharks knowing the Celtics face the possibility of Rondo departing in free agency next summer, leaving Ainge with nothing but cap space in return. In that regard, Rondo’s value may peak before the calendar turns to 2015 (i.e., Chris Paul in December 2011).
Ideally, as Rondo’s high school coach Doug Bibby explained to the Globe, “It won’t affect [Rondo]. If anything, it just woke up a beast.” Then, as Sports Illustrated Chris Mannix suggested, the Celtics could land a legitimate starter and draft picks in return. Unless, of course, Kevin Love walks through that door and the C’s keep Rondo.
Ainge remains at a fork in the road. Whether Rondo is still riding shotgun this winter remains up for debate.
|Brad Stevens on rebuilding with Marcus Smart and James Young: ‘I don’t want to sell our team short’||06.27.14 at 12:57 pm ET|
Rebuilding is a four-letter word to Brad Stevens.
More to the point, it’s something the second-year coach of the Celtics doesn’t have time to consider. Let Danny Ainge be concerned about the semantics of “putting young pieces in place” or “restructuring the roster.” For Stevens, his focus is on the here and now and near-future.
He made that much perfectly clear when asked if adding 20-year-old Marcus Smart and 18-year-old James Young to the roster Thursday night meant that he was entering the second year of a rebuilding program.
“That’s going to have to be a question for all of you and maybe pose that question to management or pose that question to people who aren’t coaching,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, when you’re a coach and you’re in the midst of it, you’re trying to win every game and you’re trying to win the next game. You don’t look at anything as rebuilding. You look at it as the next opportunity. As long as you can prepare and strive and do your best, it’s hard for me to say that because I don’t want to sell our team short.”
Stevens is excited about this much — he’s getting two young talents that know how to create their own shot, something that was missing last season in the 25-win campaign.
“The only thing I would say that we were at least discussing coming into play with the second pick was perimeter scoring,” Stevens said, referring to the selection of Young at No. 17. “I guess the current roster construction you might say that played a role in that. But at the end of the day, we wanted to take the best players available, that we thought were the best players available for us.
“I feel a lot better standing here today than I did on July 4 last year, with how I feel heading into things, how much more comfortable I am understanding the schedule of the NBA, the way to get the most out of our team as we move forward, the way to get the most out of our individuals. We’ll have a lot of guys back that have been a part of this and understand how we want to do things. I think we’re adding two good workers. I think we’re adding two guys that will be hungry to help and I think that’s all a positive. Can I predict how many wins that creates? I can’t predict that. I think we’ll be a lot more prepared from the standpoint of the big picture, both on the court and in our preseason and everything else than I would’ve felt last year at this time.”
|2014 NBA free agent point guards available to Celtics||at 10:57 am ET|
With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we begin our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: point guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.
The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.
While the Celtics still have an All-Star point guard on the roster, Rondo’s name will continue to be mentioned in trade talks for the remaining year on his deal. The addition of Smart combined with Phil Pressey‘s non-guaranteed contract gives Ainge inexpensive solutions behind Rondo. Should the C’s anticipate Rondo’s departure or envision a significant upgrade over Pressey, they could still chase any free agent floor general not named Kyle Lowry.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.
THE RAJON RONDOS
A four-time NBA All-Star at just 28 years old, Rondo already has helped steer the Celtics to an NBA title and could do so again with the right talent around him. Without that talent on the roster, though, Ainge could trade his captain, and the free agent market offers a number of options who could help fill the void left by his departure.
RICH MAN: ERIC BLEDSOE
2013-14: 1,416 min, 17.7 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 57.8 TS%, 19.6 PER
Why? Ainge has eyed Bledsoe since 2013, when the Clippers nearly traded him and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett. In short, he’s a 24-year-old stud.
Why not? It’s hard to imagine the Suns letting a player of Bledsoe’s caliber walk, and even if he does leave Phoenix, word is he’ll be seeking a max contract offer.