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Three ways to survive in the East: Imagining Celtics president Danny Ainge’s phone conversations on NBA draft day 06.26.14 at 12:49 pm ET
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Well, it’€™s here. The day that will shape the Celtics‘ future, for better or worse. The 2014 NBA draft, where anything can happen happens.

With a wealth of picks, an All-Star point guard, tradeable contracts and expiring deals, Celtics president Danny Ainge is the annoying guy at a party, inserting himself into every conversation in the room.

With only hours left until Cleveland is on the clock, here are the three best possible phone conversations Ainge could have on Thursday.

1. MORTGAGE THE FARM FOR KEVIN LOVE

Danny Ainge: “Hi, Flip, it’€™s Danny again.”
Timberwolves president/coach Flip Saunders: “What do you want this time?”
Danny: “Are you sure you don’€™t want our two first-round picks this year, next year’€™s Clippers pick and Kelly Olynyk for Love?”
Flip: “I’m not sure how many times I can say no, but no.”
Danny: “But …”
Flip: “No.”
Danny: “I’m not sure you’ve consider quite how awesome Kelly’s hair really is.”
Flip: “No means no.”
Wyc Grousbeck enters Danny’€™s office.
Wyc: “Fireworks, Danny, fireworks!”
Flip: “I’m sorry, did I just hear Wyc say fireworks?”
Danny: “Oh, yeah, we’ve got this Fourth of July party in a few days. It’€™s nothing. Didn’t you get the invite? Anywho, what if I throw Jared Sullinger into the deal?”
Flip: “Let me think about it for a second. Aaaaaaannnnnnndddddd no.”
Danny: “Ah, can you hold on for a second?”
Flip: “No …”
Danny puts the phone down. “I’d Do Anything for Love’ plays on hold.
Wyc: “We can’t afford another losing season, Danny. I met with Bob Kraft, John Henry and Jeremy Jacobs for our weekly tea and crumpets yesterday, and they were all making fun of me, telling me we’€™re the fifth wheel behind the Revolution. The Revs, Danny, the Revs! When Wyc promises fireworks, Wyc delivers fireworks.”
Danny picks up the phone.
Danny: “You still there, Flip?”
Flip: “Sadly.”
Danny: “How about one of Brooklyn’s picks, too?”
Flip: “Just so we’€™re straight: You’€™re offering four first-round picks, Sully and Kelly?”
Danny: “Well, when you put it that way …”
Flip: “You’ve got yourself a deal.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Danny Ainge, Jabari Parker, Kevin Love
The persistent Rajon Rondo to Sacramento rumor 06.25.14 at 8:54 am ET
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The once strange Rajon Rondo to Sacramento rumors continue to persist, and the latest development makes more sense than any previous narrative.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Kings and Pistons have discussed a deal that would pair Josh Smith with Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins in the Sactown backcourt. So, what does that have to do with the Celtics point guard?

The hope, at least from Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro‘s standpoint, may be to leverage longtime friends Smith and Gay as recruiting coordinators in convincing the C’s captain to sign a long-term contract with a team that has not made the playoffs since 2006. Smith, Gay and Rondo all have openly discussed their desire to play with each other at various points over the last few years.

Sacramento’s interest in Rondo is nothing new. In February, the Kings and Celtics reportedly discussed a trade that would send Rondo packing in exchange for a package including Ben McLemore, Isaiah Thomas and a pair of picks.

None of those pieces are involved in the reported Smith swap (Jason Thompson, Derrick Williams and/or the expiring contracts for Carl Landry and Jason Terry).

Thomas is a restricted free agent, so he could still be included in a sign-and-trade, and the possibility of adding last year’s No. 7 overall pick (McLemore), Sacto’s No. 8 pick this season and a future pick is an increasingly intriguing haul should C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge not land Kevin Love and instead deal Rondo.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Josh Smith, NBA, Rajon Rondo
If Celtics can’t land Kevin Love, then Rajon Rondo should be traded 06.24.14 at 11:59 am ET
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I recently wrote that Kevin Love is going to become a member of the Celtics on draft night.  I still believe that. However, there’€™s a whole other question that needs to be addressed.

What does Danny Ainge do if he is unable to add an All-Star to the core he has right now? The answer is to trade Rajon Rondo.

There are two clear-cut directions in which the Celtics can head. They can trade their assets for a proven veteran, like Love, or they can break ties with Rondo, Jeff Green and their older players to start a youth movement. Most fans prefer to win now, but if that option is not available, selling off pieces to rebuild is the right move.

So what is a reasonable trade offer for Rondo?

If you remember from the start of the season, there was a pretty realistic offer rumored to be coming from Sacramento. If the trade offer remains something in the ballpark of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore and a draft pick (which would be No. 8 overall), that would be something Ainge considers. One note: Thomas is a restricted free agent, meaning Boston would be getting his rights. The C’s could re-sign him or let him walk for a higher offer.

Rondo has no interest in sticking around for a full rebuild, nor should he. Ainge knows this, and also is smart enough to know that there is no purpose to keep his star player on a roster that is not ready to win. The Celtics would then become one of the youngest teams in the league, with building blocks that have the potential to make them even younger.

Boston’€™s core would look something along these lines next season if Rondo were to be dealt to Sacramento (an easy example to use): The Celtics would roll out a lineup of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, McLemore, Thomas, Avery Bradley (a restricted free agent like Thomas) to go along with the players they draft at Nos. 6, 8 and 17. Keep in mind Ainge also would hold two first-round picks in the next two drafts.

No doubt there is risk involved with having so many young prospects on the roster. Some disappointing draft picks and developments are expected. At the same time, a couple of those players likely would become stars, while another couple should turn into good role players.

It’€™s nerve-racking to think about if you’€™re a Celtics fan, simply because there would be so much that would need to occur just to contend. But with other teams deep into trade talks for Love, this is a realistic alternative that everyone needs to be ready to accept. You know, just in case I’€™m wrong about Love.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.

Read More: Ben McLemore, Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love
ESPN’s Jeff Goodman on D&C: LeBron James ‘probably gone’ from Miami after opting out of contract at 10:15 am ET
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ESPN basketball analyst Jeff Goodman checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss LeBron James‘ decision to opt out of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent, and if there is any chance James might end up in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The question on people’s minds is why James — who still could re-sign with Miami — would opt out of his deal with a team that has reached four straight NBA Finals (winning two).

“Because he’s LeBron. He’s LeBron and he’s got people around him that just don’t know how to deal with these things, as proven by a few years ago,” Goodman said. “Whether it’s Rich Paul, his agent, or Nike, or whoever’s telling him to do these things …

“I agree, I think he’s probably gone. Because you don’t make this move publicly and put yourself out there unless you’re ready to leave. Miami’s made it clear they obviously want him. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep him. Again, it comes back to it’s a dumb move to put yourself out there like this. You could be the hero by just saying, ‘Hey, listen, I’m not opting out, I’m just coming back, I want to be in Miami.’

“But you guys are right, listen, if he’s opting out at this point it certainly means he’d rather be elsewhere. He’s got questions with Miami — which he should have, to be honest, in some regards. Because Dwyane Wade looked like the broken-down Dwyane Wade. They don’t have enough help around him right now, with Wade at the level he’s at. When Wade was a top-15 player in the league you could see them continue to win titles. But how are they going to do it now if Wade — who I think will probably finish his career in Miami — sticks around. You don’t have a lot of flexibility.”

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo
Shabazz Napier says he has ‘heart’ to lead an NBA team 06.16.14 at 3:55 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Before stepping on the court for a workout Monday morning at the Celtics training facility, Shabazz Napier wanted to make sure he took it all in.

So, the former University of Connecticut star point guard — born in Roxbury and schooled at Charlestown High — came in Sunday night and took some time before an informal shootaround to just be the fan of the Celtics he was growing up.

“I came in [Sunday] to shoot a little bit,” Napier said. “For about a good 5-10 minutes, I looked around at the banners. Just a warm feeling. [Watching] the Celtics growing up, being a Boston fan and you get those chills you every time you watch those films. It took me about five to 10 minutes to realize I was here.”

Monday, Napier was all business. He took part in an NBA pre-draft workout Monday morning for the Celtics. The two-time NCAA champion guard says he may not have all the physical tools like size and length but his heart makes him an NBA leader. Napier grew up in the Boston area before leaving for UConn but says he still cheers for Boston teams like the Celtics.

One thing he wanted to get across in his meeting with reporters was his confidence that he can do in the NBA what he did at UConn — lead a team to a championship.

“I don’t have the crazy wingspan,” said Napier, whose wingspan at the combine was measured at 6-foot-3.25 inches. “I just have the heart that a lot of guys with those attributes don’t have. You put me in front of anybody I’m going to compete. That’s the biggest thing that I have gotten since I was younger. I was always the littlest guy. Those are the things I can’t worry about. Just be myself. There are a lot of guys with those attributes that can’t lead a team like I can. There’s always a reason for something. I’m definitely happy I can lead a team.

“I’ve been to six [NBA] teams so far and basketball has taken me there. It’s been a blessing.”

Napier said that he plans to work out for at least two more teams, including the Rockets this week, before sitting back and watching where his name is called on June 26.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Connecticut Huskies, NBA, NBA Draft
Julius Randle gets some sage advice from Rajon Rondo: ‘Just enjoy the process’ 06.13.14 at 2:56 pm ET
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WALTHAM — After one year at Kentucky, forward Julius Randle feels he’s ready to take on the NBA.

Friday, following a pre-draft workout for the Celtics, the 19-year-old showed just how ready he is by answering a non-stop stream of questions from reporters about the state of his right foot, which had a pin placed in it in his senior year of high school to help heal a break.

There were reports Thursday that some NBA general managers believe the foot did not heal properly and that it could be an issue that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

“My foot is fine,” Randle said. “Everybody has their opinion on what [I] should do but I’m pain-free. There’s no pain before, during or after. I’m fine.”

Randle said surgery has not been considered to this point.

“It’s never been considered,” he said. “I’ve met with my own doctor and talked to specialists, some of the best doctors in the world and they said they wouldn’t do anything with it. [I] broke it back in high school. I have a pin in it. I guess some people may think they want to put a different one in. I don’t know. I have no clue. It’s the draft and they want to know about it.

Where did he get the advice on how to handle the barrage of questions that he knew would be coming? Another Kentucky product — Rajon Rondo – spoke with him before his workout and gave him some advice.

“I talked to him a little bit today and yesterday,” Randle said. “We kind of have that Kentucky connection. Rondo is a great guy. I have nothing bad to say about him. He’s a great guy, competitor. I’d love to play with him.

“Just be myself, just enjoy the process. A 19-year-old kid going through this can be a lot. Just really enjoy the process, have fun with it, and don’t let outside distractions take away from your joy of the process. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, that’s what my family has told me to do and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”

The media hype Friday over a pre-draft workout in Boston gave him a little taste of what to expect in the NBA, especially if he’s selected by the Celtics.

“It’s a little bit of the same. Kentucky prepares you a lot for things like these,” he said of playing for John Calipari for just one season. “At Kentucky, this is all they know, Kentucky basketball. So, it really prepared me from an expectation level. The fans of Boston, city of Boston has great expectations for their team. This is a winning organization, a championship organization. Kentucky is the same way. Our season is a lot shorter, they don’t expect to win maybe two games at the most.”

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Julius Randle, Kentucky Wildcats, NBA
Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Could Carmelo Anthony be a fit with Celtics? 06.06.14 at 12:10 pm ET
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In case you missed it, Kevin Love pretty much became a member of the Celtics this past weekend. Ben Rohrbach filled us in on the worst-kept secret in Boston, as Love was essentially a public attraction all weekend long.

Operating under the assumption that Love indeed ends up in Boston, the search for the third member of the next ‘€œBig Three’€ already is underway. And unless you’€™ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re aware that Carmelo Anthony is the hot name to join forces with Love and Rajon Rondo and generate the next great era of Celtics basketball.

The problem is that many of us don’€™t like Melo as a team player, myself included. Despite his unique talent, he can be selfish and tends to have tunnel vision toward scoring the ball, blocking out the rest of the intangibles that result in … what’€™s the word I’€™m looing for? Oh yeah, winning.

So obviously the Celtics have no reason to add a player like that to their roster, right? Wrong. There is no alternative out there to Anthony, so Danny Ainge has to take what he can get. From there, the goal is to make Anthony fit in Boston, and here’€™s how you do it.

Melo clearly would be relied upon to score in Boston, it’€™s the most natural part of his game. But guess what? Anthony also is a good rebounder and passer who has the tools be a good defender. Similar to Paul Pierce, bringing those skills out of him is what could transform Anthony into a winning player late in his career.

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Read More: Carmelo Anthony, Danny Ainge, Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo
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