‘Celtics Stuff Live’ postgame show with John Karalis – 24.11.2014

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The latest episode of ‘Celtics Stuff Live’, with our friend John Karalis of Red’s Army, is available online via Blog Talk Radio.

Click here to listen.

Terrific podcast analysing the Celtics v Blazers game, with some very pertinent issues raised.

Check it out. Enjoy! -@AusCelticsFan

Retaining Rondo: A Comprehensive Examination

The rumours never end. Ever. Rajon Rondo has been the point guard of the Boston Celtics since 2006, and has repeatedly attracted trade speculation over the bulk of his career. And yet, here he is, a rarity in the league as a player who has remained with the same team since his rookie year, eight years on.

Then you realise why the rumours have been around for so long. To put it simply, he has immense talent, an NBA championship, and plays the game to make his teammates better by sharing the ball – an uncommon trait for point guards in the NBA. Then when you dig even further, you are reminded of his ability to step up his game in the postseason, of his drive to win at all costs, to sacrifice life and limb (literally) for his team. Of course other teams would be interested, there’s no doubt about that.

When you put all of this together, you really wonder why ‘experts’ are so keen to offload a player of this calibre. Allow me to analyse exactly why the captain of the most storied franchise in the game will remain in Boston not only for this season, but long enough to see that number 9 hanging in the rafters next to Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.


The Mutual Attraction

In any long-term relationship, both parties need to remain interested and enthusiastic about one another. Firstly, Rajon himself has repeatedly stated that he loves the Celtics, the city of Boston and the fans that occupy it. Here are some of his more recent quotes;

“The fans, the people here make me want to stay,” Rondo said at that time. “The organization has been great. I can’t say enough about Danny (Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) and Wyc (Grousbeck who co-owns the team), but when I walk down the street the fans have embraced me from Day One. These people know the game; you can’t fool them. The love I get is kind of overwhelming. I want to stay here.”

“Regardless of what’s going on with the season, my position hasn’t changed,” Rondo said on Wednesday. “I love being a Celtic.”

It’s always encouraging when the player loves the team he plays for, however the feelings need to be shared by those running the organisation too. When the owner, GM and coach all like what you bring to the table, I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that the organisation would like to see you stick around.

The relationship between coach Stevens and captain Rondo is as strong as any Rondo has had with any coach. Mostly it seems as though the reports of Rondo being hard to coach are blown way out of proportion, but we’ll get to that later. NBA.com’s David Aldridge outlined the kind of rapport shared by the duo before the season began, exploring Rondo’s appreciation for how Stevens is the most positive coach he’s had in his entire career, and the values of playing hard and the will to win are shared between the pair. Having analytical minds and confidence in your star player to execute the plays drawn up in timeouts, are attributes any coach would love to have in their point guard.


The Business

With salary cap restrictions, pending free agency, and a team in rebuild mode, the final year of Rondo’s contract was always going to draw attention from reporters. While we won’t delve too far into the financial side of basketball, it actually makes sense to wait until the end of the season to re-sign him.

Due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement rules, Boston is unable to offer a five-year extension to Rondo until the end of the season. The Celtics are the only team able to offer a contract with the length of 5 years as they hold Rajon’s Bird Rights. In addition, the team can’t offer anywhere near the same amount of (possibly maximum) money until season’s end as well. Also in the Celtics’ favour is their ability to offer higher increments of pay per season than other teams once free agency does hit. It appears both Danny and Rondo are on the same page already, when Ainge was quoted on media day agreeing that a player set to reach his prime is probably worth the big dollars:

“I think a four-time All-Star by the time he’s [28] years old would qualify for max based on what we’ve seen in the marketplace,” Ainge said. “If I were Rajon and I were Rajon’s agent, I would definitely say that.”

While a maximum contract may sound a bit steep to Rondo critics, there is one very important thing to remember where the salary cap is concerned. The NBA is set to triple their national TV revenue in their next television rights deal for the season beginning 2016-17. While there is still this season and next to get through, this deal is expected to increase team salary caps by $25.8 million per year.

What this means for Rondo is that a maximum contract signed next year, won’t actually hurt the team’s cap room nearly as much after the first season. To put it simply, the current salary cap’s maximum will pay Rajon handsomely for the next five years, but it won’t destroy the Celtics’ long-term spending on other pieces. The percentage of his contract next to the salary cap will actually be comparable to his current team-friendly deal.


The Drawcard

There are many stars in the NBA, but how many of those play alongside someone who could actually make them even better? Building a roster that is strong right to the end of the bench is becoming increasingly important to building a championship team. Rondo is a distributor by nature, and has proven his ability to put the ball to his teammates that amplify their strengths. So the question is; why would you trade someone that can make their teammates better, and be appealing to potential star recruits?

One of the knocks on Rondo was that his productivity would drop off once his star teammates in Pierce, Garnett and Allen left. Overall his statistics point to someone that has remained just as effective in scoring and passing, while his rebounding numbers have actually improved since the departures of the Big Three. His maturity levels have increased, and he seems to be excelling as a leader since their departures.

If anything, he has become more of a focal point on offense, and finally plays with teammates young enough to play the running game he has always craved. Last season the Celtics ranked 12th for possessions per game while posting 96.2 points. Through this year, they rank 8th in the league for possessions while posting 104.6 points – good enough for 6th in the league. A fit Rondo is showcasing how easily he can run an offense that plays his style of run-and-gun basketball.

From an individual perspective, Rondo’s performance through 6 games this year has yielded averages of 10.8 points, a league-leading 11.3 assists, 8.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. The man is almost averaging a triple-double. While it’s a small sample, not many players in the league can point to those numbers.

Looking into the history books, Rondo has demonstrated that he can take his game to another level once the playoffs hit. First there was holding the keys to the 2008 championship team (of course), but it was over the next few years he really began to shine. The 2009 series against the Bulls was a coming out party for Rondo, playing a starring role in the 7 game series. He almost single-handedly took his team of stars to the championship in 2010 with the way he played in the Finals, and he played out the series against Miami in 2011 despite a dislocated elbow. Then in 2012, he helped take the soon-to-be champion Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, including that 44-point game that almost ripped Miami’s heart out.

He has proven to the league that he is capable of stepping up when it matters most in the postseason, something his contemporaries have no doubt noticed, but also respected immensely. Keeping in mind that the Celtics are primed to make a charge at the 2015 offseason, in both free agency and trades, Rondo is a pretty handy individual to help sell the Boston Celtics franchise to prospective players.


The Silencing of Detractors

Where to begin? Rondo is in the final year of a contract, which makes him an easy target for trade speculation, even by his standards. We often see players step up their games when playing for another contract, then drastically dropping off in the following season. Danny Ainge summarises where Rondo would fit into this topic:

“I don’t think that’s what drives Rajon. I think that he’s motivated because he didn’t play to his standards coming off the knee injury. He doesn’t like to not be good. He doesn’t like not being considered one of the best point guards in the game. I think that’s what drives him, that’s what motivates him, and that’s what drove him to hard work this summer.”

Even if the C’s were looking to offload Rondo, the issue of placing a value on such a unique player opens up a whole new can of worms. People say he’s a hard individual to deal with, which would automatically be used against the Celtics in any negotiations to trade for anyone of equal talent – especially when the team is taking a risk to convince him to stay if he’s only been there for half a season. I believe a trade is even more unlikely now than it was at any point last year.

The perception that Rondo is a tough personality to deal with is unfounded. He’s the ultimate competitor who loves to win, and I can only recall one occasion in his entire career where there has ever been any issues with teammates. That teammate happened to be Ray Allen, who was more upset with Doc Rivers’ decision to put the ball in Rondo’s hands more than Rondo as a person. Kobe Bryant, one of the fiercest competitors to ever play in the NBA, has had his fair share of issues with teammates – but I don’t see anyone kicking him out of LA, and he’s had several more indiscretions than Rondo ever will. I’m not comparing the two from a basketball level, as Rondo is more a likely to form a star duo, but it’s a good comparison when it comes to competitive personalities.

If anything I would say Rondo is one of the more loyal individuals when it comes to his teammates, when you consider his lasting friendships with past Celtics such as Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Keyon Dooling, Jason Terry and Kendrick Perkins, just to name a few. With these players now all departed, Rajon can seek advice from his former teammates about parting from such a great place. If he values Kendrick Perkins’ guidance, then we shouldn’t be worried about the number 9 leaving any time soon

“I think it’s a great place for him. I think he wants to stay here. We talk on the regular, and I think he should stay,” said Perkins. “If I was him, I’d stay.”

The current roster is shaped by a strong guard rotation of Rondo, Avery Bradley and rookie Marcus Smart. On draft night, many people began pointing at Boston’s selection of Smart as the end of Rondo’s time in a green uniform. While Smart has already shown his potential as a capable player, it would actually seem that these three guards could co-exist with one another as the C’s build a deep roster. Who’s to say the Celtics won’t look to offload one of Bradley or Smart if the right deal presents itself? It’s never nice to think about, but there is always the possibility.

Lastly, our friend John from Red’s Army made a great point about a potential Rondo trade at this season’s deadline:

“I don’t think Danny Ainge is going to lesson, lower his price, I don’t think he wants to become the GM that becomes known as the guy who lowers his price when his back’s against the wall.”


The Final Word

All dialogue from both Rajon and the Celtics organisation appears to be heading to a contract extension in the summer of 2015. Again, Danny Ainge has prepared for the Celtics to make a full tilt at this year’s free agency, and has a ridiculous amount of young players and draft picks at his disposal via trades, to get this team back to the top end of the Eastern conference. If Boston is looking to attract big names to the city next year, having a player as special as Rondo waiting to play alongside you has to make the team more appealing. Four-time All Stars and NBA champions don’t grow on trees, trading away a player at the peak of his powers doesn’t make sense to me.

Rajon Rondo is a loyal person, and I have no doubt he wants to become a Celtic for life. He is the captain of the team for a reason. He is respected right around the league, and I believe he is a key component to bringing banner 18 to the city of Boston. Thank you for reading.

- Michael Tarran

(@mickyt34)

Celtics Stuff Live – 9th November – Reds Army v Gary Tanguay

Karalis_vs_TanguayWhilst we didn’t get 12 rounds of brutal jabs, pummelling and uppercuts that most expected, listeners were treated to, and somewhat surprised by, a respectful and quite civil exchange of opinions between John Karalis of RedsArmy.com, and Gary Tanguay of CSNNE.

It’s no secret that Tanguay is NOT Rajon Rondo’s biggest admirer, and John Karalis, the fair and balanced opinionist that he is, took it to Tanguay to explain his attitude towards the Boston Celtics All-Star point guard.

The live exchange was broadcast on Blogtalk Radio, and can be listened to, or downloaded in its entirety, at the link below.

I was fortunate enough to have a call that I placed make it into the show, to offer my take on the live exchange.

Listeners can here my barely audible Australian ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Bane voice at the 1:08:50 mark of the show.

Hope you enjoy. – @auscelticsfan

Link: Reds Army v Gary Tanguay

John Karalis vs Gary Tanguay: LIVE on RedsArmy.com

Karalis_vs_Tanguay

Will this one on one go the full 12 rounds? Or end in a knockout? (Image: @auscelticsfan)

It’s real. It’s happening. The moment we’ve all been patiently waiting for. Gary Tanguay will go toe-to-toe with John Karalis LIVE on RedsArmy.com to discuss the TRUTH about Boston Celtics Point Guard, Rajon Rondo, once and for all.

The gloves are off, so to speak. Don’t miss the event of the year.

Australian fans your appropriate time conversions are below:

Boston (U.S.A. – Massachusetts) Sunday, 9 November 2014 at 9:00:00 PM EST UTC-5 hours
Brisbane (Australia – Queensland) Monday, 10 November 2014 at 12:00:00 Noon AEST UTC+10 hours
Melbourne (Australia – Victoria) Monday, 10 November 2014 at 1:00:00 PM AEDT UTC+11 hours
Adelaide (Australia – South Australia) Monday, 10 November 2014 at 12:30:00 PM ACDT UTC+10:30 hours
Perth (Australia – Western Australia) Monday, 10 November 2014 at 10:00:00 AM AWST UTC+8 hours

- @AusCelticsFan

 

The Road Ahead – How will the Boston Celtics go this season?

With our first proper look at the roster after an impressive season opener, what is to follow for the Celtics in 2014-2015?

In a preseason where fans expected fireworks and a top 3 pick, there was disappointment as the off-season brought the Celtics the 6th pick and low-key opportunistic moves.  This wasn’t from lack of trying by Danny Ainge and management as the Celtics were one of the most active, trying to land a big fish to pair with Rondo to turbo-charge the rebuild.  Once it became apparent that our assets were not as highly valued as we thought, the Celtics held steady – finding bargains wherever they could.  By doing this, Ainge has been able to put forth a roster that is more balanced than last year, while not sacrificing anymore cap space beyond this season.  Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Celtics in season #2 of the rebuild:

 

Front Office:

With the roster looking more rounded, Danny is still a fair way away from the finished product.  What he has done so far is just collect assets, and flipping them for more valuable assets.  The hope here is that these young assets turn out to be legitimate players and once this occurs, he can then decide on whether or not he builds around the young core, or sells the farm in hope of landing other stars.  All options are currently still open – much like Houston before they landed James Harden, which is where the Celtics are at right now.  Houston had a young, gritty team that remained competitive, but, because they kept their options open, they were able to swing for the fences and land James Harden, followed by Dwight Howard.

Although the roster makes more sense this year, look for Danny to trade away a veteran or two throughout the season, with Bass/Thornton being the prime candidates due to their expiring contracts.  There is also the small fact that our star point guard, Rajon Rondo is in the final year of his contract too, so brace yourself for another season full of Rondo trade rumours – it is difficult to see any team offering enough to Danny Ainge to pull the trigger on any Rondo trade, ultimately keeping him in green.

NBA: Boston Celtics-Brad Stevens-Press Conference

Coaching:

Besides Rondo, the biggest drawcard for potential future free agent signings could very well be Brad Stevens.  He has managed to turn discards such as Jordan Crawford and Kris Humphries into players that other teams wanted and he already looks to be doing the same with Evan Turner this year.  He seems to have the full trust of his squad and enjoys a great relationship with Rondo, who has been reported as ‘difficult’ time and time again.

With his first year now in the rear-view mirror, Coach Stevens now knows how the NBA games go, he knows exactly he wants and what buttons to push with certain players.  His players have spoken about the difference between Coach Stevens this season compared to last and show full confidence in his ability to lead the team as he tries to get this team running like the Spurs “Lite”.

 

Players:

Though starved of top-end talent, the Celtics do boast a legitimately deep squad where we see a minimal drop off between the 4th to 10th player in the squad.  Here are the players to watch out for during the season:

Rajon Rondo: With more time removed from his ACL injury in early 2013, Rondo looks to get back to his All-Star best.  Although he suffered a minor setback breaking his hand, he is ready to prove his doubters wrong and be the leader and star that this team needs.  Being in his contract year, he will be desperate to remind everybody in the league that he is still one of the best point guards in the NBA.  Questions were asked on whether or not he can play in Brad Stevens’ offense and after the season opener yesterday, it is safe to say that he will have no problems in that system.  Rondo’s biggest question mark is injuries – once thought of as durable player, he has missed 29, 44 & 52 games respectively in the previous three seasons, will he be able to stay relatively healthy this year?

ABRondo

Avery Bradley: Can Bradley live up to the 4 year, $32m extension he signed over the off-season?  That will be the question people will ask of him throughout the duration of his contract.  Avery has looked to re-dedicate himself back to his bread and butter, his defence whilst further working on his 3 point shot which is not to be ignored by other defences.  At the young age of 23, Bradley is already one of the leaders of the team as he is entering his 5th season, being the 2nd longest tenured Celtic (behind Rondo).  With Bradley playing exclusively at the shooting guard role, he should further flourish under Brad Stevens – and wreak havoc defensively with Rondo and Smart to play next to.

Jared Sullinger: After his first fully healthy summer as a pro, Sully worked tirelessly on both his fitness base, and his 3 point shooting during the off-season, it showed in the pre-season, as he was the best on the team averaging a double-double in under 28 minutes per game.  Fairly or not, Sully was judged critically last season mainly due to his lack of conditioning after missing a large part of the off-season due to back surgery.  Fans can only hope that he takes the next leap to a double-double machine in the regular season, and even  pushes for a potential all-star selection.  He is one of the most important players on the roster due to his leadership and natural feel of the game – he is the team’s best rebounder and is also an underrated passer.  If his conditioning will allow him to play at a high level for 30+ minutes per game, he could very well be in the running for most improved player, as some experts have predicted.

sully-oly

Kelly Olynyk: Olynyk will be looking to build on the end of last season, where we saw him string together an impressive set of performances averaging 25.7 points (on 53.4% shooting), 9.3 Rebounds and 3.7 assists in just under 35 minutes in his final 3 games to close the season out.  While Olynyk has always been sound offensively, coming into his rookie season, criticism has come from the defensive end of the floor – where people question whether he was quick enough to guard fours, or strong enough to guard fives.  His rookie season did nothing to silence the critics defensively – although he wasn’t as bad as advertised, he clearly needed to work on that end of the ball.  Coming into this season, we can see that Olynyk has worked on his body as he trimmed some fat and added muscle, making him better equipped to handle the defensive duties.  Due to his range of skill, including his shooting/driving and passing ability, look for Olynyk to be a big part of the Celtics revamped offense as he has locked up the starting Centre spot.

Marcus Smart: The Celtics prized rookie has been just as good on defence as advertised, with some experts even picking him as a potential Rookie of the year candidate.  Smart has the tools to be able to contribute straight away on the defensive end, but, his offense has looked shaky at times.  As Smart plays more games, he looks to be getting more and more comfortable with his role and what he is supposed to be doing out on the court.  Will he be able to offensively impact a game and run the team?  If Smart can continue to develop his shot and show steady improvement, the sky is the limit for this prized rookie.  With a healthy squad, Smart looks to be the 6th man for this team.

Boston Celtics Unveil New Draft Picks

Evan Turner: There was no real excitement in the air when the Celtics made the low key signing of Evan Turner for 2 years, $3m per.  This was looked at as a low risk/high reward signing after Turner’s value plummeted to an all-time low following his season/playoffs in Indiana.  In pre-season, coach Stevens had Turner playing all positions from 1-3 with great success, can this equate to the regular season, and will Turner be able to run the point as good as he did in college, where he was 2010 NCAA Big 10 top scorer and National Player of the Year en route to being the #2 pick in 2010?  For the relatively low salary he is on, Turner can turn out to be a bargain as he now has a coach/system where his potential could actually be fulfilled.

Marcus Thornton: Marcus Thornton has been a pleasant surprise for the Celtics, being the spark plug off the bench with lights out shooting and deserves a special mention, but given the logjam at the guard spots, and his expiring contract, is he playing his way out of Boston, or will he be a major part of the team for the whole season?

Every player on the Celtics roster has questions against their names.  Can Zeller be the centre that the Celtics so desperately need?  Will Thornton/Bass be on the team after the trade deadline?  Will Jeff Green be more aggressive and average 20+ ppg?  Will James Young show enough to get regular minutes?  Can Vitor come back and excite everyone like he did early last season?


At times this season, this young Celtics team will be fun to watch with high energy D, fast paced action, and 3 point barrages.  Given the average age of the team, there will be games that we would like to forget, but, expect a more competitive team compared to last year.  For this season, the Celtics have a near 100% Rondo, an extra year experience for Coach Stevens, and extra year for our young veterans, and 2 rookies who have tremendous upside.  The Celtics may not be contenders, nor they likely may not make the playoffs (I hope I’m wrong), but there is enough talent there to be cautiously optimistic about this team for the upcoming season.

I predict that the Celtics record for the upcoming season will be: 35-47.

What about you?  How do you think the Celtics will go this season?

Sullinger Is Ready To Star

With the beginning of a new NBA season upon us, it’s that time of year where we can make big statements about what to expect this year. While many people talk of who will win the championship, Most Valuable Player, or who will make the playoffs, I’m turning focus to a third-year power forward that is just primed for a big season.

Jared Sullinger is ready. After showing glimpses of the player he can become in his rookie season, it was ended prematurely by a back injury. He established himself as a consistent starter and important offensive weapon in his second year, which was an achievement in itself. Coming off back surgery, he had a limited fitness base to begin with, and an injury to his shooting hand hampered his jump shot for the final months of the year.

Heading into 2014/15, Sully has been able to get into the best shape of his young NBA career. He has dropped a noticeable amount of weight, and has continued to fine-tune his outside game. Consider this: Sullinger connected on 50% of his attempts from 3-point range this preseason at an average of 3.8 shots per game.

Coupled with his soft touch at the rim, he averaged 14.9 points in just 26 minutes per contest over the past month. Then there’s his average of 10.9 boards per game despite limited minutes. In one game against the Nets, Sullinger produced a game of 21 points and 19 rebounds in just 29 minutes of action. In case those numbers aren’t enough, Sully has become smarter with his defensive work. He no longer commits ‘rookie fouls’ in games, and has adapted well to the pace of his opponents at that end of the floor.

Last season, Sullinger began to receive praise from his peers after he began to rebound the ball at an excellent rate and find a great balance between taking outside shots and knowing when to attack the paint. This resulted in some 20-20 games, while he also displayed an ability to make tough shots in close contests.

Yes, it’s only October, and we have 82 games ahead of us. However, I believe Sully is ready to become an emerging star in this league. I know I can’t wait to find out how well he goes over the next six months.

Share your thoughts with us!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Keeping his talents in South Beach?

It appears that everyone around the league is waiting to see what LeBron will do with his free agency. He has exercised his early termination option in Miami, which means he is technically a free agent. Does anyone think that he’ll really leave Miami?! Some maybe as there is a growing cohort of Cleveland Cavs fans that hope for the prodigal son to return. No, I am not buying it either.

So what is all this LeBron talk doing on Celtics Down Under? Are we all about our boys in green? Shouldn’t we be discussing what Danny has promised to be off season fireworks? Well like him or hate him, LeBron’s decision will have a bearing on what other teams can and can’t do, including our Celtics. Danny Ainge has reportedly been burning the midnight oil to put together a deal for Kevin Love to have a new home at Causeway Street. Like the previous Kevin from Minnesota, he would be a high impact player and if we can keep Rondo and add another piece begin a rebuild properly.

Which brings me to the next piece. Roy Hibbert. Yes the Pacers fans had been critical as they see Roy’s playoff performance as disappointing  . I always liked the way he played and think he’d be a good fit with K-Love and Rondo if we can swing that trade.

I mean, check this out:

(I love the rejection on ‘Melo and you know Bostonians love good D.)

The other Pacer that The Celtics are reportedly interested in is Lance Stephenson. I like Lance as well especially things like this

as he reminds me of KG doing whatever it took to get in to the head of the opponent. He is one of those guys that you’d love playing for you, hate ‘em against you.

Slightly unhinged? Maybe.
Entertaining? Definitely.

Let’s hope LeBron makes his intentions clear so we can get on with our rebuild, because two things are definite.

First, LeBron isn’t coming to Boston.

Secondly, our boys in green will have to go through him to get Banner 18.

Smart Move Signals A Changing Of The Guard

First off I would like to congratulate Marcus Smart and James Young on becoming the newest members of the Boston Celtics. I can’t wait to see what both are able to bring to the floor.

We all know that Danny Ainge went in to the draft with the tactic of drafting the best player available, not based on what the team needs right now. This is an obvious thing to do as it is clear the Celtics are a long way from title contenders.

Having said that, by drafting Smart with the 6th pick there is obviously going to be ramifications for the rest of the guards that Boston already possesses.

Credit: Brad Penner

Credit: Brad Penner

Rajon Rondo was the name that many people thought of first.  I truly believe that Smart and Rondo can co-exist. They are both brutal competitors and could form a very dangerous back court duo.

The trade rumours are obviously going to be crazy this off season, but I don’t think Ainge will actively shop Rondo. He is a four time All Star and Captain of the team, they don’t just grow on trees. It will take a huge offer for Ainge to pull the trigger, and I hope the offer doesn’t come.

The player I believe the selection of Smart effects most is Avery Bradley, who is a restricted free-agent. If Smart moves to the shooting guard position, and plays alongside Rondo, Bradley is left as the odd one out. Smart’s rookie contract is going to be a lot cheaper than retaining Bradley, who could ask for up to $9 million this off season.

Avery Bradley has always been known for his defence. Much like Bradley, Smart plays great defence and never gives up on a play. Smart is 1″ taller, and has a 2″ longer wingspan than Bradley. This may not sound like much but on the defensive end a long wingspan is so very valuable.  This only adds to the fact that Bradley could now been seen as dispensable by Ainge.

As much as I love what Bradley brings to the Celtics, I don’t believe he is worth $9 million. Sadly, I think we’ve seen the last of Avery Bradley in Boston.

Phil Pressey showed tremendous promise throughout his rookie season in 2013/14. He went undrafted but showed he can definitely have an impact in the NBA.

The drafting of Smart will have a huge effect on Pressey’s minutes going forward. Smart will take a lot of the minutes that Pressey saw last season. That being said, if Smart is moved to the two guard position, Pressey will most likely still see some court time as Rondo’s primary back up.

I think Pressey is definitely worth keeping around, especially due to the fact that he is cheap and is learning from one of the best in Rajon Rondo.

Jerryd Bayless came to Boston in the Courtney Lee trade last season. Mainly seen as a cost-saving move, he did provide some quality games for the Celtics and was a solid contributor once he became familiar with sBrad Steven’ system.

This off season, Bayless becomes an unrestricted free-agent. Unlike Bradley, Bayless could be signed for a reasonable amount. If the Celtics can sign him for a good price I think he will still have a role to play for the team. He could slot in nicely as a sixth man, behind Rondo at the point and Smart at shooting guard.

Marcus Smart brings so much fight and heart to the Celtics. He is mature beyond his years and has an NBA ready frame and mindset. Whilst his selection could be problematic for individuals, the future of the Celtics looks to be in good hands.

All You Need Is Love

If you’re a fan of the NBA, you would be well aware of Kevin Love’s pending free agency in the summer of 2015. If you’re a fan of the Boston Celtics, you may also be aware the superstar power forward just spent the entire weekend in the city of Boston.

 

Artwork by CDU's own @lil_kaino

Artwork by CDU’s own @lil_kaino

With reports that Love wants out of Minnesota as soon as possible and won’t re-sign with the team next year, it’s hard not to get excited at the realistic possibility of K-Love teaming up with Rajon Rondo and the Celtics.

 

Yes, every team should be targeting such a talent. A rebounding machine, talented shooter and a fierce competitor, Love will draw a huge asking price to pry him away from the Timberwolves. This is where the Celtics have the upper hand on almost every other franchise in the league.

 

Danny Ainge has been stockpiling away those picks for something big, and this could definitely be what we have all been waiting for. Holding pick #6 in this year’s draft, the top prospects are out of our grasp, so it makes a lot of sense to trade away the draft selection along with one of our many other assets to convince the Timberwolves to play along and bring Kevin Love to the city of Boston.

 

It’s worth revisiting quotes from 2014’s All-Star weekend, when Love shared his opinion of the 2013/14 version of the C’s

“I’ve never really spent much time in Boston. I don’t know it too well,” he said. “But I think as far as playing there, we love competing against those guys. I think they have a great coach and they have a ton of youngsters that are up-and-comers.

“Boston is a great city. I’m sure free agents would love to go there, especially with [Brad] Stevens as a coach. He’s a guy that can win basketball games. He gets guys to play for him. They’ve been having good success there, even in his first year, and he has a lot of young players. The coach has a lot to do with it, but yeah, Boston is a great place.”

 

Over the weekend, Love was spotted in a few establishments that would have opened his eyes to the city’s proud sporting culture. Across the road from TD Garden, Love enjoyed a dinner at The Greatest Sports Bar, and a conversation with a co-owner who told The Boston Globe

“It went great,” Fairweather told the Globe on Sunday. “The kid is a real gentleman. I think he has a real appreciation with the Celtics’ history and tradition.”

 

The most stirring sighting however, was left to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, where Captain Rondo and Kevin Love were snapped having a laugh together (courtesy of @BigDub on Twitter). The combination of Rondo dropping dimes and Love cleaning the glass is the stuff championship-calibre teams can be built on. It’s hard not to get carried away.

 

However Flip Saunders, president of basketball operations for the T-Wolves, tried his best to put a wet blanket over the entire weekend

“The last I knew Kevin was under contract with us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year,” Saunders told reporters in Minneapolis on Sunday. “I don’t really dictate where guys go on vacation or what they do. They can go wherever they want to go.”

With regard to the teams that are interested in Love, Saunders said, “I know there’s a feeding frenzy out there from a lot of teams. Unfortunately, they have no say. I plan on Kevin being here.”

 

This is the sort of thing you expect to hear from a team hoping to keep their star player, as Celtics fans this is something I would choose to overlook and instead believe we have a good chance of landing the 25-year-old from UCLA. It has also been reported that Love will speak to former UCLA and Celtic Bill Walton about the experience of playing for the Boston faithful. Draft night cannot come quickly enough.

 

Future first-round draft picks, playoff-calibre players, a trade exception, and expiring contracts are all part of Ainge’s arsenal right now. While trades cannot be done until draft night, the sign that Love is interested in the city of Boston makes it really hard for Celtics fans not to get their hopes up. After all, Love is all you need.

 

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Aussie Prospects For The 2014 Draft

With the Celtics’ offseason beginning earlier than fans have become accustomed to in recent seasons, the lack of news surrounding the C’s has been deflating. In the lead up to this week’s lottery, we take a look at the two Australians vying for their chance to join the NBA – hopefully in a green uniform as far as we’re concerned.

The first Australian (that some of you may have heard of), is potential top-5 pick Dante Exum. While there has been conjecture on his preferred position as a point or shooting guard, the 18 year old can play. He is a product of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and stands at 6’6” with a 6’9” wingspan.

Having impressed at the Nike Hoop Summit and leading the Australian Emus to fourth in the Under 19 World Championships last year (averaging 18.2 points per game), Exum has played sparingly at a top-level competition since. This has added intrigue to exactly where Exum will go in the draft, but the general consensus surrounding the combo-guard is that he won’t last beyond the fifth pick.

With the NBA’s Draft Combine taking place in Chicago, the Sydney Morning Herald noted how Exum performed

The 18-year-old lived up to the hype at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago, impressing team executives, coaches and the US media with his speed, jumping ability, wingspan and intelligence.

In speed tests, Exum eclipsed every other shooting guard.

With the lottery coming up this week and Avery Bradley’s restricted free agent status pending, I hope the Celtics are in the mix for the young Aussie. After all, Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakley tweeted about it a few days ago

Time will tell.

 

The other Australian in the mix as a second-round option is 6’9” Power Forward Cameron Bairstow. A product of New Mexico, Bairstow played all four years of College to prepare for this opportunity. Basketball Australia’s own website provides a good summary of how far the hustle player has come over the past year and a half

Coming off an outstanding senior year for the University of New Mexico, Bairstow has become one of the bolters into NBA Draft contention, announcing himself as one of the premier forwards in college basketball.

The 23-year-old led the Lobos to the Mountain West Conference tournament title and finished second in MWC Player of the Year voting, coming off a brilliant international season that saw him become a key player in the Boomers program.

Brought into the training squad ahead of the 2013 Sino-Australia Challenge, Bairstow would go on to play a major role in Head Coach Andrej Lemanis’ first series win, before going on to lead the Emerging Boomers to their first World University Games medal – silver in Russia.

This ensured Bairstow would be part of the team that would secure the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship for the Boomers. In all, Bairstow played more than 20 games for his country during the college off-season, preparing him well for his senior year.

Such was his impact on the Lobos, Bairstow would finish the season in the top 20 in scoring at more than 20 points per game.

Bairstow is an energy guy that could carve out a role off the bench in the NBA. He plays hard and with physicality, can hit the mid-range shot and he can go to work down in the post. I hope he is lucky enough to secure a spot in this league alongside Australia’s growing list of players in the NBA.

Hard to believe the draft is still a whole month away!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

 

 

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