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?

Celtics start season right with win over KG & Nets

The long awaited opening night was finally here. The Celtics tipped off their 2014-15 NBA season in Boston against Brooklyn. The Celtics started just how they would’ve wanted, taking a 17-10 lead fuelled by Rondo’s 4 quick dimes. Boston built the lead to 11 by the end of the first as Coach Stevens was forced to use his 10 man rotation early as Avery, Jeff & Kelly all were in foul trouble.

36ba01c651dd433a9f3d3ea8a7fc2664-36ba01c651dd433a9f3d3ea8a7fc2664-0.r

The 2nd quarter started with the C’s up 32-23. Zeller put the Celtics up 13 off of Rondo’s 8th dime before a 7-4 run by Brooklyn, finished with a KG fadeaway, had them down only 10. Boston responded, finishing the quarter on a 17-1 run which was led by Sullinger & Thornton, who had a team high 10 at the half as Boston led 67-41.

The 3rd quarter began & Brooklyn came out & went on a quick 7-2 run which had some Celtics fans a little nervous. Captain Rondo put the team on his back scoring 9 straight Celtics points which gave him a double double, but, more importantly had the Celtics back up 24. Kelly Olynyk would finish the quarter with 17 points & his last basket would give the Celtics 100 points through 3 & a 101-72 lead.

Brooklyn started the 4th on another run, 12-2 this time which cut the lead to fewer than 20. Jeff would put Boston back up 20 on a free throw before Teletovic would hit 2 3’s with a Rondo basket in-between to make it a 16 point game. That ended up being the final margin as Boston would win this one 121-105 led by Rondo’s near triple double.

Full Time Statistics:
Kelly Olynyk – 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Rajon Rondo – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists
Jeff Green – 17 Points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists
Avery Bradley – 15 points
Evan Turner – 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
Jared Sullinger – 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists
Marcus Smart – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists
Marcus Thornton – 10 points
Brandon Bass – 8 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assists
Tyler Zeller – 6 points, 1 rebounds, 1 assists

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)

Is It Bad To Be Excited By Evan Turner’s Potential?

Yes, it’s only preseason. Yes, his time at the Pacers was underwhelming. But Evan Turner can play multiple positions and create for himself and his teammates. The former #2 pick was a solid player for a struggling 76ers team for the best part of 4 seasons. Unfortunately for Turner, the status of being taken as the second overall selection in the 2010 draft has often overshadowed his game.

As is often the case, it can be hard for players to produce their best efforts when representing a team in the midst of a rebuild – especially one as deep as Philadelphia have found themselves in. Coupling that with sharing minutes with All-Star guards, Turner was never able to find a high level of consistency with the 76ers, something he even acknowledges himself.

After warming the bench for Indiana in last season’s playoff run, Turner may have found a good fit here in Boston. As Brad Stevens likes to utilise the talents possessed by his players rather than pigeonhole them to certain positions, Turner’s versatility will be seen as a big strength this year, telling the Boston Herald

…when I played my first few years in Philadelphia we had unique players like Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala

There wasn’t much room for us all to do the same thing. Obviously there’s a big plan here, and in the end it’s going to pay off pretty well. I just think this is making the most out of my talents. Sometimes I’ve tried to go as an off-the-ball player, but I don’t think anyone is a genius if they put me in a corner and try to make me a catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter. Here they just play into each player’s strength and that’s about it.

This confidence and versatility is the reason to be excited by the 6’6” point guard/shooting guard/small forward from Ohio State. With Rajon Rondo sidelined yet again, the Celtics can take advantage of Turner’s ability to run the point. His sensible ball-handling skills and knowledge of delivering the right pass at the right time are bound to be on display. Together with his ability to create his own shot off the dribble, Turner could become a valuable asset to running the Celtics offense in Rondo’s absence.

Another underrated skill is his ability to rebound the ball from the guard position, while his length alone should worry opponents at both ends of the court. Given it’s only a small sample, his first two preseason games have produced averages of 12 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds from 26.5 minutes of action.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Celtics rebuild may not lie with Rajon Rondo alone, but rather with 37 year old coach Brad Stevens. The man seems to get the best out of his players, and Evan Turner could very easily become the next cab off the rank.

- Michael

The Bass gets deeper – How will his corner 3 change C’s game?

According to Steve Bulpett from the Boston Herald, our favourite midrange shooting big man Brandon Bass is all set for the new season with an interesting new wrinkle to his game.

But Stevens knows Bass will find a way to contribute.

“One of the things is he’s got certain things he does really well, so he can play a role that can really help a team,” the coach said. “He can make that mid-range jump shot. He can post some matchups. He’s extended his range to the corner 3, which we’re really excited about. And defensively we think he’s a unique player, because he’s a guy that gives you a chance to match up with the elite wings in the league at the 4 (power forward). He can switch some screens and guard the wing. – Brandon Bass a steadying force, Boston Herald

bass

That’s right folks, the Bassman is a potential downtown bomber now! Bass has always been a solid player who does his job with minimal flair, and I’ve been a huge fan of his game ever since he joined Boston (except the times when he tried to post up.)

Shotchart_1412420458481

Can you imagine the patches of green extending to the corners? Such a beautiful sight to behold.

Definitely better spacing

Whilst a three pointer might not be the best option every single possession, we can imagine the value Bass as a corner shooter would have on court spacing. He would drag his defender away from the paint for Rondo, Smart and Green to do their slashing work at the rim. Less one big man in the paint, more room to maneuver and for cutters to charge in for open buckets – everything sounds good here.

It all depends on the amount of twos that get changed into corner threes, but I’d think that the midrange shot still remains a staple part of his game, while this corner three remains as an experimental option. After all, we’re talking about only the corner three, and not a wholesale migration of Bass’s game out to downtown. The only shots that should get affected should be his baseline twos moving out to the corner. The usual pick and pop shots that come out of the elbow screens should still result in midrange shots.

Less offensive boards?

Would Bass popping out to the three point line, lower his value on offensive rebounds though? According to basketball-reference, Bass has steadily increased his offensive rebounding rate over his career with increased minutes. His minutes per game usage peaked at 31.7 in 2011/12 with 1.6 offensive boards per game. His highest ever offensive rebounding rate though, came from last season, where he got 2.0 offensive rebounds per game.

Congested spacing for guards?

This is probably not as bad an issue, but having Bass as an option on the corner 3 might clog the corners for guards when moving off the ball. This is true especially for players like Bradley who take a lot of shots at the corners.

Shotchart_1412420285595

The corner congestion issue obviously can be ameliorated with varying the lineups and plays, and you would imagine coach Stevens already waving this off as a non-issue. Plenty of time to experiment!


What do you think of Brandon’s new weapon – potential gamechanger in the making?

 

Offseason Recap: The Marathon Approach

The 2014 offseason gave Celtic fans plenty of hope that a rebuild could be achieved in a short time-frame. Big name players visiting Boston (see Kevin Love), the thought of a legitimate 7-foot centre joining the ranks by sliding in the draft (see Joel Embiid), and an arsenal of trade chips at Danny Ainge’s disposal all created optimism that the C’s were only a couple of great moves away from returning to the top in 2014/15. Now that we know how the offseason has panned out, it would appear we are in for at least one more season of mediocrity.

With Kevin Love moving to Cleveland and making them a legitimate powerhouse alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the 76ers taking Embiid at pick #3, and Ainge unable to find teams willing to trade with Boston, the Celtics’ front office had to readjust their strategy. Draft night provided the Celtics with the opportunity to pick the best talent available, selecting Marcus Smart and James Young with picks #6 and #17 respectively.

Marcus Smart is a 6’3” point guard out of Oklahoma State, renowned for his defensive tenacity and a level of leadership that exceeds his 20 years of age. As with many young point guards, his offensive game will progress with time, most notably his outside shot (sound familiar?) and decision-making. He holds a story worth reading about.

James Young is a 6’7” shooting guard/small forward who will provide instant offense for a Celtics team that struggled from the perimeter last season. Young was regarded as one of the top shooters in this year’s draft class, but will need to work on his defence to see consistent minutes under Brad Stevens.

From a trade perspective, Danny Ainge played a smart game considering the Celtics inability to find suitable trade partners. Taking advantage of Cleveland’s cap-saving moves, Ainge was able to acquire centre Tyler Zeller and veteran shooting guard Marcus Thornton in a three-way trade with Brooklyn. This trade cost the Celtics nothing, as the trade exception collected in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade last year was set to expire just days after the trade was completed, essentially handing the Celtics a great opportunity to land a centre with potential at little risk.

Finally, free agency proved a difficult avenue for Boston. With more lucrative teams offering big name players opportunities, the Celtics held tight to remain below the luxury tax again and sign Evan Turner on a low-risk deal. The former number 2 pick struggled with the Pacers last season, and will be looking to improve his market value, while the Celtics have possibly gained a big offensive boost.

Although this deal still hasn’t been officially announced, Turner is expected to be with the Celtics when training camp begins. Ainge has been hanging onto Keith Bogans’ non-guaranteed deal for as long as possible, in the event a trade opportunity presents itself.

Heading into training camp, the Celtics roster looks like this;

PG: Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey

SG: Avery Bradley, Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton, Chris Babb (non-guaranteed)

SF: Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, James Young, Chris Johnson (non-guaranteed)

PF: Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Brandon Bass

C: Tyler Zeller, Vitor Faverani, Joel Anthony

While it doesn’t exactly shape to be a playoff-bound team, the season will be interesting to see who the Celtics will move forward with, who will be offloaded before the trade deadline, and how well some of the younger players will develop with another season under Coach Stevens. One thing is for sure, the dedicated fans of the green team will continue to support this team as it pushes through the ups and downs on the way to finishing this marathon.

- Michael (@mickyt34)

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)

 

 

Green Kick of the Week ft. Rajon Rondo’s RR1’s

Rajon Rondo has been rocking some great colourways of his first signature shoe, the Anta RR1, in the last couple of weeks, none more so than what he laced up before the final game of the season earlier this week.

This weeks winner of KOTW is Rajon Rondo and his pair of Anta RR1 ‘Boston Strong’ PE. These are more than just shoes, they are a tribute to the victims of last years Boston Marathon bombings.

photo via @RajonRondo's Instagram page.

photo via @RajonRondo’s Instagram page.

Although Rondo didn’t play in the regular season finale, it was great to see him go to the effort to pay his respects to those affected by the bombings.

As you can see the tongue features a ‘BOSTON STRONG’ decal along with the date of the bombings. The shoe didn’t stop there in honouring the victims, the initials of every victim cover the majority of the outer of the shoe. The blue lining and a yellow sole of the shoe matches the colours of the Marathon’s logo.

credit: counterkicks.com

credit: counterkicks.com

To make these shoes even more special, Rondo is donating these kicks to ‘One Fund‘; a charity set up in wake of the tragedy to help those affected by it.

I don’t know about you, but these kicks are my favourite for the whole season. Rondo was a great leader this year, on and of the court. He won community awards and made many young fans dreams come true through charity work. And people think Rajon is a jerk! I certainly don’t.

What are your thoughts on these kicks? Are these your favourite kicks of the season too?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,553 other followers

%d bloggers like this: