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Celtics Circuit: Intriguing C’s Coming Together

The Celtics could lure a big-time player like Marc Gasol this summer.

The Celtics could lure a big-time player like Marc Gasol this summer.

For the first time in awhile, Boston Celtics fans can say their team is fun to watch. The Celtics are 5-3 since the acquisitions of guard Isaiah Thomas and fowards Jonas Jerekbo, and Luigi Datome on February 19th.

The team has won their last two games over the Utah Jazz at home and on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans. In the week before, the Celtics won three games over the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and Charlotte Hornets.

In eight games, Thomas is averaging 21.0 points off the bench in about 27 minutes. Meanwhile Jerekbo has knocked down 11 of 20 attempts from beyond the three-point line in seven games.

Despite the strong play against mediocre competition, the Celtics dropped two games earlier this week to the Golden State Warriors at TD Garden and at the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics lost a 26-point lead in the first half in their 106-101 defeat to the Warriors on Sunday. They got crushed by the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

Also, the team was unable to agree to a deal with center JaVale McGee because both sides could not agree on the option for next year. The Celtics wanted the option to belong to the team, but McGee wanted a player option. While McGee could have brought a shot-blocking presence in the frontcourt, he has dealt with numerous injuries over the past couple of seasons and he has been inconsistent throughout his career. He might have represented a good low-cost addition to the organization.

Thomas has proven he is a volume scorer and he brings balance to the backcourt with his ability in the high pick-and-roll. Jerekbo has been able to stretch the floor with his shooting.

The Celtics began the season with a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, and Kelly Olynyk. Only one of those players (Olynyk) played in Friday night’s 104-98 victory over the Pelicans. Rondo and Green were both traded. Sullinger is out for the season with a foot fracture and Bradley suffered a hyperextended elbow in the win against the Jazz.

Currently, the Celtics are one and a half games behind the Indiana Pacers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

There seem to be brighter days ahead because the Celtics have nearly $30 million in cap space with two first-round picks. This year’s free agent class includes some prominent players such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Jimmy Butler, Marc Gasol, Kevin Love, and Paul Millsap.

Boston could be an attractive destination, especially if the Celtics can continue their recent surge.

 

 

Celtics Circuit: Celts Acquire Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas can create shots for himself and his teammates.

Isaiah Thomas can create shots for himself and his teammates.

The Boston Celtics were very quiet until the closing minutes of the NBA Trade Deadline on Thursday. The Celtics traded Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns for guard Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas is a 5-foot-9-inch guard who is currently in his fourth season. He was drafted with the 60th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, where he spent his first three seasons. The 26-year-old provides instant scoring as he is averaging 15.2 points per game this season. He is shooting 39.1 percent on three-pointers and he is a great at the pick-and-roll. Thomas is in the first year of a four-year, $27 million contract he signed last summer.

When the Celtics played the Suns at the TD Garden on November 17th, Thomas told reporters that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge called him during the summer. Ainge expressed interest in Thomas and he was the first person to call Thomas. The Celtics had a crowded backcourt at the time with Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley was in the process of resigning with the Celtics. Since the Celtics unloaded Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks in December, they had a need for a guard.

Thornton’s contract was expiring after this season. The first-round pick came from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the three-team deal between the Celtics, Cavaliers, and Brooklyn Nets last summer. The Celtics essentially turned the trade exception from the Nets into Tyler Zeller and Thomas.

In a separate deal, the Celtics shipped forward Tayshaun Prince to the Detroit Pistons for Jonas Jerekbo and Luigi Datome. Jerekbo’s contract expires this summer and its unclear of the Celtics’ plan with Jerekbo past this season. Prince was headed into a buyout so the Celtics acquired a couple of potential assets for him.

Celtics Trade Brandan Wright; Jeff Green Likely On Way Out

Jeff Green appears like he will be soaring into Memphis to play for the Grizzlies.

Jeff Green appears like he will be soaring into Memphis to play for the Grizzlies.

Boston Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge continues to live up to his nickname, “Trader Danny.”

The Celtics shipped forward/center Brandan Wright to the Phoenix Suns on Friday evening for a conditional first-round pick. The selection initially came from the Minnesota Timberwolves so the choice is lottery-protected in 2015 and 2016. If the Celtics don’t receiver the pick, then the Celtics will second rounders in 2016 and 2017.  Also, the Celtics picked up a $5 million trade exception. Since the Suns are already under the salary cap, they were able to trade for Wright without having to send any players in return.

In another potential deal, the Celtics have agreed in principle to send forward Jeff Green to the Memphis Grizzlies. This could turn into a three-team trade along with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Celtics will acquire Tayshaun Prince, John Salmons, and a first-round selection. Prince, a 13-year forward, has a $7.7 million expiring salary. Green has a $9.2 million player option for next season, but the Celtics were in danger of losing Green through restricted free agency in the summer so they wanted to obtain assets for their leading scorer. If the Celtics cannot move Green via a three team trade, the Celtics and Grizzlies will consummate the deal by themselves with Prince and a first-round picking coming to Boston.

Green was averaging 17.6 points per game this season in 33.1 minutes per game. The knock on Green was his inconsistency and his lack of taking over games. Like former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, Green showed his capability such as his 43-point outburst against LeBron James and the Miami Heat on March 18, 2013 when the Heat could not prevent Green from going to his right on dribble penetration to the basket. There have been too many times where Green has disappeared in his three-plus seasons with the Celtics.

Green’s disappearing act has shown in the past month when the Celtics traded Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks. In 10 games since the Rondo trade, Green has averaged just 12.7 points per game.

These moves free up space for the Celtics to play rookie James Young along with other youngsters such as Marcus Smart, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Avery Bradley.

The Celtics could have 11 first round picks in the next four years. While the Celtics are struggling right now, they are in the process of building a perennial contender.

 

Celtics Tweets of Interest: C’s Inconsistent Play Continues

celticsThe Boston Celtics followed up their best win of the season to this point with back-to-back home losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Such is the fate of a young team who cannot play consistently from quarter to quarter.

On November 8th, the Celtics traveled to Chicago on the second night of a back-to-back and held onto a 106-101 over the Bulls. Both teams were without their star point guards. The Celtics’ Rajon Rondo had to get a screw removed from his surgically repaired left hand. Meanwhile, the Bulls’ Derrick Rose sat out with a sore hamstring that has forced him to miss several games early in the season.

In the 109-94 loss to the Thunder, the Celtics jumped out to an 18-3 advantage over a shorthanded Thunder squad. Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow (both players scored 28 points) led the Thunder backcourt in a second-half comeback to wipe out the Celtics. The Thunder shot 14-of-19 from the field in the fourth quarter. This was the most frustrating loss of the season because the Thunder have been reeling without Kevin Durant (fractured foot) and Russell Westbrook (broken hand). After a strong first quarter by the Celtics, their play fell off and they failed to show much effort in the second half.

The Celtics fell to the Cavaliers with another poor fourth quarter performance. The Celtics held a 19-point lead in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers were 13-of-17 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving nailed three straight three-pointers to cut the Celtics’ lead to 10 and LeBron James posted 40 points to give the Cavaliers a 122-121 victory. The Celtics had a chance to win the game on their final possession, but Rondo was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.

The Celtics are 3-5 and the schedule does not get any easier. Their next game is at home on Monday against the Phoenix Suns, who just missed the playoffs last year in the stacked Western Conference.

Here are the notable tweets from this week:

The country celebrated Veterans’ Day on Tuesday. Rondo sent this tweet in support of the United States’ military who protect Americans and the world everyday.

ESPN had another great documentary on Randy Moss on Tuesday. The documentary depicted Moss’ upbringing in Rand, West Virginia. Moss reached stardom at Marshall University as a wide receiver, but he dealt with off-field problems throughout his college and early NFL career. The 6-foot-4-inch wide receiver is considered one of the best players of all-time. He broke Jerry Rice’s single-season record for touchdown catches (23) in 2007 with the New England Patriots. Celtics guard Marcus Thornton was one of the viewers for this special on Moss.

Celtics Circuit: C’s Pick Sixth In Draft

Will the Boston Celtics receive Kevin Love this summer?

Will the Boston Celtics receive Kevin Love this summer?

Throughout the 2013-’14 NBA season, Boston Celtics’ fans pointed to the NBA Lottery to see if the Celtics would be able to land a top pick in the Draft.

On Tuesday night, the Celtics learned their fate. The fans were disappointed when they found out that the Celtics were outside the top five. Instead, the Celtics will have the sixth selection in the Draft on June 26th.

Like in 1997 and 2007, the Celtics were hoping they would have the number one pick. Those lottery balls did not roll in the favor of the franchise for the third time in 17 years.

This year’s draft includes standout prospects such as Jabari Parker, Joel Embid, and Andrew Wiggins.

Over the past week, there has been rampant speculation that Kevin Love would not resign with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Since Love will become a free agent in the summer of 2015, the Timberwolves could seek a trade before the 2014 NBA Draft. The Celtics are one of the teams who could have enough players or picks to appease the Timberwolves in a trade proposal. They could offer young players such as Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk and any of the nine first-round picks that the Celtics own over the next five years. The trade would be contingent on whether Love wants to extend his contract with the Celtics.

Love, who averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds, has played with the Timberwolves for six years since he was drafted in 2008. The 6-foot-10-inch power forward has never made the playoffs in his career. He is a three-time All-Star. Love played at UCLA before he was drafted fifth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. The Grizzlies then sent Love to the Timberwolves for third-overall pick O.J. Mayo as part of an eight-player trade.

The Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Phoenix Suns are all possible destinations for Love.

This was just the first domino to fall in an interesting offseason that could either answer some questions for the future of the Celtics or leave the Celtics in limbo.

 

Celtics Circuit: Should Fans Want the Celtics to Lose?

M.L. Carr's Celtics are a cautionary tale of why tanking is risky.

Since the Boston Celtics traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Brooklyn Nets on June 27th, the average Celtics fan have called for the team to tank the 2013-’14 season.

After watching the Michigan State-Kentucky and Duke versus Kansas games on Tuesday night, it is difficult to cheer for the Celtics. Kentucky’s Julius Randle along with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker of Duke all showed why they are highly touted freshmen on a big stage.

The Celtics should not lose the rest of their games and Celtics’ fans should not cheer for the team to fall to the bottom of the league.

There is only a 25% chance that the team with the worst record in the NBA is granted the top selection in the NBA Draft. The league prevents teams from tanking. There have been plenty of teams that tried, but many have been unsuccessful.

The 1996-’97 Celtics finished with a 15-67 record. Tim Duncan was a surefire NBA superstar and the Celtics had the best chance of landing the first pick. In the Lottery, the Celtics ended up with the third and fifth choices while the San Antonio Spurs were able to take Duncan. Then the Celtics drafted Chauncey Billups with the third pick and Ron Mercer. Billups was traded during his rookie season and Mercer lasted just two-plus seasons with the Celtics. He was out of the league before he reached the age of 30.

The 2014 NBA Draft could be loaded with talent. Unlike previous years, the Celtics don’t need to get the number one pick because they can get a premium player later in the draft. Many fans want Wiggins, but with Rajon Rondo’s contract ending in 2015, the Celtics could use a point guard like Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State or Michigan State’s Keith Appling.

Another reason is the underdog story. The Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns were expected to finish with less than 20 wins. Yet, both the Sixers and Suns are atop their standings right now. The season is still young and the good teams will separate from the bottom feeders as the year goes on. There are many people who complain that the NBA is too redundant and only the teams filled with the top players in the league are able to go on a deep postseason run. The league has always given the benefit of the doubt to the superstars in the league. In the 1960’s, the rivalry between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain dominated the decade. Then the 1980’s belonged to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson before the 90’s brought the dominance of Michael Jordan. If these Cinderella teams can continue their success, then this could create more excitement. Instead of watching LeBron James dominate the rest of the league, there could be two starless teams on a magical run in May. This is why we watch sports and it is why the NCAA Tournament is such a huge success.

It is early in the season and the Celtics are 4-5. Their schedule will get tougher, but the Eastern Conference is weak. They are not a great team, but Brad Stevens will have his players ready to play because these players all have pride. The fans should rally around their team (especially after the 111-110 win over the Miami Heat last Saturday) and leave the personnel decisions to Danny Ainge and his staff.

Enjoy the ebb and flow of this season. If the Celtics do happen to finish in the bottom of the standings, then cheer for them to get the best players possible (Bill Belichick phrase) to put together a championship contender.

 

 

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