Marcus Smart, as you may have heard, is practicing with the USA Select Team helping Team USA prepare for the World Cup of Basketball in Spain this September. You may have heard this because apparently he’s tearing things up. Yesterday, multiple outlets noted that Smart was part of a unit that’s giving NBA stars like Damian Lillard, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and many more top point guards real fits on both ends of the court.
Why should you be excited? Let’s hit it.
1. The competition is stiff.
This is the no-brainer. Not only are some of the league’s top point guards and shooting guards taking part in these practices, the odds are stacked against Smart’s team. The Select Team, generally, is the Washington Generals to the regular squad’s Harlem Globetrotters. They are placeholders — players who are putting feet in the door for future teams, but not actually looking to make the team. But according to noted Rajon Rondo advocate Jeff Goodman, Smart is one of the players drawing rave reviews in Vegas.
Rave reviews continue to pour in from Vegas from coaches in attendance on Marcus Smart & Victor Oladipo. Both impressive on practice squad.
The Kevin Love dream has been on life support for weeks for Celtics fans. We don’t know whether he is going to Cleveland, Chicago, Golden State, or some other mystery suitor, but unless Danny Ainge comes up with a miracle Hail Mary, he’s not coming to Boston.
The idea of Love coming to Boston was an appealing prospect for several legitimate reasons. It speeds up the rebuild, Love is an exciting player to watch, and it would have enhance Boston’s chances of landing a third star right away. With that said, there were potential drawbacks of any Love acquisition. Nothing that was enough to keep the C’s from trying to acquire the big man, but big picture, down the line issues. In a piece for Boston.com this week, I flipped the script and took a look at a few reasons the Celtics may not regret missing out on Love down the line.
According to Falk, Pacers president Larry Bird told him if Turner gets into the right environment, he could average 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.
“If you would have told me you could sign a free agent that could average 17, 6, and 5 who was a wing player, I’d probably tell you you’re talking about a max player,” Falk said. “I’m not giving you my opinion because I’m a little bit biased because of how I feel about Evan but Larry Bird is a pretty astute observer of NBA basketball, pretty tough critic, and he has said publicly that’s who he thinks Evan Turner is. He’s always been a big Evan Turner fan and it’s unfortunate the situation didn’t work out in Indiana.”
There’s so much to work with here, so let’s start with broad strokes: David Falk can spin information better than anyone in the game. I don’t doubt that Larry Bird told Falk that Turner could average 17/6/5 in the right environment. In today’s market, I don’t even doubt that some players — hyper-athletic young stars with tons of upside, or hyper-efficient ones who demonstrably help their team — might be able to wrangle a max deal off of those numbers. Evan Turner is neither hyper-efficient nor hyper-athletic. What’s more, the “right environment” for him is Philadelphia — a tanking team where mediocre players can try to up their free-agent value by inflating their stats wildly in a super fast-paced system. What Bird (and Falk) conveniently forgot to mention is that there probably isn’t a GOOD environment in which Turner is a 17/6/5 player.
I’m aware that Falk is just doing his job — pumping up his player as much as possible while he is grabbing headlines. That’s fine. The disingenuity involved, however, is a little hilarious. I would make a terrible agent.
Mike Moser evaluates his options
Once again, we are a couple days late on this, but according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE, Boston’s Summer League power forward Mike Moser has been extended training camp invitations by several teams, including the Celtics. In most scenarios, Moser would try to earn his way onto the team that employed him for Summer League. But Boston already has a roster jam-packed with power forwards who can do what Moser can do.
There’s no denying what Moser did in Orlando, however. Here’s Blakely:
Moser had moments when his lack of size clearly hurt him defensively. But his ability to make shots from the perimeter against bigger defenders, was pleasant sight for the Celtics coaching staff.
“Mike’s a little undersized for the position,” Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, told CSNNE.com. “If he were a little taller or a little stronger, he’d have the prototypical power forward size for the NBA.”
Although he’s 6-foot-8, Moser weighs 210 pounds which is light for a power forward. And while Moser is a good rebounder who can stretch the floor from beyond 3-point range, his lack of heft led to a healthy dose of skepticism about his game translating at the next level.
Say what you want about Jared Sullinger, but nobody will ever question his “heft.”
Moser almost certainly won’t play for a spot on Boston’s roster, but he was fun to watch in Summer League. Here’s hoping he finds a profitable place to play, whether in the NBA or overseas.
Sullinger dominates a pro-am
Speaking of Sully, let’s end this notebook with a video of Jared Sullinger dunking and dropping 3-pointers from what appears to be 40 feet from the hoop.
Still likes long jumpers? Check. Still looks large (probably too large)? Check. Still moves pretty well, despite all the extra “heft”? Check.
Yep, Sully is still Sully. I leave it to you whether that’s a good thing or not.
Today, over at Sports on Earth, I wrote a column on the never-ending conversation we keep having about Rajon Rondo’s future with the Boston Celtics. Check it out, and feel free to leave some thoughts in the comments, either here or there (we both know you have some!).
News is light today, but let’s start with Jared Sullinger, who is getting in shape on the beach. Doesn’t sound like a bad summer, right? Get ripped, be next to the ocean, what could be better?
Relaxing, for starters, something Sullinger’s trips to the beach appear to be sorely lacking. From his Telly account:
If you’ve ever gone for a run on the beach before, you know how tough it is to propel yourself forward with the sinking sensation underneath you on every step. Meanwhile, lateral drills will wear you out quickly in an empty gym with a wood floor and grippy sneakers. Combine the worst (best?) of both, and you have a pretty nasty workout.
It’s great to see Sullinger hitting his offseason hard, though. There’s a faction of Celtics internet and Twitter that doesn’t want to see him lose weight because he’ll lose an asset as a rebounder: His ability to clear space just by existing under the hoop.
Everybody can thank me for not making this headline “Report: Celtics could be involved in Kevin Love deal?” Anti-clickbait for life.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Boston would still like Kevin Love (of course), but the Celtics would also be willing to help facilitate a deal if they could pick up a player who could contribute immediately.
Boston, another source said, would like to acquire Love, but would be willing to include some part of its trove of draft picks if they would help bring in a player who can contribute immediately.
Much like aftermath of the Tyler Zeller/Marcus Thornton deal, Danny Ainge would take some heat for this from the internet (which, I’m sure, he cares deeply about). After all, he would not only be letting Kevin Love slip away, but he would also be greasing the tracks to make it happen. Read the rest of this entry »
In the past two weeks, we’ve taken in-depth looks at Tyler Zeller and Marcus Thornton, Boston’s two latest acquisitions pre-Evan Turner. But rather than just breaking down Turner categorically, let’s start a little differently. It’s not difficult to see what Danny Ainge might be thinking with this signing — Turner is cheap, he was once considered a very high-potential player, and Brad Stevens worked an impressive reclamation project last year with Jordan Crawford before Ainge eventually dealt him to keep the tank alive. Perhaps Stevens can do the same with Turner, either building him up as a potential role player or as an asset to acquire a couple more second-round picks.
On the court, the Crawford/Turner comparison has some interesting parallels as well as some key differences. The most notable difference, perhaps, is the range. Crawford and Turner had similarly inefficient numbers from 3-point range last season, but with a key difference: Crawford’s looks were a lot tougher. Steez finished 2013-14 31.8 percent from behind the arc to Turner’s 32.1 percent, but Crawford would frequently shoot off the bounce around pick and rolls or from nearly 30 feet with a few seconds left on the shot clock. Turner, meanwhile, is correctly not known as a 3-point shooter. In Indiana’s offense, this meant a lot of really solid looks at the hoop. As a result, he shot 50 percent on an admittedly small sample size with the Pacers.
Turner was solid from the left corner (43.2 percent) and from just inside the line (47.8 percent) but bad from the right corner (32.4 percent). It’s a weird quirk that probably doesn’t matter in the longterm — Stevens isn’t going to be running any floppy action for Turner along the baseline for corner 3-pointers. What matters, mostly, is that Evan Turner isn’t going to be stretching the floor by any means for the Celtics. That might be okay, but it’s important to keep our expectations floor-level for his long-range shooting.
Boston’s crowded roster just got a little bit more jam packed. One week after Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reported the Celtics had interest in Evan Turner, along with the Minnesota Timberwolves, it appears the team has sealed the deal with the swingman:
Celtics finishing deal for FA Evan Turner, sources tell Herald. He will get a portion of their mid-level exception.
In the interest of fairness, Wyc Grousbeck’s now infamous “Expect fireworks this summer” quote probably got more attention than it warranted. After all, every beat writer, blogger, Twitterer and fan of the Celtics desperately wanted it to be true. We wanted fireworks with a Kevin Love finale. We would have loved to see which other superstar might have wanted a new location and joined the Love/Rajon Rondo combination. It looked like the summer of 2014 was going to be exciting and pivotal for the Celtics.
Now we are most of the way through July. The Celtics are mostly capped out, the Kevin Love dream appears to be fading into Golden State or Cleveland and the biggest names remaining on the free agent market include Jameer Nelson. What happened to the dream?
Celtics first round pick Marcus Smart has had a busy summer so far and it won’t be slowing down anytime soon. According to a report from Yahoo! Sports, the rookie guard will take part in Team USA Basketball training camp which will be coming up later this month in Las Vegas.
Among USA Basketball Select Team invitees to Las Vegas, sources tell Yahoo. Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris.
Smart’s effort on the defensive end of the floor will make sure the Team USA backcourt get a real workout in their preparation for the World Championship next month. We’ll be tracking his participation from Vegas right here on the Hub.
In some housekeeping news, the Celtics officially dealt away Kris Humphries today in a sign-and-trade. The team received a protected second round pick (which will likely turn into nothing) as well as a trade exception.