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.
Last week, we examined one of Boston’s two latest acquisitions, Tyler Zeller. Now, let’s take a look at the second part of the trade that saw Danny Ainge put his massive Paul Pierce trade exception to use: Marcus Thorton’s expiring contract, from here on out known simply as “Marcus Thornton.” Whereas Zeller was a work in progress on both ends of the court, we can probably assume we know exactly what we are getting from Marcus Thornton, so we’ll simply break this up into positives and negatives.
Catch and shoot
Thornton is known as a scorer almost exclusively, which is a good look for him. Players who can score can enjoy a long, profitable career in the league without really having a positive impact on a team simply because teams need the ball to go in the basket.
It’s not totally fair to Thornton to lump him into this category, for essentially one reason: He can shoot 3-pointers, and he loves to do so. He finished roughly 34.5 percent from behind the arc for the season, but after he left Sacramento and went to a more regimented offense in Brooklyn, his numbers skyrocketed from 31.8 percent to 38 percent — a jump that takes him from “Why is he even shooting 3-pointers?” to “Keep on jacking, Marcus.”
The reason behind the jump in efficiency is pretty evident when watching the tape: Brooklyn actually ran useful offensive sets designed to free shooters like Thornton. In spot-up situations, Thornton shot 43 percent from behind the arc. That’s a borderline elite percentage, and if Boston is looking to utilize Thornton (or simply up his trade value at the beginning of the season), running him off a series of screens to get him a solid 3-point attempt as a secondary (or tertiary) option in any set would be a good way to go.
Thornton has a tendency to float offensively, but in his case, that’s actually not a bad thing. Once again, you really want Thornton behind the 3-point line, and when he’s floating, his defender — even if it’s grudgingly — has to stay relatively attached. If Thornton can get his feet set, he’s almost certainly going to knock the shot down.
Even better: He seems to understand where efficient spots on the floor are. Brooklyn ran a lot of pin-down screens and floppy action moving from side to side for Thornton, but when he wasn’t a focal point of the play, he generally sprinted to the corners and awaited further developments. That’s exactly what the Celtics will want him to be doing, so it’s good to see that he might have a solid grasp of his role from the outset. When he gets the ball, he has a very quick release, and he squares himself to the basket in a hurry.
Every few weeks, a new Rajon Rondo trade rumor pokes its head up like a zit that needs to be popped, gushing disgusting rhetoric about how he is “tough to coach” and “unpopular among players” all over Twitter (that metaphor ends here, I promise).
This week, as is so often the case, the Kings are involved. Sacramento is allegedly looking into acquiring Josh Smith, a move that might make the Kings more attractive to their long-time target Rondo. This makes some sense: In Sacramento, Smith would play power forward next to Cousins — a much more natural position for his skillset. There would be spacing issues since neither Cousins nor Smith should be shooting 3-pointers, but at least Smith would be a power forward again.
What doesn’t make sense is exactly how Sacramento would go about acquiring Rondo in this scenario. The Kings can’t give up any picks, and Detroit allegedly wants value for Josh Smith apart from simply shedding his monstrous contract. Whatever value the Pistons acquire would likely take the Kings out of any realistic push for Rondo. Perhaps the Kings believe they can use Smith — Rondo’s longtime friend — as a convincing attraction for Rondo to come to Sacramento in free agency, but it’s hard to imagine him leaving a big market and his only NBA team in Boston for a chaotic, unpredictable environment like Sacramento just because Smith is there. Maybe I’m wrong.
Tommy Heinsohn made an appearance at the Basketball Hall of Fame today, talking to a large group of kids about cigar smoking and fighting on the court with opponents (seriously, both topics came up. It was awesome). I talked to him beforehand about his hook shot, running in transition, the future of the Celtics and more. Here’s an excerpt, via MassLive.com:
One of the diabolically genius moves Danny Ainge pulled last season was signing three players — Phil Pressey, Chris Johnson and Chris Babb — to four-year non-guaranteed contracts. All three are paid less than a million dollars a year until 2016-17, all three have potential uses to a team, and all three can be traded to help match salaries or cut to make room for other players on the roster.
Obviously, these deals are very unfriendly to the players, who live in constant fear of being replaced without any compensation the next season. The good news, however, is that after a certain date, the non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed for the rest of the season, and as of midnight tonight — barring at trade that Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald said was “not in the works” — Phil Pressey’s contract will be safe for another season.
This is a fairly safe gamble for the Celtics. Pressey is either as good as or better than any of the bottom-tier players remaining on Boston’s roster, and the organization loves his work ethic. Already a stellar ball-handler and passer, Pressey has spent the summer to this point working on his shooting touch — much-needed work, since he shot an abysmal 30 percent from the field, 26 percent from 3-point range last season.