Isaiah Thomas led the Boston Celtics to the playoffs this season, but it’s pretty clear that if the Celtics are going to make a leap as a playoff/championship contender, they are going to need more firepower. A LOT more firepower.
“Danny said if there’s any free agent out there I’m interested in, to let him know,” Thomas said by telephone. “That has me excited. For him to ask for my input means a lot, because it means I’m definitely, right now, a part of the future, and they also value your word and what you think about the game of basketball. It means a lot, and it’s a mutual respect we have. Now, hopefully, we can get a few guys.”
Thomas did not name specific players on his wish list during an interview with the Globe, but he said a rim-protecting big man would be at the top of it.
“A defensive-minded player,” he said. “It’d be nice to get one of those in the draft. A lot of the big men out there could definitely help us out. But I know Danny is always up to something.”
The money quote here, of course, is also the most straight forward — if Danny Ainge is asking for Isaiah Thomas’ input on free agent/draft acquisitions, he is likely planning to keep the guard around. That wasn’t a given, even after Thomas’ excellent season — his cap-friendly deal and offensive output could have made him a key piece in trade talks. That doesn’t seem to be the case.
“Defensive-minded players” could mean a lot of interesting things. It could mean a rim protector — the type of player that everyone seems to believe Boston needs most. That could either come via free agency (DeAndre Jordan), trade (Roy Hibbert) or the draft (any number of high-risk, high-reward prospects, including Robert Upshaw and Christian Wood). It could also mean a lengthy, athletic wing who can guard multiple positions — the Brad Stevens special. The ideal player of this caliber, of course, is Kawhi Leonard who is a restricted free agent this summer. The Celtics would undoubtedly love Leonard, who is quickly developing into one of the best two-way players in the NBA, but whatever they offer, San Antonio can match and certainly will.
Perhaps more likely in free agency are players like Khris Middleton or DeMarre Carroll — players who are second-tier free agents that can be overpaid now and, once the cap rises, will be fairly compensated. Middleton and Carroll, the latter of whom Boston has already expressed interest, are both long and athletic, capable of guarding multiple positions and stretching the floor offensively.
Thomas apparently told Stevens he was responsible for recruiting several players at Washington, but it’s different in the NBA. Stars want to see a plan in place before they make a long-term commitment to a franchise. They want to know that when they arrive, they’ll have their desired role as well as players around them who will fill the roster in a way that sets them up for success. That may sound like potential free agents are picky, but they should be — they are determining the next two-to-four years of their life, and they shouldn’t sign somewhere without first assessing the entire situation.
That’s a positive for the Celtics. Boston has enough cap space to acquire multiple top-level free agents, picks to either use on young talent or trade for established veterans, and a roster capable of making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. That’s an attractive landing spot for a big name (hopefully), and then another one (hopefully).
Whatever role Thomas will play in that recruitment uncertain. He’s an excellent offensive player off the bench, and he seems to be a gregarious personality that people enjoy in the locker room. Whether that contributes to bringing in a big name remains to be seen, but either way, it appears Ainge is interested in keeping Thomas around.
The Boston Celtics are not going to be in the lottery later this evening. That’s highly disappointing, now that we’ve come down from the high of making the playoffs — a buzzkill that began right about the time that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers started dismantling Boston both with their offensive and defensive output in Game 4 and also with their fists.
Looking at you JR, you insufferable douchecanoe.
The top half of this year’s draft is full of talent that we might as well not bother discussing, because even if Boston trades up in the draft, there’s no way the Celtics will be able to move into a position to draft a Karl Anthony-Towns or a D’Angelo Russell.
That being said, there are going to be some fascinating players available at 16, if the Celtics don’t move up, so here are my draft power rankings. The only criteria: These are players that realistically could be available at No. 16, thus excluding the super studs, as well as players like Myles Turner and Mario Hezonja who could be available if Boston does manage to move up. I’ll take a look at No. 28 and the second round in the future, and I’ll keep this updated as we approach the draft. For now, let’s count this down. Read the rest of this entry »
Marcus Smart was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie 2nd team on Monday, a testament to the young man’s impact in his first year. Smart nearly made the All-Rookie 1st team, falling 70 points shy of Jordan Clarkson and Elfrid Payton for one of the starting backcourt spots.
Celtics fans were also treated to some unfiltered Kevin Garnett anecdotes on Monday, and while we’re at it, it’s worth touching base on the latest with Paul Pierce.
While the Boston Celtics are busy enjoying their offseasons, basketball fans in the Hub have still been treated to big playoff moments by a few former Celtics players. The remaining eight teams in the postseason employ some familiar faces, and now’s as good a time as any to check-in on how things are shaking out.
Saturday night, for example, old friend Paul Pierce buried a game winning shot for his Washington Wizards. There’s no doubt his post-game interviews left Celtics fans full of pride and nostalgia. Long live The Truth.
Let’s take a look at some other old friends around the league to keep tabs on their progress this postseason.
Paul Pierce hits clutch game winner to beat Hawks is not a headline I expected to be writing during year 17 of Pierce’s career. Nonetheless, the Celtics legend stepped up for his new team in DC last night and delivered another magical shot with all the chips on the line.
He followed that up with perhaps the best two back-to-back interviews in playoff history.
If the NBA could crown an individual champion for the postseason so far, Pierce would be the winner by the landslide. Fun to see from the 37-year-old at this stage of his career.
Before we go all in covering what promises to be an exciting offseason for the Boston Celtics, it’s worth taking the time to savor the 2014-15 campaign just a little bit longer. Even before the departures of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, many NBA fans, writers, and executives alike had the C’s pegged as a nothing more than another tank-job in progress. Only the very sly (Brad Stevens) and the very naive had the Celtics making the post-season.
Despite everything, Boston did qualify for the playoffs on the backs of stellar coaching and some unlikely heroes. In a season marred by continued turbulence and roster turnover, the C’s found themselves quite a few high-quality players. With Danny Ainge, it’s possible no current Celtics player will be on the team come November, but in the meantime, let’s kick back and admire some of Boston’s best from this past season.
Some awards will be familiar, some may be a little obvious, and some may be a little inconsequential, but still, all the same, enjoy.
After Brad Stevens dragged what on paper appeared to be a miserable roster into the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Danny Ainge was forced to reshuffle his cards as he planned the future of the Boston Celtics. Now, finally, his plan is starting to come into focus, and it’s pretty great.
As this past season wound down, league sources told MassLive.com that the Celtics, if they cannot hit a home run, are prepared to offer what looks like an “overpay” to a second-tier free agent. The idea would be to acquire an improving player on a contract he could grow into. With the salary cap set to rise in unprecedented leaps and bounds, a deal signed this summer will appear very different in the coming years – especially if the acquired player adds to his game.
It’s become a platitude to say that there are many ways to build a contender, but let’s run through them anyway. The Golden State Warriors were largely built through the draft (a few lucky picks really worked out), and with their core assembled, they brought in free agents that would fit into their system. The San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan and then either developed their own draft picks or brought in players they thought they could use and helped them become better. The Rockets kept their team competitive and their flexibility open, looking to acquire a superstar and build around whomever they brought in.
The last model is the closest to what Ainge appears to be trying to accomplish. His plan seems to have gone in stages, mostly thanks to the unexpected success of Brad Stevens (and, to be clear, by “unexpected,” I’m referring to the scope of his success — no one expected him to this successful this fast). Read the rest of this entry »
Danny Ainge spoke with the media Thursday morning, covering all of the most pertinent issues facing the Celtics in the coming weeks. He also shared at length his thoughts on his coach, Brad Stevens, and several key Celtics players.
Here are a recap of his remarks pertaining to this year’s team.
On Brad Stevens:
Coach Stevens is perhaps the surest thing heading into next season and beyond. In reality, almost every player on the roster is disposable, but in Stevens, the Celtics are building a culture and standard. Certainly Stevens has earned the trust of management, his players, and the fans, and Ainge’s comments mirrored that confidence.
“Brad is growing as a coach. I think it’s just a natural progression…he’s pretty good right out of the gate. You’re talking about a really good coach already in his second year, he’s in my opinion, in the top echelon of coaches. I think it’s because he’s really smart, he lives it, he has great integrity and the players see that, and with his intelligence, work ethic, and he has a rea;ly good staff around him as well. He lets his staff work, he delegates a lot, he communicates with the players. I don’t know if there’s one specific thing that I’ve seen him improve on, I’ve always thought he was doing a great job…Listen, he’s a 37 year-old guy that we plucked out of Butler University, we felt like he was a star then, I mean he got the first six year contract I think in NBA coaching history. So we think he’s a star, absolutely.” Read the rest of this entry »
Friday morning the Twitter world erupted as rumors swirled that the Boston Celtics would target Sacramento Kings center Demarcus Cousins this off-season. Per Marc Stein of ESPN,
Will they open their war chest of future draft picks to try to pry DeMarcus Cousins away from Sacramento via trade? The early word out there is: Bank on it.
Boogie Cousins has been tied to the Celtics several times this season, and it’s been widely reported in the past that the big man is less than happy about his situation in Sac-Town. Boston, meanwhile, is in serious need of a presence inside, and Cousins is one of the league’s premier big men on both sides of the ball.
Cousins averaged 24.7 points and 12.7 points this season, both career highs, despite missing a long string of games with a bizarre case of viral meningitis earlier this year. Boogie is under contract for three more years with Sacramento, but considering they have a new head coach in George Karl and a new top basketball executive in Vlade Divac, the Kings could be due for a much needed shake-up. In his five year career, Cousins and the Kings have never won more than 29 games.
Interestingly, Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins are former teammates, and their past relationship borders on hilariously immature. Jason Patt of SB Nation broke their relationship down; it’s definitely worth a read. Read the rest of this entry »
A wide-ranging press conference was held Thursday by team president of basketball operations and General Manager Danny Ainge on Celtics offseason and the state of the 2014-15 Celtics, giving his thoughts on how the post-season ended and shedding light on what might be in store this summer.
It’s important to take the following with a pretty sizable grain of salt. We’re not even out of the first-round of the playoffs, meaning the draft and free agent landscapes are still far from settled. Still, Ainge’s comments are plenty intriguing, and one way or another, the next few weeks and months should be exciting for Celtics fans.