Boston Celtics

Phil Jackson Regrets Not Acquiring Jae Crowder

Knicks president Phil Jackson met with Charley Rosen of TodaysFastBreak.com throughout the 2015/16 season to discuss the state of his franchise, and Rosen has been passing along the Zen Master’s comments in a series called “The Phil Jackson Chronicles.” In the latest installment of the series, Jackson admitted that he passed up on acquiring Jae Crowder in a 2014 trade, and views that as the “biggest mistake” he has made since joining the Knicks.

“One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics,” Jackson said. “In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder.

“I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo [Anthony], so I took the pick which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.”

Either Jackson’s comments or Rosen’s transcript seem a little off here, since the Celtics should have had no involvement in the Knicks’ negotiations with the Mavericks. The second-round pick that ultimately became Early was sent to Dallas by Boston in 2013, and the Mavs traded Crowder to the Celtics a few months after the Chandler deal, but the C’s weren’t involved in that Knicks/Mavs trade at all.

In any case, the main point of Jackson’s anecdote – that the Knicks had a choice of taking the No. 34 overall pick or Crowder – appears accurate, and of course Jackson ultimately choice the pick, using it to select Early.

At the time of the trade, Crowder was coming off a season in which he averaged just 4.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 16.1 minutes per contest. He was a career 40.9% shooter at that point in his career and hadn’t been more than a part-time role player, so it’s hard to criticize Jackson too much for not seeing a breakout coming — or not thinking that he could potentially get a similar player early in the second round of the 2014 draft.

Since then, however, Crowder has developed into one of the Celtics’ most valuable pieces. In 2015/16, he set career highs with 14.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.7 SPG, and a shooting line of .443/.336/.820. He’s also locked up on an affordable long-term deal through the 2019/20 season.

It’s impossible to know if Crowder would have enjoyed the same success in New York, or if the team would have been able to lock him up long-term, or even how his presence would have affected the Knicks’ other roster moves. But it’s still an interesting “what if?” worth considering, particularly since it may have had a domino effect on the Rajon Rondo trade between Boston and Dallas.

Celtics Notes: Iverson, Zeller, Olynyk

The Celtics have renounced their rights to center Colton Iverson, their 2013 second-round draft pick, a source told ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. The 27-year-old Iverson played for the Celtics’ summer-league team but had virtually no chance of making the roster this season with 19 players under contract, including 16 with guaranteed deals, Forsberg continues. By renouncing his rights, the Celtics are giving the 7-footer a chance to receive a training camp invite with another team that doesn’t have a frontcourt logjam and an overabundance of contracts, Forsberg adds. Iverson, who has played in Turkey and Spain the past three seasons, was the No. 53 overall selection in 2013 after the Celtics bought the pick from the Pacers.
In other news regarding the Celtics:
  • Center Tyler Zeller re-signed with the club for two years and $16MM this summer but his role is undefined, as A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com examines. Zeller’s ability to run the floor makes him a candidate to start at some point during the season but he’s not enough of an offensive threat to remain in the lineup, Blakely speculates. His playing time will fluctuate and there may be games where he doesn’t play at all, Blakely adds.
  • Big man Kelly Olynyk believes the club will miss swingman Evan Turner in a number of ways this season,  Forsberg reports in a separate story. Turner, who signed a four-year contract with the Trail Blazers as a free agent this summer, was not only a rotation player but a strong influence in the locker room, according to Olynyk. “He’s somebody who really helps guys out. I think that his voice, that’s something that people respect,” Olynyk told Forsberg. “He just keeps it real, keeps it 100 (percent) every time you talk to him. You know what you’re getting from him.” The link to the interview can be found here.

Jason Terry Talks Free Agency Process

Veteran guard Jason Terry recently inked a one-year contract with the Bucks, and while it’s only a minimum-salary deal, it’s fully guaranteed, which is something of a rarity at this point in the NBA offseason. In an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio (SoundCloud link), Terry admitted that the free agency process can be tough at this late stage in his career (he’ll turn 39 next month). He also identified several of the teams he considered before landing in Milwaukee.

“I had a couple contenders that I was really seriously looking at. Two of them were in the Finals, so that tells you right there who they were,” Terry said, referring to the Cavaliers and Warriors. “I made a call to [Gregg Popovich]. San Antonio’s another one. They were my arch-enemy for eight years when I was in Dallas, but that’s another phone call — if they call, you pick up, there’s just no question about it. … I always thought about going back and trying to finish off where I started in Atlanta. I like what they did. And then I seriously considered Boston, though we did not have a conversation.”

Based on Terry’s comments, it’s not clear how many of those teams he reached out to, and how many reached out to him, so it’s possible that interest wasn’t mutual in all those scenarios. Terry also admitted that while he had some interest in the Lakers, that interest wasn’t reciprocated, since Los Angeles already had a good idea of what its 15-man roster would look like.

“I called my good friend Luke [Walton],” Terry said. “I told him if he needed any help — veteran leadership, in that capacity, with an ability to coach at the end of my deal, then that was something I would be looking forward to. He utterly declined, and I respect him for that.”

Although he’s not the scorer he was early in his career, Terry was still a solid contributor in Houston over the last two seasons, averaging 19.5 MPG in 149 regular-season contests, and averaging 6.5 PPG, 1.7 APG, and 0.8 SPG while shooting 37.5% on three-pointers. In both of his seasons with the Rockets, Terry received a bump in playing time during the postseason.

Marcus Georges-Hunt Contract Details

  • The Celtics‘ deal with Marcus Georges-Hunt is a one-year, minimum-salary contract that includes a $25K guarantee, says Pincus (via Twitter). Despite the guarantee, Georges-Hunt is a long shot to make Boston’s regular-season roster.

Hunter Has Advantage For Last Roster Spot

  • R.J. Hunter, James Young, John Holland, and Ben Bentil are expected to compete for the Celtics‘ final regular season roster spot, though Hunter appears to have the advantage heading into the preseason, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes. Regardless of any advantage he has, Hunter plans on earning his place on the team, Himmelsbach adds. “I’m a competitor, so it’s just absolutely motivation for me,” Hunter said. “I think it just adds an extra competitive spirit to training camp, which is a great way to get the year started. So I’d rather have it that way, because now I have no reason not to be on my toes on every possession and at every practice. So I’ll try to use it to my advantage.”

Abdel Nader To Play For Celtics’ D-League Team

One of six Celtics draftees in June, Abdel Nader had been the only one whose 2016/17 outlook had not yet been determined. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, however, a decision has been made. Charania reports (via Twitter) that Nader has turned down a “lucrative” offer from a European club and has agreed to play for the Celtics’ D-League affiliate.

[RELATED: 2016 Draft Pick Signings]

When the Celtics drafted Nader, the team hoped – and expected – to retain his rights by getting him to commit to playing for the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s D-League team. The move would allow the Celtics to keep a close eye on the 58th overall pick while not exposing him to other NBA clubs.

As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe detailed earlier this month, an impressive Summer League showing complicated the issue for Nader and the Celtics, with agent Cervando Tejeda suggesting that his client is “an NBA player.” However, if Boston had signed the former Iowa State forward to an NBA contract, then not had room for him on their regular-season roster, the club would have lost his NBA rights, despite being able to assign him to the Red Claws.

[RELATED: Boston Celtics’ depth chart at RosterResource.com]

Even with two of their first-round picks remaining overseas for the 2016/17 season, the Celtics have a crowded roster, which would have made it very difficult for Nader to crack the regular-season 15. Currently, the C’s have 16 players on guaranteed contracts, and that total doesn’t include John Holland or 2016 second-rounder Ben Bentil — Holland’s pact is non-guaranteed, while Bentil has a partial guarantee of $250K.

Amir Johnson Could Have Huge Contract Year

  • Amir Johnson has established himself as a good defender and if he reaches his ceiling on the defensive end, he could end up making an All-NBA defensive team, A. Sherrod Blakely of Comcast Sportsnet argues. Johnson, who signed a two-year, $24MM deal with the Celtics last summer, will be a free agent after the 2016/17 season.

Celtics To Sign Marcus Georges-Hunt

The Celtics have agreed to a deal with unrestricted free agent Marcus Georges-Hunt, Keith Smith of RealGM reports (via Twitter). The scribe terms it a training camp arrangement, so it’s likely for the league-minimum and includes little or no guaranteed salary.

The addition of the undrafted forward out of Georgia Tech will give Boston 19 players on its roster, which is one below the preseason maximum, but four over the regular season limit. So the 22-year-old will certainly have his work cut out for him if he hopes to remain on the roster through tip-off on opening night, especially considering 16 of those players I mentioned possess fully guaranteed deals. In all likelihood, if Georges-Hunt manages to impress the coaching staff, he’ll be ticked for Maine and the team’s D-League affiliate.

Georges-Hunt appeared in 36 games as a senior for the Yellowjackets, logging averages of 16.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 32.4 minutes per outing. His slash line on the campaign was .454/.342/.823. He played for Brooklyn’s squad in the Las Vegas Summer League this year, averaging 2.8 points and 1.0 rebound in 13.2 minutes per contest over four appearances.

Celtics Notes: Allen, Crowder, Thomas, Young

A 41-year-old Ray Allen wouldn’t be a good fit on a young team like the Celtics, argues Josue Pavon of WEII 93.7 FM. The former Celtic has been considering a return to the NBA and has reportedly had discussions with Boston and Milwaukee. But with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder already established and Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and R.J. Hunter all needing more playing time to improve their games, Pavon believes Allen would be an unnecessary addition. The writer also suggests that Allen is using this move as a way to get back in the good graces of Celtics officials and fans and increase the chances of having his number retired. Allen has promised to make a decision before training camps open next month.

There’s more tonight out of Boston:

  • Crowder’s brief absence with a high ankle sprain last season underscored his importance to the Celtics, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. Crowder posted career-best totals last season with 14.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals per night, and Blakely contends that Crowder has All-Star potential if he keeps improving. He’s also becoming one of the best bargains in the league after signing a five-year, $35MM deal last summer.
  • It may have worked out to Thomas’ benefit that the Celtics passed on him in the 2011 draft, Blakely writes in a separate story. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge had his eye on Thomas with the 55th pick, but opted for E’Twaun Moore. Thomas slid to the 60th pick and came into the NBA feeling like he had something to prove. Coming off his first All-Star appearance, Thomas may have to adjust his game with Al Horford in town, giving up a few shots for more assists.
  • The battle for the last roster spot may come down to Hunter and James Young, according to Brian Robb of CelticsHub. Commenting as part of an ESPN.com panel, Robb says they will both need to perform well in training camp to stand out from the Celtics’ large collection of draftees.

Breakdown of Avery Bradley's Potential

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com weighed in on what he believes Celtics guard Avery Bradley‘s ceiling and floor is as a player. The scribe lauds Bradley’s positive impact on the team, noting that if he can improve his outside shooting, the guard could perform at an All-Star level for the team. At worst, Bradley will remain a defensive-stopper who provides far more than shows up in the nightly box score, Blakely opines.

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