Boston Celtics

Celtics Notes: Turner, Stevens, Ainge, Draft Picks

Evan Turner may have to be patient if he wants to re-sign with the Celtics in free agency, but he told Chris Forsberg of ESPN that coach Brad Stevens would like to keep him in Boston. “Coach definitely said [he wants me back],” said Turner. “He said he’ll be pushing for me and everything like that. And that’s pretty much it. But there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on right now. I understand it. And I understand what’s going to occur, with the draft picks and the young guys trying to develop and trying to get a superstar, stuff like that. I definitely comprehend it.” The Celtics may like Turner, but they figure to have other priorities this summer as they try to improve a team that went 48-34 and was bounced by the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs. Turner played a big part in Boston’s success, averaging 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 81 games. He said “money’s cool” in free agency, but it’s more important to find playing time with a winning organization.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • The six-game loss to Atlanta showed the Celtics need to raise their talent level, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Bontemps says GM Danny Ainge has to shake up a roster of “ill-fitting pieces” around All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. The Celtics own the Nets’ first-round pick, which is almost certain to fall in the top five, and may have more than $50MM to spend once free agency starts July 1st. Bontemps expects the Celtics to chase every elite free agent on the market, adding that they have enough young talent and future picks to become trading partners if the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler or the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins becomes available.
  • The Celtics will need some luck to have the offseason they are hoping for, contends Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Boston has eight picks in this year’s draft, but the position of Brooklyn’s choice will help shape the future of the franchise. The Celtics have a 15.6% chance of landing the top overall selection and a 46.9% shot at staying in the top three. Boston will target Kevin Durant in free agency, and Bontemps believes Ainge is eager to make a deal with his parcel of draft picks, citing his offer to Charlotte last year in hopes of drafting Justise Winslow. The writer mentions Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor as another trade possibility.

Celtics Acknowledge Expectations Raised For Next Season

Despite losing to the Hawks in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the Celtics feel that they’ve made progress as an organization this season, Kyle Hightower of The Associated Press relays. “You go from … under .500 and barely making the playoffs and kind of eking in at the end by winning six straight, to being in the mix for being a top-four seed in the East. And so yes, there’s progress,” coach Brad Stevens said. Stevens also added that expectations for the team will be raised for next season after reaching the playoffs the past two springs, Hightower notes. “People have told me all along there’s two really tough tasks, right? One is getting to be a very good, competitive team at a top 10-15 level on offense and defense and give yourself a chance to be in the discussion we’re in now. And that’s been a path in the last three years to get there,” Stevens said.

Celtics Notes: Turner, Zeller, Johnson

Evan Turner is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he hopes his time on the open market is short and ends with him returning to the Celtics, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. “It [free agency] starts July 1st, hopefully it’s over July 1st,” Turner said. “I want to go somewhere and have an opportunity to win. Money’s cool, but I don’t want to sit there getting our brains beaten in and doing all that. I want to go somewhere ideally where the staff and front office [are] big on winning. Hopefully it’s back here. Other than that, winning and great fit are going to be the most important things.

The swingman is likely to see his annual salary jump to the $10MM range, Blakely contends, and that would be a healthy raise over the $3,425,510 he earned this past campaign. “It’s going to be way better than it was two years ago,” Turner said of his free agency. “It should be cool. I haven’t really thought about it. I don’t know really what I think about during the day, but I know it’s not that. I’ll once again stay out of trouble until then and try to keep bettering myself and growing.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Tyler Zeller is eligible to become a restricted free agent this offseason and is open to re-signing with the Celtics, who’ll have the right to match any offer the big man were to receive provided they submit a qualifying offer, Blakely relays in a separate piece. “It’s a great organization, a great place to be,” Zeller said. “So we’ll see what happens.” When asked if Boston wanted him back next season, Zeller said, “I would hope so. You always hope a team wants you back. I would think they would. But at the same time, when July comes around, we’ll really see. When those negotiations start. Until then, you can say whatever you want. Until then, we’ll see what happens.
  • Amir Johnson‘s 2016/17 salary of $12MM is non-guaranteed, which makes him a candidate to be waived if the Celtics require more cap space for free agent pursuits this summer. But the power forward echoed the sentiments of Turner and Lee, noting that he would definitely prefer to be playing in Boston next season, as Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe relays (via Twitter).

Celtics Believe They'll Get Meeting With Durant

The Celtics believe they’ll get a meeting with Kevin Durant this summer, but they understand they won’t have any realistic shot at him if they don’t secure a commitment to acquire another star first, The Vertical’s Chris Mannix writes. Boston is on the fringes of the race for the former MVP who’s poised to hit free agency this summer, though the belief has been widespread that come July the Celtics will end up on Durant’s radar, at least, as Mannix has previously reported.

Celtics Notes: Turner, Ainge, Sullinger, Free Agency

Evan Turner called Boston “the best place to play” and said he’d absolutely like to re-sign with the Celtics, but he cautioned that it’s not a foregone conclusion in comments he made after Thursday’s season-ending loss to Atlanta, as Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe relays. “Just fit obviously,” Turner said when asked what he’d prioritize in free agency. “I want to get a decent amount of money, you know what I’m saying? But at the same time the fit is going to be huge and the opportunity to play on a winning team. I have played on [bad] teams a couple times and it’s not fun. But obviously the fit, the opportunity to play, and the opportunity to progress and win.”

A. Sherrod Blakely of points to the fondness the Knicks have for the former No. 2 overall pick and suggests the Magic will come after Turner, too. Orlando has no shortage of cap space, with enough for two maximum-salary free agents, and while it shouldn’t take the max to secure Turner, he appears poised for a raise on his salary of less than $3.426MM for this season.

See more from Boston:

  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge expected more than a six-game exit from the playoffs this spring, as he tells Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, but the quick ouster shows the onus is on Ainge to upgrade the team’s talent, opines Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
  • Teammates are a draw for soon-to-be restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, Himmelsbach notes (Twitter link). “If I leave it’s gonna be tough walking away from the great guys we have in this locker room,” Sullinger said.
  • Boston’s reputation as an unfriendly place for young black men persists, and whether or not that perception reflects reality, it works against the Celtics in free agent recruiting, as former NBA executive Amin Elhassan contends in an ESPN Insider 5-on-5 panel.

Evan Turner In Line For Significant Raise

Evan Turner‘s strong play for the Celtics this season should put him in line to command a starting salary of over $10MM per year on his next contract, A. Sherrod Blakely of writes. “You hear players talk all the time about doing whatever it takes to win, but he’s doing it,” an NBA executive told Blakely. “Start, come off the bench, play a few minutes, play a lot of minutes. He’s done everything they’ve asked him to do and from what I hear hasn’t grumbled a day about it. Every team needs a guy like that in their locker room.

Celtics Used Portion Of Room Exception To Ink Holland

  • The Celtics used $25K of their room exception to sign John Holland to his two-year deal, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insider relays (via Twitter). Utilizing that sliver of the exception allowed Boston to pay Holland $25K for the remainder of this season instead of the $9,266 he would have earned if he had simply signed a minimum-salary arrangement.

Latest On Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is unlikely to sign with the Wizards this summer because he doesn’t want to deal with the pressure of being surrounded by family, friends and hangers-on from his native Washington, friends of his tell Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Instead, the Warriors and Spurs will be in the mix for him with the Celtics a darkhorse, Mannix writes, reiterating his report from March, when he also cited Golden State, San Antonio and Boston.

Durant’s lack of fondness for the Wizards doesn’t have to do with Scott Brooks, who’s reportedly agreed to become the team’s next coach, as Mannix details, and indeed, Durant made a point of praising the former Thunder coach last week. The one-time MVP has largely been mum over the years about the possibility of joining the Wizards, despite rampant speculation, and he downplayed the idea when asked about it in 2014, as Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman notes.

Still, the Wizards will encourage Brooks to retain assistant coach David Atkins, who was a high school assistant coach for Durant, as TNT’s David Aldridge hears (Twitter link), and they’ll nonetheless make their long-planned effort to sign Durant this summer, according to Mannix. The Warriors instead have appeared to be significant front-runners to land the four-time scoring champ should he decide to leave the Thunder, as The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in February, though Mannix puts Golden State on equal footing with the Spurs in his latest report. It was widely believed the Celtics would move onto Durant’s radar, Mannix wrote last month, and the latest dispatch from the scribe who also works for CSN New England suggests that Boston would be Durant’s top Eastern Conference choice if he wants to escape the brutal competition atop the Western Conference.

People around the NBA sense that Durant is “very much in play” and that a decent chance exists he’ll leave Oklahoma City, as Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck said recently, though Durant’s mother this week cited his loyalty to the Thunder, at least in terms of maintaining focus on the playoffs.

Crowder Wanted To Leave Dallas

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander plans to be more active in the team’s offseason moves, according to Calvin Watkins of Alexander gave GM Daryl Morey a vote of confidence this week but said he will take a more hands-on role in overhauling a roster that produced a disappointing 41-41 record and the eighth seed in the West. “I think I will change a little bit,” Alexander said. “More scrutiny and what they’re doing. I was thinking about doing it anyway but after this season, definitely.” Among Houston’s decisions will be whether to retain interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who posted a 37-34 record after taking over for Kevin McHale in November. Alexander didn’t commit to keeping Bickerstaff, but did toss a compliment his way. “He’s got a winning record,” Alexander said, “which is good from where he started.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is hoping for a fresh start next season after a disastrous first year in New Orleans, writes Justin Verrier of Gentry was hired to take the next step with the Pelicans after they claimed the final playoff spot in 2014/15, but the team was slowed by a long string of misfortune. New Orleans players ended the season with 351 games missed due to injuries and illness, the second-highest total in the past decade. Looking ahead, Gentry has a vision for the type of player he wants to acquire in the offseason. “I think we need that 6’7″ athletic guy that can also be somewhat of a facilitator,” he said. “As to names, I have no idea who that is, but I know that he’s out there. And so that would be obviously a priority for us.”
  • The Spurs became a better defensive team after trading Tiago Splitter and signing LaMarcus Aldridge, according to Matthew Tynan of RealGM. Splitter is considered the better defender, but Aldridge has more range and mobility, Tynan notes, which gives Tim Duncan the more natural role of rim protector.
  • Jae Crowder, who has emerged as a star in Boston, couldn’t wait to get out of Dallas, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Before being included in the 2014 trade that brought Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks, Crowder was frustrated by a lack of playing time, two trips to the D-League and Dallas’ signings of Al-Farouq Aminu, Chandler Parsons and Richard Jefferson.

2015/16 D-League Usage Report: Celtics

The NBA’s relationship with the D-League continues to grow, and this season a total of 19 NBA teams have one-to-one affiliations with D-League clubs. Those NBA organizations without their own affiliates were required to assign players to D-League clubs associated with other NBA franchises. D-League teams could volunteer to take on the assigned players, and if no volunteers emerged, the players were assigned at random.

This significant change from the 2014/15 season came about after the Pacers purchased the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and turned them into their one-to-one partner for the 2015/16 campaign. Other NBA teams have interest in following suit in the years ahead, and the NBA’s ultimate goal for the D-League is for all 30 NBA franchises to have their own D-League squads. You can view the complete list of D-League affiliates here.

We at Hoops Rumors will be recapping the D-League-related activity for the 2015/16 campaign for each team, and we’ll continue onward with the the Boston Celtics, whose D-League affiliate is the Maine Red Claws:

The Celtics made 39 assignments for the 2015/16 campaign, sending five different players to the D-League for a total of 127 days. Listed below are all the assignments and recalls made by Boston for the 2015/16 campaign:

Here is how the Celtics’ players performed while on assignment to the D-League this season:

  • Coty Clarke: The small forward appeared in a total of 44 games for the Red Claws on the year, a number that includes his outings prior to being inked by Boston. Clarke averaged 16.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists to accompany a shooting line of .513/.406/.792.
  • R.J. Hunter: The shooting guard appeared in eight games for Maine and averaged 13.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 30.8 minutes per contest. His slash line was .359/.296/.741.
  • Jordan Mickey: The power forward made 23 appearances for the Red Claws and averaged 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in 33.4 minutes per contest. His shooting line was .531/.350/.745.
  • Terry Rozier: The rookie point guard appeared in 14 games for Maine and averaged 19.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.9 steals in 33.7 minutes per night. Rozier’s shooting line was .393/.338/.776.
  • James Young: The swingman appeared in 14 games, notching averages of 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 28.3 minutes per outing. His slash line was .409/.350/.814.

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