Boston Celtics

Atlantic Notes: Bargnani, Scott, Smart

Former Knicks forward Andrea Bargnani indicated that he will “gladly” respond to team president Phil Jackson‘s criticism of his work ethic, but now is not the time, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily relays. “There is a right time for everything,” Bargnani told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have the answers, but it would be selfish to trigger controversy. Today, the only important thing is the national team. Later, gladly.” In an interview earlier this month Jackson had told ESPN’s Charlie Rosen that Bargnani “was and still is a big tease who seemed like a malingerer,” and that the Zen Master didn’t like the way Bargnani refused to engage in non-contact activities while he was recovering from an injury, nor his on-court intensity. Bargnani, 29, inked a two year deal with the rival Nets this offseason.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The minimum salary training camp deal that undrafted Ohio State point guard Shannon Scott inked with the Raptors is partially guaranteed for $25K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).
  • In a look ahead toward 2015/16 the ESPN Summer Forecast Panel was asked to name which member of the Celtics would have a breakout season, and the majority predicted that player would be second year guard Marcus Smart. A number of the panel members pointed to Smart’s increased confidence and leadership that he demonstrated during summer league play as a positive sign of things to come.
  • You can see our full roster counts for the Celtics, Knicks, Nets, Raptors, and Sixers by clicking on the link over the desired team’s name.

Latest On Potential Heat Trades, Mario Chalmers

The Heat expect to keep Mario Chalmers until at least the start of training camp, and owner Micky Arison has made no demand that the team shed salary, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The prospect of trading for Jamal Crawford, an idea the Heat reportedly raised in talks with the Clippers nearly two months ago, “can’t be ruled out,” but Miami is satisfied with its depth on the perimeter, Jackson writes. The Heat are still willing to trade Chris Andersen, but the market for him has been soft, Jackson hears from a higher-up who’s been in contact with the Heat, and no evidence suggests the Clippers are interested in him as part of a swap involving Crawford, Jackson adds.

The Heat would still prefer to offload salary and haven’t ruled out trading Chalmers, set to make a guaranteed $4.3MM in the final season of his contract this year, as soon as October, according to Jackson. The point guard hasn’t given indications that he’s expecting to be traded, and team president Pat Riley denied reports around draft time indicating that the team was shopping Chalmers and Andersen. Grantland’s Zach Lowe nonetheless heard a couple of weeks later that Chalmers and Andersen were available “for nothing.” Andersen didn’t seem concerned about the rumors when he made a public appearance earlier this week, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel chronicles.

An opposing GM told Jackson in mid-July that Chalmers and Shabazz Napier were the players the Heat were shopping the most aggressively, and Miami dealt Napier to the Magic later that month for no salary in return. That, plus the swap that sent Zoran Dragic to the Celtics with no other salary involved, helped Miami lower its payroll, though the Heat still have about $90.4MM in guaranteed salary, which puts them about $5.66MM above the $84.74MM luxury tax threshold. The Heat would have to pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they’re still above the tax line on the final day of the regular season. Miami only has 12 players on fully guaranteed deals, and if they keep Hassan Whiteside on his partially guaranteed contract but get rid of everyone else, they’d have a tax bill of roughly $16.3MM. Jackson estimates the tax bill at around $23MM, though that appears to include some of the non-guaranteed contracts.

Do you think the Heat will move below the luxury tax line this season? If so, how do you think they’ll manage to do it? Leave a comment to tell us.

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, Zeller, Rozier, Hunter

Grantland’s Zach Lowe finds the four-year, $64MM extension that Jonas Valanciunas received from the Raptors more surprising than fellow Leon Rose client’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist‘s apparent agreement to sign for $52MM over that same span of years, given the center’s potential earnings (Twitter links). Valanciunas could have come away with a four-year deal worth closer to $75MM if he’d waited until the extension deadline in the fall, and the max if he’d passed on an extension in favor of restricted free agency, Lowe opines. Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Chances are 50-50 that Tyler Zeller will sign an extension with the Celtics before the deadline this fall, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The sides have talked about the idea, Kyler writes. Grantland’s Zach Lowe speculated earlier this summer that the C’s might agree to a deal as long as it was for less than $12MM a year.
  • The Celtics took Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick, a dozen spots in front of R.J. Hunter, but Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com and the majority of ESPN’s Summer Forecast panel argue that Hunter will make the more significant impact this season.
  • Knicks president Phil Jackson shared his thoughts about the team’s offseason additions, but Marc Berman of the New York Post believes the Zen Master’s outlook is far too positive. New York didn’t add a single All-Star caliber player despite its bevy of cap room, Berman writes.

And-Ones: Lakers, Celtics, Lee

The Lakers have promoted Ryan West to director of player personnel, Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reports. West was formerly the team’s assistant director of scouting. West is the son of Lakers legend Jerry West. An official announcement won’t be made until September, according to Pincus.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Celtics have been hesitant to make long-term investments to secure cap space, but Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe speculates that the team might look to extend Tyler Zeller. The team could agree to what Washburn writes would be a modest extension. The center averaged 10.2 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game last season. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, in a recent report, wrote that Zeller has a better chance than Celtics teammates Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones III to receive a contract extension before the start of the regular season.
  • David Lee is in a good situation now that he is with the Celtics, Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders writes. While Boston likely won’t make as deep a playoff run as the Warriors, the Celtics should be a pretty good young team and Lee should find himself in a starting role, Brigham adds. The Celtics acquired Lee in a deal with the Warriors in July.

Extension Candidate: Jared Sullinger

There are signs that a breakout season for Celtics power forward Jared Sullinger is forthcoming. The biggest one being that Sullinger has seemingly committed to getting in much better shape this summer. Of course, each summer, there are a plethora of stories about players suddenly in the best shape they’ve ever been in. With Sullinger, however, there seems to be a lot of validity behind the claims.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, for one, has heard Sullinger has worked hard. There’s plenty of motivation for Sullinger, who was listed at 260 pounds last season, to get healthier, as Stevens alluded to.

Apr 12, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger (7) shoots against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half at TD Garden. The Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 117-78. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

“He’s been working out in a couple different locations,” Stevens said in late July on SiriusXM’s NBA Radio, as transcribed on ESPN Boston. “But everything that I have heard, every time I’ve spoken with him, every time I have spoken to people around him, it sounds like he’s doing great. Hey, he wants to be in the best shape of his life, he wants to be in great condition, and he’s working towards that, and I think he’s excited for a new season to show that’s been his focus and to show off the work that he’s put in to get there.”

Sullinger is eligible for an extension this summer, but Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com wrote in May that serious contract talks are more likely to happen when he becomes a restricted free agent in 2016. Sullinger, who will make $2.3MM next season, is trying to meet Boston’s front office challenge to get in better shape. The challenge specifically came from Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who said, “I think he’s hurting the longevity of his career and his play now by not being in as good shape as he can be in.”

Sullinger has until November 2nd to agree to a long-term contract extension. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe doesn’t believe Sullinger will ink an extension, as Washburn writes that Sullinger’s agent, David Falk, told Washburn in February that an extension wouldn’t be possible unless it was for the maximum — an estimated $85MM. That won’t happen, according to Washburn. So that would mean Sullinger is headed for restricted free agency.

If Sullinger is in better shape — and maintains his conditioning throughout the season — he will likely enjoy a big scoring season, especially considering he has always been thought of by many as a very talented player. With better conditioning, there is reason to believe his jump shooting would be improved because of better leg strength. Still, if he ends up losing too much weight, there’s a chance Sullinger, who has been a good rebounder in the past, loses strength.

Despite the expected rise in the salary cap and the idea that Sullinger could walk after a big season, I do not think it would be wise for the Celtics to extend him mainly because health and injury concerns have followed Sullinger ever since he was drafted in 2012. What’s more, Sullinger could become a valuable trade chip for the Celtics down the road. It seems the Celtics are willing to move him. Boston discussed a package that included multiple draft picks and Sullinger with the Knicks before the draft. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Celtics inked power forward Amir Johnson and acquired David Lee, who might be better long-term fits than Sullinger. With Sullinger reportedly looking for the maximum and considering the team’s depth chart, it seems unlikely to me that the Celtics extend him.

Do you think the Celtics and Sullinger will do an extension, and if so, how much do you think he’ll get? Leave a comment to tell us.

Eastern Notes: Wizards, Celtics, Bulls

The Wizards expect Tomas Satoransky, a shooting guard whom Washington drafted 32nd overall in 2012, to finally join them after he completes the final year of his contract with Barcelona this season, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. As Michael adds, for the past few years, it’s been questionable as to if Satoransky will ever join the team. Satoransky has told the Wizards that he intends to be in Washington for the 2016/17 season, Michael reports, citing a source. Last summer, as Michael points out, Satoransky wanted the team to sign him before he competed in the summer league, and he’s also pushed for a larger amount than the team was willing to give. Ultimately, the Wizards stood firm and used the mid-level to sign Paul Pierce.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Jae Crowder, whom the Celtics re-signed to a five-year, $35MM deal, is participating in full workouts, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes. Crowder suffered an ankle sprain during the first round of the playoffs. Celtics coach Brad Stevens has yet to project a starting lineup, Crowder is expected to compete with Evan Turner at small forward, Washburn adds.
  • In an interview with Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype, Nikola Mirotic had mostly positive things to say about his season under former Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, but he also added that he’s looking forward to playing under Fred Hoiberg next year in a system that allows for more individual freedom from the players. “We had good and bad times, but we were always together,” Mirotic said. “When things were going badly, we never thought it was the coach’s fault or were thinking this could be his final year with the team. We have been very focused on the task ahead. We knew we had a good shot at the Finals. I can only say positive things about Thibodeau. He has helped me improve. He’s a difficult coach that perhaps doesn’t like to play the young guys much, but you learn from him and he makes you work hard. He got you ready for the time when that opportunity could come.”

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, Porzingis, Rozier

The four-year, $64MM extension that Jonas Valanciunas signed this week is a good deal for both him and the Raptors, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. If the 23-year-old center  has an outstanding year in 2015/16, he may have cost himself some money by not waiting to negotiate, Wolstat notes, especially with the salary cap expected to rise into the neighborhood of $90MM next summer. However, Valanciunas opted for security and the satisfaction of making more than four times more than his previous salary. “That’s why we’re doing the deal, because I feel the trust in me,” Valanciunas said. “I’m ready to go out and compete on the court. Now it’s my time to do something.” 

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The deal that netted Valanciunas his extension came together quickly, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Last week, Valanciunas was preparing for Eurobasket 2015 with his national team in Lithuania. He arrived in Toronto on Monday and stayed until the extension was finalized. “There’s a great opportunity for me to stay in a good city,” Valanciunas said. “I love Toronto, I love to play here, it’s my second home. They take me as if I’m from here. It’s great. I just feel for the Raptors. I feel good about it. A contract is just a contract.”
  • Knicks associate head coach Kurt Rambis is the right choice to mentor Kristaps Porzingis, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. League sources have told Begley that most of the responsibility for developing the 7’0″ rookie will fall on Rambis, who spent 14 years in the NBA as a power forward.
  • Celtics rookie Terry Rozier thinks his summer league experience will help get him ready for the pace of the NBA game, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Many were surprised when Boston tabbed Rozier with the 16th pick, but the toughness, competitiveness and defensive prowess that attracted the Celtics was on display this summer. “I think I grew a lot out there, just seeing the spacing and learning to play with a different pace at this level,” Rozier said. “I’m a fast learner, so to meet people and be in that environment was special, because I learned a lot and got better.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Johnson, Crawford

Sixers center Joel Embiid underwent a second surgical procedure on his injured right foot this week, and he is expected to miss the entire 2015/16 campaign as a result. While the news that the 2014 No. 3 overall pick will miss his second consecutive campaign is bad enough, there’s also a strong chance that Embiid will also miss the beginning of the 2016/17 season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (video link), with a hat tip to Chris Walder of TheScore.com.

Talking to my sources, they want to see him return around October – not this October, but the next October, for that season,” Pompey said. “And he may not even return for the start of that season. He may miss a couple games. But that’s their goal.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors will miss Amir Johnson ‘s intangibles and hustle this season, with the forward having signed a two-year, $24MM pact with the Celtics this offseason, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. “He went from a role player to a very big piece of what we were doing,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said of his former player. “He became the core of what we were doing in Toronto. We went from a young, up and coming team to grow. We’ll miss his leadership, his toughness. He has a quiet toughness about him that we will miss with our team.
  • The Knicks reportedly have interest in acquiring Jamal Crawford from the Clippers, and Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders believes that landing Crawford would take additional pressure off of Carmelo Anthony on the perimeter and also provide good spacing for the entire Knicks offense overall. Greene also notes that trading for the guard wouldn’t have a negative impact on the Knicks’ salary cap since Crawford is in the final season of his current deal.

Wizards Notes: Temple, Oubre, Camp Deals

The summer has been relatively quiet for the Wizards, with the trade for Jared Dudley and the Alan Anderson signing perhaps the team’s most significant moves. Washington is hoping it’s a different story a year from now, with native son Kevin Durant poised to hit free agency. While we wait to see how that storyline develops, see the latest from the nation’s capital:

  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder, and not the Utah front office, is the party that expressed interest in Wizards guard Garrett Temple, according to a source who spoke with J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic (Twitter link). The Wizards don’t appear eager to trade Temple, and it seems unlikely he’ll be changing teams, Michael tweets.
  • Kelly Oubre intrigued the Hornets and the Heat, who had this year’s ninth and 10th picks, respectively, and the Celtics and Rockets tried to move up to draft him, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Ulimately, the Wizards came up with the package the Hawks accepted for the No. 15 overall pick, allowing Washington to come away with the small forward from Kansas. Deveney chronicles the struggle Oubre’s family faced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which forced them from their home in New Orleans 10 years ago.
  • The Wizards aren’t offering partial guarantees with their training camp invitations, Michael writes in a separate piece, and that was a factor in the decision undrafted Maryland shooting guard Dez Wells made to turn down an offer from the Wizards for a deal with the Thunder instead, Michael adds.

Celtics Sign Coty Clarke For Camp

AUGUST 21ST, 1:00pm: Clarke has signed a contract that’s worth the rookie minimum for one year and is non-guaranteed, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It contains limited injury protection, Pincus adds, indicating that it’s an Exhibit 9 contract. The Celtics have yet to make a formal announcement.

AUGUST 7TH, 11:02am: The Celtics will sign former University of Arkansas forward Coty Clarke for training camp, a source told Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. A person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Hoops Rumors that the 6’7″ 23-year-old will indeed be in Celtics camp. The sides are still working out details, the person said, but the one-year pro is Boston-bound.

Clarke will be a surprise addition to the Celtics preseason roster. He didn’t attend an NBA training camp last fall after going undrafted in June 2014, and he didn’t play NBA summer league ball this year or last. He spent this past season playing for Hapoel Kazrin in Israel, where he put up 19.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30.7 minutes per game. He averaged 9.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 22.3 MPG as a senior at Arkansas during the 2013/14 season.

The addition of Clarke will bring Boston to 20 players with either a signed contract or a verbal agreement. Teams can carry no more than 20 contracts in the offseason before cutting down to the 15-man regular season limit. The Celtics have 17 fully guaranteed deals, including Zoran Dragic, whom they reportedly intend to either waive or trade. Such a move would still leave the team with one more guaranteed contract than it can carry for opening night, so Clarke faces long odds to stick with the Celtics beyond the preseason. Still, Boston has the ability to retain the D-League rights to as many as four of the players it waives, so Clarke would appear to have a much stronger chance to end up with the Maine Red Claws, the D-League affiliate of the Celtics.

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