Boston Celtics

Eastern Notes: Fisher, Griffin, Magic, Celtics

Knicks coach Derek Fisher, who was reportedly involved in a physical altercation with Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes last weekend, understands how some would question his focus on the team after he missed Monday’s practice session as a result of his West Coast jaunt, Ian Begley of writes. “I think we all remember there are a ton of people that work in New York City that have families in other cities or back on the West Coast,” Fisher said. “You work six days, you have a seventh day off. You go back and visit family. You come back to work on Monday morning. That was my plan. It didn’t work out that way for reasons that were not in my control and I can’t change it at this point.”

Here’s more out of the East:

  • Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy said it was the team’s wealth of power forwards that led to Eric Griffin being waived, writes Aaron McMann of “We thought it would be best for him to sort of give him the opportunity to move on and pursue other things,” Van Gundy said. “I really liked him, very good kid, hard worker, great attitude, really athletic. Certainly has the talent to be an NBA-level defender.
  • Heat power forward Chris Bosh believes that the Magic are poised to make a jump in the standings this season courtesy of the young talent the franchise has accumulated over the past few years, John Denton of relays. “I mean, the talent is there, but it’s on them if they want to make the next step now or a couple of years down the line,’’ Bosh said. “That core of Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris, that’s about as young and talented as it gets. You’ve got everything there with playmaking, outside shooting, rebounding and athleticism. And with [coach] Scott Skiles and the new regime in there I’m sure they are trying to pump those guys up and tell them, `We may not be expected to win every night, but we can play hard and win games.’ I’ve been there in that spot before, but I think they will give themselves a chance to be really good this season.’’
  • David Lee, who was a member of the NBA champion Warriors last season, says that he sees a lot of similarities between the 2015/16 Celtics and his former squad, especially in the areas of team chemistry and depth, Tales Azzoni of writes.

Atlantic Notes: Bennett, Fisher, Celtics, Knicks

Anthony Bennett doesn’t regret having become the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, but in encouraging him to move past that, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri hinted in comments to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports that he can envision keeping Bennett beyond this season even if he doesn’t make a leap this year. Toronto signed Bennett to just a one-year deal for the minimum salary when the team brought him aboard last month.

“We look at giving Anthony an opportunity to actually grow and be a player,” Ujiri said. “It’s not a one-year thing here. It’s going to take time. All that No. 1 pick and all that stuff, we had a conversation with him. Let’s move on from that. Now it’s about how you become a very good NBA player, which we all know he can be.”

See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It was Derek Fisher who was the victim when Matt Barnes reportedly attacked him, but the Knicks coach invited scrutiny when he skipped practice to travel 3,000 miles away, ostensibly to see his children, and wound up at the home of Barnes’ ex-wife, opines Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. The missed practice and the distraction brought upon his team will make Fisher’s job performance a more common subject for criticism this season, Isola believes.
  • The first-round picks that the Nets, Timberwolves and Mavericks owe them and the playoff appearance from last season signal that the Celtics would be well-served to put more of an emphasis on winning this year, as Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald argues. Bulpett points to this summer’s moves as evidence that the C’s feel the same way.
  • The Knicks formally hired Mike Miller as the coach of their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Miller, who’s not the player by the same name, is a former associate head coach at Kansas State. Isola first reported in August that the move was close.

And-Ones: Cavs, Celtics, Nuggets

With plenty of health concerns regarding the team, it is imperative that the Cavs and Tristan Thompson strike a deal as soon as possible, especially after LeBron James called the situation a distraction, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group opines. Kevin Love isn’t cleared for full contact, Timofey Mozgov is around 60% and Anderson Varejao is still working his way into shape from an Achilles tear while Thompson appears to be in very good shape, Haynes writes.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Marcus Smart appeared in 67 games last season with 38 starts, but he is well aware that there is a competition for the Celtics‘ starting point guard job, A. Sherrod Blakely of relays. In addition to Smart, the Celtics are also giving serious thought to having Isaiah Thomas in the starting unit, Blakely adds.
  • With the Nuggets in search of a long-term solution at shooting guard, second-year player Gary Harris seems primed to receive more playing time, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post relays. “It’s a huge season,” Harris said. “I don’t think it because other people are saying it. I just think it’s going to be a huge season for myself personally, just for me.”
  • With the addition of Tyson Chandler, the Suns‘ defense has the potential to represent one of the team’s greatest improvements, along with perimeter shooting, from the offseason as Phoenix tries to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes.

Eastern Notes: Sullinger, Zeller, Blair

Celtics president Danny Ainge said he will continue to have contract extension conversations with the agents for forwards Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, but he added “there’s nothing imminent,” Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports.

The two players are eligible for rookie scale extensions between now and November 2nd. Ainge reportedly began negotiating with both players’ camps in August.

Here is more out of the Eastern Conference:

  • Jonas Jerebko re-signed with the Celtics over the summer on a two-year, $10MM deal because he felt comfortable with the team and now he is eager to compete for the spot as the first small forward off the bench, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes.
  • Wizards backup center DeJuan Blair believes he needs to rebound from his disappointing campaign last season for the sake of his career and his own dignity, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic details. Blair’s career took a major hit last year because he was relegated to mop-up duty in blowouts and never even made an appearance for the Wizards during the playoffs.
  • Andrew Nicholson‘s scoring and playing time both diminished after he stopped attempting shots in the low post with his back to the basket, but with a new coaching staff in place for the Magic, Nicholson expects to be used more effectively, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Sixers, Celtics

Terrence Ross is entering a huge season because he has not received a contract extension and while the Raptors could offer one, it is more likely that they decide that they would rather pay more for a sure thing next summer than less for an enigma now, Eric Koreen of The National Post writes. Ross would need to display more consistency this season to drive up his market value, Koreen writes. That might be more challenging this year, Koreen adds, because DeMarre Carroll essentially took Ross’s starting spot and now Ross will be counted on to provide an offensive spark off the bench.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Perry Jones, who was once considered a can’t-miss lottery pick, understands his long-term future in the league is at stake right now with the Celtics, especially considering how prospects like Anthony Bennett have been cut loose lately, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes. Jones, whom the Celtics acquired from the Thunder, is not guaranteed to make the regular season roster, Washburn adds. Jones’ best opportunity, according to Washburn, would be at small forward.
  • David Lee is eager to play in Boston this season following his trade from the Warriors because he is a fan of the Celtics‘ history and tradition, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald details.
  • Jerami Grant, who was drafted 39th overall out of Syracuse, and JaKarr Sampson, who went undrafted out of St. John’s, are two players surprisingly expected to make an impact defensively for the Sixers, Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News writes.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Raptors, Lopez, Jones

After enduring another year of change, the Sixers are optimistic that they are headed in the right direction, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. With training camp wrapping up today, Philadelphia has just four healthy players on its roster — Nerlens Noel, Hollis Thompson, JaKarr Sampson and Jerami Grant — who participated in the 2014 camp. Even though the turnover has been constant since he took over, third-year coach Brett Brown sees hope. “I think the culture is trumping the talent right now,” he said. “I feel like the system of coaches knowing what we all want, what I want. The system of what we do with recovery, how we travel, how we eat, how we act. I think that is trumping the improved talent that we have.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Frontcourt newcomers Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola are eager to fit in with the Raptors, according to Eric Koreen of The National Post. Both players signed free agent deals in July, with Biyombo receiving a two-year, $6MM contract and Scola agreeing to one year at about $3MM. “I’ve gone from one coach to another one and this and that,” Biyombo said of his experience in Charlotte. “Those are not excuses. But I think over the past four years, I was able to learn a lot of things within those ups and downs. And that’s helped me to grow as a player, and more than anything as a person. Being here lets me show the other side of me.”
  • Brook Lopez is adjusting to a new point guard after the Nets bought out Deron Williams‘ contract over the summer, writes Matt Mazzeo of Lopez, who enjoyed his first offseason in four years without rehabbing an injury, is trying to develop chemistry with Jarrett Jack“Each point guard takes getting used to in that regard,” Lopez said. “It’s just seeing what they like to do, what they benefit from doing and let them play to what makes them successful.”
  • After three disappointing seasons, Perry Jones hopes to break through with the Celtics, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The former Baylor star never established himself in Oklahoma City and was traded to Boston over the summer. “The biggest benefit is he’s a positionless player in a positionless league,” said coach Brad Stevens. “And so to me, Perry needs to soar with the strengths at the position he’s at.”

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Knicks, DeRozan

Knicks coach Derek Fisher is focusing on his squad’s intangibles and professionalism, rather than lament the fact that New York didn’t land any of the top names in free agency, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “Character, professional mindset,’’ Fisher said when listing the team’s strengths. “You’re not in the NBA if you’re not talented. We don’t have to get into who’s talented. The character of our group and the way we’re approaching what’s going on daily, those are going to be the strengths. We’ll have rough nights, rough stretches. We have the beginnings of at least a group able to handle some of the adversity and setbacks that come with a long NBA season. The basketball part will take care of itself as long as we become a team. We have the type of guys that are interested in being a team.’’

When asked if the professionalism he was speaking of was an improvement over last season’s team, Fisher said, “It’s just different. Until the season starts and we figure out who we are, you can’t really say it’s better. But it’s different. We’re all different. Teams have different strengths and weaknesses. The strength of this particular group is not in having what people consider the sexy names or guys who didn’t come play with our team, but guys who truly want to be here. I think it’s going to help us.’’

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers owner Josh Harris admits that while he wishes that his team was further along in its rebuild, he is content with the progress that is being made, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “I think we are making progress,” Harris said. “I’m an impatient person at heart. I would rather get to the end point as fast as possible. But at the same time, the goal is still the same goal: to be an elite extremely competitive team that goes deep in the playoffs. But at the same time, there aren’t shortcuts to it. So you have to react to the realities . . . I certainty wish it was going faster. But at the same time, I’m happy with the progress.
  • Since being acquired at last season’s trade deadline, Isaiah Thomas has been the Celtics‘ best player, and this coming season will provide him with an opportunity to take the next step toward being recognized as one of the top players in the league, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders writes.
  • DeMar DeRozan is eligible to opt out of his current deal with the Raptors and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, but he is adamant about wanting to focus on the coming campaign, and not his next pact, Eric Koreen of The National Post relays. Discussing the wealth of questions he receives about next season, DeRozan told Koreen, “I hate that, honestly. I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing [in Toronto]. A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me. Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.

Atlantic Notes: Williams, Jerebko, Johnson

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov declined to discuss Deron Williams when asked about the team’s former player by reporters, but he instead took the time to praise the team’s projected starting point guard, Jarrett Jack, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post writes. “I will say in that way that we have a great leader at point guard in Jarrett Jack,” Prokhorov said. “All the league knows what Jarrett is about.” Prokhorov then added, “I will say that I discussed all the player moves with [GM] Billy [King], and I signed off on all of them.” Williams and the team reached a buyout arrangement back in July.

Prokhorov also admitted that his expectations for the team have changed, but he did note that he was pleased with the overall direction of the franchise, Bontemps adds. “I think Billy has made great deals to give us top players, and if the stars [had aligned] correctly, we might have seen better results,” Prokhorov said of the team’s all-in moves in the past. “But we are still committed. We have a younger, more athletic team, and we have great flexibility to go on.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • When asked why the Knicks‘ roster is so frontcourt heavy, coach Derek Fisher said that wasn’t the initial intent, but the team was surprised that center Kevin Seraphin was still available late into the free agent signing period, and he was too good to pass up, Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal relays (Twitter links).
  • Jonas Jerebko‘s versatility as a player should allow him to maintain a prominent role for the Celtics despite their overcrowded frontcourt, writes Chris Forsberg of The 28-year-old forward re-signed with Boston over the summer on a two-year, $10MM deal.
  • The Raptors will miss Amir Johnson, who’d served as a mentor to DeMar DeRozan since the shooting guard entered the league, Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun writes. “Once you are somewhere with a person for that long that you have a long history with, that is definitely tough to replace,” DeRozan said. “It takes time to get that back and gain that back from an individual. That’s a big part of it. But we’re going to miss a lot without him. Just his attitude and demeanor, being a great guy and a great teammate, that rubs off on people. He will definitely be missed.” Johnson departed as a free agent and signed with the Celtics this offseason.

And-Ones: Bender, Wall, Durant, Brown, Lawson

European phenom Dragan Bender will make his U.S. debut in Chicago tonight for Israel Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv for the first of a pair of exhibitions against EA7 Emporio Armani Milan, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors first reported he was likely to do. The 17-year-old has stirred no shortage of excitement, as international journalist David Pick writes for Bleacher Report. Almost all 30 NBA teams are set to scout the contests, with the Celtics, Nets, Mavericks, Grizzlies and Bucks among them, sources tell Pick. Hornets GM Rich Cho will be there, too, tweets Jake Fischer of SI Now. The Nuggets, Sixers and Magic have had talks with Maccabi officials about the 7’1″ power forward, Pick also hears. Bender is well ahead of where 2015 No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis was at the same age, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress told Pick. Givony has Bender as the fifth-best prospect in next year’s draft, while Chad Ford of ranks him seventh.

“The only thing ’17 years old’ about him is his mustache,” Maccabi coach Guy Goodes said to Pick.

See more on Bender and other NBA news here:

  • Bender turns 18 next month, so he’ll turn 19 in 2016 and thus be eligible for early entry for the upcoming draft, but it’s not a given that he’ll declare, as Maccabi GM Nikola Vujcic, who also serves as Bender’s guardian, explained to Pick for the same piece. Vujcic suggested to Pick that Bender won’t enter the draft unless he receives a commitment from a team picking in the top three to five selections and suggested that he might decide to stay overseas for a while even if he is drafted.
  • John Wall says he and Kevin Durant are “really close” and reiterated that he’ll make a recruiting pitch to the former MVP who hits free agency next summer, though he adds that he’ll be cautious not to take an overbearing approach, as the Wizards point guard explains to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Nets declined to waive Markel Brown by Tuesday’s guarantee date, so his $200K partial guarantee jumped to a full guarantee on his $845,059 minimum salary, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That gives the Nets 13 fully guaranteed contracts among the 20 players they have in camp.
  • The Rockets are trying to minimize their risks with Ty Lawson, having told him that they’ll provide a ride for him to any destination at any time, according to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for Lawson, for whom Houston traded this summer despite two DUI arrests in six months, has been on his best behavior so far, Aldridge notes.

Atlantic Notes: Ross, Nets, Turner, Sixers

2014/15 Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams departed via free agency to the Lakers this offseason, and the Raptors will look to Terrence Ross to help replace his production off the bench, writes Eric Koreen of the National Post. “The first guy that comes to mind is Terrence Ross,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said of the swingman. “Not only just a scorer, but he’s got to come in and defend. He had an off year last year defending. He knows it. We know it.”

Casey was pleasantly surprised by how vocal a player Bismack Biyombo is on the court, Koreen adds. “I knew [he was a good communicator] just talking to the coaches from Charlotte. I knew that about him,” Casey said. “I didn’t know before they told me. I wouldn’t have guessed it. Great communicator. He’s probably going to be the captain of our defense as far as a guy who can go vertical, block shots, communicate. … Now we’ve got to get everybody else, even the guards to join in on the party, especially in transition.” Biyombo signed a two year, $6MM deal with Charlotte during the summer.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Mikhail Prokhorov once again stated that he has no intention of selling controlling interest in the Nets franchise, Rod Boone of Newsday tweets. The Russian is reportedly working toward a deal that would give him 100% ownership of both the team and the Barclays Center.
  • The Nets are currently under the luxury tax threshold, but Prokhorov said he would have no problem going “far above the line once again, but it would have to be for the right opportunity”, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post tweets.
  • The Raptors are hoping that their offseason additions will make for a more cohesive roster and usher in a new on-court identity for the franchise, Koreen writes in a separate piece.
  • Celtics swingman Evan Turner has an extremely tradeable contract, with him set to earn $3,425,510 in 2015/16, the final year of his deal, but he would prefer to remain in Boston, A. Sherrod Blakely of relays. “I like Boston, I like the town and the city; the restaurants are pretty good too,” Turner said. “I like Boston; I genuinely would like to stay here. I’ve been places where I hated it.” Turner didn’t specify which city’s charms it was that he didn’t appreciate, but for reference, he has previously played in Philadelphia and Indiana.
  • Italian coach Andrea Mazzon is joining the Sixers‘ D-League affiliate in an unspecified, but important role, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports.
  • Sixers GM Sam Hinkie said that the team tried to make a bigger splash in free agency this summer than it did, but many of the better players didn’t change teams, Tom Moore of Calkins Media relays (Twitter links). However, the GM is happy with the organization’s progress, saying that it feels like “night and day” from when training camp began two seasons ago, Moore adds.

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