A strong case can be made that soon-to-be free agent Evan Turner was the most valuable player on the Celtics last season, and his raw numbers don’t show his value the way advanced metrics do, particularly regarding his defense, contends Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com. Turner, whom the Nets are reportedly fond of as a potential free agent target, has a habit of making eye-catching statements, as Forsberg details. Still, he appeared genuine when he spoke Thursday of his affection for coach Brad Stevens, who’s away from the Celtics to tend to a player he coached at Butler University who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, notes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
“That guy’s lucky to be able to have coach; guys that played for him are lucky to be able to have a coach like that,” Turner said, referring to Stevens’ willingness to leave the Celtics to be with his ex-player in a moment of need. “It just speaks volumes, and I’m blown away by it. I’m lucky to play for him. That says a lot about his character, and obviously it puts him in a higher stature than I already have him.”
See more on the Celtics amid our look around the Atlantic Division:
- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge understands the frustration that some of the team’s players are going through as they deal with a lack of playing time on a deep roster, as he explained to Bulpett for a separate piece. David Lee spoke up this week about his dissatisfaction with his removal from the rotation.
- The Raptors have one extra first-round pick in each of the next two drafts, and a source who spoke with Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun indicated that the Raptors don’t plan to add four rookies to the roster in the next two years, a signal that the club will trade one or more of those picks. However, the Raptors aren’t willing to make those selections available for cheap, and multiple other sources told Wolstat that the team would be unlikely to swap one of the picks for a stopgap player on a short-term deal. The team strongly prefers to keep its picks through the end of the season because of the rising value of rookie deals around the league, Wolstat adds.
- Richaun Holmes looks like a find for the Sixers, as his athleticism, his performance in the pick-and-roll, and his shot-blocking have been impressive despite his shortcomings as a defensive rebounder, observes Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine. Philadelphia has Holmes, the 37th pick in last year’s draft, on a four-year deal worth about $4.2MM. Holmes, whose stock surged during the lead-up to the draft, spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors in April.