• Moser signs in Lithuania: Mike Moser, an undrafted rookie who raised eyebrows with solid play for the Celtics summer league team in Orlando, has reportedly signed to play overseas in Lithuania. Moser was exploring NBA camp invites, but Boston didn't offer a particularly enticing chance to stick on a regular-season roster. The Celtics are already at max capacity of 20 players -- this without even officially signing Evan Turner yet -- and need to trim to 15 before the start of the regular season. The players invited to camp for the Celtics are likely ticketed for the Maine Red Claws of the D-League. Playing overseas offers a more lucrative option for Moser.
• Thornton visits Boston: Marcus Thornton appears to have made his first appearance in Boston since being acquired via trade in July, visiting the area last week. One jersey-watching Tweeter suggests he'll wear No. 27 for the Celtics (last seen on Jordan Crawford last season). Thornton has a relationship with Brandon Bass -- both grew up in Baton Rouge, La. and attended LSU -- and Thornton showed up at Bass' summer camp this offseason.
• Stretch deadline passes: The Celtics appear to have allowed the Aug. 31 deadline to utilize the stretch provision pass. Teams can waive players and pay their guaranteed salaries over an extended schedule (twice the number of remaining years, plus one). Some had wondered if the team might consider that option for players that don't fit the team's long-term future, but in a rebuilding year, the Celtics seem content to pay as much salary as necessary (so long as they stay out of the luxury tax) in hopes of keeping their books clean for future years when they might return to contender status.
• Doc's office: CNN's Rachel Nichols posted a snapshot of former Celtics coach Doc Rivers' home office and there's an awful lot of green in there.
Krzyzewski, of course, is also head coach of Team USA and got another glimpse of Smart when the 20-year-old participated with the USA Select Team that scrimmaged against the senior team last month.
Most of the rumblings out of Vegas were that Smart more than held his own against some of the league's top guards and distinguished himself with his trademark tenacity on the defensive end. While the Celtics have lacked national team ties in recent years, Smart has seemingly put himself on a path for future consideration by working through the national feeder system.
There will be no notable Celtics connections when play in the 24-nation FIBA World Cup tips Saturday in Spain, but Boston does have a couple young bodies in Smart and Kelly Olynyk (Canada) who have immersed themselves in international competition.
Olynyk, battling what was termed a minor case of plantar fasciitis before his rookie campaign with Boston, could only observe while attending training camp last summer with the Canadian national team. But he glowed while recounting his experiences while playing with the national team during a European exhibition last month.
"The national team, there’s something special about playing and competing for your country," said Olynyk. "The national team is a lot of fun. You get to see the world playing basketball, and there’s nothing better than that.
"You go over there and see different countries, play different teams. It's kinda like playing for Boston, going into L.A. and trying to get a win against them and all their fans. But when you go to another country, it’s just a whole different experience. You’re going with a group of 20 guys trying to get a win against a whole country, it’s pretty cool."
Given the quality of talent coming out of Canada in recent years, Olynyk admits he daydreams about potential Olympic competition in future years.
"I played in the world championships in 2010 in Turkey and it was an unbelievable experience," said Olynyk. "Obviously, we didn’t do as well as we had hoped, but with this core group of guys that we have, and the young guys coming up in our country -- basketball is a prominent sport and we’re hoping to get on that plateau at an Olympic level. And that’s something that every kid dreams of, playing for their country in the Olympics. That would be special."
The gruesome leg injury suffered by Indiana's Paul George this summer has ignited conversation about players protecting themselves during events outside of NBA competition. While he downplayed the severity, Olynyk admitted he dinged up his right wrist during Canada's exhibition slate.
There's a balance here, but players like Olynyk and Smart swell with pride when talking about playing for their countries, while also raving about the benefits of playing elite competition. The players believe that it can only help them when NBA play resumes.
While acknowledging the risk involved, Pagliuca also sees a definite benefit in someone like Smart playing with Team USA.
"I think it’s really good experience to play top-level competition," said Pagliuca. "Now Marcus is ready to go up against the [Damian] Lillards of the world, and the great point guards in general."
"I'm very fortunate to be in a position to give back to the University and to the program that has done so much for me," Green said in a release from the school. "The environment created by Coach [John] Thompson III and his staff helped shape me both academically and athletically. Georgetown and Georgetown basketball is at my core and is part of who I am."
Said Thompson III: "This generous gift from Jeff will help to enhance the experience of many future Georgetown student-athletes. Jeff's commitment to our school and to our program speaks not only to his experiences as a student and an athlete here, but gives a small glimpse into who he is as a person. We're very fortunate to have Jeff Green represent this institution."
Hop HERE to read Georgetown's full release on the donation.
Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Will the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo?
We close out our 15-day series with maybe the most common questions we've fielded this summer. Whenever the Celtics have come up in conversation, everyone from diehards that bleed green to the more casual fans want to know whether Rondo is part of the team's future.
Let's start with what we know: Rondo is entering the final year of a five-year, $55 million extension he signed in October 2009. The 28-year-old point guard will earn a team-high $12.9 million during the 2014-15 campaign and, while he has stressed that he doesn't like change and can see a long-term future in Boston, Rondo has also maintained a desire to test unrestricted free agency next summer.
Rondo, a four-time All-Star, is likely to command heavy interest that will only ensure a hefty price tag on the open market. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has said the team sees Rondo in its future, but must balance Rondo's rising price tag as part of the team's rebuilding process.
Rondo's name has swirled in rumors every February (and usually crops up again each summer). With the possibility that the Celtics could watch Rondo walk away without compensation next summer -- as unlikely as that may be given Boston's potential to pay him more than others while owning his rights -- many have wondered if it would benefit the team to move him before season's end.
Will the Celtics trade Rondo this season? This writer has maintained that it seems unlikely that a team could possibly meet Ainge's steep asking price, particularly during the season when most suitors are likely to be playoff-bound teams that lack both high draft picks or a desire to give away established talent amidst a postseason push.
It's our belief that the Celtics will roll the dice a bit next summer. That allows them to further evaluate a healthier Rondo this season and gauge his fit as the centerpiece of a team navigating Year 2 of a rebuild. If Rondo has a quality season and the Celtics can sell him on what they are building -- with their growing pile of assets and future cap space -- then there's potential for Rondo to re-sign to a long-term deal. But even if that doesn't happen, Boston could still get a return on Rondo by facilitating his next deal as part of a sign-and-trade agreement.
Now, a team could also beat the summer rush and try to pry Rondo from Boston before February's deadline, but would likely be doing so without a guarantee of a long-term commitment. All of which suggests to us that Rondo is likely to spend the entire season in green and set up a very intriguing summer of 2015.
Our panel leaned heavy towards no trade. A closer look at how our experts voted:
Read on as our panelists explain their picks:
To secure seats for the most anticipated matchups of the season, including opening night against Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets, the return of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and a visit from the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, fans can go to Celtics.com, call 800-4NBA-TIX, or visit the TD Garden box office. To purchase accessible seating, fans may call 617-624-1754.
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Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: In what area will the Celtics struggle the most during the 2014-15 season?
On Tuesday, we examined the potential areas of growth for Boston. But with the upcoming season expected to be another rebuilding campaign, the Celtics are likely to struggle in many of the same areas that held them back last season.
Our panel, without being given specific options for this question, returned multiple votes in three areas: 3-point shooting, interior defense, and winning. No surprises there, the Celtics struggled beyond the arc (28th in 3-point percentage) and the lack of a true rim protector was often cited as a reason for Boston's defensive woes late in the season. That contributed to the team's meager 25-57 record, with the Celtics often letting games slip away late.
It's fair to wonder if Boston will improve in any of those areas this season. The team didn't add a lot of shooting, though Marcus Thornton will likely have a green light from the perimeter. The Celtics acquired Tyler Zeller, who will have to lean on his athleticism to help protect the back line. Considering the sheer number of games that Boston let slip away last season -- Boston was 15-34 last season in games that were within five points in the final five minutes -- it would seem the team would have to improve there, even without adding a surefire "closer" to the roster.
This writer's vote? Offensive efficiency remains a concern. The Celtics ranked 27th last season while averaging a mere 99.7 points per 100 possessions. A healthy Rajon Rondo is likely to bring some additional consistency to the offense, but the team's lack of shooting could force it to generate points in other ways (an up-tempo style could help, but this team still needs to do a better job of getting to the free-throw line after ranking 25th in free-throw attempt rate last season).
Boston needs Avery Bradley to continue to blossom offensively, while hoping more time for the likes of Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger could add a scoring burst at the power forward spot. As usual, Jeff Green is a wildcard who could help Boston's offensive output with more consistency.
On Tuesday, we predicted Boston will improve defensively and that could help it win a few more games next season. Alas, the concern is the offense will continue to hold this team back.
Read on as our panelists explain their picks:
Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: In what area will the Celtics most improve during the 2014-15 season?
Let's face it, there's no shortage of potential areas this team can take a step forward in while coming off a 25-57 season. One look at Boston's advanced numbers from the 2013-14 campaign produces plenty of eyesores. The most egregious?
• The Celtics ranked 27th in offensive rating and 20th in defensive rating.
• Boston finished 28th in turnover percentage.
• The Celtics ranked 28th in effective field goal percentage and 28th in true shooting percentage.
• Boston finished 25th in free-throw attempt rate.
That's really just the tip of the iceberg, particularly when you hone in on more specific areas. And while it would seem the Celtics should improve on the offensive side of the ball -- with lots of room for potential growth -- this writer's vote falls on the opposite side.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley boldly declared last week that he believes Boston can be a top-10 defense next season. That might be a tad ambitious, but you can understand Bradley's enthusiasm. The Celtics will potentially have their desired backcourt of him and Rajon Rondo healthy for the start of the season and plan to infuse 2014 draft pick Marcus Smart to that backcourt, giving the team a potentially tenacious three-guard rotation.
Boston still doesn't have the rim protector that was such a glaring need last season. Yes, Tyler Zeller could help, but that back line could still be a trouble area. That said, Boston flirted with being a top-10 defense in the first half of last season and, given coach Brad Stevens' desire to establish a defense-first DNA in his team, we suspect the Celtics will trend towards the top half of the league in defensive efficiency (that being the key to any success the team enjoys).
Before the All-Star break last season, the Celtics ranked 14th in defensive rating, allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions through the first 54 games. Stevens challenged his team coming out of the break to nudge closer to the top 10 over the final 28 games, only to watch Boston rank 24th in that span by allowing a staggering 109 points per 100 possessions.
With a summer to further implore his team to make defense their top priority, Stevens is likely to again challenge his team to be a top-10 defensive squad and the guess here is they make a more sustained run at accomplishing that feat.
Read on as our panelists explain their picks:
Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What's the most intriguing game on the schedule?
We didn't give our panel a list of options, keeping it open-ended instead and it brought back a diverse group of responses. One picked opening night, intrigued by what this team will look like at the start of what's expected to be a rebuilding season; others picked the season finale while noting it could be crucial to the lottery standings (while also ushering in a very important offseason for the team).
The one that jumped out most to this writer when the schedule was released? The visit from the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 14 is hard to get past. Not only are the Cavaliers the early favorites in the Eastern Conference after welcoming back LeBron James, but it's Kevin Love's first trip to Boston after his early summer flirtation.
Love will likely hear it a bit from Boston fans because his mere presence in town offered hope for a rebuilding acceleration (even if it's not his fault that Cleveland had a better rebuilding package to offer the Timberwolves). Fair or not, Love will be viewed as a bit of a villain after joining forces with James in Cleveland.
Opening night hosting old friend Kevin Garnett, an early December visit from the rival Lakers, and the games right before and after the trade deadline are among the others many will have circled. But the Garden should have a little extra juice when the Cavaliers visit in mid-November.
Read on as our panelists explain their picks:
Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Who emerges as the Celtics' team MVP during the 2014-15 season?
Some will argue that this is a slam dunk; that Rajon Rondo is the obvious answer. Our panel didn't exactly disagree with nearly 72 percent of voters picking Boston's point guard. Backcourt mate Avery Bradley landed on multiple ballots and one voter made the case for Jared Sullinger, but most of our experts agree that, if Rondo is healthy and remains in Boston for the full season, it's hard to envision another player challenging his status as the team's most valuable player.
Even while easing himself back in from ACL surgery last season, Rondo averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds -- all marks above his career averages -- in 30 appearances. Further removed from the injury that limited him to 68 total games over the past two seasons, most expect Rondo to return to All-Star-caliber form.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has gone so far as to suggest that Rondo will have the best year of his career this season and -- though our panel was split on that notion -- it's clear that Rondo will have motivation as he preps for unrestricted free agency next summer. Rondo is set to command a hefty payday on the open market, but can only firm up that big-ticket price tag by reestablishing his talent this season.
This writer's vote? Rondo was the pick here as well. It'd be interesting to see if anyone on the team can push him, whether it's Bradley flourishing at both ends of the court, or Sullinger making a jump in his third season in the league. Alas, everything starts with Rondo and much of the success of his teammates will depend on how much better he can make them.
A look at how our forecasters voted:
Read on as our panelists explain their ballots:
It took little more than 24 hours for the two sides to hammer out a four-year, $32 million agreement to keep Bradley in green. Reflecting on how quickly the deal came together on Thursday at his latest area youth basketball clinic, Bradley stressed again this is where he wanted to be.
"I had [an opportunity] to stay near my second home -- I’ve been living here for four years," said Bradley. "I love playing under Danny Ainge and [coach] Brad [Stevens], they are amazing guys. It was a no-brainer for me. They were the first team that called and -- we had other calls -- but, Boston, I knew I was coming back here."
A new contract ought to increase outside expectations on the 23-year-old shooting guard, but he seems unfazed by it all.
"I try not to think about it at all," he said. "Just like when people say, any time you play an NBA game, whenever you think, that’s when you make mistakes. So I just try not to think about it at all. Just go out there and play my game. Honestly, that’s what I’m looking to do. In order for us to win, if I have to go out there and hold somebody to 10 points on the other team, that’s what I’ll look to do. Whatever it takes."
Bradley, back in the area to run his latest youth basketball clinic, gushed about the potential for the upcoming season, even as pundits predict another rebuilding season for the Celtics. While this is the time of year that every player dreams big, Bradley was emphatic that returning Celtics players believe they are capable of advancements.
Bradley said he crossed paths with Rondo in Vegas recently and said the Celtics' captain is "fired up" about the season. "Jeff Green as well," added Bradley. "We're all excited about this season." Bradley also offered high praise after working out in Vegas with Evan Turner, who will eventually be added to Boston's roster for next season.
And while he hasn't yet met rookie guard Marcus Smart, he's heard the buzz about his potential -- particularly on the defensive side of the ball -- and is eager to get on the court with him.
"Everyone keeps telling me that Marcus is a great defender and ... I’m excited about that," said Bradley. "Because Rondo is a great defender as well. Last year, he still played great defense, but this year I feel like he’s going to take it to an even different level. I feel like we have a chance to be a top-10 defensive team in the NBA this year."
That will be music to the ears of Stevens, who challenged his team to be a top-10 defense last season (and the Celtics flirted with that for much of the first half before eroding late and trudging to a 25-57 record).
Bradley said he'll likely return to Boston in another week to ramp up for training camp and often reiterated that, "It's time to get started."
For his part, it never really ended. Bradley said he took a week off after the season, but was right back in the gym. He left the country for a vacation last week, but worked out each day. Bradley joked with team trainers that he's in the best shape of any player on the Celtics and is 100 percent healthy despite injuries that have nagged him during his career.
"I still work out three times per day. I’m in amazing shape right now," said Bradley. "I joke around with the trainers -- me and the trainers, we worked out in Vegas together at the player meeting to pick our new leader -- I told them I’m in the greatest shape on the team right now. So we were joking about that. I feel good right now, my body feels good and I feel stronger."
Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What are your expectations for Celtics rookie James Young?
Our panel was given four potential options for Young: (1) All-Rookie team; (2) Rotation player with immediate impact; (3) Role player with limited impact; and (4) D-League.
Unlike No. 6 pick Marcus Smart, Young, the 17th pick in June's draft, faces low expectations for his rookie campaign. The just-turned 19-year-old earned nearly 65 percent of his votes in the "limited impact" category, while the remaining ballots pegged him as bound for the D-League for game reps.
It's hard not to compare Young's potential career path to that of Avery Bradley. Back in 2010, a chipped bone in his ankle contributed to then-19-year-old Bradley's slide to Boston at No. 19. The injury kept Bradley out of summer league (and some of the preseason, too) and that stunted start to his pro career contributed to Bradley playing only 162 minutes for the Celtics his first season.
Bradley spent nine games in the D-League that season before being recalled for emergency depth. Now, the Celtics were coming off a Finals appearance the year before and were still pegged as a potential contender in the Big Three era, so minutes were tougher to come by for a rookie. But even on a rebuilding team, Young is going to struggle to find playing time.
Young finds himself deep on a swingman depth chart that already features Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, and fellow summer addition Evan Turner. It seems fair to wonder if Young will need some trips to Maine early in the season to get some game reps early, though trades and his own development could help open doors later in the year.
Even with the potential for D-League visits, this writer voted for the "role player with limited impact" because the rebuilding nature of Boston's roster ought to give Young some opportunities to earn playing time late in the 2014-15 season. If Boston fades from playoff contention, particularly after the trade deadline, it might be in the team's best interest to get Young some NBA game action and hope that accelerates his development.
Just keep in mind how things worked out for Bradley. That first year wasn't much to rave about, but by the end of the 2011-12 season, his second pro season, Bradley supplanted Ray Allen as the team's starting shooting guard late in the season. Even a limited late-season role could help Young build towards a brighter future.
A look at our forecasters voting:
Read on as our panelists explain their ballots:
Like the recent addition of Tim Frazier, it appears that McGruder and Watford are training camp bodies that could be bound for the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.
The Hoop365 report notes that "Watford [is] a jumpshooting combo forward [who] attended summer league this year with both the Detroit Pistons and Golden State Warriors" while McGruder is a "6-4 off-guard [and] is also only one year into a professional career, spending the bulk of his first campaign in Hungary with Atomeromu."
The Celtics are now at the league maximum of 20 signed players for camp and the team has not formally finalized the signing of free-agent swingman Evan Turner. The team must trim to a maximum of 15 bodies before the start of the regular season.
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