Boston Celtics: Boston Celtics
“I enjoyed it,” Smart said after scoring a game-high 20 points in a 95-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers in the third-place game in Orlando. “It was fun. It was great experience, even though we didn’t win today, but it was good to get out here and gel with these guys.”
“Marcus reinforced a lot of things we were hoping for when we drafted him,” Larranaga said when asked about Smart’s play. “He’s a tremendous competitor and teammate. He’s really skilled in all areas. He can dribble, pass, shoot, defend, rebound. ... We’re really happy with his performance.”
While there were plenty of bright spots for the 20-year-old, the guard’s week did not come without its fair share of blemishes. Smart shot a team-low 29.4 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from 3-point range, giving additional fuel to critics questioning his shooting range and shot selection on the NBA level.
Despite the ugly numbers, Larranaga defended Smart’s showing for the week from an offensive standpoint.
“I don’t think he was the only one missing a fair amount of shots at summer league,” Larranaga said of Smart’s woes. “That’s part of summer league, the intensity and pressure on these guys that they feel. Either it’s their first opportunity to play for an NBA team or they are trying to play for an NBA team so I think that’s pretty normal. We saw glimpses of him at times having it going. He was starting to feel more comfortable so I was feel really confident he’s going to be a solid offensive player.”
Smart will have plenty of chances to work on his shot and other aspects of his game during the remaining months of the offseason. He’ll spent some time in Texas with his family before getting back to work in Boston, an opportunity he will relish in his quest to improve his game.
“It’s going to be something you take day by day,” Smart said of strengthening his play. “It’s not going to happen overnight. You are going to struggle and get down. You are going to feel like you almost want to give up but that’s when you make who you are. ... It’s going to make me a better person for it.”
• MOSER GETS TRAINING CAMP INVITE: Undrafted rookie forward Mike Moser arrived in Orlando looking to prove he deserves an opportunity to play in the NBA next season. After a terrific week of performances for the Celtics summer league squad, Moser now knows he will get that chance with at least one NBA team.
The former Oregon Duck confirmed to reporters after another strong effort (16 points, 10 rebounds, two steals) Friday that the Celtics had extended him a training camp invitation for this fall.
“They were really excited about my progress,” Moser said about the feedback he got from the Celtics. “Danny Ainge had a lot of nice things to say about me. Basically it’s just a waiting game. I’m a free agent so we will see what happens.”
Moser was perhaps the most consistent all-around player on the Celtics summer league team this week, posting 13.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. He led the team in 3-point shooting (42.3 percent) as he took advantage of pick-and-pop action with Phil Pressey and Smart.
“It was good,” Moser said of how his game translated to the NBA level. “We played a lot of talented guys. Obviously we were talented and competitive. I feel like the NBA game opens up a little bit more than the college game with the spacing and driving lanes. It makes the game a lot easier.”
Moser later added: “I tried to play as solid as I could and show I could play multiple positions and stretch the defense with my range and defend. I think I did that for the most part.”
Now a waiting game begins for Moser, who indicated he was not sure whether he would accept Boston’s invitation to camp. The Celtics have a very crowded frontcourt depth chart at the moment, which would make it challenging for Moser to make the Boston roster.
The forward will not play in Las Vegas Summer League and instead hope his strong performance in Orlando will be enough to convince another team to give him a chance in camp this fall.
• ROSTER DECISION LOOMS FOR PRESSEY: Friday was the last day for a number of players with non-guaranteed contracts on Boston’s summer league roster to make a final impression on team’s front office and coaching staff.
After Thursday’s trade, the Celtics now have 17 players under contract, but three of those players (Chris Babb, Chris Johnson, Pressey) have deals that are not guaranteed.
Johnson (three points on 1-of-7 shooting) and Babb (0 points in 22 minutes) did not do much to help their cause. Pressey is the name to watch in the interim though, as the Celtics have a deadline of July 15th to decide whether they want to fully guarantee his $947,246 salary for next season or waive him.
The second-year point guard point guard bounced back from a 1-for-15 outing Thursday night and closed out strong Friday with the team, posting 12 points and 13 assists in 30 minutes off the bench.
“There’s only so much you can control,” Pressey said of the team’s roster situation. “We control playing. I have no control and nobody else on the team has control of the transactions. You can’t get too caught up in it. You just worry about playing basketball.”
Marcus Smart got his second straight start at point guard and scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Celtics in scoring for the second consecutive game. Second-year forward Kelly Olynyk returned from a day off to post 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Phil Pressey added a double-double off the bench with 12 points and a game-high 13 assists, but it was not enough for the win. The Celtics dropped their second game of the week against the Pacers in what was the third-place game of the Orlando Summer League. Donald Sloan had a team-high 20 points for the Pacers in the victory.
SMART SHOWS OFF RANGE
Rookie Marcus Smart didn’t have a great shooting day overall, but showed off his range from beyond the arc in the summer league finale. The 20-year-old guard went 4-of-9 from 3-point range, his best performance of the week from downtown. Smart shot 25.9 percent (9-of-35) from beyond the arc during five games in Orlando.
• O.D. Anosike played his strongest game of the week, posting 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Boston. In part due to Anosike's strong play, Colton Iverson saw only five minutes of action.
• Mike Moser capped off a nice summer league week for the Celtics with 16 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of steals, helping him earn a training camp invitation from the team after the game.
• Dairis Bertans sat out his second straight game with a neck injury.
WHAT IT MEANS
With the loss, the Celtics finished in fourth place overall in Orlando Summer League action.
A handful of roster/salary thoughts:
• Boston currently has 17 players under contract for a total of roughly $78.7 million. The league on Wednesday set next year's salary cap at $63.1 million and the tax line at $76.8 million. There's plenty of time for Boston to maneuver and get down below the tax line (especially with $7.9 million worth of nonguaranteed contracts on the books). The Celtics would seemingly prefer to maneuver without cutting the likes of Bogans, whose contract makes him a valuable trade chip (whether that's now or down the road).
• Boston's backcourt is overflowing at this point, and the roster odds just got even longer for Chris Babb. Plenty can change between now and camp, but it's hard to imagine him surviving. Likewise, Colton Iverson (last year's second-round pick) gets squeezed a bit with the addition of Zeller. If Boston is able to move Anthony this summer, it might help Iverson's chances of sneaking on.
• The Celtics might have a tough decision to make early in the season: Play Thornton and try to run up his trade value, or give those minutes to younger players like Smart and Young while trying to develop them. It's a careful balance if this season focuses on development for the future.
• Boston still has available exceptions to add talent, but using them could depend on how much salary the team can trim. It seems more likely that the C's will use smaller chunks of the midlevel exception if they have space to add, much like they did in signing the likes of Pressey, Faverani, Johnson and Babb last season.
ORLANDO -- The games won't start counting for real for another few months, but Marcus Smart already admitted to feeling a few butterflies as he made his professional debut for the Boston Celtics on Saturday afternoon during Orlando Summer League play.
"First half, I'm not going to lie, I was nervous a little bit," Smart said following a scoreless first half that included an 0-for-4 shooting line and two missed free throws. "It was my first pro game with a new group of guys. It was a little nerve-wracking."
Luckily for the Celtics, Smart's nerves did not last past halftime, and the guard settled down to score 10 points in the second half. The 20-year-old also added a game-high five steals to help Boston defeat the Miami Heat 85-77 in the team's summer opener at the Amway Center.
Smart spoke about how his teammates helped him get comfortable as the game progressed.
"Coming to the bench everyone was just saying, 'Just do what you do. Just play ball and have fun.' And that's what I did," Smart said.
The No. 6 overall pick added five rebounds, three assists and a team-high eight free throw attempts in the win. Despite an overall off shooting night (2-for-8 from the field), Smart's performance in all facets of the game earned him plenty of accolades from Celtics summer league coach Jay Larranaga.
"He plays with a tremendous intensity," Larranaga said. "He's a great teammate. He showed that from the beginning. He was a big part of why we played so well as a team on both ends of the floor. He had some great help defensive plays you wouldn't expect a 20-year-old to be able to do, but he has a really good idea of team basketball, which is really exciting for us."
The Celtics elected to play Smart alongside point guard Phil Pressey for the majority of the contest, which allowed Smart to split time between playing off the ball and handling point duties when Pressey left the floor. It was a situation that the rookie didn't mind at all once he got into the flow of the game.
"Felt comfortable at both really," Smart said of playing both guard spots. "We have a great guard with Phil, so they decide to put me at the 2, which I was totally fine with that. Got to get out in the open court, let me use my athleticism and physicality so I was fine with that, but I was also fine with playing the 1 when Phil needed a break."
That versatility should help Smart continue to shine throughout the week as he asserts himself in the Boston backcourt.
"I think [Smart's] an all-around player," Larranaga said. "He's about winning, I think is what you see. He's not about one thing or another thing. Like any young guy, he has a lot of stuff to work on, but the really exciting thing is that he wants to win."
Read on for more notes from Saturday's action:
After all, it was just about a year ago that Stevens sat in the same seat while being introduced as the team's new head coach, and everything was spinning for a coach renowned for his composed demeanor.
"I was coming off no sleep and limited meals for about 36 hours the last time I was up there and then you’re thrust in front of this and you’re supposed to talk like you know what you’re doing, other than you know the history and tradition," said Stevens. "I thought those guys did a great job for 18- and 20-year-olds sitting up there being asked all those questions. Because it is brand new, and it’s brand new to them. And as much as you think you know what you’re getting into, you don’t."
Wearing white dress shirts and matching Celtics hats, the rookies held up their new jerseys -- No. 36 for Smart; No. 13 for Young -- smiled for the cameras, and offered all the right answers while being grilled about the tradition and responsibility that comes with putting on those jerseys. To their right, Stevens, hints of a summer tan sprouting from his green short-sleeve polo, leaned back and smiled while listening to his new players answer with poise and confidence.
"I said it [on the podium], they get it," Stevens said after the introductions. "I think it’s also a tribute to the organization. A tribute to [Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge] and the players that have played before here, and the way it’s run and our ownership. Even though you’re coming off an individual high of being drafted, there’s a responsibility that comes with being part of the Boston Celtics."
Smart and Young went through the media obstacle course on Monday and were quickly whisked away for a community event at a local elementary school. Their families were along for Monday's ride and while Smart's mother, wearing a homemade Celtics T-shirt with "SMART" on the back, beamed from a perch high above the court, Young's family gleefully snapped pictures with their iPhones while watching him navigate a labyrinth of microphones.
By Tuesday morning, and the start of two-a-day workouts for the Celtics' summer squad, Smart and Young will be just two new faces trying to assert their spots and carve out roles on Boston's 2014-15 roster. As comfortable as they looked at the podium on Monday, both players are eager to get back to the comfort zone that is the basketball court.
"All the draftees have been working really, really hard to get to this situation and this spot," said Smart. "It’s a great opportunity. I’m blessed to be here. I know I am. But, definitely, we’re ready to get back on the court and get back to action."
Smart is a reporter's dream and talks with a maturity well beyond his age (he turned 20 in March). When asked what excites him most about being drafted by the Celtics, he offered, "Just the tradition. You can tell that the fans really embrace the sports and their athletes and the athletes return the favor. I’m just looking forward to come in, compete, and do anything I can to help this team win."
That's a sentiment echoed by Young, whose Kentucky team couldn't hold off UConn in the national title game in April.
"I want to come out here and put a banner up there, that’s my motivation," said Young, motioning toward a blank banner at the far end of a gymnasium that's walls are adorned with 17 championship mementos. "When I come in here and I look at that banner up there, it’s something for me to want to put history up there."
Much of the conversation surrounding Smart and Young on this day centered about their competitiveness and toughness.
"Every team needs that," said Ainge. "If you’re going to be a good team, you gotta have guys that have the passion and the fire and the guys that have the skills. And I think that both of our new young kids have both. I think they have a passion about the game and I think they have some skill that they can develop and get even better."
Smart and Young were chance roommates at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. They didn't know their paths would cross again, but they're excited about the similarities in their styles and a desire to prove they belong.
"Me and James, we’re coming in, we’re two new guys to a new system that we’re not used to playing," said Smart. "I just want to go in and me and him can gel with our teammates [at summer league] and keep improving as individuals."
If they handle the transition to the NBA as smoothly as they handled their introductory press conferences, they should be just fine.
5. Ron Mercer (1997) -- Like classmate Chauncey Billups, Mercer -- the sixth overall pick -- never got much of a chance to develop in Boston. And he averaged a respectable 15.9 points per game over 121 games here in two seasons, but was dealt to the Nuggets with Popeye Jones and Dwayne Schintzius for the forgettable collection of Danny Fortson, Eric Washington, Eric Williams and a 2001 first-round draft pick (Kedrick Brown, who we’ll get to shortly).
3. Jerome Moiso (2000) -- The photo of Moiso on his Basketball Reference page simply foreshadowed the future (HERE. You can sorta see shades of Kevin Garnett in his No. 5 jersey, but Moiso appeared in just 24 games for Boston before being dealt to Philadelphia for Roshown McLeod and a pick (Dahntay Jones).
2. Kedrick Brown (2001) -- The Celtics wasted, err utilized, the 11th overall pick to land Brown out of the not-so NBA factory Okaloosa-Walton Community College. He spent two-plus forgettable seasons here. Most of us are still waiting for the draft-night swap that was supposed to send him to Portland.
1. Joseph Forte (2001) -- Capping an absolutely dreadful draft, the Celtics reportedly appeased Red Auerbach by taking Forte, who is better remembered for wearing Scooby Doo sweaters on the bench while appearing in just eight games for the Celtics before being traded in the summer of 2002. Tony Parker was among the players Boston passed on in this spot.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Draft prospects who arrive early in town typically elect to visit the Boston Celtics' training facility to get up shots in advance of the next day's audition. For Isaiah Austin, getting to a new gym early is a necessity, particularly in his quest to play at the NBA level.
Austin, a 7-foot-1 center out of Baylor University, revealed earlier this year that he is blind in his right eye, the result of a torn retina sustained before high school. As he visits NBA teams this month trying to boost his draft stock, Austin finds it helpful to test his depth perception in new gyms before his formal workouts.
Austin, once one of the nation's top high school players, managed to keep his eye ailment a secret for more than five years, but now he's embracing the chance to share his story as part of his journey to the NBA.
Austin's story deserves to be heard. A baseball injury loosened his retina in junior high school and, two years later, after sprouting to 6-foot-7 by the eighth grade, his vision disappeared completely in his right eye after attempting a routine pregame dunk. Four major surgeries followed, his vision returning briefly each time before fading again.
Fearing he would not be able to continue his basketball career, his mother, Lisa Green, told Austin that he could make the ailment an excuse, or he could make it his story. He chose the latter.
Austin soon returned to competitive basketball and ended up being one of the nation's top recruits. A native of Arlington, Texas, he elected to stay close to home and play at Baylor. A solid freshman season left him pegged as a first-round draft prospect and many thought he'd jump immediately to the NBA, but a shoulder injury encouraged Austin to return for his sophomore season.
It might have been a blessing. Austin's stats dipped a bit this past year, but no metric can quite measure his maturation, which aided him in finding the courage to reveal his eye ailment publicly in January.
"I really needed that extra year at Baylor to help me [tell my story]," said Austin. "To have the coaching staff and my teammates behind me, them supporting me, and really sitting down to help me mature as a man -- that was a great experience for me. I wouldn't change it for the world."
Now, only the more optimistic projections have Austin pegged as a second-round prospect, though a draft devoid of pure size should enhance his chance of hearing his name called among the 60 selections later this month. Austin hopes that the exposure of playing at the NBA level will motivate others with disabilities, but he's already an inspiration to many.
"First of all, I’m a big fan of him. I think his story is inspirational," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "And him coming out and sharing his story was inspirational. I’ve got a good friend of mine who has gone through some issues with his eye, and that was one of the first stories that I shared with him. He’s a really neat kid."
Love has made it clear to Wolves that he intends to opt out and become a free agent in July 2015 and that has not changed with Thursday’s announcement, according to Stein.
Love's tenuous situation only complicated the Wolves’ search process, with trade rumors (not to mention Love’s thoroughly documented weekend in Boston) serving as a caution sign for several high-profile candidates.
Names like Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Fred Hoiberg came and went without any traction. Unable to find what they felt was the right fit for a delicate job, Saunders and owner Glen Taylor met earlier this week to reassess the situation. Taylor said when he brought Saunders back as team president that he would not put him back on the bench. He fired Saunders as coach once before, in 2005.
Saunders was also hopeful that he could find someone other than himself to take over a team that hasn't been to the playoffs in 10 years. But with Love's status preventing them from pursuing the coaches they felt would fit best, the two decided that Saunders should take over for at least this season, after which the team's roster construction figures to be much clearer.
The Timberwolves have not given up on convincing Love to play out this season in Minnesota and re-sign next summer to a contract that can pay him and extra year and about $26.5 million more than any other team.
The Associated Press and ESPN.com news services contributed to this report.
It’s been a staple of Danny Ainge’s workouts since his time as head coach with the Phoenix Suns and it’s become well known among draft prospects, who are often tipped off in advance by their agents or fellow draft hopefuls.
“It’s known around the league, they all talk about it, that Boston comes in and [some] call it a Boston Marathon,” said Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge, who spends much of his time organizing these pre-draft workouts. “It’s only three minutes of running. It’s grown to be a bigger thing than it actually is, but we kinda like it.”
Northeastern’s Jonathan Lee set the current Boston record last June when he ran 29 ½ court lengths, edging former Husky Matt Janning (29). Chicago’s Joakim Noah holds the record for big men at 27 ½ lengths, while second-round pick Colton Iverson put up 27 last year (which tells you a little something about why the Celtics bought a second-round pick from Indiana to select him).
Delonte West, who was selected 24th by the Celtics in the 2004 draft, actually became obsessed with topping the record during his time in Boston. He would go through the drill often and, after arriving to the practice facility one day, successfully ran 30 lengths. Those in the Celtics front office put an asterisk on the accomplishment, however, because West accomplished the feat at the start of a workout and not at the end of a session when he would have been more fatigued.
Over the past two days, the Celtics have brought in 18 players, and if you ask them about how Boston’s workout differs from others they’ve experienced so far, the answer is almost universal: This is the toughest one of all -- because of the sprint.
“This is the first time that I did the three-minute drill at the end [of a workout],” said Providence’s Bryce Cotton. “I guess that was a nice little wrap-up after a pretty good conditioning workout.”
Cotton put up 28 lengths, an eyebrow-raising number for a draft hopeful. The Celtics don’t put a tremendous amount of stock in the number posted. In fact, the drill often reflects more on the player mentally than physically.
“First of all, it shows conditioning level, obviously,” said Austin Ainge. “But also your heart, your grit, your toughness. At the end of a workout, how hard are you going to push yourself?”
Setting the team record didn’t help Lee, who went undrafted and spent last season playing professionally in Austria. But this year’s draft hopefuls marvel when told of his feat.
One NBA agent said he tells all his clients about the run in advance of the draft, but most are already aware. “Almost all players hear about the ‘Celtic run’ from other players who have done it in the past,” the agent noted.
Some other teams, including Miami and Phoenix, are known to mix in some similarly challenging runs, but, like its namesake, the Boston Marathon remains maybe the most noteworthy distance event.
Alas, knowing in advance about the run doesn’t make it any easier for draft hopefuls, especially when that call comes to line up on the baseline at the end of a 60- or 90-minute workout.
“I was told it would happen, the three-minute drill, it’s not a problem to me,” said Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels, who put up a respectable 26 lengths during Tuesday’s small forward workout. “I feel like conditioning is a big part of playing in the league. Coming out here and doing the three-minute wouldn’t hurt at all.”
Maybe not someone like McDaniels, but some players go to great lengths to avoid the trek.
“Some of the guys, we can see, they come in and they ask you about it three or four times. ‘When is it?’ ” explained Austin Ainge. “Then they start faking hamstring injuries and things. It’s just another piece of information that we like to see.”
The Celtics entered with a 10.3 percent chance at the No. 1 pick and a 33.4 percent opportunity for a top-three position, but wound up slipping one notch. The sixth pick was the team's highest statistical probability (34.2 percent) entering the lottery.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the only team to vault, landing the No. 1 pick despite only 1.7 percent chance at the spot. The ordered maintained from there with Milwaukee at No. 2 and Philadelphia rounding out the top three.
Boston also owns the No. 17 pick in June’s draft, the first of three picks delivered as part of last summer’s blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, who represented the team on stage, believes a deep draft could aid Boston at both positions and has faith that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will maximize the picks one way or another.
"Danny will look at every option," Pagliuca said. "He’s got the whole program there in his office, where the players stand, what kind of trades he can make. He’ll look at the whole landscape now and it’s nice to have the certainty -- we know we’re sixth and 17th, there’s certainty to make those decisions.
Added Pagliuca: "If you look at this draft, this board is a lot better than any draft that I’ve seen. We’ve had the experts look at it, and people are really excited about the kind of players you can get at 17. ... And you never know what’s going to happen. Last year, there was a surprise first pick. Nobody expected [Anthony] Bennett to go first. So we don’t know who will be there at six. Our guys are about as excited about the draft as they’ve been about any draft since we’ve been here."
Boston’s failure to vault to a top-three position continues a trend of draft lottery misfortune. The team entered the 1997 draft with a league-best 27.5 percent chance at the top pick, but landed third in the Tim Duncan sweepstakes. A decade later, with a 19.9 percent chance in the 2007 lottery headlined by Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, the Celtics endured the worst-case scenario by winding up with the fifth selection.
Ainge said before the draft lottery that the team was not at the mercy of the pingpong balls, noting, “We're prepared for whatever happens."
He reaffirmed that during a conference call with reporters after the drawing.
"Well, it's a little disappointing, we were hopeful for something better," Ainge said. "But the odds say the No. 6 was probably the most likely, so we've certainly been prepared for No. 6."
Asked about how the team might approach the draft with the pick, Ainge said the position doesn't change much with the team's strategy.
"We would have tried to do something with all the picks, including keep the pick. We're still in the same boat, but we just have less value [than a top spot]," Ainge said. "Not that much different than '07. There's less value in the sixth pick versus the 1 or 2 or 3 pick, but we're still going to try to make the best choice and we'll have to see what value that has around the league. And at the same time, we'll be evaluating all the players because usually people don't trade those picks, but we'll look at all those options."
What? 2014 NBA draft lottery
When? Tuesday, May 20, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Where? Times Square in New York
Why? Seeding the 14 lottery teams
The Celtics finished the 2013-14 season tied with the Utah Jazz for the fourth-worst record in basketball at 25-57 overall. A random drawing gave Utah a valuable tiebreaker, but the two teams essentially split their available lottery chances, with Utah owning a slight odds edge. Boston will have 103 of the 1,000 available pingpong ball combinations while hunting for a top-three spot, but the fifth and sixth spots remain the most likely landing positions.
Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca will represent the team on stage during ESPN's live broadcast of the results, while team president Rich Gotham will be stationed behind the scenes to watch the pingpong ball draw earlier in the evening.
HOW DOES THIS THING WORK?
Fourteen pingpong balls, numbered 1-14, are placed in a hopper, with the potential for 1,001 different four-ball draws. Each team is assigned a certain number of combinations based on their final record. At least three four-number combinations will be drawn, slotting teams with picks No. 1-3 in this year's draft. In the event that a team has one of its combinations drawn multiple times, the numbers are simply reshuffled and drawn again until three different teams have been determined.
Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren revealed the team's 103 four-number combinations earlier this month. If you're hunting for a lucky number, note that all the combinations include the presence of either a 4 or 5.
Teams are slotted in inverse order of record following the determination of the top three spots.
Here's a look at the Celtics' probability of landing each possible position:
1: 10.3 percent
But Pagliuca is also packing a handcrafted Rooster of Barcelos that arrived recently as a gift from Robert Sherman, the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal. The small figurine, which Pagliuca guessed was maybe 8 inches tall, was painted by Marines guarding the embassy and is a symbol of good luck in Portugal.
"There's a story about a guy traveling in Spain, who is accused of stealing silver and is sentenced to death," explained Pagliuca. "He [told the judge], look, that rooster will jump off your plate if I'm innocent and it did, so they didn't hang him. Later, he went to Barcelos and carved the statue and it became a symbol of good luck."
Pagliuca's rooster will now travel in his briefcase to New York with hopes of bringing good fortune to Boston and reversing its lottery luck. Meanwhile, the NBA helped produce an internet stream for the Marines stationed at the embassy to watch the draft lottery live (a five-hour time difference will make it around 1:30 a.m. in Portugal when Boston learns its fate).
Pagliuca joked his inbox has been overflowing with suggestions from Celtics fans recently. He can't walk down the street without hearing from well-wishers. The other day a box of lucky charms arrived from the Middle East.
"The problem is, everyone thinks we’re going to get the No. 1 pick," said Pagliuca. "We'll need a little good luck when you consider we only have a 10.3 percent chance. But we appreciate the optimism."
The Celtics own a 33.4 percent chance at a top 3 pick, but the odds lean heavy toward emerging with the fifth or sixth selection.
Pagliuca admitted he's a little nervous in advance of Tuesday's drawing, noting, "the hopes and dreams of Celtics Nation are upon us getting the right numbers," but was quick to point out that a deep draft will take some of the sting away if the Celtics fail to vault into the top 3.
He's been reminded by those that have endured the lottery process to simply enjoy the moment. What happens with the ping-pong balls is outside of his control. In fact, it's team president Rich Gotham who will be sequestered in the drawing room an hour before the actual television unveil to watch the live drawing.
Pagliuca will serve as the face of the Celtics and laughs when told how Celtics fans still recall Tommy Heinsohn's less-than-enthralled reaction when Boston learned it landed the fifth pick -- the worst possible scenario -- in the 2007 draft lottery.
"I think it's just an honor to be part of experience," said Pagliuca. "I will be a gracious person if it doesn’t go our way. There's always a silver lining. The lottery didn't go our way in 2007, but that pick helped us get Ray Allen, then [Kevin Garnett] through trade, and we won a championship. And this one is stronger, it's a deeper draft than that time. The silver lining will be that we simply move on to Plan B."
Celtics fans are well versed in the annual KG speculation. We should know how it goes by now and Garnett will silently retreat to Malibu and ponder his future after 19 years in the league. Even with $315 million in career earnings, the soon-to-be 38-year-old Garnett has 12 million reasons to return to the court despite his struggles this past season.
Pierce's future is a bit more intriguing, particularly as he prepares to become an unrestricted free agent. Speculation is already running rampant:
Though Pierce, a free agent to be, walked through the Nets' practice gym on the team's breakup day without speaking to reporters, it was impossible to miss that the 16-year veteran was wearing a Boston Red Sox hat that seemed to send a loud-and-clear message: His intended audience was Boston. He wants to go back. And he didn't care if the bad optics offended anyone on his last day as a Net.
Pierce wouldn't commit to returning to the Nets after they lost their second-round series to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, even though he said he wants to play one or two more years. Yet he had no problem earlier this season speaking at length about how he'd love to finish his playing days with the Celts.
[ESPN New York: Pierce, Garnett experiment a letdown]
When asked about a potential return to Boston earlier this season, Pierce didn't rule out the possibility, but suggested that was more likely to occur after his playing days. Pierce has said he envisions a possible front office role with the Celtics when he hangs up his hightops and you can easily imagine that scenario (think Jason Varitek and his special assistant to the GM role with the Red Sox).
Pierce, who will turn 37 before the start of next season, showed during the 2013-14 season that there's still plenty left in his tank. Former coach Doc Rivers often suggested that Pierce could play until he's 50 because of his crafty nature. Nostalgic Celtics fans, punch drunk from a 57-loss rebuilding season, will fantasize about Pierce returning to provide the sort of veteran leadership that could aid Boston's younger players, but Pierce's focus at this stage of his career is almost certainly on adding the titles that would cement his NBA legacy.
Our gut tells us Pierce is more likely to end his playing days with a top title contender. If Garnett elects to return to Brooklyn for that final season of his current contract, Pierce will feel a strong pull to stay alongside his good friend, the one that he talked into the summer blockbuster that delivered the duo from Boston, despite the Nets' future uncertainty.
If Garnett rides off into the sunset, Pierce will find no shortage of interest from contending teams. He'll almost certainly feel a strong pull from the West Coast, especially if Rivers phones to recruit him for a Clippers team that met the same disappointing second-round demise as the Nets despite similar championship aspirations.
Pierce, an Inglewood native, would likely be intrigued by the idea of playing back home. Dare we ponder if he might even consider closing out his playing days with a (gulp) Lakers team that he once feverishly cheered as a child? (Don't fret about that quite yet, Celtics fans, as the Lakers need plenty of their own fireworks to make Pierce truly consider that).
Ultimately, the Celtics need to remain locked on the future rather than dwelling on the past. The idea of a Pierce return is fun to consider, but Boston's focus right now should be on identifying the players that can lead the team the way Pierce did in his 15 seasons here.
If nothing else, Pierce already did his part to aid Boston's future. The three first-round draft picks delivered in that deal will go a long way toward helping the Celtics return to contender status, while the Nets might have paid a hefty ransom for five playoff wins.
[Additional reading: Pierce: One or two more years left | Nets Summer Scoop]
Each team typically sends two representatives, one that's stationed behind the scenes for the actual lottery drawing earlier in the day, and a second that represents the team during ESPN's television broadcast when the results are revealed.
Teams have typically sent general managers, coaches, and owners. Recently, we've seen more outside-the-box selections like players or children of owners (Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert's son Nick has twice helped the Cavs win the lottery in recent years).
Boston sent legend Tommy Heinsohn back in 2007 when it had the second-best odds at the top pick. Instead, three teams vaulted into the top 3 spots, pushing Boston to its worst possible position at fifth overall. Things worked out, however, as the team later traded the pick to begin the process of uniting the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen that won a title the following season.
The Celtics could use a little lottery luck. Back in 1997, after posting the worst winning percentage in team history, Boston also had the second-best odds at the No. 1 pick (and had a second set of ping-pong balls via a previous trade with the Mavericks, who had the sixth worst record), but watched San Antonio leapfrog to the top spot, pushing Boston to third (and sixth) overall.
Boston owns a 10.3 percent chance at the top pick this season.
Managing Partner & Alternate Governor Stephen Pagliuca will be representing the Celtics at the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 2, 2014
Now that the Celtics have lost the drawing, they will have 103 pingpong ball combinations (out of 1,000) at May's draft lottery, giving the team a 10.3 percent chance at the top overall pick and a 33.4 percent chance at a top-three pick. The real disadvantage is that Utah owns a tiebreaker over the Celtics and would select before Boston in the event that neither team leaps into the top three spots. The Celtics can pick no lower than eighth overall.
The Celtics and Jazz finished with matching 25-57 records, tied for the fourth-worst mark in the NBA. Ties in the lottery are broken by a random drawing.
Brooklyn and Washington finished with matching 44-38 records, and ties for non-lottery teams are broken by coin flip. By virtue of Brooklyn winning the flip, the Celtics will choose 17th overall with one of three future first-round picks acquired from the Nets in last summer's blockbuster trade.
Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren detailed the team's percentage at each pick on Celtics.com:
Pick 1: 10.3 percent
Pick 2: 11.1 percent
Pick 3: 12.0 percent
Pick 4: 0 percent
Pick 5: 23.7 percent
Pick 6: 34.2 percent
Pick 7: 8.2 percent
Pick 8: 0.3 percent
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