Notebook: Randle expected on Friday

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
2:35
PM ET
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Kentucky forward Julius Randle is expected to work out for the Boston Celtics on Friday, but the team doesn't expect any limitations despite reports that suggest Randle could require foot surgery following the draft.

ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman notes that Randle is scheduled to work out individually for Boston, and not as part of a group session. The Celtics said they were not expecting the foot to deter Randle from performing any individual drills.

"[The reports about Randle's foot are] something that we’ve certainly read and are aware of and have been checking out," said Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge. "But he will work out for us [Friday] and has full clearance."

Several team executives told ESPN that the 6-foot-9 Kentucky forward's broken right foot hasn't healed correctly -- and sources confirmed a Yahoo Sports report that Randle may need surgery after the June 26 NBA draft, keeping him out of summer league.

Randle, a potential option for Boston picking at No. 6, refuted those reports on Twitter: "I never do this but it was brought to me and it's crazy how people put stories out there and have no clue what they're talking about," he wrote, adding, "No disrespect but check with the actual source next time before you put something like that out there."

The Celtics are prepping for a loaded Friday workout, which is also expected to include at least three other potential lottery picks: Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Michigan's Nik Stauskas, and UCLA's Zach LaVine.

• Stauskas was in town a day early and visited the team's practice facility to get up some shots while Thursday's six-man crew -- Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Creighton's Doug McDermott, Louisville's Luke Hancock, Memphis' Geron Johnson and the Syracuse duo of C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant -- wrapped up their hour-plus session.

• Ainge said Johnson tied the team's record in the workout-closing three-minute sprint drill (playfully dubbed the Boston Marathon). Northeastern's Jon Lee set the record last year at 29 lengths. "[Johnson's run] was very impressive," said Ainge. "He’s really fast. And in great shape. It was very, very impressive, because it was a hard workout."

• Boston's Thursday workout featured a mix of young and old, and the difference was evident. "Luke Hancock and Doug McDermott, you can tell are savvy veteran guys," said Ainge. "Those guys play like 10-year vets in the NBA; they know what they’re doing out there. Some of the younger guys have some catching up to do out there, but that’s part of what makes [Hancock and McDermott] good players; they both had great careers."

Gordon back in Boston for C's workout

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
2:15
PM ET


WALTHAM, Mass. -- Before Kevin Love stole the spotlight, Aaron Gordon was Boston's most famous visiting hoopster.

Gordon, in town last month for his sister's graduation from Harvard University, got caught napping -- ball in hand -- on a red line train after a local workout. The cell phone photo went viral, as did speculation that he was here to meet with a potential future employer in the Boston Celtics.

 
That meeting with the Celtics didn't happen until Thursday, when Gordon went through his official pre-draft workout with the team. Gordon was part of a six-player workout, one that included fellow potential lottery pick Doug McDermott, and the Arizona forward did his best to state his case for being selected by Boston when it chooses at No. 6 in this month's draft.

Gordon was asked about reports that suggest Boston is eyeing him among the crowded power forward types that should be available early in the draft (ESPN Insider Chad Ford has the Celtics taking Gordon in his latest mock).

"I hope [it's true]," said Gordon. "I’m excited. We’ll see. June 26th -- a lot of things are going to happen from now until then, and even on that day. But I’d be happy. Really, I’m just excited to be drafted anywhere."

The 18-year-old Gordon, who confirmed his status as the youngest player in the draft when a reporter mentioned his youthful status, was short but firm when queried about what separates him from players like Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh, some of the bigs expected to be available when Boston picks at No. 6.

"Versatility," said Gordon. "Defense."

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge confirmed that assessment after watching Thursday's workout.

"I think Aaron’s biggest strength is his versatility," said Ainge. "I think he’ll be able to guard almost every position on the court, and that’s really his strength. He’s a great defender and he handles the ball pretty well for his size. And he’s going to have to continue his shooting, but he’s a worker and I think he will."

(Read full post)

The Boston Celtics continue their pre-draft workouts on Thursday with another six-player session:

C.J. Fair – Syracuse
Aaron Gordon – Arizona
Jerami Grant – Syracuse
Luke Hancock – Louisville
Geron Johnson – Memphis
Doug McDermott – Creighton

Gordon and McDermott, two projected lottery picks, highlight the list of attendees. The Celtics own the Nos. 6 and 17 picks in the June 26 draft.

Vonleh right at home with C's

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
8:35
PM ET
WALTHAM, Mass. -- When Wednesday's workout for his hometown Boston Celtics was complete, Noah Vonleh wandered to one corner of the practice gymnasium and plopped down next to assistant coach Walter McCarty.

AP Photo/Kiichiro SatoNoah Vonleh uses his long reach and huge hands (11.25 inches wide) to block shots -- like this one during the Big Ten Conference tournament in March.
Now, Vonleh was only 2 when McCarty got traded to Boston in 1995, but like anyone raised on late-'90s/early-2000s hoops in these parts, Vonleh is plenty familiar with the "I love Waltah!" era of Celtics basketball.

The two 6-foot-10 hoopsters engaged in some small talk, maybe some Indiana chatter considering the Hoosier State is where McCarty grew up and where Vonleh played his college ball. With the possibility that Boston might target Vonleh with the No. 6 pick in this month's draft, McCarty dispensed some advice about where Vonleh might live if he played for the Celtics.

"All the workouts were pretty good, but this one just had a little bit more meaning to it because it's my hometown," said Vonleh, a native of Haverhill, Mass., who played two seasons of high school ball for his hometown Hillies before prepping at New Hampton in New Hampshire.

"Not everybody gets a chance to work out for their hometown team. This is a great opportunity," he said.

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge remembers watching Vonleh compete against his younger brother, Crew, in high school and knew Vonleh would be at the NBA level sooner than later. Now, here's Vonleh, just 18 years old with a gargantuan wingspan (7-foot-5), monster vertical (37 inches), and freakish hands (11.25 inches wide), ready to hear his name called in the high lottery.

"Obviously, being local here, we've heard about him for a long time," said Ainge. "He played in my little brother Crew's high school conference. I saw him play there a few times. He's a very intriguing player, a lot of physical tools, but very young."

(Read full story)

Roundup: Love wants to win; Miami's Big 4?

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
8:30
PM ET
A couple of NBA headlines of note for Boston Celtics fans:

LOVE SAYS HE JUST WANTS TO WIN
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love said Wednesday that it "burns me and hurts my heart" that he hasn't made the playoffs in six seasons in the NBA.

But Love stopped short of confirming that he's determined to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent in 2015.

"My agent is handling everything at this point ... I'm hoping that everything works out for all parties involved," Love said during an appearance on ESPN's "SportsNation."

Love's comments were the first since sources reiterated to ESPN.com last week that team president Flip Saunders' move back to the bench next season will have no impact on Love's decision.

"No matter what the outcome is, I just want to end up in a great place where I can win," Love said on "SportsNation." "At the end of the day, I've played six years, haven't made the playoffs yet, that burns me and hurts my heart, so I really want to be playing."

 
HEAT LOOK TO TARGET CARMELO
The Miami Heat's immediate focus remains overcoming a 2-1 NBA Finals deficit to the San Antonio Spurs, but discussions have begun within the organization about trying to grow their so-called Big Three into a Big Four, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that Heat officials and the team's leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at adding New York Knicks scoring machine Carmelo Anthony this summer in free agency.

The mere concept would require the star trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to all opt out of their current contracts by the end of the month and likely take further salary reductions in new deals that start next season to give Miami the ability to offer Anthony a representative first-year salary. The Heat also are prevented from making any formal contact with Anthony until July 1 and can do so then only if he opts out of the final year of his current contract. Anthony has until June 23 to notify the Knicks of his intentions, according to sources.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, removed from the relentless grind of his first 82-game NBA season, seemed relaxed as he met with reporters following the team's latest pre-draft workouts on Wednesday. Stevens remains busy, aiding with individual workouts for veteran players that visit the team's facility each morning, then leading the team's pre-draft workouts as hopefuls audition for team brass.

There simply seems to be something therapeutic for Stevens about the offseason process.

"This has been a fun month," said Stevens. "We’ve got, as you can see, a couple of our younger guys that are around still. We’re getting in the gym with them in the early morning and just working out individually as a small group, and then these [draft prospects] come in later in the morning. It’s fun to be back in the gym like that and to spend time with them."

Stevens noted how veterans like Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger have been familiar presences at the team's morning workouts, while many of the Celtics' youngest players have stuck around the region for additional work (the likes of Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, Avery Bradley, Phil Pressey, and Brandon Bass have all been spotted here at various times). Stevens gets to spend breakfast working with some of the core members of the team's future, then auditions those draft prospects that might also aid the rebuilding process during lunch.

"The thing I like best is being in the gym and working on getting better and working on building your team and those types of things," said Stevens. "It’s fun, because you’ve got the guys that are back in in the early morning and then you come and you see some guys that may be part of your organization moving forward -- or at least you’re evaluating that. It feels like a really high-level camp in the morning for me."

Stevens said he'll throttle down a bit next month, including allowing assistant coach Jay Larranaga to coach the team's summer squad in Orlando. But while many NBA coaches leave the offseason workouts and draft auditions to their staffs, it's been important for Stevens to be part of that evaluation and development process.

"I think as much as anything, I want to be really involved," said Stevens. "And I’ll probably take a step back at some point, but when I’m working with our own guys, it’s great to get out there because you only get so much time. And then when you’re working with [the draft] guys, just seeing how they respond to you, see how they take to coaching, see how quickly they pick things up. That stuff all plays a role. It’s easier to get a feel for that when you’re standing on the court and directing then when you’re watching from the perch."
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that captain Rajon Rondo has been a consistent presence when veteran players gather at the team's practice facility for morning workouts recently and believe's his All-Star point guard is anxious to showcase the improvements he's made since the end of the 2013-14 season.

"I think Rajon -- and I’m saying this from my own opinion -- but I think he’s anxious to get back out there and to get back out playing," Stevens said Wednesday after leading the team's latest pre-draft workouts at HealthPoint. "You can tell that from his work ethic. He has been with our small groups a lot in the last 8-10 days. That’s not always the case with a guy as seasoned and accomplished as him.

"He only played 30 games this year and I don’t think he ever felt like he was as good as he truly could be, at least game to game to game, stringing multiple games together. That was in large part due to coming back [from ACL surgery]. Now he’s had a little bit more time to strengthen, to get in the weight room, to work on his skill stuff. I think he looks great, first of all. Physically, he looks fantastic, and he’s been working hard, and that sets a great tone for the younger guys that come in. That’s really helpful."

Rondo returned from ACL surgery in mid-January and averaged 11.7 points, 9.8 assists, and 5.5 rebounds over 33.3 minutes per game. While working his way back from knee surgery, Rondo did not appear in games played on consecutive nights and the team exercised caution to prevent any setbacks.

Rondo said last week that he plans to spend more time than usual in Boston this offseason, including much of the past two months while his kids finished up school in the area.

"My summer has been really quiet. I’ve just been here in Waltham, rehabbing in the morning, then, at night, come back and shoot free throws, that’s about it," said Rondo. He added, "I’ve been training here, and the staff has been doing pretty good as far as my rehab and working with [strength and conditioning coach Bryan] Doo a lot, [and team trainer] Ed Lacerte every day. This is home to me as of now."

Despite being an eight-year veteran, Rondo is still making up for lost time after ACL rehab limited his ability to be on the court at the start of Stevens' tenure last summer. The coach, who will mark his one-year anniversary at the start of next month, was asked if Rondo might be more inclined to work out now because of what he missed.

"It’s really interesting that you say that [because] we were talking about some of the things that you do just in a typical defensive-technique work or whatever the case may be. He missed most of that, because he was hurt when you go through most of that, so then you’re scrambling when you’re coming back," said Stevens. "Certainly, he’s been really well coached in the past, but there may be things from a vernacular standpoint that are a little bit different, maybe a tweak here or a change there, that fits into the system differently. And so I think that having a chance now to play in games, it’s almost like... now you can break it down a little bit in 1-on-1 sessions and then get back in. And when we get back together as a full team in the fall, I think we’ll be even better."

Vonleh highlights Wednesday workout

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
11:45
AM ET
The Boston Celtics are hosting six more players on a pre-draft workout on Wednesday:

Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Sam Dower, Gonzaga
Artem Klimenko, Avtodor (Russia)
Javon McCrea, Buffalo
Daniel Miller, Georgia Tech
Noah Vonleh, Indiana

Vonleh, a projected high-lottery pick who the Celtics could target at No. 6, highlights the workout. The session should test his physicality against 7-foot-1 Russian center Klimenko (a projected second-round prospect in this month's draft).

To serve and rim protect

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
4:00
PM ET
"Rim protector" seems like a fairly recent entry into the NBA lexicon, though it's certainly made up for lost time, particularly in these parts.

Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsIndiana's Noah Vonleh tries to swat a shot during the Big Ten tournament.
Rim protector has become the buzzword associated with the Boston Celtics' glaring need to find someone who can replace what Kevin Garnett provided during six seasons navigating the team's back line. After Boston endured a 57-loss season without an established veteran capable of consistently deterring shots near the basket, rim protector has become the most popular answer when someone asks what Boston's biggest need is this offseason.

How poor was Boston's rim protection? The NBA utilizes player tracking data to define "rim protection" as "the defender being within five feet of the basket and within five feet of the offensive player attempting the shot." Crunch the numbers for opponent field goal percentage for every player in the NBA that appeared in at least half (41) of their team's games and the first Celtics player doesn't appear until No. 116 in Kris Humphries, who limited opponents to 50.8 percent shooting near the rim.

Boston's other bigs? Jared Sullinger lands at 198th (53.9), Brandon Bass spots at 202nd (54.1), and Kelly Olynyk finished 257th (56.3). Rookie Vitor Faverani actually had the best number (46.1) over 37 appearances, which would have ranked him 31st overall (albeit in limited per-game reps).

The optimistic Celtics fan hopes that Faverani can bounce back from the knee surgery that shortened his rookie campaign and provide a steadying presence as he settles and develops at the NBA level. Colton Iverson, last year's second-round pick who spent a year in Turkey, has the length and physicality to help the back line, too.

Can the Celtics find a rim protector in the draft? It certainly would have been a lot easier if the ping-pong balls had given them the chance at picking Joel Embiid. But since that's not happening, Boston will have to examine what's left of a big-man class that -- much like the team's roster last season -- isn't overflowing with pure size.

(Read full post)

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2014Draft

In Mock Draft version 7.0 Insider, ESPN's Chad Ford has the Boston Celtics taking Arizona forward Aaron Gordon at No. 6 and Latvia big man Kristaps Porzingis at No. 17.

A snippet from Ford on each: "I think Gordon and Marcus Smart are the top two contenders for [the No. 6] pick of the remaining players on the board, with the edge right now toward Gordon. Both Gary Harris and Doug McDermott will get looks here as well... General manager Danny Ainge has two picks and can afford to gamble on one of them. At 7 feet with both athleticism and a nice shooting touch, there's tons of upside for Porzingis. He's just a couple of years away."

[Read full Mock Draft 7.0 Insider]

Olynyk visiting Vietnam for Jr. NBA

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
1:35
PM ET
Kelly Olynyk's summer vacation is taking him to Ho Chi Minh City, where the Boston Celtics rookie big man will participate in Jr. NBA Vietnam 2014 from June 13-15. Here's more on Olynyk's trip from the NBA:
Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics will be in Ho Chi Minh City to participate in the Jr. NBA Vietnam 2014 presented by Dutch Lady National Training Camp to help coach participants from all over the country vying to become Jr. NBA Vietnam All-Stars. The National Training Camp will be held at Ton Duc Thang University from June 13-15.

“I am excited to be involved with the Jr. NBA program because it not only provides top quality basketball instruction, but also teaches valuable life skills that are important off the court,” said Olynyk. “The participants have worked hard to earn their spots at the National Training Camp and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share my skills and knowledge with them.”

The National Training Camp is the culmination of the Jr. NBA Vietnam 2014 presented by Dutch Lady program, providing the top 40 boys and top 24 girls the opportunity to train with and compete against their peers. The top participants were selected from the standout performers at the Selection Camp in May. At the end of the National Training Camp, 10 boys and 4 girls will be named as the inaugural Jr. NBA Vietnam All-Stars. These select campers will be rewarded with a unique NBA experience and the opportunity to play against a counterpart team from another country later in the year.


Before one game late in the 2013-14 season, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens had been talking glowingly about the intangibles of a player when the conversation swung to a more general question about the best qualities an individual could bring.

Phil Ellsworth/ESPN ImagesNorth Carolina State's T.J. Warren was third in the nation with 24.8 points per game.
Stevens pondered the inquiry for a moment, then smiled while noting that being able to score 35 points per game wouldn't be a bad thing for a player.

Yes, even a coach who puts a high value on the intangibles knows that scoring comes at a premium in the NBA. Those who can do it consistently often are some of the most valued players in the league, even if they lag in other areas.

As the 2014 NBA draft approaches, the Celtics clearly are intrigued by those who can score the basketball.

"We struggled to score this year and that matters," Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said. "We’re going to have to address it, and that might be through the draft, it might be through free agency, it might be via trade. That’s an issue."

Ainge was quick to note that the Celtics "need to get better on both ends of the court," but the defensive regression at the end of the season further exposed Boston's inability to generate sustained offense.

The Celtics were not a good offensive team by any metric last season. Boston ranked 27th in offensive rating (99.7 points per 100 possessions) while averaging 96.2 points per game (26th) and shooting 43.5 percent from the floor (28th). The Celtics didn't get to the free throw line very often, turned the ball over at a high rate and had one of the lowest effective field goal percentages in the league (which adjusts for value of 3-point shots).

One glance at Boston's anemic late-game numbers in clutch situations further highlights a team desperate for go-to options that can consistently generate points.

Picking at Nos. 6 and 17 in the draft, it's unlikely that Boston is going to find the sort of presence that will immediately remedy their offensive woes, but there is talent available that can help steady the offensive roller coaster.

(Read full post)

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2014Draft

The Boston Celtics do not own a second-round pick in the 2014 NBA draft, but that hasn't stopped them from examining players that might available after their two first-round selections (Nos. 6 and 17), particularly players projected to be second-round picks or go undrafted.

"Mock drafts are one thing; we try not to be married to those," said Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge. "We try to have our own opinions, as does everyone. We also have a history of being very aggressive on draft night. You never know what trades and buying picks, you never know what will happen. Phil Pressey played a lot for us this year and he wasn’t drafted, so we try to be prepared with everyone and it’s not just the 6th and 17th pick we look at."

The Celtics traded two second-round picks to Dallas last season in order to shuffle up three spots and land Kelly Olynyk at No. 13. Boston also bought a second-round pick (53rd overall) from the Indiana Pacers to nab Colton Iverson, a 7-footer who spent a year in Turkey and hopes to compete for a roster spot this summer.

The Celtics auditioned 12 second-round candidates on Monday and more late-round bodies passed through during two more days of workouts that followed. But how much talent is there in the second round this year?

“It’s hard to tell," said Ainge. "We always have a few guys we really like that we might have 35th on our board and they go all the way through [the draft]. Some years we will have the 55th pick and every guy we like is gone and we are saying, ‘Who should we take?’ It varies from year to year, but I feel that the point guard position in this draft has some depth and I don’t feel all the good players will be able to be selected."

The Celtics ended last season with only one second-round pick on their roster (Brandon Bass), but a league-high five undrafted free agents (Pressey, Chris Babb, Chris Johnson, Vitor Faverani, and Joel Anthony). Agents know the Celtics are open-minded to allowing undrafted players to compete for roster spots -- particularly as part of a rebuilding process -- and that can help convince undrafted players to consider Boston if their name isn't called.

Take Pressey for example. The Celtics were quite familiar with him (his father, Paul, spent time on Doc Rivers' staff) and had scouted his development. Ainge called Pressey almost immediately after last year's draft and invited him to join the Celtics' summer league squad to compete for a regular-season roster spot.

Pressey earned a three-year deal, including a fully guaranteed first season, then appeared in 75 games while emerging as one of Boston's top backup ball-handlers, even after Rajon Rondo returned from ACL surgery.

The Celtics want to be ready if there's an opportunity to add talent at a risk-free cost.

"Every year there are some available [second-round picks]," said Ainge. "It just depends. Maybe we won’t be in the market for one. You never know. You kind of look at your roster needs [during the draft] and some teams aren’t in the market for another rookie on their team and just opt to trade or sell the second-round pick as the draft is going on. Our job is to be prepared for every situation."

Ainge recalled that Pressey had a good team workout for the Celtics last year, but it was his full body of work that encouraged Boston to express interest after he went undrafted. Even without a second-round pick this year, the Celtics are doing their part to evaluate all available bodies and be in position to strike if someone they like lingers.
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2014Draft

Saunders: 16 teams called about Love

June, 6, 2014
Jun 6
11:45
AM ET
Minnesota Timberwolves president of basketball operations/head coach Flip Saunders told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that 16 teams have called about Kevin Love. From the Star Tribune:
A decision on the future of Love has not been made, Saunders said. He will no doubt make every effort to convince the All-Star forward to stay here.

“We probably have 16 teams that have called us,” Saunders said, regarding interest in Love around the league. “We haven’t called anybody.”

Regarding Love’s recent weekend visit to Boston, Saunders said he didn’t know if it had any connection with basketball.

“I don’t think [the] Boston [Celtics] had anything to do with it. But I don’t know,” he said.

[Hop HERE to read the full story]
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Kevin Love

An overseas report indicates that the Boston Celtics have invited Dairis Bertans to join their summer league entry in Orlando in July. From The Baltic Course:
'The ''Celtics'' have been following along my progress in Europe, and have invited me to fight for a roster spot on their team,'' the basketball player said. ''I will be going to Boston on June 29, a few days before the start of the Orlando Summer League, so that I could get some more practice in.''

If Bertans does not make it on the ''Celtics'' roster for next season, he does not rule out the possibility that he might not return to Spanish ACB League club ''Bilbao'', which has been going through financial difficulties recently. ''If the club still exists after the summer, then it will likely have much less finances available. I am not prepared to play for a smaller salary. I have reached the age in which I should start earning something.''

In 32 ACB League games for ''Bilbao'' this past season, Bertans averaged 10.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

[Hop HERE to read full story]

(h/t: @MrTrpleDouble10)

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9