Dwight Howard is next up on the Celtics’ wish list. 

Sources tell ESPN that the 30-year-old big man will sit down face-to-face with the Celtics, along with the Atlanta Hawks, as free agency begins this Friday. 

Dwight Howard is next up on the Celtics’ wish list. 

Sources tell ESPN that the 30-year-old big man will sit down face-to-face with the Celtics, along with the Atlanta Hawks, as free agency begins this Friday. 

ESPN reports that Howard is expected to meet with as many as five teams in free agency. Unlike the situation with Kevin Durant, where a return to Oklahoma City is a distinct possibility, Howard is not expect to return to Houston after turning down his $23.2 million option for next season

According to ESPN, sources say the Heat have not yet booked a meeting with Howard in free agency, but could emerge later in the process. 

ESPN reported Tuesday that the Hawks are trying to make up their mind on whether to go after Kevin Durant or consider an Al Horford-Dwight Howard front court through free agency.  

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Kevin Durant is not the only focus of the Celtics as free agency approaches. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Celtics will be among the teams approaching Al Horford when free agency begins on Friday. 

Apr 28, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) during the second half in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford is shooting for a big payday in free agency. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Kevin Durant is not the only focus of the Celtics as free agency approaches. 

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Celtics will be among the teams approaching Al Horford when free agency begins on Friday. 

The Celtics will be in for some serious competition, Stein reports.

“The Hawks, of course, face a stiff challenge in trying to retain Horford, who sources say is expected to draw free-agent interest from a number of teams, including the Lakers, Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets,” Stein writes. 

As is the case with Durant, Horford has nine years of experience. That is significant because he can command up to 30 percent of his team’s cap this year. That figure goes up to 35 percent after next season.

This has led to wide speculation that both Durant and Horford would draw “1+1 contract” this summer, allowing both to cash in again next year. A “1+1” is a one-year contract with a player option for the following season. 

Horford’s long-term role with the Hawks is unclear with the trade of Jeff Teague to the Pacers. how the Hawks are planning to build in the next few months. Should he seek a max deal this year, he can re-sign with the Hawks at five years $152 million or move and sign for four years, $112 million. If he signs a one-year deal, it would be at an estimated cost of $26.4 million.

Horford, a 6-foot-10 stretch center who can run the floor and knock down a mid-range shot, has long been rumored to be a target of Danny Ainge, including at the trade deadline this past February

Horford averaged just 12.5 points but hauled in 8.5 rebounds a game against the Celtics in Atlanta’s six-game first-round win. Horford rebounded against the Cavaliers in the second round, going for 14.8 points a game. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Reggie Lewis passed away nearly 23 years ago, but the late Celtics star’s mom believes the team could honor his memory in an unexpected way — by giving his retired No. 35 to Kevin Durant.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Reggie Lewis passed away nearly 23 years ago, but the late Celtics star’s mom believes the team could honor his memory in an unexpected way — by giving his retired No. 35 to Kevin Durant.

That’s according to Kevin O’Connor of CSNNE, who got Lewis’ mom, Inez Ritch, on the phone recently.

“I don’t think it would take anything from Reggie because his number is still hanging up in the Garden,” she told O’Connor. “If I see Durant running up and down the court with the No. 35, I don’t know how my emotions would be until it happens.

“I don’t think I would be upset about it. I think it would be a good thing, because he is a very nice, humble young man. I don’t know a lot about him, but I know of some of the things he has achieved while wearing the No. 35.”

The similarities between the two players are obvious, O’Connor notes, with both Lewis and Durant lanky scorers who could shoot over the top or dunk at the rim. Lewis was just entering the prime of his career when he collapsed and died in July of 1993 at age 27 while shooting baskets at Brandeis.

Durant is an All-Star and former MVP who has the Celtics on his list of six teams that he’ll meet during free agency.

Add Lewis’s retired number to the list of enticements the Celtics could potentially offer to get him in green.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Marcus Smart on Danny Ainge heading into free agency "He knows what he's doing" pic.twitter.com/BvO08J4rUQ

— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 28, 2016

WALTHAM – There was one person very happy that the Celtics didn’t pull off a trade last Thursday night during draft night. 

As one of the youngest and most talented defensive guards in the NBA, Marcus Smart was at the center of many trade rumors involving the Celtics. He knew there was a possibility that he might be dealt away as the Celtics tried to move out of the No. 3 spot and get a proven impact scorer. 

As it turned out, the Celtics and Danny Ainge didn’t pull the trigger, leaving Smart to continue his plans for another season in Celtic green. 

“I’m ecstatic to remain a Boston Celtic,” Smart beamed Tuesday at his youth basketball camp at Brandeis. “I love Boston. I love their fans. I love the organization and everything about it.” 

There was also something else that didn’t happen Thursday that played to the apparent advantage of Smart. The Celtics didn’t draft another defensive-minded guard. They chose Jaylen Brown over Kris Dunn.

“That was weird because Danny being a defensive-minded guy, so you kind of would’ve thought that was where he was going,” Smart said. “We were excited for whoever we got and we are excited with the picks that Danny has picked, and the front office and we’re ready to go.”

Smart, like Isaiah Thomas, has started to make his pitch for Kevin Durant. But there are other areas that could be addressed with as much as $62 million of cap space to play with. 

“That’s a hard question for me to answer,” Smart said. “I haven’t really paid too much attention or focus on what they should do. That’s not my job. My job is to go out there and play and I kind of leave that up to Danny and those guys. They’ve been doing this for a long time. They know what they’re doing. Whoever or whatever they do, I support it and I’m with them.”

Smart understands the frustration of Celtics fans who are hungry to see the team make big moves. 

“Definitely. We expect that next step as a team. Everybody is working on their game,” Smart added. “Everybody is ready. We text each other every day and everybody is just excited. You can see it, hear it in the voices when we talk to each other. We can’t wait to get back and just start working out with each other and get that connection again.

“I think the next step for us as a team is to just go out there and [not] worry about everybody expects from us because that’s Boston fans. They’re diehard. They’re going to be on you when you’re doing go. They’re going to be on you when you’re doing bad, and that’s why we love them, and they deserve that. They deserve to have their voice. I think, for us, it’s not to really listen to all the expectations. Just go out there and play.” 

A lot of people heard Jaylen Brown announce his arrival last week in Boston by proclaiming that he “wants to rip somebody’s head off.” Smart, who’s been known to say an aggressive thing or two on the court, just smiled Tuesday when asked about it. 

“I laugh. I like it. I like it. And I think Danny loves it,” Smart laughed. “He’s an athletic wing. The dude is a freak of nature, actually, athletic-wise. I’ve seen him play a little bit. His defense is a little scary, having that length on him. I’m excited to be able to play in the backcourt with him.” 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Marcus Smart (video) raves about the "incredible" Kevin Durant. Will call @KDTrey5 "if I get his number" pic.twitter.com/BXHbne4DZQ

— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) June 28, 2016

WALTHAM  – Isaiah Thomas isn’t the only Celtics guard who’s pushing hard for Kevin Durant to come to Boston. 

Speaking at his summer basketball camp at Red Auerbach Court at Brandeis Tuesday, Marcus Smart said it would be amazing for the Celtics to add the top name in free agency to their roster. 

“Oh, no doubt. I think any team would love to see Durant and those type of caliber players on their team,” Smart said. “But we’re not the ones that make that call, so we just kind of sit back and wait. And whatever decisions that the front office makes, we’re ready to run with it.”

Durant would be a franchise-changer for the Celtics. To add a 7-footer of Durant’s caliber on the wing, their offense would taken on a different dimension and they would shoot the Celtics to the top of the NBA food chain, immediately making them top contenders in the East.  

“It’s incredible. A guy his size to do what he does, it’s unreal,” Smart said. 

Knowing all of this, Smart, like Thomas, is hoping and praying that Durant gives Boston serious consideration. Would he recruit Durant to Boston?

“If I get his number,” said Smart. 

Smart played at Oklahoma State, practically in Durant’s backyard.

“I watched Durant growing up, even when I was at Oklahoma State,” Smart said. “He came to like a game or two and I talked to him. Not a whole lot, but he’s a great guy you can definitely tell.”

The Celtics are on the short list of six teams who have scheduled meetings with Roc Nation Sports, the agency that represents Durant. The Spurs, Warriors, Clippers, Heat and Thunder will all be meeting with Durant. Free agency officially begins Friday. 

 

 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia