Will Russell Westbrook (0) scores a three point basket against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Will Russell Westbrook (0) land in Boston this summer? (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Is the time finally right for Danny Ainge to cash in? 

The Celtics president of basketball operations has been stacking his place at the NBA poker table with lots of blue chips. The question is whether now is the time to head to the to the casino office and get the final pieces that will help Brad Stevens and the team get back to the NBA finals. 

There have been reports this week that the Celtics are lead contenders for either Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin in a potential trade. 

But either one of those deals would almost certainly require the Celtics giving up their ownership of Brooklyn’s unprotected pick next year, which could very easily be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Not only that, a team like Oklahoma City, with the always forward-thinking general manager Sam Presti is going to likely want another top pick, either in 2017 or from the multitude of picks listed below. The Celtics also own Brooklyn’s first-rounder in 2018. The Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Jason Terry trade of July 12, 2013 keeps on giving. 

If there’s any general manager with the wherewithal to pull off a major deal involving future picks and not entirely forfeit the future, it’s Ainge. Here, in full detail, is the remarkable portfolio Ainge has to work with: 

2017 first round draft pick from Brooklyn
Boston has the right to swap its 2017 1st round pick for Brooklyn’s 2017 1st round pick; if Boston exercises this swap right, then Boston will convey its 2017 2nd round pick to Brooklyn protected for selections 31-45 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Boston’s obligation to Brooklyn will be extinguished) [7/12/2013].

2017 second round draft pick from Cleveland
Cleveland’s 2017 2nd round pick to Boston [from Cleveland, 9/25/2014]

2017 second round draft pick from L.A. Clippers
L.A. Clippers’ 2017 2nd round pick to Boston [from L.A. Clippers via Phoenix, 1/15/2015]

2017 second round draft pick from Minnesota
Minnesota’s 2017 2nd round pick to Boston (via Phoenix) [Minnesota-New Orleans-Phoenix, 7/27/2012; Boston-Phoenix, 1/9/2015]

2018 first round draft pick from Brooklyn
Brooklyn’s 2018 1st round pick to Boston [from Brooklyn, 7/12/2013]

2019 first round draft pick from L.A. Clippers
If at least two years after the L.A. Clippers conveyed a 1st round pick to Toronto, then the L.A. Clippers will convey their 1st round pick to Boston (via Memphis) protected for selections 1-14 in 2019 and 1-14 in 2020; if the L.A. Clippers have not conveyed a 1st round pick to Boston by 2020, then the L.A. Clippers will instead convey their 2022 2nd round pick to Boston [L.A. Clippers-Memphis, 2/18/2016; Boston-Memphis, 6/23/2016]

2019 first round draft pick from Memphis
Memphis’ 1st round pick to Boston protected for selections 1-8 in 2019 (conveyable if Memphis conveys a 1st round pick to Denver in 2017) and 1-6 in 2020 (conveyable if Memphis has conveyed a 1st round pick to Denver by 2018) and unprotected in 2021 [Boston-Memphis-New Orleans, 1/12/2015]

2019 second round draft pick from Detroit
Detroit’s 2019 2nd round pick to Boston (via Oklahoma City) [Detroit-Oklahoma City-Utah, 2/19/2015; Boston-Oklahoma City, 7/14/2015]

2020 second round draft pick from Miami
Miami’s 2020 2nd round pick to Boston [Boston-Miami, 7/27/2015]

Boston’s only future obligations are as follows: 

2017 second round draft pick to Brooklyn
If Boston exercises its right to swap its 2017 1st round pick for Brooklyn’s 2017 1st round pick, then Boston will convey its 2017 2nd round pick to Brooklyn protected for selections 31-45 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Boston’s obligation to Brooklyn will be extinguished) [7/12/2013].

2018 second round draft pick to Oklahoma City
Boston’s 2018 2nd round pick to Oklahoma City protected for selections 31-55 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Boston’s obligation to Oklahoma City will be extinguished) [Boston-Oklahoma City, 7/14/2015]

2019 second round draft pick to Memphis
Boston’s 2019 2nd round pick to Memphis (via Miami) protected for selections 31-55 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Boston’s obligation to Memphis will be extinguished) [Boston-Miami, 7/27/2015; Charlotte-Memphis-Miami, 2/16/2016]

Why wouldn’t Ainge pull the trigger with this much in the bank? 

Simple. You don’t spend your retirement savings on a leased Lamborghini for one year. As everyone knows by now, Russell Westbrook is due a gigantic payday next summer, which will coincide with the rise of the cap from $94.1 million this season to at least $108 million for 2017-18. 

Westbrook is coming off a brilliant season in which he nearly averaged a triple-double (23.5 points, 10.4 rebounds, 7.8 rebounds). Presti is no fool. He is trying to maximize his take now and build on the fly. He did it in 2007 when he traded Ray Allen for Jeff Green and drafted Kevin Durant. He’s also not likely going to deal one of the five most valuable players in the league without getting something big back in return. The Celtics are the team best positioned to sweeten the pot. The wild card is whether Ainge thinks that one year with Westbrook and gambling on signing him long term is worth one or even two No. 1 picks. 

A No. 1 overall pick in a loaded draft like the one projected for ’17 comes along once in a lifetime for a team poised to win a title. Ainge is asking himself and his staff right now whether that No. 1 is worth the gamble that Westbrook will sign a max deal in Boston. Right now, the odds for a trade are no better than 50-50, and much less that Westbrook would concede heading to free agency next summer. That’s the reality of the situation. 

The question is a little clearer with regard to Griffin. 

He has two years left (including an early termination clause for 17-18) on his 5-year, $94.5 million deal. He is still considered one of the three best pure scoring forwards in the league and would be a big upgrade alongside Al Horford, who signed his four-year, $114 million deal on July 8. 

The Griffin trade possibility has been shunned by coach and general manager Doc Rivers each and every time it’s been brought up in the last eight months. The difference between the Clippers and Thunder is that Rivers is more desperate to win now with 31-year-old Chris Paul. With that in mind, he’s likely to demand a veteran player like a Rudy Gay from the Kings. He’d likely also want something from the Celtics in terms of a player who can help him immediately, a player like Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder or Isaiah Thomas.  The Kings are really the ones who would want Boston’s No. 1 next year and perhaps another No. 1 in 2018 to consummate the deal. 

The big issue with Griffin has been his health in the last two seasons, something confirmed by the Herald’s Steve Bulpett in a discussion with a Western Conference executive. 

Bulpett also noted how close the Celtics came to acquiring Jimmy Butler on draft night and why Jahlil Okafor is likely the best hope for Ainge to pull off a significant deal. 

With Griffin and Horford in the front court and some combination of Bradley, Thomas or Smart in the backcourt, the Celtics would be perfectly positioned. And if Ainge is able to acquire Griffin, it would seem to make Crowder the most logical piece that is heading out. 

The speculation on Kevin Love continues but is not nearly as intense after the Cavaliers won the title. 

As one league source indicated this week, some of Celtics biggest deals have always been with “friends of the program” and it should not be a surprise if they pull any big deal off. In the case of Oklahoma City, the Celtics have the history from the 2007 draft. Doc Rivers’ tie to the Celtics goes without saying. 

Summer fun League: There was lots to chew on following the Celtics’ Summer League finale Friday night in Las Vegas. The Celtics won just one of five games in Las Vegas after sweeping all three in Utah. The Celtics finished up Friday with an 80-75 loss to the Trail Blazers in Las Vegas but there was much more to consider than just the final scores. 

Terry Rozier stepped up and made a case to Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens that he’s worthy of consideration in the bench rotation next year. He led all Celtics in scoring in his six games, averaging 20 points in 29 minutes per game. His shooting touch, something Brad Stevens said would eventually shine because of his work ethic in practice, was on full display. 

He was 36-of-68 from the field (52.9 percent). He made 7-of-16 from 3-point range (43.8 percent). 

“He’s been our best player from the first day of training camp this summer,” Ainge told the ESPN broadcast team during Wednesday’s game against Cleveland. “He’s been terrific for us. He was a good player last year in training camp, just didn’t get a lot of opportunities because of our depth at guard. I think he’s winning a spot.”

[Click here for the complete statistical rundown of every Celtics player in the 2016 Summer League.] 

What was significant about Rozier’s continued progress in the Summer League was that it was a continuation of what he showed in the playoffs. In his rookie year, Stevens had no hesitation putting Rozier into big moments, like when Isaiah Thomas was ice cold in the first half against Golden State on April 1. And when Avery Bradley went down with a hamstring injury in Game 1 against the Hawks, it was Rozier who stepped up and played some big minutes. With the stakes much lower in Utah and Vegas, he showed that he’s ready to take that next step. 

Abdel Nader was a pleasant surprise during an impressive week in Vegas. In five games, the 6-foot-6 forward from Iowa State (via Alexandria, Egypt) averaged 12.8 points in 20 minutes, showing an ability to get to the rim and a shooting touch, making 25-of-52 from the floor (48.1 percent). 

He also impressed acting coach Jamie Young so much in the next-to-last game against the Cavs on Wednesday that Young drew up the final play for him. One league source on hand in Vegas closely watching the Celtics said, “Nader is the most consistent hard worker on this roster. Has been able to almost be a glue guy by doing numerous things. Rebounding, hustling and hitting open shots.”

Another Young left Vegas wondering about his future, at least with the Celtics. 

James Young played just six minutes in his Summer League finale Wednesday against the Cavaliers due mostly to a sore knee. Young was the only player on the roster taking part in his third Summer League and he didn’t show much. He averaged just 7.5 points in six games. The best bright spot was his shooting from beyond the arc, as he made 9-of-17 from 3-point range (52.9 percent), including 4-for-5 in a 17-point effort against Utah on July 5. 

The play of Jaylen Brown impressed over the final three games, as the rookie out of Cal found a groove that was missing in his debut in Utah the week before. 

Brown, the team’s No. 1 pick in June, finished strong, averaging 16 points in his five Summer League games. He missed the last two in Utah because of a scary-looking right knee injury (which turned out fortunately just to be a bone bruise). Brown finished 22-of-67 from the field (32.8 percent). 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Danny Ainge is still hungry to make a deal. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations wants to add one more big piece. But the price tag has been too rich. 

Feb 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) shoots over Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9)  during second half at Amway Center. Orlando Magic defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 130-116. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

76ers center Jahlil Okafor (8) could still be a big trade target for the Celtics. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge is still hungry to make a deal. 

According to the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations wants to add one more big piece. But the price tag 

“Another sticking point in that and in other deals Boston is talking about is that pick from the Nets next year (2017 pick swap). Danny will make it available in the right situation, but he’s not going to give it up with core players, too,” a league source told Bulpett. “That’s going to be a good draft, and that’s going to be a high pick.

“Everyone’s been talking about how Danny’s trying to make a killing out here, but when it comes to certain pieces you have, I get that you have to be careful. You can give up equal assets, but you don’t want to take away your best opportunities to keep things going down the line.”

Bulpett also reports there have been no recent discussions on two rumored high-profile players Russell Westbrook or Blake Griffin. But an NBA general manager told Bulpett that Philadelphia big man Jahlil Okafor is a different matter. 

“Oh, Danny definitely wants to do something,” the GM told Bulpett. “We’ve got nothing that really works with Boston, but I bet something happens there. I still wouldn’t be surprised if something happened there [with Okafor].”

The Celtics were reportedly close on Jimmy Butler on draft night as they held the No. 3 pick in the draft. The Bulls made no secret about their desire to trade up and grab Providence College point guard Kris Dunn. But, according to Bulpett, the Bulls also wanted two players, while the C’s only were willing to deal one.

Now with the Bulls inking Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, the Bulls seem committed to keeping Butler and making a run next season. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics concluded their Summer League play on a down note Friday night in Las Vegas, falling to the Trail Blazers, 80-75, at Cox Pavilion. 

Jaylen Brown speaks to reporters in Waltham for the first time. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Jaylen Brown finished up his first summer with the Celtics on Friday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Celtics concluded their Summer League play on a down note Friday night in Las Vegas, falling to the Trail Blazers, 80-75, at Cox Pavilion. 

Rookie Jaylen Brown had a team-high 21 points for the Celtics but made just 7-of-21 shots from the field. Brown had a highlight-reel caliber dunk in the first half and again showed the ability to get to the rim with authority, something he’s been flashing this week with the Celtics. 

Brown struggled again from 3-point range, making just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. He was just 5-for-22 from long range in six Summer League games.

Iowa State product Abel Nader continued his impressive week. The Celtics’ final pick (No. 58 overall) added 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. 

With the game knotted at 70-70 with under three minutes left, the Blazers were able to outperform the Celtics down the stretch. The key was a 9-2 Portland run. The Celtics couldn’t execute consistently against Portland’s defense all night, committing 20 turnovers (12 in the first half) and shooting just 22.7 percent from beyond the arc.

Guerschon Yabusele and Jordan Mickey (12 points apiece) were the other two players in double figures for the Celtics, who finished the Vegas portion of their play at 1-4. This was in stark contrast to Utah the week before when the Celtics won all three games. 

Click here for a full box score

Pat Connaughton, the pride of St. John’s Prep (Danvers), led all scorers for the Blazers with 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Baylor product Pierre Jackson added 20 for Portland.  

Friday marked the last action for the Celtics until they gather together for training camp in late September. 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Another day, another turn of the NBA rumor mill linking a superstar to the Celtics.

This time it’s not Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, but Clippers forward Blake Griffin.

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin

Another day, another turn of the NBA rumor mill linking a superstar to the Celtics.

This time it’s not Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, but Clippers forward Blake Griffin.

According to Sporting News NBA insider Sean Deveney, the Celtics are working with the Clippers and Kings on a three-way deal that would bring Griffin to Boston and send guard Rudy Gay to L.A. The Celtics would also include picks in the deal, but according to Deveney, they’re reluctant to part with either of their upcoming Nets selections, since both could be high in the lottery, and the 2017 draft is considered especially deep.

Griffin, 27, was the first overall pick in the 2009 draft out of Oklahoma. He’s a five-time All-Star coming off a lost season due to suspension, as well as a broken hand after punching an equipment manager. Limited to 35 games, he averaged 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds a game.

Griffin, for what it’s worth, also penned a short goodbye to Tim Duncan, aka “the Big Fundamental,” on the Players’ Tribune.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier both made big statements in Boston’s penultimate Summer League game Thursday in Las Vegas.

Brown broke out offensively with 25 points but showed he still has a lot to learn about the fine details of crunch time in the NBA while Terry Rozier added 24 in a 98-94 loss to the Cavaliers in a first-round playoff game at Cox Pavilion.

Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier both made big statements in Boston’s penultimate Summer League game Thursday in Las Vegas.

Brown broke out offensively with 25 points but showed he still has a lot to learn about the fine details of crunch time in the NBA while Terry Rozier added 24 in a 98-94 loss to the Cavaliers in a first-round playoff game at Cox Pavilion.

The loss dropped Boston to 1-3 in Vegas after they won all three games in Utah. They will not advance to the elimination round of the Samsung NBA Summer League and conclude their game action Friday with a 6 p.m. ET game against the Trail Blazers.

Wednesday’s game was a back-and-forth affair, with the Celtics taking a one-point lead on a Rozier finger roll with 1:53 left.

The Cavaliers grabbed a pair of offensive rebounds in consecutive possessions to help them take the lead for good, 94-91, with 53.3 seconds remaining.

“We had them stopped the last two minutes there where we had a chance to get the ball, and they got offensive rebounds there,” Jamie Young, Boston’s Vegas head coach, told reporters after the game.

After an empty possession and the Celtics still only down three, Brown made a mental mistake when he intentionally fouled with 24 seconds left. Brown apparently thought the Celtics needed to stop the clock. But there was an eight-second time differential between the shot clock and the game clock in a one-possession game.

Cleveland’s Kay Felder sank two free throws to put Cleveland on top 96-91. Brown did convert a layup through traffic and was fouled, cutting the lead back to two with 20.4 seconds left. Boston was unable to force a turnover as the Cavs advanced the ball, and it was then forced to foul Jordan McCrae with 10.5 seconds left on the clock.

McCrae, with a game-high 32, converted both free throws to put Cleveland on top 98-94. Boston had two opportunities to make 3-pointers during the final 10 seconds, but Abdel Nader missed both attempts as time expired.

Some highlights from Wednesday for the Celtics:

– Brown led the Celtics with 25 points and nine rebounds. He shot 8-for-11 from the line, the third time in his five Summer League games during which he attempted at least 11 free throws.

– Rozier also continued to impress. He finished with 24 points, going 7-for-10 from the field while converting all nine free throw attempts.

– Nader, the Iowa State product, came off of Boston’s bench to score 13 points while adding five rebounds. Coach Young showed so much confidence in Nader that he drew up the last play for him.

“Just get out and play together and play the game the right way,” Brown told Celtics.com of Friday’s upcoming game. “At the end of the day, these are our teammates. We try to get better one step at a time.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

It’s looking more and more like the Oklahoma City Thunder will have to trade point guard Russell Westbrook before they lose him in free agency.