With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we continue our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: Small forwards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.

The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.

With Green, Wallace, Johnson and Young all under their control for at least the next two seasons, the Celtics seem locked into the position at first glance. Upon closer look, Ainge will surely shop the two years and $18.4 million left on Green’s contract if the youth movement continues, Wallace could be jettisoned, too, Johnson’s contract isn’t guaranteed and Young is just 18 years old. This year’s free agent small forward crop is as good as the shooting guard list is bad, so don’t be surprised if the C’s are linked to every name out there except LeBron James.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.

THE JEFF GREENS

Green at his best can start for a playoff team, as he’s proved throughout his career, but Green isn’t always at his best. Still, $9.2 million is the going rate for an athletic 6-foot-9 forward averaging 17  and five a game, so a trade suitor isn’t out of the question. If that’s the case, the C’s could be serious players on the free agent market.

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

RICH MAN: CARMELO ANTHONY

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,982 min, 27.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.2 spg, 56.1 TS%, 24.4 PER

Why? One of the game’s 10 best players, Anthony is a volume scorer who would benefit greatly from playing alongside a pass-first point guard like Rondo.

Why not? Not only would the C’s have to get creative in freeing cap space to offer Anthony a max contract, they’d also have to convince him to come to Boston.

COMMON MAN: CHANDLER PARSONS

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,783 min, 16.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 1.2 spg, 56.5 TS%, 15.9 PER

Why? Houston’s second-round pick in 2011, Parsons quickly established himself as a legit third option on the Rockets, but GM Daryl Morey’s own pursuit Melo might make him expendable.

Why not? If the Rockets can’t land Melo, LeBron or both, they’ll do their damnedest to keep Parsons. And if the 26-year-old hits the open market, plenty of other teams will come calling and drive up the price.

POOR MAN: GORDON HAYWARD

Status: Restricted

2013-14: 2,800 min, 16.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 spg, 52.0 TS%, 16.2 PER

Why? A poor man’s Melo, at least in this sense, is another man’s treasure. Considering Hayward’s relationship with Stevens, a Butler reunion seems too good to be true. The 24-year-old could be the steal of this free agent class.

Why not? The Jazz can still match any offer Hayward receives this summer, so Ainge would either have to give him an offer Utah CAN refuse or lessen the blow for GM Dennis Lindsey with an sign-and-trade offer.

HOMELESS MEN: Luol Deng (2,213 min, 16.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.9 apg, 1.0 spg, 51.7 TS%, 15.2 PER); Evan Turner (2,457 min, 14.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 49.8 TS%, 12.4 PER); Shawn Marion (2,409 min, 10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.2 spg, 53.7 TS%, 13.7 PER); Caron Butler (1,419 min, 10.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.5 apg, 51.2 TS%, 12.2 PER); Michael Beasley (831 min, 7.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 55.9 TS%, 16.8 PER).

THE GERALD WALLACES

Saddled with one of the NBA’s worst contracts, the Celtics can either cut Wallace and spread his $20 million cap hit over five seasons (stretch provision) or find another team willing to take on his salary as part of a larger package. Either way, they’d love to dump his deal, and here are a few less expensive options should they succeed.

RICH MAN: PAUL PIERCE

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,098 min, 13.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg, 59.5 TS%, 16.8 PER

Why? In addition to the sentimentality behind bringing back one of the franchise’s greatest players, Pierce can still play and would be invaluable in the locker room.

Why not? Given the news that Kevin Garnett plans to return to the Nets for the final year of his deal, it’s hard to imagine Pierce abandoning KG in Brooklyn.

COMMON MAN: TREVOR ARIZA

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,723 min, 14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 spg, 59.0 TS%, 15.8 PER

Why? Ariza is one of those guys whose seemingly been around forever and never ages. He’s 28 and had a career year for a Wizards team that made a surprising run to the conference semis.

Why not? After declining each year since signing a five-year, $34.0 million deal in 2009, Ariza returned to form in a contract season. That’s a red flag, especially when teams are bound to drive up his price again this summer.

POOR MAN: DANNY GRANGER

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 847 min, 8.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 50.2 TS%, 10.9 PER

Why? Granger has All-Star talent, as he proved in 2009, when he averaged 25.8 points on 58.4 percent true shooting. As recently as two years ago, he produced 18.7 points, which would have led the C’s last season.

Why not? Now past his 30th birthday, Granger hasn’t been able to stay on the floor for two seasons due to reoccurring issues with his left knee. In all likelihood, his days as an impact player are behind him.

HOMELESS MEN: Mike Miller (1,707 min, 7.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.6 apg, 61.9 TS%, 12.5 PER); Marvin Williams (1,674 min, 9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg, 54.0 TS%, 14.0 PER); C.J. Miles (984 min, 9.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 56.9 TS%, 16.0 PER); Al-Farouq Aminu (2,045 min, 7.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 51.6 TS%, 13.2 PER); P.J. Tucker (2,490 min, 9.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.7 apg, 1.4 spg, 54.0 TS%, 13.3 PER); Richard Jefferson (2,213 min, 10.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.6 apg, 57.3 TS%, 11.8 PER); Xavier Henry (908 min, 10.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg, 51.1 TS%, 12.3 PER); Wesley Johnson (2,240 min, 9.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.1 spg, 1.0 bpg, 52.2 TS%, 11.0 PER); Jordan Hamilton (1,019 min, 6.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 50.7 TS%, 12.7 PER).

THE CHRIS JOHNSONS

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be an upgrade over Johnson or any other available point guard at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.

Rasual Butler: 378 min, 2.7 ppg, 58.5 TS%, 12.2 PER
Dante Cunningham: 1,635 min, 6.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.0 apg, 47.4 TS%, 12.6 PER
Chris Douglas-Roberts: 1,016 min, 6.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 58.8 TS%, 12.2 PER
Francisco Garcia: 1,083 min, 5.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.1 apg, 52.1 TS%, 9.3 PER
Ryan Gomes: 34 min, 1.2 ppg, 37.5 TS%, 0.2 PER
Josh Howard (D-League): 708 min, 14.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 51.2 TS%, 15.3 PER
Robbie Hummel: 655 min, 3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 49.2 TS%, 9.6 PER
Stephen Jackson: 107 min, 1.7 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 27.0 TS%, 0.1 PER
Damion James: 50 min, 1.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 30.4 TS%, 4.1 PER
James Jones: 236 min, 4.9 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 66.6 TS%, 15.4 PER
Rashard Lewis: 971 min, 4.5 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 53.5 TS%, 10.7 PER
Cartier Martin: 870 min, 5.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 56.2 TS%, 11.0 PER
Darius Miller: 723 min, 4.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 55.0 TS%, 9.0 PER
Andres Nocioni (Europe): 1,411 min, 14.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 61.5 TS%, 19.3 PER
Brandon Rush: 418 min, 2.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 42.8 TS%, 4.1 PER
Chris Singleton: 250 min, 3.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 48.1 TS%, 8.8 PER
James Southerland: 30 min, 3.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 44.1 TS%, 11.8 PER
Adonis Thomas: 37 min, 2.3 ppg, 48.5 TS%, 7.3 PER
Anthony Tolliver: 1,298 min, 6.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 60.5 TS%, 11.0 PER
Hedo Turkoglu: 392 min, 3.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 49.2 TS%, 11.3 PER
Metta World Peace: 388 min, 4.8 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 46.9 TS%, 11.7 PER

There are a handful of scenarios that could improve the Celtics‘ lot at small forward, and if they can somehow rid themselves of Green and Wallace’s contracts while coming away with Hayward and Pierce in free agency, that would be one heck of an upgrade. LeBron and Melo are pipe dreams, but this scenario gives the Celtics their starting 3 for the foreseeable future and a veteran presence in the locker room who can help mold Young.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

As expected, the Celtics have extended a $3.58 million qualifying offer to guard Avery Bradley, according to The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn.

With free agency looming on July 1, the move was inevitable, allowing the Celtics  to match any offer Bradley receives on the market this summer.

During a press conference regarding first-round draft picks Marcus Smart and James Young, Ainge appeared confident the Celtics will bring back Bradley. Reports have indicated he could command between $7-9 million as a restricted free agent, and the limited crop of available shooting guards makes it more likely he could end up earning the higher end of that estimate.

After earning Second Team All-Defensive honors in 2012-13, Bradley made significant improvements offensively this past season, averaging 15 points and shooting 40 percent from 3-point range. However, the added offensive load left him off the All-Defensive roster, and he missed significant time for a second straight season due to injury. Still, losing Bradley would be a serious blow to the Celtics this summer. Still only 23 years old, he has All-Star potential and the work ethic to reach it.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we continue our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: Shooting guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.

See also2014 NBA free agent point guards available to Celtics

The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.

Given Bradley’s unrestricted free agency and potential to command as much as $9 million annually, the Celtics face a difficult decision with no reliable shooting guard on the roster and limited options to upgrade the position through free agency. Ainge sounded optimistic about the possibility of re-signing Bradley when discussing the potential of a Rondo-Smart-Bradley guard rotation after the draft, but he’ll still need to bolster that corps in the coming months.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.

THE AVERY BRADLEYS

Always known for his defense, Bradley took a step forward offensively, adding a reliable jump shot. His stock as a two-way player is still rising. Likewise, his quiet nature off the court and fierce competitiveness on it are pluses. Still, his injury history has to be a concern. Should Ainge consider his asking price too steep, few alternatives exist. 

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

RICH MAN: LANCE STEPHENSON

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,752 min, 13.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.6 apg, 56.4 TS%, 14.7 PER

Why? If the Celtics want agitators, Stephenson is their man. Anybody capable of dropping a triple-double and irritating LeBron James is worth a look in my book.

Why not? The Pacers want Stephenson back, so it will take an expensive offer to lure him away, and his baggage isn’t getting any lighter with a hefty salary.

COMMON MAN: NICK YOUNG

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,810 min, 17.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 56.4 TS%, 16.0 PER

Why? There are few, if any, things the Celtics need more than scoring, and Swaggy P brings that by the bucketload. Somehow, losing never seems to curb his confidence, and the C’s actually good use a bit of that swagger.

Why not? There aren’t a whole lot of TMZ cameras in Boston, so it might be hard to lure Young from the L.A. nightlife. Plus, his 18 shots per 36 minutes and absentminded defense aren’t exactly winning attributes.

POOR MAN: ALAN ANDERSON

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,773 min, 7.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 52.5 TS%, 9.5 PER

Why? The Smart pick seems to suggest Stevens is hoping the Celtics develop a toughness that wasn’t quite there last season, and Anderson’s mentality — particularly on the defensive end — seems to mesh well with that style. 

Why not? As much as the C’s need a veteran presence in the locker room, it’s hard to imagine them dedicating a roster spot to a 31-year-old journeyman shooting guard who can’t shoot during this rebuilding process.

HOMELESS MEN: Vince Carter (1,973 min, 11.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg, 53.9 TS%, 15.9 PER); Rodney Stuckey (1,950 min, 13.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, 51.6 TS%, 14.0 PER); Ray Allen (1,936 min, 9.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 apg, 59.0 TS%, 12.8 PER).

THE CHRIS JOHNSONS

A natural forward, the 24-year-old Johnson took the Celtics by storm for a few weeks. Admittedly, a little effort was all it took to capture their attention. Soon, though, his progression regressed to the mean upon signing a team-friendly deal that locked him up for short money should they exercise his option. If not, here are more backups.

Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks

RICH MAN: JODIE MEEKS

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,556 min, 15.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 60.1 TS%, 14.7 PER

Why? In his second season on the Lakers, Meeks, 26, emerged as the starting 2 guard in Kobe Bryant‘s absence, shooting 40 percent from 3-point range.

Why not? Outside of his scoring prowess on a weak Lakers roster, Meeks didn’t bring much to the table in the passing, rebounding and defensive departments.

COMMON MAN: THABO SEFOLOSHA

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,584 min, 6.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 spg, 51.7 TS%, 10.4 PER

Why? A starter on a Thunder squad that has won 50 games in each of the past four non-lockout seasons, the 30-year-old Sefolosha brings defense, grit and all the intangibles you’d want from a bench wing.

Why not? After two straight seasons of shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range, Sefolosha’s long-range shooting dipped to 31.6 this past winter, partially due to a calf strain that cost him 20 games.

POOR MAN: JIMMER FREDETTE

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 519 min, 5.6 ppg, 1.3 apg, 1.1 rpg, 57.8 TS%, 15.8 PER

Why? Ever since Fredette broke Ainge’s career scoring record at BYU, it seems the undersized shooting guard with a deadly long-distance stroke has been linked to the Celtics in one rumor after another.

Why not? Despite a career 40.1 3-point percentage, the same knocks against him coming out of college (size, defense) still follow Fredette, leading to his buyout two years removed from being drafted No. 8 overall. 

HOMELESS MEN: Anthony Morrow (1,426 min, 8.4 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 57.0 TS%, 13.9 PER); Ben Gordon (279 min, 5.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 42.2 TS%, 6.4 PER); Kent Bazemore (911 min, 6.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 51.5 TS%, 11.2 PER).

THE CHRIS BABBS

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be an upgrade over Babb or any other available shooting guard at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.

MarShon Brooks: 316 min, 4.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 55.1 TS%, 15.5 PER
Shannon Brown: 251 min, 2.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 41.9 TS%, 4.7 PER
Jared Cunningham: 80 min, 2.0 ppg, 46.4 TS%, 8.5 PER
Malcolm Delaney (Europe): 1,908 min, 12.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.3 rpg, 58.2 TS%, 17.2 PER
Andrew Goudelock (Europe): 1,236 min, 19.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.0 rpg, 59.6 TS%, 24.1 PER
Richard Hamilton (2012-13): 1,088 min, 9.8 ppg, 2.4 apg, 1.7 rpg, 48.1 TS%, 10.6 PER
Othyus Jeffers: 47 min, 1.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 58.0 TS%, 6.9 PER
Dahntay Jones: 1,016 min, 3.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 48.2 TS%, 6.4 PER
Keith Langford (Europe): 1,967 min, 17.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 61.8 TS%, 20.3 PER
E’€™Twaun Moore: 1,506 min, 6.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 51.3 TS%, 11.1 PER
Mickael Pietrus (2012-13): 386 min, 5.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 47.2 TS%, 6.0 PER
Garrett Temple: 638 min, 1.8 ppg, 1.0 apg, 43.1 TS%, 7.8 PER

If, as expected, Dwyane Wade opts into his $20.2 million deal this season, Bradley becomes the second-best 2 guard on the market. And since the Celtics have the right to match any offer for Bradley, it would be a lot easier to keep him than chase Stephenson’s services. The question is how much it’ll cost. While four years and $28 million seems like a fair deal for Bradley, don’t be surprised if another team drives that up to $8 or $9 million annually.

If Bradley squeezes an extra couple million out of the C’s, they might split minutes for Green, Wallace, Young and Johnson at shooting guard and small forward in order to avoid dedicating more dollars on the wing. Fredette could be an inexpensive addition, since he’s still just 25 and could be a nice fit as a role playing 3-point specialist.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach
Jackie Mac joins the show to discuss the Celtics 1st round pick, Marcus Smart, and what this means for the future of Rajon Rondo. The Miami Heat also traded to acquire UConn star Shabazz Napier, which could entice Lebron James to return.
Jackie Mac joins the show to discuss the Celtics 1st round pick, Marcus Smart, and what this means for the future of Rajon Rondo. The Miami Heat also traded to acquire UConn star Shabazz Napier, which could entice Lebron James to return.

[0:05:15] ... Golden State Chicago like think to turn its attention trying to get Carmelo Anthony to go there. So the Camelot they make it it's it's -- -- it's not completely dead but it's on life support ...
[0:05:50] ... players to come to them dirt free agency. Well I think the Miami Heat. Getting me Napier that was a player that LeBron wound but I just think LeBron going back there anyway. Sell that to ...
[0:06:33] ... in Ann McDermott. And they're they're positioning himself. The try to get Carmelo Anthony I think Chicago has the chance to be a really big winner here. Yes so that's that's what else think -- looking ...
[0:09:01] ... them right and if they -- and harass people have been -- James Jones the better players so we we understand happened. I -- like James Young pick and asked Youboty Avery Bradley. As you mentioned ...






Rebuilding is a four-letter word to Brad Stevens.

More to the point, it’s something the second-year coach of the Celtics doesn’t have time to consider. Let Danny Ainge be concerned about the semantics of “putting young pieces in place” or “restructuring the roster.” For Stevens, his focus is on the here and now and near-future.

Rebuilding is a four-letter word to Brad Stevens.

More to the point, it’s something the second-year coach of the Celtics doesn’t have time to consider. Let Danny Ainge be concerned about the semantics of “putting young pieces in place” or “restructuring the roster.” For Stevens, his focus is on the here and now and near-future.

He made that much perfectly clear when asked if adding 20-year-old Marcus Smart and 18-year-old James Young to the roster Thursday night meant that he was entering the second year of a rebuilding program.

“That’s going to have to be a question for all of you and maybe pose that question to management or pose that question to people who aren’t coaching,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, when you’re a coach and you’re in the midst of it, you’re trying to win every game and you’re trying to win the next game. You don’t look at anything as rebuilding. You look at it as the next opportunity. As long as you can prepare and strive and do your best, it’s hard for me to say that because I don’t want to sell our team short.”

Stevens is excited about this much — he’s getting two young talents that know how to create their own shot, something that was missing last season in the 25-win campaign.

“The only thing I would say that we were at least discussing coming into play with the second pick was perimeter scoring,” Stevens said, referring to the selection of Young at No. 17. “I guess the current roster construction you might say that played a role in that. But at the end of the day, we wanted to take the best players available, that we thought were the best players available for us.

“I feel a lot better standing here today than I did on July 4 last year, with how I feel heading into things, how much more comfortable I am understanding the schedule of the NBA, the way to get the most out of our team as we move forward, the way to get the most out of our individuals. We’ll have a lot of guys back that have been a part of this and understand how we want to do things. I think we’re adding two good workers. I think we’re adding two guys that will be hungry to help and I think that’s all a positive. Can I predict how many wins that creates? I can’t predict that. I think we’ll be a lot more prepared from the standpoint of the big picture, both on the court and in our preseason and everything else than I would’ve felt last year at this time.”

Here is more of Brad Stevens from Thursday night and his reaction to the addition of Marcus Smart and James Young:

“First of all, we’re very pleased we were able to get these two guys where we got them. When you looked at the draft, I had both of these guys in my Top 11. I think at the end of the day, you feel really good about that. That said, I look at it more from the big picture of there’s a whole group and these guys are now parts of that group and we’ve all got to move in one direction and I feel good that that’s happening. I’ve said over the last couple of weeks that our young guys are in there working, doing things the right way, doing things with great pace and doing things together and that’s a good thing moving forward.”

“James’ M-O is that he’s always been a scorer. To start with him, he’s a guy that shot it at 35 percent from three but 47 percent from two. He’s a shot that can shoot it deeper. He’s a got a stroke that’s just going to get better and better. He’s a young guy but we felt like he was a very, very undervalued scoring wing in this draft. Everybody in the room had him ranked a lot higher than 17th so we were surprised at 17th, and thrilled that he was available at 17th.

“Marcus is a guy that I think his shooting is much better than his percentages. He can still improve in that area but unlike a lot of shooters that struggle in college, depth is not going to be an issue with him. He’ll get good range on his shot. He’s got good arc on his shot. He’s got pretty good mechanics. He’s worked hard on it. In our last workout with him, he reeled off about four or five in a row in live competition from three, with the games on the line. So, shooting is something he will improve and get better at. Hey, the NBA is a transition for anybody but I think you can really work with both of those guys from that standpoint. I feel they are two guys that help make our team better.”

On Rajon Rondo and Marcus Smart playing together:

“I don’t think there’s any doubt they can play together. I think it would great for Marcus to have a guy like Rondo to look up to, to learn from. Not many guys get that opportunity, especially early on in the draft like this. Marcus is another guy I was thrilled he was there at six because he’s physically ready to play and he competes every single minute of every single day and that will do nothing but help your team, regardless of what position he’s playing at. I expect him to play some off the ball and some with the ball. But he’s a young guy. He’s going to be playing with a guy there that’s been in the league for a long time that can really help him learn about it. I think it’s great. I think it’ll be great for both of them.

“I haven’t talked to [Rondo]. We talked about him the other day when we were watching the workout together. We were just shooting the breeze more than we were necessarily evaluating players. Again, I think Rondo can play with a lot of different people. It’s kind of like what we’ve talked about in the past — if you can find guys that are tough, that are versatile defenders [that helps your team]. We think Marcus is a better shooter than he’s shot and we think that he gives you the ability the guard the 1, 2 and then sometimes the 3. You watch his games, he’s a guy that can switch a lot of screens because he’s a 230-pound guard. So, he gives you a lot of versatility on the wing for a guy that’s a little bit shorter, especially with his 6-9 wingspan.”

On impressions of Marcus Smart:

“First of all, I never really watched him his freshman year. So, when I started watching him was the summer basketball when he played with USA basketball and his entire year this year. Obviously, he had some ups and downs this year for a guy that his level of expectations. And at the same time, he’s come in here twice in the last three weeks and we’ve absolutely fallen in love with his leadership and work ethic and his spirit and the way he goes about things. So, I’d say as an organization that he decided to go back to school because he wouldn’t be on the Boston Celtics if he didn’t. We think he’s got a really high upside and he’s still a really young guy.

“I’ve always looked and tried to say, ‘If we have a primary ball-handler on the floor, two and three are pretty interchangeable with regard to actions, with regard to who they can guard, depending on who we’re playing. You just kind of mix and match that way. I think he can play some 2, I think he can play some 3 against certain teams. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there but he’s a player and anybody that’s a player that can put the ball on the floor and put the ball in the basket [is valuable]. We’ve talked about our struggles to score. He’s a guy that can create offense and create offense whether it’s versus a closeout or being defended on the perimeter.”

On whether Stevens will consider a three-guard backcourt to utilize Rondo, Smart and Avery Bradley:

“I think that before I commit to any number of guys, we’ve got other guys that are on contract, too. I see a highly-focused, highly-competitive, very supportive group of guards there. We’ll figure out who plays the best and then go from there.”

On the youth of both Smart and Young:

“Marcus isn’t much older. A lot of our guys aren’t much older. We’ve got a pretty young group when you factor in all the guys that are under contract for next year. It was never a factor in deciding whether to take him. We wanted to take the best players at each spot.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Danny Ainge was true to his word Thursday night – he decided to take the two picks he had in the first round and stay right where he was after all trade talks fell through.

As Ainge predicted 90 minutes before the draft began, there was no draft night drama for Boston. The Celtics selected powerful point guard Marcus Smart and super swingman James Young at Nos. 6 and 17 respectively in an effort to get younger and stronger at the same time.

“We’re very excited about the two guys that we drafted,” Ainge said. “Marcus Smart and James Young, we think they have a bright future. We can’t wait to get them started and get them ready for Summer League.”

Summer League begins Saturday, July 5 and runs for a full week in Orlando. “I just think they’re two guys that can be starting players in the NBA for years to come. I just don’t want to put too much pressure on them right away. We need to let these guys develop and sort of earn their stripes. I think they’re going to have very, very bright careers.”

Smart is a 6-foot-4 point guard that happens to weigh in at 230 pounds. Young is a 6-foot-7 swingman who weighs nearly 20 pounds less but showed in the NCAA title game against UConn that he can do what is an absolute must for a wing in today’s NBA – get to the basket and score. He led Kentucky with 20 points as an 18-year-old in the 60-54 loss to UConn.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Young was the second-most prolific freshman 3-point scorer in school history with 82 threes. He was named to the 2014 All-SEC second team and All-Freshman team. In 40 games (39 starts), he averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.4 minutes per game.

“They’re young players and very talented,” Ainge said. “Good size for their position, good length and good scoring for their positions. James played very good defense and he had to guard the different perimeter positions throughout his college freshman year. He’s very young. Marcus is a terrific defender and really defends the pick-and-roll and is a guy that goes downhill on pick-and-rolls, gets to the basket, absorbs contact, plays through contact, initiates contact.”

After being recruited as a sharp-shooting wing in high school, (earning McDonald’s All-American status in Rochester Hills, Mich.), Young saw his percentage drop to 40.7 percent for John Calipari in his only season at Kentucky.

“He was a good shooter all throughout his high school life,” Ainge said. “He didn’t shoot the ball as well this year as he has in the past but he shot the ball great in the NCAA tournament. We know he’s a good shooter. He’s got a good athletic body, good size, good length for a small forward and we think he’s a prototypical small forward.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we begin our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: Point guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.

The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.

While the Celtics still have an All-Star point guard on the roster, Rondo’s name will continue to be mentioned in trade talks for the remaining year on his deal. The addition of Smart combined with Phil Pressey‘s non-guaranteed contract gives Ainge inexpensive solutions behind Rondo. Should the C’s anticipate Rondo’s departure or envision a significant upgrade over Pressey, they could still chase any free agent floor general not named Kyle Lowry.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.

THE RAJON RONDOS

A four-time NBA All-Star at just 28 years old, Rondo has already helped steer the Celtics to an NBA title and could do so again with the right talent around him. Without that talent on the roster, though, Ainge could trade his captain, and the free agent market offers a number of options who could help fill the void left by his departure.

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe

RICH MAN: ERIC BLEDSOE

Status: Restricted

2013-14: 1,416 min, 17.7 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 57.8 TS%, 19.6 PER

Why? Ainge has eyed Bledsoe since 2013, when the Clippers nearly traded him and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett. In short, he’s a 24-year-old stud.

Why not? It’s hard to imagine the Suns letting a player of Bledsoe’s caliber walk, and even if he does leave Phoenix, word is he’ll be seeking a max contract offer.

COMMON MAN: ISAIAH THOMAS

Status: Restricted

2013-14: 2,497 min, 20.3 ppg, 6.3 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 spg, 57.4 TS%, 20.5 PER

Why? Like Bledsoe, Thomas has been the subject of trade rumors involving the Celtics (and Rondo in particular). Once the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft, he enjoyed a breakout statistical season during his contract year.

Why not? Much of his production resulted from playing in Sacramento, where defense hasn’t exactly been a priority and losses have mounted for a decade. It’s hard to imagine him averaging 15.2 shots for a winner.

POOR MAN: SHAUN LIVINGSTON

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,974 min, 8.3 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 55.1 TS%, 14.5 PER

Why? Ironically, after years spent recovering from surgeries, Livingston emerged as a starter for a playoff team following a series of injuries to his Brooklyn teammates. He could be an inexpensive stop-gap as Smart develops.

Why not? After suffering a devastating knee injury in his third NBA season, Livingston played more than 1,500 minutes for the first time since 2007. Even though he’s still just 28 years old, his best days are behind him.

HOMELESS MEN: Greivis Vasqeuz (1,779 min, 9.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.2 rpg, 53.7 TS%, 14.1 PER); Ramon Sessions (2,214 min, 12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.4 rpg, 53.9 TS%, 16.0 PER); Kirk Hinrich (2,116 min, 9.1 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.1 spg, 49.4 TS%, 10.8 PER); Mo Williams, restricted (1,834 min, 9.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.1 rpg, 50.7 TS%, 11.8 PER); Mario Chalmers (2,178 min, 11.8 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 56.7 TS%, 14.0 PER).

THE JERRYD BAYLESSES

Bayless, 25, became a stable force in a young locker room upon joining the Celtics in January, even if his production wasn’t so consistent. He plays both guard positions, and Ainge prefers versatility. While Bayless has publicly stated his fondness for Boston, this group might not be the worst backup point guard backup plan.

Patty Mills

Patty Mills

RICH MAN: PATTY MILLS

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,527 min, 10.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 58.8 TS%, 18.7 PER

Why? Good enough for Gregg Popovich, good enough for the C’s. Mills and his 42.5 3-point percentage this past season played a vital role in beating the Heat.

Why not? Following his NBA Finals success, it wouldn’t be surprising for a team to overpay Mills only to see him regress outside of the San Antonio system.

COMMON MAN: DARREN COLLISON

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,069 min, 11.4 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.4 rpg, 1.2 spg, 57.5 TS%, 16.2 PER

Why? While he hasn’t shown much progression since a fairly impressive rookie season, the 26-year-old has since put up consistent numbers and studied under some of the league’s best coaches as a backup.

Why not? Collison declined a $2.0 million player option this coming season, so his asking price may end up skying too high for a once promising point guard who has played on four teams in the past five years.

POOR MAN: SHELVIN MACK

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,490 min, 7.5 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.2 rpg, 51.0 TS%, 13.2 PER

Why? Mack helped Celtics coach Brad Stevens lead Butler to two consecutive NCAA championship games, and maybe — just maybe — the two former Bulldogs can recreate some of that magic in Boston.

Why not? In and out of the league since being drafted in the second round three years ago, Mack doesn’t do anything exceptionally well and hasn’t produced despite several opportunities on lottery teams.

HOMELESS MEN: Jordan Farmar (912 min, 10.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.5 rpg, 53.3 TS%, 15.0 PER); Jordan Crawford, restricted (1,859 min, 11.0 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.3 rpg, 51.6 TS%, 14.3 PER); Brian Roberts (1,667 min, 9.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.9 rpg, 52.9 TS%, 13.4 PER); Devin Harris (818 min, 7.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.1 rpg, 51.7 TS%, 14.6 PER); D.J. Augustin (1,939 min, 13.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1.8 rpg, 56.9 TS%, 16.2 PER); Steve Blake (1,498 min, 6.9 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.9 rpg, 50.8 TS%, 11.0 PER); Aaron Brooks (1,557 min, 9.0 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.9 rpg, 51.8 TS%, 12.5 PER).

THE PHIL PRESSEYS

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be an upgrade over Pressey or any other available point guard at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.

Luke Ridnour: 1,141 min, 5.0 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.6 rpg, 45.2 TS%, 9.0 PER
Beno Udrih: 643 min, 4.9 ppg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 rpg, 52.3 TS%, 12.7 PER
Sebastian Telfair (China): 1,270 min, 26.1 ppg, 6.0 apg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 57.5 TS%, 26.1 PER
Nando De Colo: 494 min, 3.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 52.6 TS%, 13.1 PER
Toney Douglas: 675 min, 4.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 49.3 TS%, 9.2 PER
Chauncey Billups (restricted): 309 min, 3.8 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.5 rpg, 42.7 TS%, 5.3 PER
Toure Murry: 373 min, 2.7 ppg, 1.0 apg, 47.9 TS%, 11.1 PER
Daniel Gibson (2012-13): 919 min, 5.4 ppg, 1.8 apg, 1.3 rpg, 47.5 TS%, 7.7 PER
Earl Watson: 161 min, 0.5 ppg, 1.2 apg, 47.0 TS%, 2.1 PER
Jamaal Tinsley: 110 min, 1.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 rpg, 22.5 TS%, 1.9 PER
Leandro Barbosa: 368 min, 7.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 50.6 TS%, 11.5 PER

How the Celtics handle the point guard position entirely depends on what becomes of Rondo this summer. As currently constituted, they don’t need another point guard on the roster. In fact, Rondo, Smart and Pressey might be the best combination of players at any position for this team. Given Rondo’s contract situation, however, it seems more likely the C’s will trade their captain, leaving two young projects to man the position.

Should a Rondo trade not include a point guard like Thomas in return, Ainge would need to find a stop-gap should Smart not immediately emerge as a legitimate starter or Pressey not progress beyond a facilitating competitor with little to no scoring ability. It’s hard to imagine the Celtics dedicating big money to Bledsoe when they already have a better player in Rondo more worthy of a max contract and a younger player in Smart under their control.

While Bayless remains an option as a young veteran presence in the locker room capable of both starting or backing up either guard position, the intriguing low-cost option is Mack. His familiarity with Stevens’ system could help bridge the transition to Smart, and in the end that’s the C’s ultimate goal for the point guard position this season.

 

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE