Jeff Goodman

Jeff Goodman

ESPN basketball analyst Jeff Goodman checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to discuss LeBron James‘ decision to opt out of his contract with the Heat and become a free agent, and if there is any chance James might end up in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The question on people’s minds is why James — who still could re-sign with Miami — would opt out of his deal with a team that has reached four straight NBA Finals (winning two).

“Because he’s LeBron. He’s LeBron and he’s got people around him that just don’t know how to deal with these things, as proven by a few years ago,” Goodman said. “Whether it’s Rich Paul, his agent, or Nike, or whoever’s telling him to do these things …

“I agree, I think he’s probably gone. Because you don’t make this move publicly and put yourself out there unless you’re ready to leave. Miami’s made it clear they obviously want him. They’ll do whatever it takes to keep him. Again, it comes back to it’s a dumb move to put yourself out there like this. You could be the hero by just saying, ‘Hey, listen, I’m not opting out, I’m just coming back, I want to be in Miami.’

“But you guys are right, listen, if he’s opting out at this point it certainly means he’d rather be elsewhere. He’s got questions with Miami — which he should have, to be honest, in some regards. Because Dwyane Wade looked like the broken-down Dwyane Wade. They don’t have enough help around him right now, with Wade at the level he’s at. When Wade was a top-15 player in the league you could see them continue to win titles. But how are they going to do it now if Wade — who I think will probably finish his career in Miami — sticks around. You don’t have a lot of flexibility.”

The move comes one day after Carmelo Anthony opted out his deal with the Knicks, increasing speculation that the pair might end up on the same team.

“That’s going to be the million-dollar question. I think it’s too early to tell right now,” Goodman said. “I’ve heard for two years how he’s going to go back to Cleveland. I thought it would be his last stop; I thought he’d go to Cleveland on the next contract, when he’s 34 years old and wants to kind of finish it up in Cleveland and maybe kind of matures and understands.

“I think he’s in it to win more titles, and I’m not sure Cleveland, while they have certainly more talent than they did the last time around with him, it’s still a dysfunctional unit right now. Kyrie Irving is not the leader. Now, could he be with LeBron in the locker room? Sure. Dion Waiters is a concern in that locker room. Yes, they have the No. 1 pick, and Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins would look darn good playing with LeBron. Anybody looks good playing with LeBron, let’s face it.

“I don’t know where he ends up. The Lakers is intriguing. Imagine LeBron a couple of years with Kobe [Bryant]. And then you’re going to add one more piece. Let’s be honest, if you’ve got LeBron and Kobe, they’re going to attract a third guy there. So the Lakers would scare me a little bit in terms of a place that I think he could end up. Because it’s desirable, and the market, certainly going to L.A. and teaming up with Kobe, that would be kind of fun — or maybe not so much fun for other teams to watch.”

Goodman cautioned Celtics fans not to get excited about the possibility of James landing in Boston.

“I just can’t see this in any way possible, shape or form happening where LeBron James is ever wearing a Celtics uniform at this point in time,” Goodman said. “They don’t have enough to lure him. And that’s the issue right now. You’ve got to lure him here. He’s been in the Miami for the last few years. Why would he want to come to Boston?

“And again, I’ll say it and I’ll say it again, and I know people hate me for saying it, but not a lot of guys want to play with [Rajon] Rondo. They’re not waiting in line to play with Rondo. I know it sounds crazy, because here’s a guy who averages 10 assists a game. But he’s also a guy who doesn’t have great relationships with the players in the league. And I know this because I talk to all these players.”

Blog Author: 
WEEI

With Celtics fans focused on the fantasy of acquiring players like Kevin Love and Carmelo Anthony, it’€™s easy to forget the plentiful attractive options in the 2014 NBA draft. With two first-round selections and the versatility to move or add more picks, fans should still be excited about the chance of building through the draft.

That’€™s one reason I published my 2014 NBA Draft Guide as a means of putting all of my research into one convenient 115-page package for fans and readers to download. This article includes a more in-depth look at what’€™s included for each club in the “€œteam needs”€ section of the book, but watch the video above to find out what else is included in the guide, which can be downloaded by clicking here.

The Celtics roster needs a lot of work this summer, but the three biggest draft needs are a rim protector, a sharpshooter and a go-to scorer. Below are five options for each need that could be addressed with either the No. 6 or 17 pick. Click on each player’s name to discover a more complete draft profile.

NO. 6 PICK: RIM PROTECTORS

Joel Embiid FR C Kansas
– Aaron Gordon FR F Arizona

Danny Ainge has said countless times that rim protection is a primary need this offseason, and fortunately the draft offers a handful of options. Embiid’s injury could mean that arguably the best prospect in the draft falls into their lap. While this could be a gift from the basketball gods or a curse, it’€™ll be difficult to pass on Embiid because of his presence as a low-post scorer, top-notch defender and even potentially as a 3-point shooter.

Perhaps a safer choice at six is Gordon, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Arizona. Even though he isn’€™t a “rim protector”€ in the traditional sense, his outstanding perimeter defense, keen off-ball rotations and ability to switch on the pick-and-roll brings value in preventing ball-handlers from penetrating the lane in the first place.

NO. 17 PICK: RIM PROTECTORS

– Clint Capela F/C France
– Jusuf Nurkic C Bosnia
– Walter Tavares C Cape Verdean

The late first round presents three intriguing international prospect options. Nurkic is raw and chubby, but has a body similar to a young Marc Gasol. He’€™s a big-bodied center with incredibly quick feet for his size, giving him the potential to step out and hedge on the pick-and-roll. Capela is a bouncy shot blocker and rebounder, but his basketball IQ must improve drastically before he can play in the NBA. As raw as they are, Tavares takes the cake. If Boston adds a late first-rounder, he’€™d be an ideal selection based on his upside. At 7-foot-3 with a reported 92.5-inch wingspan and 118-inch standing reach, he’€™d immediately become one of the largest players in the entire league.

NO. 6 PICK: SHARPSHOOTERS

– Doug McDermott SR F Creighton
 Nik Stauskas SO G Michigan

Brad Stevens‘€™ motion offense requires pristine 3-point shooting, yet the Celtics ranked 27th in the NBA last year at 33.3 percent. If the fix isn’€™t coming from within, there are loads of options in this year’€™s crop of prospects, and the two most prominent choices are projected lottery picks McDermott and Stauskas.

McDermott is the NCAA‘€™s fifth all-time leading scorer with 3,150 points, and more than 25 percent of them came from beyond the arc. With absolutely perfect mechanics and savvy movement off-ball, McDermott would be a perfect fit in Stevens’€™ offense. The same can be said for Stauskas, who lit it up at 44.2 percent from 3 last season. And he’€™s not just a sharpshooter, also bringing intriguing ball-handling skills as a potential combo guard.

NO. 17 PICK: SHARPSHOOTERS

P.J. Hairston SG Texas Legends
 Rodney Hood SO F Duke
– Shabazz Napier SR G UConn

Hairston and Hood provide a pair of wing options. Hairston played last season in the D-League, shooting 35.8 percent from 3. He’€™s excellent shooting off the dribble or the catch, and probably would’€™ve had a much higher percentage had his shot selection been better. Hood played second fiddle to teammate Jabari Parker, but still showed skills as a pure shooter with an excellent high release. If Celtics fans get their wish, Napier will be in green€ next year. The UConn product ended his collegiate career as a champion, shooting a career high 40.5 percent from 3. He improved each year despite shouldering a heavier load on offense, a sign that he has yet to plateau.

NO. 6 PICK: GO-TO SCORER

– Jabari Parker FR F Duke
– Dante Exum G Australia
– Marcus Smart PG Oklahoma State

It’€™s unfortunate that Ainge probably won’€™t get a chance to select Parker unless he trades up, but you never know what can happen on draft night (see: Embiid, Joel), which is why he’€™s still listed as a possibility. Parker would be the ideal choice, as he’ll almost certainly be a quality scorer in the NBA. With skills that compare to Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce, he could very well reach that level.

Besides Parker, nearly every other potential go-to scorer in this year’€™s draft needs work on his perimeter jumper. Exum has the quickest first step in the draft and exceptional ball-handling ability for his age, but will need to improve his technique if he wants to reach his potential. Smart could also be another option, since he’€™s an absolute bulldog with the ball and gets to the rim at will. If he fixes his mechanics, he could very well be a lethal threat on offense.

NO. 17 PICK: GO-TO SCORER

– Dario Saric F Croatia
– T.J. Warren SO F N.C. State 

According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, Saric agreed to a three-year deal with Turkish team Anadolu Efes that would prevent him from joining an NBA roster for at least two seasons, meaning he could drop to the Celtics at 17. Saric’s playmaking ability out of the pick-and-roll could eventually bring more than scoring, but his 31.8 percent shooting from 3 must also improve drastically over the next couple years.

Likewise, Warren is one of the few potential go-to scorers who could be available in the middle of the first round. He’€™s a magician with the ball and can score anywhere within 15 feet, but his range is limited. In order to reach his full potential, Warren needs a reliable 3-point shot.

(Kevin O’€™Connor also covers the Celtics for SB Nation and can be reached on Twitter @KevinOConnorNBA. His 2014 NBA Draft Guide is available for download here.)

Blog Author: 
Kevin O'Connor

With the draft now just three days away and the Summer of (Kevin) Love in full bloom, what’s the latest with the Celtics? Join WEEI.com’s Ben Rohrbach at noon on Monday to find out.

Live Blog Celtics pre-draft chat with WEEI.com’s Ben Rohrbach
 

Blog Author: 
WEEI

Celtics assistant coach Ron Adams will return closer to his home in California, accepting a similar position with the Warriors, according to The Boston Globe.

Ron Adams

Ron Adams

Celtics assistant coach Ron Adams will return closer to his home in California, accepting a similar position with the Warriors, according to The Boston Globe.

The 20-year NBA veteran served as the lead assistant in Brad Stevens‘ first season on the C’s bench, bringing much needed experience to a fledgling staff.

“I am very happy for Ron for him to have this opportunity to coach in his home-state,” Stevens said in a statement to the media. “We all wish Ron nothing but the best, and appreciate all that he did during his year in Boston.”

After spending the 1970s and ’80s on college benches at Fresno Pacific, Fresno State, UC Santa Barbara and UNLV, Adams began his NBA coaching career as a Spurs assistant in 1992. He’s since held the same position for the 76ers, Bucks, Bulls and Thunder. Now, he’ll assist Steve Kerr in his first coaching stint.

Stevens must now fill the vacant position held by Adams. Jay Larranaga is the most likely in-house candidate, but the C’s may want to find another experienced mind to lead assistants Jamie Young, Micah Shrewsbury and Walter McCarty.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Let’€™s not forget Danny Ainge’€™s history. He loves to trade away his lottery picks.

Everyone remembers 2007, when Ainge notoriously acquired Ray Allen from Seattle, which in turn brought Kevin Garnett to Boston. The Celtics traded away the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green) along with Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak in return for Allen, as well as the No. 35 pick (Glen Davis). It really goes without saying, but that trade played an enormous role in the 2008 championship banner that now hangs in the TD Garden.

No one remembers 2006, when Ainge inexplicably gave away the No. 7 pick (Randy Foye) for minimal value. The pick was shipped to Portland along with Raef LaFrentz and Dan Dickau in exchange for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a 2008 second-round pick. Foye was then swapped for Brandon Roy, who made three All-Star teams before a knee injury derailed his career. Who’€™s to say Roy wouldn’€™t have remained healthy in Boston, though?

Telfair and Ratliff did happen to be involved in the Garnett deal a year later, but there’€™s no way anyone can argue that was part of Ainge’€™s master plan. Any other average point guard and expiring contract would have filled in just fine in Minnesota’€™s eyes.

At the time, the word was that Ainge favored Telfair over other guards in the 2006 draft. By doing so, he passed on the likes of Rudy Gay, Kyle Lowry and Roy (who the pick could have been traded for). In the end, the move didn’€™t hurt the Celtics at all, but at the time it was very controversial. 2014 is a much stronger draft class than 2006, but the lesson here, is to keep in mind that Ainge has no problem dealing away a lottery pick in a questionable move.

Fortunately, for Celtics’€™ fans, there is another lesson. On the whole, Ainge is fantastic in the draft.

Let’€™s stay with the 2006 draft. One of the prospects Ainge was considering with the No. 7 pick, before trading it away, was Rajon Rondo. As we know, Ainge later purchased the No. 21 pick from the Suns and used it to select him anyway.

Today, Rondo is arguably the best player in his draft class. LaMarcus Aldridge (the No. 2 pick) probably believes otherwise, but either way, it’€™s one of the two. Which means Ainge snagged a top-two player in his draft class with the 21st overall pick. Impressive.

The lesson? Well, who knows . . . maybe the No. 17 pick in the 2014 draft could turn out to be an even better player than the No. 6 pick. Ainge has done it before.

Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

[id poll=41]

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

Now we know.

In 2007, when the Celtics finished 24-58, they had a theoretical chance to finish first in the NBA draft lottery and choose between either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden.

Austin Ainge says his dad was prepared to take Kevin Durant over Greg Oden in 2007. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Austin Ainge says his dad was prepared to take Kevin Durant over Greg Oden in 2007. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Now we know.

In 2007, when the Celtics finished 24-58, they had a theoretical chance to finish first in the NBA draft lottery and choose between either Kevin Durant or Greg Oden.

On Saturday, as the Celtics continued to work out players for the 2014 NBA draft, Celtics director of player of personnel Austin Ainge announced what his father Danny would’ve done.

“€œI personally was not working here. But I was in college and I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant. I did have some inside information there,” Ainge said.

Of course, that became moot when the Celtics wound up with only the fifth pick of the draft class. Everything turned OK when Danny Ainge convinced Minnesota’s GM and good friend Kevin McHale to trade him Kevin Garnett for Al Jefferson before drafting Jeff Green at No. 5 and then swung a deal that netted Ray Allen. Oden was eventually chosen No. 1 overall by Portland while Durant was taken by the then-Seattle SuperSonics. Oden has been plagued by various injuries, including two bad knees and microfracture surgery. Oden played this season for the Heat.

Durant is the reigning NBA MVP, four-time scoring champ and led his team to the NBA finals in 2012.

Why is this relevant now?

The Celtics might get a chance to take another injury-riddled big man at No. 6 this year after it was revealed this week that Joel Embiid, another highly-touted center, has a stress fracture in his right foot. Throw in concerns about his back and those are serious medical red flags.

“€œProbably best not to share all of that, but I think we all want to know exactly what it is,”€ Ainge said. “€œEven when you have a lot of information, sometimes it’€™s still just a best guess. I’€™m not sure what the conclusions will be by the doctors. I’€™m sure, as with Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger when we drafted them, the medical staffs all had different opinions for every team. It’€™s hard to predict.”

The Celtics have had a track record of taking players with an injury background, taking Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger in previous drafts.

“It’€™s case by case. There have been many, many guys we passed on,’€ Ainge said. ‘€œOur medical staff told us to pass on Greg Oden, our medical staff told us to pass on Brandon Roy. Brandon ended up having some very good years, and that may or may not have been the right decision. It ended up costing them a lot of money in the end but he did give them a few great years ‘€“ four or five, I think, maybe six. So there’€™s two we’€™ve taken the chance on. There have been many others that we’€™ve not decided to (take a) chance on.”

Before picking Bradley, the Celtics were able to examine him and determine the extent of his ankle injury.

‘€œWith Jared, we weren’€™t (able to look at him),’€ Ainge said. ‘€œWe were just emailed and sent things. So it’€™s different. You just do the best you can.’€

Ainge acknowledged that taking Embiid would be a risk, given what is known so far.

“€œFoot and back, those are not good body parts to injure,” Ainge said. “We try to focus on the long-term health more than the short-term when you’re dealing with draft picks,” he added. “Free agency, it might be a little different. But when you’re drafting kids that are 19, 20, 21, it’s usually best to think: ‘Two years, five years down the road, will it be a concern?’ Those are the ones we usually try to avoid.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

ESPN basketball reporter Jeff Goodman joined Middays with MFB to talk about the NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the MFB udio on demand page.

ESPN basketball reporter Jeff Goodman joined Middays with MFB to talk about the NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the MFB udio on demand page.

Andrew Wiggins (22) and Joel Embiid (21) are holding firm at the top two spots in NBA draft. (AP)

Joel Embiid (right, with Kansas teammate Andrew Wiggins) is likely to see his stock slip due to his foot injury. (AP)

Goodman reported Thursday that Kansas center Joel Embiid suffered a stress fracture in his foot, an injury that could drop him from the top three to anywhere in the top 10 in next Thursday’s draft. Embiid could be available to the Celtics at No. 6, but Goodman said he wouldn’t be surprised if the C’s passed him up.

“I don’t know if Boston takes him if he slips to No. 6,” Goodman said. “He’s got the back issues, which is a concern, and now he’s got the foot issue that could put him on the shelf for the entire season this year. It would be tough for teams to take a shot on him because frankly if you’re a GM and you do that you get crucified if this guy isn’t able to play and be healthy throughout the early part of his NBA career.”

Added Goodman: “This is a big guy who weighed in at 270 pounds last I was told at a workout. A foot injury is significant. Listen, Yao Ming‘s career ended with a foot injury, a similar injury, and big guys are troublesome. In conjunction with the back issues, which is something that’s going to need to be certainly watched throughout his career, I just think it’s too much in a draft that is pretty good at the top.”

Goodman said if he were Celtics general manager Danny Ainge he would not take his chances with Embiid given his injury risk and the strength of the draft.

“If No. 6 were last year I would probably do it,” Goodman said. “No. 6 this year is going to be a good player. Not a franchise player, but if you evaluate correctly, the No. 6 pick could be a good No. 2 guy on your team. I think you take that and run with it if you’re confident in that player.”

While the Celtics’ preference appears to be to trade their No. 6 pick in order to acquire Kevin Love, Goodman said he thinks the Celtics will draft either Julius Randle, who he said draws comparisons to Zach Randolph, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, who he compared to Shawn Marion and Kawhi Leonard, or Marcus Smart, who he said could open up the possibility of the Celtics trading Rajon Rondo.

“Nobody wants Plan B because Plan A worked last time around with trading for Ray Allen and then getting [Kevin Garnett] and then you win a title,” Goodman said. “But the stars aligned with that one. I’m not sure they’re going to align with Kevin Love. I think he’s more likely to go west than east. He’s a Portland, Oregon, native; he likes LA; he wants to go to a team that can compete right away for the playoffs, which I think the Celtics are still a ways away from that.”

Goodman said the Celtics are more likely to draft a wing player at No. 17.

“I like T.J. Warren, I like P.J. Hairston, who’s a great great shooter,” Goodman said. “There’ll be wings there. That’s where you want to take a wing is at 17.”

Blog Author: 
Nick Canelas