In a game where the Celtics struggled offensively, it was some unusual suspects who led the scoring for Boston.
Jordan Mickey carried the Celtics in their second game of the Las Vegas Summer League, totaling 18 points and six rebounds in an 87-74 loss to the Suns. The LSU product played in just his second Summer League game, but looked comfortable out on the court. He managed to convert on extra looks in the post in the fourth quarter to help Boston cut into the Suns lead. Mickey, 22, also excelled on the defensive end, stuffing Phoenix big man Marquese Chriss on a transition layup that riled up the crowd.
— Rookie Abdel Nader came off the bench to provide a spark for the Celtics, scoring 13 points and tying Mickey in rebounds with six. The 22-year-old showed a lot of promise scoring off of the dribble and created scoring opportunities for himself with ease. He has made smart decisions with the ball in his hands, and the No. 58 overall pick of this year’s draft should see an increase in minutes in the future.
— R.J. Hunter dropped 17 points in over 26 minutes, shooting 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. The most impressive part of Hunter’s game, however, was his tenacity. He got into a tangle-up with Suns star Devin Booker in the second quarter, and stepped up his aggressiveness until he was taken out of the game. The Georgia State product would eventually get a nice block on Booker off the dribble, highlighting the second-year guards hustle. He’ll need to fully utilize that tenacity if he wants to break into Brad Stevens’ rotation this season.
— For the second night in a row, No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown didn’t have it on the offensive end. The small forward finished Sunday’s game with five points on 0-of-6 shooting a day after going 3-of-13 in a loss to the Bulls on Saturday. He did continue to get to the free throw line, and had a well-timed block on Chriss early on in the game. But his natural aggression will only get him so far. He has struggled to create scoring opportunities throughout Summer League, and must figure out how to score besides getting to the charity stripe.
— Terry Rozier and James Young were given a night of rest, and their contribution’s to the offense was evident on Sunday. The Celtics missed Rozier’s playmaking and Young’s outside shooting, resulting in 35.2 percent shooting from the field and 18 turnovers.
“I think the biggest issue is we’ve had so much (change),” Young said. “We didn’t have a couple of guys in Utah, and now we have them, and now we don’t have a couple of other guys; we chose not to play some guys. So I think that has a lot to do with it.”
Duncan, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft, compiled a .710 winning percentage over his 19 seasons, the highest in any pro sport over that time, according to the Spurs, and just percentage points ahead of the Patriots (.704).
The Celtics had hoped to land Duncan in the ’97 lottery, but the ping-pong balls bounced the way of the Spurs and everything else is history.
Duncan finishes his career having averaged 19 points and 10.8 rebounds a game. The Spurs made the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons, and he’s the only player in history to start for champions in three different decades.
Larry Bird understands why Kevin Durant chose the Warriors. But back in his own playing days, the former Celtics great wouldn’t have considered joining forces with rival Magic Johnson.
Speaking on SiriusXM NBA radio, Bird said Durant didn’t do anything wrong by leaving Oklahoma City to join the rival Warriors, but it’s not a choice he would’ve made.
“I know back in the day, I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson,” Bird said. “I’d rather try to beat him. But these guys are different, and I understand a lot of it and it’s within the rules, so they can do whatever they do. I can remember years ago, we were fighting when I played for free agency, pure free agency, so there’d be more movement. But I could never imagine myself going and joining another team with great players, because I had great players and I was in a great situation.”
A case can be made that Durant had a great situation in OKC, with point guard Russell Westbrook, big man Steven Adams, and a roster that took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
Bird played with Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, among others. He won three titles and reached the Finals five times in his career.
Durant has reached the Finals once since entering the league in 2007.
Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)
It appears as though the Jared Sullinger era is drawing to a close in Boston.
The Celtics backtracked on the qualifying offer they made the 24-year-old big man, renouncing the offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. He’s now able to sign with any team. The decision by the Celtics was first reported by RealGM’s Keith Smith.
Taken No. 21 overall by the Celtics in the 2012 draft, the Sullinger era was a tumultuous one in Boston to say the least. At times, he was a valuable body in the low post who could occasionally shoot from the perimeter, and other times — this past postseason against the Hawks — was totally absent.
This season he averaged 10.3 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, with the latter being a career high for him.
At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Sullinger’s time in Boston was often characterized by his big frame, in which he was constantly overweight and out of shape and often possessed a poor, lazy attitude at multiple points, leading to him being benched.
Sullinger was originally offered a qualifying offer alongside Tyler Zeller on June 29, with Sullinger’s being valued at $3,695,169. The decision to renounce the qualifying offer will create needed cap space in the aftermath of the Al Horford signing.
Sullinger could still sign with the Celtics, but in light of the decision made today, the C’s would be offering much lower than what he’s is looking for.
Celtics fans hoping to see a glimmer of what Danny Ainge saw in Jaylen Brown before drafting him No. 3 overall will have to wait at least another day.
Brown, returning to action in the C’s Las Vegas Summer League opener Saturday after missing the final two games of the Utah Summer League with a bone bruise in his right knee, played 24 1/2 unimpressive minutes in a 71-62 loss to the Bulls. Brown scored nine points, hitting just 3-of-13 shots, and grabbed one rebound. He had a strong drive to the basket in the closing minutes but missed a dunk. Defensively, he got faked out of his shoes a couple of times, biting badly on shot fakes while looking for a block.
— Terry Rozier continues to be the C’s summer star. In 29 minutes he scored a team-high 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals.
— While the Celtics struggled inside against the bigger and stronger Bulls — Chicago held a 46-28 rebounding advantage and outscored the C’s in the paint 40-24 — first-round draft pick Guerschon Yabusele came ready to bang. The French forward finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
— Rookie Abdel Nader was a bright spot. The 58th overall pick showed the ability to get to the basket and finish. The Iowa State product ended the night with 12 points on 4-of-8 field goals in 16 minutes.
— James Young hit just 1-of-7 shots and scored three points, and he still appears to have no interest in playing any defense.
— Jordan Mickey made his first appearance of the summer and recorded five points and seven rebounds in almost 23 minutes. R.J. Hunter, who missed the previous two games, also returned and scored six points in just under 21 minutes.