Gerald Green has agreed on a one-year deal to return to Boston. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)
The Celtics are trying to make the best of what’s left of the free agent market.
League sources confirmed Saturday to WEEI.com that the team will re-sign 26-year-old center Tyler Zeller for two years and $16 million, with the second year consisting of a team option. The news was first reported by the Boston Herald and later by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
The Celtics are following through on their intentions after extending a $3.7 million qualifying offer in June to Zeller, who like Jared Sullinger was a restricted free agent.
Sullinger left for bigger money in Toronto.
Zeller, the 17th overall pick of the Mavericks (traded to Cleveland) in the 2012 draft, appeared in 60 games for the Celtics this season, just a season after starting 59. Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3 rebounds over 11.8 minutes per game last season.
The Celtics are also going back to the future and signing 30-year-old Gerald Green. A league source confirms that Green and the team have agreed on a one-year deal for the league veteran minimum of $1.5 million, as reported by Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.
Green was the No. 18 overall pick of the Celtics in the 2005 NBA draft. He played his first two seasons with Boston before being dealt to the Timberwolves as part of the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007.
Green averaged 8.9 points per game in 69 games for the Heat last season, including 14 games as a starter.
Green, entering his 10th season, was a productive sixth man for the Heat in the first half of the season but mysteriously fell off and played little down the stretch and in the playoffs against Charlotte and Toronto. Green indicated publicly he had hoped to return to Miami. Green is a career 36.1 percent shooter from 3-point range. During the 2013-14 season with the Suns, Green shot a remarkable 40 percent on a career-high 510 attempts.
Per a league a source, the signings of Zeller and Green appear to be a “fall-back” position for the Celtics, should they want to enter the season with the roster they have constructed. There is still the possibility that these pieces, along with others could be used in trades down the road, like for Jahlil Okafor of Philadelphia.
Jae Crowder isn’t happy with Kevin Durant. And he’s not pulling any punches talking about it.
Speaking to Tom Westerholm of MassLive prior to his 60 Days of Summer appearance at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts the forward was remarkably candid in discussing how he feels after the Celtics were snubbed.
“We were the only team in the NBA to beat both (Cleveland and Golden State) on their home court — the only team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics,” Crowder said. “We told him that. We played him clips from both games and told him basically the scouting report of how we guarded Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) — our entire game plan, basically. That’s what made me mad. We (expletive) told him everything we do to beat these guys, and we beat them, and he went and joined them. I mean, that’s part of the process, but I did not think he would go to those two teams … I felt like afterward, I was talking to Isaiah, like maybe after you sit back, you shouldn’t have told him everything, but who the (expletive) thought he was going to Golden State, realistically? It was like a slap in the face for us, basically.”
Durant made his dramatic announcement via The Players’ Tribune on July 4, stating he would be joining the squad that had denied him a chance to take the Thunder back to the NBA Finals mere weeks ago.
The Celtics pulled out everything they had to try and swing the most prized free-agent their way. They brought some of their impact players like Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk to their meeting in the Hamptons. They also brought Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete. Just prior to the decision, they inked big man Al Horford, who Durant had long shown interest in playing alongside.
“I came home after the meeting and told them, like, if he leaves, he’s coming to us,” Crowder said. “But I didn’t think he was leaving.”
The thought of Durant staying in Oklahoma City seems to be the popular alternative in the basketball world, given it would provide the opportunity for him to try and win that oft-close, but not close enough title him and Russell Westbrook (who has one year left on his contract) had been longing for.
Instead, he went to the nemesis, an increasingly prevalent “if you can’t beat them, join them” trend and made the Warriors certainly more talented, but loathed a lot more as well.
“That team is for sure the villain of the league,” Crowder said. “Every other NBA guy, friends of mine, are really disgusted from how the league is turning on that standpoint. Everybody is joining together, everybody wants to go to Golden State or Cleveland.”
The NBA schedule has yet to be released for the 2016-17 season, but Crowder has already made note of a few games that will be circled on the calendar.
“I’m looking for sure to beat Golden State the most, probably, but at the end of the day, our task is the Eastern Conference,” he said. “We have to see Cleveland. That’s where my focus is, that’s what drives me. We have to beat those guys to advance.”
Forward Guerschon Yabusele, who was taken by Boston with the 16th overall pick in last month’s NBA draft, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to a report from The Boston Globe.
Forward Guerschon Yabusele, who was taken by Boston with the 16th overall pick in last month’s NBA draft, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to a report from The Boston Globe.
A 6-foot-8 forward, the 20-year-old Yabusele averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last year for Rouen Métropole Basket in the French A division.
Sam Packard is joined by Celtics 2nd Round draft pick Abdel Nader to discuss his path to the the NBA and how he plans to improve his game. Sam then talks to Player Development Coach Nick Friedman from Elite Skills Training, the pre-Draft camp Nader attended. Friedman also gives his opinion on the Celtics performance at summer league and the development of Jaylen Brown.
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Celtics summer league action ended Friday night, as the C’s finished out their Vegas season losing to Portland 80-75. Boston ended up with a 1-4 record in Vegas after sweeping the four-team Utah Summer League. However, this is Summer League, where players are competing for roster spots, and the wins don’t really matter.
With that said, here are the C’s players who made the best and worst cases for playing at the Garden.
1. Terry Rozier stands out
If only to resurface the backcourt talent log jam issue, which seemed to clear after Evan Turner signed with Portland, Terry Rozier is showing a lot of promise on the dawn of his sophomore season.
Averaging 20 points per game along with 5.3 rebound and 3.5 assists, Rozier could be the Turner replacement the Celtics are looking for. He was the facilitator of Boston’s offense throughout the Summer League, showing efficiency and a solid stroke throughout July. And of course, he made a last-second shot to win the C’s the Utah Summer League title, just to add to an already impressive Summer League resume.
With Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart making the thought of cracking the point guard rotation difficult, Rozier will most likely be better suited to backing up Avery Bradley at the two. Granted, Rozier’s level of play could also mean that he would be a strong trade asset, or a solid replacement for another Celtics guard, should Boston want to sweeten their side of a major deal, such as the rumored three-team Blake Griffin trade.
2. Jaylen Brown silences draft day boos
Celtics fans were ready to welcome a superstar to Boston in exchange for the No. 3 pick in the draft on June 23, or at least bring home Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield or Marquese Chriss. Instead, they ended up with Jaylen Brown, who had much to prove in the Summer League after his selection was greeted with some boos at TD Garden and defended by Danny Ainge afterwards.
Needless to say, he passed his summer exam and was the Celtics’ strongest draft pick in the Summer League.
Earmarked by a 21-point game in the Celtics’ final Summer League contest, Brown was a consistent threat in the frontcourt and displayed his worth as a two-way wing. Second only to Rozier in points and first on the team in rebounds, Brown showed an all-around skill set mixed with pure athletic talent, and has already disproved some draft day critics with his performance.
Brown should serve as a formidable backup to Jae Crowder, should Crowder stay in Boston, and could develop his raw ability up to par this season with his starting five potential.
3. Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele aren’t draft day stashes
When the Celtics made zero draft day moves, not only were fans critical of the Boston front office picking up Brown, but they were skeptical of the C’s keeping the rest of their seven picks, especially with a deep 2017 draft on the horizon. Two of them, Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele, may have proven that keeping those picks gave the Celtics some ridiculous roster depth.
The French power forward from Rouen Métropole Basket was not someone who many put much faith in more than a typical Euro stash. Or as one of WEEI’s biggest fans put it…
The Celtics just took the 7th pick in the draft at no. 3 and used no. 16 on a French guy sitting in the stands. I'm gonna make a drink.
Yabusele was anything but some French guy in the Summer League, though, as he was second on the team in rebounds and showed raw athletic potential. He may be undersized and have some work to do on defense, but he may be a great safety net next year given the uncertainty of the C’s backcourt after this season.
Nader meanwhile was an absolute surprise for the Celtics. The Iowa State guard was expected to spend a year in Maine to develop his skills, but with a solid Summer League showing, and with his skill set being versatile enough to fit well into a Brad Stevens team, he may be suiting up in green sometime this year.
Nader is a solid slasher toward the basket, and even though he will most likely end up in Maine this fall, he could be the first name called up to the Celtics if he continues to carry his play over into the D-League.
Also, fun fact: Nader would be the second Egyptian born NBA player ever if he makes the Celtics roster. He’d be the first since Alaa Abdelnaby, who played 76 games for Boston over two seasons in the early ’90s.
4. Sophomores R.J. Hunter and Jordan Mickey perform despite injuries in Utah
While Hunter and Mickey did not see much time in Salt Lake City and were overshadowed by other prospects, both of them showed solid scoring ability in the limited minutes they got.
Hunter was 4-of-6 on 3s against Phoenix while guarding up against Devin Booker, who clearly did not belong in the Summer League in terms of his pure talent level. That 17-point outing, along with another one on July 4 against the 76ers, showed fans signs of Hunter’s pure 3-point shot and ability to run the game if necessary.
Meanwhile, Mickey also showed his worth in the Phoenix game, scoring 18 through 7-of-13 shooting. He had another solid outing in the final game against Portland, posting a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Hunter and Mickey will most likely stick to their roles as deep rotation players, however they at least did not allow their roster stock to drop over the summer.
5. James Young gets lost in Summer League Shuffle, while Ben Bentil and Demetrius Jackson fail to impress
Bottoming out the Summer League roster were returning shooting guard James Young and two second-round draft picks in Ben Bentil and Demetrius Jackson, all of whom underperformed.
Young showed signs of improvement from last season during Boston’s stint in Utah against the Jazz, scoring 17 in what seemed to be the start of an argument for the C’s backup shooting guard role.
However, it seemed like Young’s shooting was left in Salt Lake City, as he failed to make considerable use of his time in Las Vegas and sat out against Portland with a sore knee. With Rozier making a strong Summer League statement and Hunter making use of his limited time, Young’s roster spot could be in question if he doesn’t start the regular season strong.
Meanwhile, Bentil and Jackson were both expected to be valuable second-round picks, but wound up falling short in comparison to fellow second-rounder Nader.
Bentil dropped 11 off the bench in the Celtics’ first game against the 76ers, but from there saw a steady decrease in minutes.
Jackson also had a strong performance in Utah, with his highlight being an 11-point outing against the San Antonio Spurs, but like Bentil, wound up lost in the guard rotation. He, as well as Bentil, will have to make strong cases as Red Claws in the D-League if they want to make their way to Boston.
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.
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.
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.”
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).