The Patriots wide receiver was the latest Boston sports star to try and urge Kevin Durant to sign with the Celtics as he tweeted a picture wearing a No. 35 jersey with the caption: From the fans, to the history, to the amazing city itself, Boston is best place to play hands down @kdtrey5 " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />35" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />
From the fans, to the history, to the amazing city itself, Boston is best place to play hands down @kdtrey5 " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />35" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" /> pic.twitter.com/jZO65KUsiS
That leaves the Celtics as one of five finalists for Durant’s services, and perhaps the greatest threat to entice him to leave Oklahoma City, though the Thunder remain overwhelming favorites to retain him.
The Celtics pulled out all the stops in the Hamptons to wow Durant during their visit, flying in Tom Brady of the Patriots to help with their pitch. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz also tweeted his support.
The team’s best move in the negotiation, however, came right after their visit finished, when free agent Al Horford, a close friend of Durant, agreed to a four-year, $113 million contract.
With the Clippers out of consideration, Durant’s choice has been narrowed to the Thunder, Celtics, Warriors, Spurs, and Heat.
This means the Celtics still at least have a chance at the superstar, which got even more intriguing on Saturday when the team signed Al Horford, especially after it was learned Durant tried to recruit Horford to come to Oklahoma City.
Joining Brady in the meeting was co-owner Steve Pagliuca, president Danny Ainge and Celtics players Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk. Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder were also expected to be attendance.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz also tried to do his part.
Yo @KDTrey5 sorry I couldn't make the meeting today but Brady will tell u they don't call Boston the City of Champions for nothing " class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />" class="wp-smiley" style="height: 1em; max-height: 1em;" />
James Young speaks to reporters before heading out for his third straight Summer League season. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)
James Young is determined to make this summer different.
The 17th overall pick of the Celtics in the 2014 NBA draft has been slowed by injuries in his first two offseasons, as he has tried to make the right impression on Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge in Summer League action.
Still just 20 years old, Young is starting to feel a little urgency to make a name for himself as the team has drafted the likes of Jaylen Brown, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil and Guerschon Yabusele. All four of those players will join Young on the Celtics’ 2016 Summer League squad, which begins action Monday in Salt Lake City against the Sixers.
Remarkably, Young is the only player on the 14-player roster who will be playing his third straight Summer League for the Celtics.
“I barely played the first two I was here both years so why not come back for a third and play a full? So that’s why I’m here just to do, just go out there and play basketball,” Young said Friday. “I’ve just been working on my overall game. Nothing specific, just everything. And everything’s starting to come together. I’m just ready to go out there and just play strong.”
Last year in Summer League, Young averaged just 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in five games. He struggled badly from the field, shooting just 27.1 percent from the field and 22.7 percent from beyond the arc. This season, he bounced back and forth between Maine and Boston over 10 times, appearing in three of the Celtics’ six playoff games while averaging 14.8 and 5.6 rebounds in 16 games for the Red Claws.
“The thing about is you think James has been forever,” said Micah Shrewsberry, who will coach Young and the Celtics Summer League in Utah. “Man, he’s still 20 years old. I looked at different rosters the other day. James is still younger than almost everybody on Utah’s roster. He’s a young guy. He’s still learning. He’s been great. We’re trying, with an opportunity like this, for him to be able to use his voice more, something that he doesn’t do during the season when the older guys are doing a lot more talking. He can do that a little bit, he can lead, kind of come out of his shell a little bit. And then get more opportunities to play, show what he can do, have fun with it.”
Young, who turns 21 on Aug. 16, is also in the unique position to act like a veteran among most of the players on the roster.
“I actually have a little bit,” said Young, who is still younger than all but two players on the roster. “It’s kind of weird because I’m still the youngest guy, but yet some of the guys look up to me. So I’m still just getting the facts, stuff that I’ve learned and just trying to give it to them and just give it to them.”
Young has worked out with Kevin Durant in the past and was duly impressed.
“He was focused the whole time, 110 percent and I just try to do that here in my workouts and just build off of that,” Young said. “[I’m] still 220 [pounds], 6-6, so just try to add more weight before the season starts.”
Yogi Yabusele: At 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds, the last thing you might consider Guerschon Yabusele is nimble. But Shrewsberry sees something different in the way the 3-point specialist with a big body runs the court and stays in front of his man.
“He’s like a big dancing bear out there. Man, he’s got great feet. First of all, when you see him, like he’s got that just big lovable looking personality, like a big smile,” Shrewsberry said. “He’s always happy. But he’s done some really good things for us. And like I said, his feet — man, he can move on the perimeter. He makes good play offensively. You can give it to him in the seam and he can make really good passes. He made some great passes yesterday when people were helping — finding guys in the corner or out on the perimeter. It’s fun. Even for us watching, as assistant coaches, watching clips on film to finally get him and see and now we can try and tailor some things to make him look even better.”
What does Yabusele think of the Bruin metaphor from Shrewsberry?
“A lot of coaches tell me I have good footwork,” Yabusele said with his trademark Yogi-like smile. “When I was young, I was playing soccer a little bit and doing some [drills]. So, I got my footwork, even if I’m 270 pounds, I can move a lot, jump and run, so it’s good.
“I think it’s important even when you play 5-on-4 to have good footwork and try to move. I was always like this because when I was young I was a little bit skinny, so it was easy, but I gained some weight and I’m still moving, so it’s great.”
Get out of the way: Jaylen Brown met with the media again on Friday and was considerably more toned-down than his “rip somebody’s head off” debut after the draft. But he did offer this nugget when asked what it’s going to be like when he (No. 3 overall pick) goes up against Ben Simmons (No. 1 overall) on Monday in Utah.
You’re playing against Ben Simmons in your first game, bro: “I’m ready for whoever. Whoever that may be. I have a lot to prove and the Celtics, we have a lot to prove, so we’re coming out, we’re playing together, we’re playing hard. For me, it will be my first taste of NBA experience so I can’t wait. So whoever’s in front of me just better look out.”
And what about the pressure of being the third overall pick?
“I don’t think it’s an added pressure or anything. I’m just being myself and being who I am,” Brown said. “The Celtics are a really good team, so my role wouldn’t be as big as somebody that played on a team that doesn’t have a playoff atmosphere. So I’m just coming in, showing a lot of energy, just being who I am, and seeing where that takes me.”
Brown will be wearing No. 9, the first player of note to be assigned that number since Rajon Rondo left town.
“I guess that’s the number I have for now, but I’m hoping to talk to Avery if I can get 0,” Brown said with a smile, referencing the number ‘0’ he wore at Cal. “But I don’t know if he’s going to give that up. But 9 is a good number.”
Coaching time: Micah Shrewsberry will be getting another chance at coaching up the draft picks and street free agents as he commands the troops in Utah before fellow assistant Jamie Young takes over in Las Vegas the following week.
“I think it’s good for us. It’s fun for us,” Shrewsberry said. “We get a chance to take advantage, slide over and not really in Brad’s seat, we would love all to be there, but he’s got a little bit more pressure than we do. Like, nobody really cares if I win or lose in the summer. It’s all about the players. And that’s what my focus is. I want these guys to look good. I want these guys to play well. Not just the guys that are on for the Celtics, even the guys that maybe they’re a Red Claw or maybe they’re picked up in free agency. We want to showcase those guys, so they get opportunities other places. So more and more people want to join us because we’re doing that, we’re showcasing them, we’re helping them to do better.
“We’ve got a got a lot of guys that are familiar,” Shrewsberry said. “I’ve tried to split them up, especially [Thursday] and [Friday] and put them on different teams. There’s a clip that we showed this morning [where] the offense is crisp, guys are moving it, they swing it, they come off, swing it to another guy and they get a layup. Then you look, it’s like, ‘Whoa, OK, that was Terry, that was RJ, that was Jordan Mickey, that was Malcolm Miller.’ It was all guys that have been in our system and played in our system. Now, the better we can do to get these young guys up to speed so they can play that way, it’s going to be more beneficial for them when training camp, practice, those things roll around.”
Shrewsberry, along with the rest of the coaching staff as already made observations on No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, who will make his debut Monday against Philadelphia. Brown occasionally struggled with shooting and turnovers in his only season at Cal. Now, the Celtics’ staff say they are seeing improvements.
“The thing we’re working now is keeping it simple with him, like try to find your spots, try and pick your spots,” Shrewsberry said. “You don’t have to do it by yourself. I don’t know if that was the case at Cal. But now, he’s got guys that are spaced to the corner, that are going to give him more room. He’s got guys that are on the perimeter, guys that understand how to play. Now, he just needs to figure out, ‘How I can use my strengths and if I get a chance to drive it right here, this is where we want to attack.’ Just keeping it simple. You don’t always have to attack every possession. It’s a great play to sometimes come off a ball screen and just pass it. Move it to the next guy.”
Keep a close eye on: Ben Bentil, who at 6-foot-9, could be playing all over the place in Summer League.
“Ben’s been really good. He’s a really good shooter, and we knew that coming in,” Shrewsberry said of the Providence product. “We’re trying to put him in different spots. The ‘4’ position is important for how we play and we want to play this summer. He’s a guy that can really stretch the floor. He’s pretty smart once he gets it. He can make reads. He can get it to different guys. He’s got a good motor. We can move him around, especially in the summer, kind of be a mismatch. Be a ‘4’ or move to a ‘5’, make those big guys come out and play him on the perimeter. He’s good enough to fake that shot, drive in the lane and cause problems that way, too.”
Another situation that should be competitive is the point guard position, as second-year Louisville product Terry Rozier and rookie Demetrius Jackson battle it out for playing time. That battle has already developed in Summer League practices in Waltham.
“They’re both learning,” Shrewsberry said. “[Maine coaches are] out here with them before practice, both sessions, just giving them little tips here and there on what they can do. Then put them against each other. The best thing for Demetrius is to learn from Terry. Terry is guard people, he’s going to get after people, he’s going to put pressure on them. Even a guy we pop in like Marcus Smart to come in and practice every once in a while, his physicality against those young guys, they’re not going to see it. They’re going to see it against guys but they’re not going to see that kind of defense until the season starts. Being able to learn now for Demetrius is great. Demetrius goes right back at Terry. The both of them being able to have one another is just going to raise each other’s level.”