Other than the late addition of Evan Turner at a bargain basement price over the summer, the Celtics came away from NBA free agency empty-handed, but president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made at least one attempt at a big-name player of small stature.

Moments after free agency opened on July 1, Ainge called point guard Isaiah Thomas.

“Danny Ainge was the first person to call me at 12:01 a.m.,” Thomas said, “so if that’€™s interest, then I guess so.”

Thomas actually missed the call, but exchanged messages with Ainge before his agent Andy Miller took over negotiations. So, was the feeling mutual?

“I was interested in whoever was interested in me,” Thomas added, “so he was definitely a little interested if he was the first one to call me, but they went their ways and I went mine.”

Thomas’ way ultimately took him to Phoenix, where he landed by way of a sign-and-trade deal with the Sacramento Kings. His agent reportedly reached a four-year, $28 million deal with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, who worked under Ainge for 10 seasons before finishing runner-up in the NBA’s Executive of the Year voting in his first season in Phoenix.

Thomas was notably one of six players last season to average 20 points and six assists per game. The others: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. Had Thomas not been 5-foot-9, he would have easily commanded double-digit millions annually. Instead, he joined Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic to form Phoenix’s potent three-guard attack.

(For the record, Bledsoe, a pricier restricted free agent, said Ainge did not contact him directly this summer. What about his agent? “Not that I know of. I don’t think they did.”)

As for the Celtics‘ way, it’s unclear why Ainge had so much interest in Thomas. They were five days removed from drafting point guard Marcus Smart. Presumably, the C’s had a deal in place to re-sign Avery Bradley, since news of his four-year, $32 million deal broke on July 2. Thomas would have been a massive upgrade over Phil Pressey, but the logjam in the Celtics backcourt currently limited their own diminutive point guard to a total of three minutes with a healthy Smart in the lineup for the first four games. All of which brings us to Rajon Rondo.

The Celtics captain is entering the final year of his contract, and Thomas had been rumored to be part of a package the Kings offered in exchange for Rondo this past February. It’s a bit presumptuous to assume Ainge was calling Thomas about a sign-and-trade deal that would have shipped Rondo to Sacramento, but it’s not out of the question the phone call to Thomas at the moment free agency opened was insurance for Rondo’s potentially imminent departure.

After all, it’s hard to imagine the Celtics would enter this season with Rondo, Bradley, Smart and Thomas all in the fold. Likewise, it doesn’t make much sense for Ainge to place his first call of free agency to Thomas unless he was serious about signing the 25-year-old, especially when the C’s had so many other needs on their roster other than point guard.

So, while nothing ever amounted from the C’s interest in Thomas, the fact they called in the first place is fascinating.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

We were expecting an exciting game from the Celtics and Suns at the TD Garden on Monday night, and that’€™s exactly what we got.

Rajon Rondo and the Celtics came up short once again. (Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo and the Celtics came up short once again. (Getty Images)

We were expecting an exciting game from the Celtics and Suns at the TD Garden on Monday night, and that’€™s exactly what we got.

In the end it was an Avery Bradley turnover that led to an Eric Bledsoe fast break dunk with 29.5 seconds remaining that sealed the Suns’ 118-114 victory. (Click here for a complete box score.)

The Celtics had trouble finding a shot on their final possession again, as a whole lot of dribbling and fumbling the ball around eventually led to three Rajon Rondo free throws. Rondo went on to miss all three attempts.

Jeff Green was the high scorer for the Celtics yet again, as he is beginning to find the consistency he has long lacked. Green totaled 28 points on the night and had a pair of monster dunks in the game.

Goran Dragic and Markieff Morris carried the load for the Suns. Dragic finished with 22 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Morris dropped 30 to go with seven boards and five helpers.


The Celtics have been an elite offensive team all season. So when they welcomed the run-and-gun Suns to town, a wild game was to be expected. As has been the case with many games this year, the score at the end of the third quarter looked like it could have been the final score (89-88).

The teams got up a combine 91 shots in the first half, while also combining for 24 free throw attempts. The up-and-down pace typically favors the C’€™s, but in this scenario, both teams were playing the way that they wanted to. 


Brad Stevens has been focused on defense in practice following the Celtics’€™ loss to the Thunder. Since then, the C’€™s have allowed 122 points to the Cavaliers and 118 to the Suns.

The Celtics were good early on offense, as usual, scoring 54 points in the first half. The problem? They let up 60 to the Suns. Phoenix shot 50 percent from the field in the half, assisting on 18 of their 24 field goals.

Things didn’€™t get any better to start the second half; the Suns were able to score 11 points in the first two and a half minutes of the third quarter. In the end, the Suns wound up shooting over 51 percent on the night.


Olynyk entered Monday’€™s game averaging 14.4 points on the season, having been one of the Celtics’€™ strongest players on a consistent basis. That came to an end on Monday, as Olynyk went scoreless in the game.

Offensive versatility is typically what keeps Olynyk on the floor to begin with, but to make matters worse, Olynyk was a clear defensive liability during much of his time on the floor. He was getting beat off the dribble often, both by his man, and other players when he switched on to them.

This was far and away Olynyk’€™s worst game since early in his rookie season.


Thanks to Zeller, Olynyk’€™s tough outing didn’€™t wind up hurting as much as it could have. Zeller came off the bench to score nine points and grab three rebounds on 4-for-4 shooting in 13 first half minutes.

Zeller showed no signs of slowing down in the second half; he was an obvious difference maker throughout the entire game. He finished with 19 points on a remarkable 8-for-9 performance from the field. Zeller also had seven rebounds and three assists in what was by far his best game in green.


Once again Rondo neared a triple-double, this time falling one assist shy after being one rebound shy on Friday. This is becoming a nightly trend for Rondo, who has finished in the vicinity of a triple-double in practically every game he has played in so far this season.

Rondo’€™s totals for the night were 14 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three huge misses at the free throw line.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow
James Young

James Young

The Celtics sent rookies James Young and Dwight Powell to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League this past weekend. Both players made their debuts Sunday and showed why the Celtics feel so strongly about them.

Young and Powell were in the starting lineup and played big minutes as expected (36 and 38, respectively). They shared the role of leading scorer, each dropping 21 points, but in far different fashion.

Young stayed mostly on the perimeter, shooting 3-for-11 from downtown and 7-for-19 from the field overall. He added five rebounds, two assists and two steals while showing some hustle on the defensive side of the ball. We already know that Young is gifted offensively, so it was good to see him display so much effort on his defense — something that he will need to earn minutes in Boston.

Powell, on the other hand, was a force around the rim. He shot 9-for-16 while ripping down 17 boards to go along with a pair of assists. It was nice to finally see what Powell is capable of, as he has had literally no chance to do so outside of practice with the Celtics (Young has at least played limited minutes on occasion). He also was very strong on defense, displaying great quickness for a 6-foot-11 player. Powell has the ability to defend in the paint but also get out and cover the perimeter, something that could be valuable when he gets the chance to try to earn minutes in the NBA.

The Red Claws beat the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, 81-80, if you care about the final outcome.

It’s just one game, but it was a strong first showing for both Young and Powell, who figure to be back and forth between Boston and Maine this season. Both were recalled back to the Celtics on Monday morning.

Blog Author: 
Julian Edlow

The Celtics are quickly growing tired of talking about blowing big leads. It’s hard to blame them. But the painful truth is that it’s an ongoing trend that’s obvious to anyone watching them play early on in the 2014-15 season.

And it’s been a trend from the start. Against Brooklyn in the season opener, they led 101-72 after three quarters. Brooklyn closed it to 15 before holding off the Nets. Still, they were outscored 33-20 in the fourth and gave up 64 second-half points. It may not have been a concern at the time in a one-game sample. But it’s turned into a troubling trend.

Against the Bulls in Chicago, they led 83-67 after three. They held on for dear life for a 106-101 win. But on Wednesday against the Thunder, it finally caught up with them. The Celtics raced out to an 18-3 lead and led, 51-42, at the half. They were outscored 67-43 in the second half and lost. Friday night, they had their biggest lead going into the fourth quarter, 101-84 against King James and the Cavs. They were outscored 38-20 in the fourth. Against the Nets, Thunder and Cavaliers, they have given up 64, 67, and 63 points, respectively in the second half, losing the last two.

The Celtics are learning that there’s no better way to blow big leads than playing porous defense.

“I’€™m frustrated by it,” coach Brad Stevens said. “I want to be better at it. I thought our energy and togetherness and sustainability was much better [against Cleveland]. When things went south, we came back. They went up by three; we ended up tying the game. Jeff made a great hustle play to get the free throws. You know if you turned on the TV last night you saw it in at least two games, maybe three ‘€“ and that happens. You’€™ve got to play all 48. You’€™ve got to be great all 48 against this team. And it’€™s not the same against everybody, but you still have to be on your A-game the whole time.’€

‘€œWe just got to win games, point blank, we just got to win,” Jared Sullinger added. “There’€™s no more lessons, no more moral victories, we just got to win flat out. Kyrie [Irving] made some shots, LeBron made some shots; that’€™s what great players do. There’€™s no answers we just got to win. In the NBA, no 15, 20-point lead is safe. You just have to keep playing.”

What’s missing at the end?

“I think the energy, the pop that we have normally when we’€™re playing well we have a lot of energy,” Sullinger said. “They had a couple shots our energy gets down a little bit. We just got to have that pop.”

Rajon Rondo was somewhat more analytical.

“Just to stay in our defensive intensity throughout the 48 [minutes],” Rondo said. “I don’€™t think we get comfortable. It’s just when teams are desperate they are going to make shots, they are going to make plays and they got us on the hill and we weren’€™t able to get consecutive stops.”

Rondo admitted frustrations are starting to mount.

“It’€™s a competitive sport,” he said. “We’€™re human so obviously we are little frustrated, we’€™re very frustrated, but we got a lot more games to play. We’€™ve been in every game this season, except for the Houston game I believe, we made a great run against Dallas but we go out every night and we play as hard as we possibly can. We’€™re just not coming up with the wins right now.

“It’s not difficult. I think for us when we get stops we’€™re good offensively. When we don’€™t come down, we get stagnant, our offense isn’€™t as fluid as what we would like it to be as far as we did in the first 3 quarters. We are a team with defensive stops and if we can get those then obviously we are more comfortable on the offensive end of the floor.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The immediate reaction by most Friday night was to blame Rajon Rondo for dribbling out the clock and not getting a shot off, the appropriate ending to a self-destruction at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers in a 122-121 loss at TD Garden.

But to the cerebral Brad Stevens, there was much more to his star player not getting up a shot down a point with the game in the balance.

With seven seconds left, coming out of a timeout, Stevens watched as the Cavaliers and James took away the number one option in Jeff Green, forcing Kelly Olynyk to inbound to Jared Sullinger. The big man then dumped it to Rajon Rondo, who was fighting to get free from rookie Joe Harris. The Cavaliers switched Harris off a screen and Shawn Marion was on Rondo for the final four seconds. Then Rondo lost control before dribbling out the clock, firing up an off-balance attempt a full second after time expired.

“Well, we had a couple of different options,” Stevens said. “We had Jeff over the top, which I’€™d have to look at the film to see if he had LeBron sealed for a lob. Obviously, it’€™s a little bit riskier of a pass, but we had just thrown it to Jared and then we just had a simple swing to Rondo and our desire was to reject the screen. And he had a good match-up, but Joe Harris did a nice job on him, and we didn’€™t get a shot off.

“Rondo isolated on a rookie on the right wing. I felt pretty good when he got the ball reversed to him. Again, give Joe Harris a lot of credit. He did a great job on that possession. We were trying to space and rip and drive and play. I told Rondo those plays start with me. I’ll be responsible for that one.”

Rondo wasn’t making excuses.

“I lost the ball,” he said. “I lost the ball, I give them credit they played good defense. I lost the ball and I didn’€™t get the shot off in time. It’€™s a competitive sport. We’€™re human so obviously we are little frustrated, we’€™re very frustrated, but we got a lot more games to play.”

That wasn’t the only regrettable play for Stevens and his Celtics in the final minute.

“The time before we actually had a play drawn up if we would’€™ve gotten a stop, to try to get to the rim,” Stevens said. “Rondo was able to turn the corner and James did a nice job of staying with him, and we went a little early. We were a little rushed. We weren’€™t where we were supposed to be when it all started. And we’€™ve got to continue to get better in those moments, but I think there are a lot of possessions you can point to in this game, and that’€™s a tough one to lose.”

What also shouldn’t be forgotten in Friday’s meltdown was the fact that the Celtics led, 101-84, heading into the final quarter. They were outscored 38-20 in the final 12 minutes. Helping Cleveland’s cause was the fact that the Celtics committed five fouls in the first three minutes, 20 seconds of the fourth, putting the Cavaliers in the penalty for the rest of the game.

“[That made it] really hard. Obviously, you don’t want to foul that much early,” Stevens said. “It made it difficult because every time they got fouled on the floor or the shot, they were shooting obviously.

“I’€™m frustrated by it. I want to be better at it. I thought our energy and togetherness and sustainability was much better tonight. When things went south, we came back. They went up by three; we ended up tying the game. Jeff made a great hustle play to get the free throws. You know if you turned on the TV last night you saw it in at least two games, maybe three ‘€“ and that happens. You’€™ve got to play all 48. You’€™ve got to be great all 48 against this team. And it’€™s not the same against everybody, but you still have to be on your A-game the whole time.”

Stevens’ message to his team afterward?

“One point not good enough,” he said. “It is what it is. There’€™s no moral victories, we can’€™t talk about learning. We’€™ve got to just get better. We’€™ve got to do it. And I think that that’€™s where we all are. We can’€™t get frustrated with it, we can’€™t lose sight of the fact that we’€™re eight games in and not 70 games in, but the good news is there is a belief growing, but it’€™s got to be rounded out.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

After escaping Boston with a 122-121 win over the Celtics, Cavaliers superstar and four-time NBA MVP LeBron James had high praise for coach Brad Stevens & Co. after his 41-point performance.

“œThey’€™re going to surprise a lot of teams, and they’€™re better than what the critics said coming into this season,”€ said James. “€œCoach Stevens has done a great job of putting a system in there that allows everyone to feel comfortable, to feel loose and play a great style of basketball. They’€™re top three in the league in assists; they’€™re top three in the league in scoring right now. It’€™s a great brand of basketball.”€

For more on Friday night’s game, read how the Celtics are beating the odds despite the loss.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Rajon Rondo's Celtics will be chasing LeBron James and the Cavaliers for a while. (Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)