Danny Ainge was true to his word Thursday night – he decided to take the two picks he had in the first round and stay right where he was after all trade talks fell through.

As Ainge predicted 90 minutes before the draft began, there was no draft night drama for Boston. The Celtics selected powerful point guard Marcus Smart and super swingman James Young at Nos. 6 and 17 respectively in an effort to get younger and stronger at the same time.

“We’re very excited about the two guys that we drafted,” Ainge said. “Marcus Smart and James Young, we think they have a bright future. We can’t wait to get them started and get them ready for Summer League.”

Summer League begins Saturday, July 5 and runs for a full week in Orlando. “I just think they’re two guys that can be starting players in the NBA for years to come. I just don’t want to put too much pressure on them right away. We need to let these guys develop and sort of earn their stripes. I think they’re going to have very, very bright careers.”

Smart is a 6-foot-4 point guard that happens to weigh in at 230 pounds. Young is a 6-foot-7 swingman who weighs nearly 20 pounds less but showed in the NCAA title game against UConn that he can do what is an absolute must for a wing in today’s NBA – get to the basket and score. He led Kentucky with 20 points as an 18-year-old in the 60-54 loss to UConn.

In his freshman season at Kentucky, Young was the second-most prolific freshman 3-point scorer in school history with 82 threes. He was named to the 2014 All-SEC second team and All-Freshman team. In 40 games (39 starts), he averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.4 minutes per game.

“They’re young players and very talented,” Ainge said. “Good size for their position, good length and good scoring for their positions. James played very good defense and he had to guard the different perimeter positions throughout his college freshman year. He’s very young. Marcus is a terrific defender and really defends the pick-and-roll and is a guy that goes downhill on pick-and-rolls, gets to the basket, absorbs contact, plays through contact, initiates contact.”

After being recruited as a sharp-shooting wing in high school, (earning McDonald’s All-American status in Rochester Hills, Mich.), Young saw his percentage drop to 40.7 percent for John Calipari in his only season at Kentucky.

“He was a good shooter all throughout his high school life,” Ainge said. “He didn’t shoot the ball as well this year as he has in the past but he shot the ball great in the NCAA tournament. We know he’s a good shooter. He’s got a good athletic body, good size, good length for a small forward and we think he’s a prototypical small forward.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we begin our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: Point guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.

The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.

While the Celtics still have an All-Star point guard on the roster, Rondo’s name will continue to be mentioned in trade talks for the remaining year on his deal. The addition of Smart combined with Phil Pressey‘s non-guaranteed contract gives Ainge inexpensive solutions behind Rondo. Should the C’s anticipate Rondo’s departure or envision a significant upgrade over Pressey, they could still chase any free agent floor general not named Kyle Lowry.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.

THE RAJON RONDOS

A four-time NBA All-Star at just 28 years old, Rondo has already helped steer the Celtics to an NBA title and could do so again with the right talent around him. Without that talent on the roster, though, Ainge could trade his captain, and the free agent market offers a number of options who could help fill the void left by his departure.

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe

RICH MAN: ERIC BLEDSOE

Status: Restricted

2013-14: 1,416 min, 17.7 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 57.8 TS%, 19.6 PER

Why? Ainge has eyed Bledsoe since 2013, when the Clippers nearly traded him and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett. In short, he’s a 24-year-old stud.

Why not? It’s hard to imagine the Suns letting a player of Bledsoe’s caliber walk, and even if he does leave Phoenix, word is he’ll be seeking a max contract offer.

COMMON MAN: ISAIAH THOMAS

Status: Restricted

2013-14: 2,497 min, 20.3 ppg, 6.3 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 spg, 57.4 TS%, 20.5 PER

Why? Like Bledsoe, Thomas has been the subject of trade rumors involving the Celtics (and Rondo in particular). Once the last pick in the 2011 NBA draft, he enjoyed a breakout statistical season during his contract year.

Why not? Much of his production resulted from playing in Sacramento, where defense hasn’t exactly been a priority and losses have mounted for a decade. It’s hard to imagine him averaging 15.2 shots for a winner.

POOR MAN: SHAUN LIVINGSTON

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,974 min, 8.3 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, 55.1 TS%, 14.5 PER

Why? Ironically, after years spent recovering from surgeries, Livingston emerged as a starter for a playoff team following a series of injuries to his Brooklyn teammates. He could be an inexpensive stop-gap as Smart develops.

Why not? After suffering a devastating knee injury in his third NBA season, Livingston played more than 1,500 minutes for the first time since 2007. Even though he’s still just 28 years old, his best days are behind him.

HOMELESS MEN: Greivis Vasqeuz (1,779 min, 9.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.2 rpg, 53.7 TS%, 14.1 PER); Ramon Sessions (2,214 min, 12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.4 rpg, 53.9 TS%, 16.0 PER); Kirk Hinrich (2,116 min, 9.1 ppg, 3.9 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.1 spg, 49.4 TS%, 10.8 PER); Mo Williams, restricted (1,834 min, 9.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.1 rpg, 50.7 TS%, 11.8 PER); Mario Chalmers (2,178 min, 11.8 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 56.7 TS%, 14.0 PER).

THE JERRYD BAYLESSES

Bayless, 25, became a stable force in a young locker room upon joining the Celtics in January, even if his production wasn’t so consistent. He plays both guard positions, and Ainge prefers versatility. While Bayless has publicly stated his fondness for Boston, this group might not be the worst backup point guard backup plan.

Patty Mills

Patty Mills

RICH MAN: PATTY MILLS

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,527 min, 10.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 58.8 TS%, 18.7 PER

Why? Good enough for Gregg Popovich, good enough for the C’s. Mills and his 42.5 3-point percentage this past season played a vital role in beating the Heat.

Why not? Following his NBA Finals success, it wouldn’t be surprising for a team to overpay Mills only to see him regress outside of the San Antonio system.

COMMON MAN: DARREN COLLISON

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 2,069 min, 11.4 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.4 rpg, 1.2 spg, 57.5 TS%, 16.2 PER

Why? While he hasn’t shown much progression since a fairly impressive rookie season, the 26-year-old has since put up consistent numbers and studied under some of the league’s best coaches as a backup.

Why not? Collison declined a $2.0 million player option this coming season, so his asking price may end up skying too high for a once promising point guard who has played on four teams in the past five years.

POOR MAN: SHELVIN MACK

Status: Unrestricted

2013-14: 1,490 min, 7.5 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.2 rpg, 51.0 TS%, 13.2 PER

Why? Mack helped Celtics coach Brad Stevens lead Butler to two consecutive NCAA championship games, and maybe — just maybe — the two former Bulldogs can recreate some of that magic in Boston.

Why not? In and out of the league since being drafted in the second round three years ago, Mack doesn’t do anything exceptionally well and hasn’t produced despite several opportunities on lottery teams.

HOMELESS MEN: Jordan Farmar (912 min, 10.1 ppg, 4.9 apg, 2.5 rpg, 53.3 TS%, 15.0 PER); Jordan Crawford, restricted (1,859 min, 11.0 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.3 rpg, 51.6 TS%, 14.3 PER); Brian Roberts (1,667 min, 9.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.9 rpg, 52.9 TS%, 13.4 PER); Devin Harris (818 min, 7.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 2.1 rpg, 51.7 TS%, 14.6 PER); D.J. Augustin (1,939 min, 13.1 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1.8 rpg, 56.9 TS%, 16.2 PER); Steve Blake (1,498 min, 6.9 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.9 rpg, 50.8 TS%, 11.0 PER); Aaron Brooks (1,557 min, 9.0 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.9 rpg, 51.8 TS%, 12.5 PER).

THE PHIL PRESSEYS

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be an upgrade over Pressey or any other available point guard at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.

Luke Ridnour: 1,141 min, 5.0 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.6 rpg, 45.2 TS%, 9.0 PER
Beno Udrih: 643 min, 4.9 ppg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 rpg, 52.3 TS%, 12.7 PER
Sebastian Telfair (China): 1,270 min, 26.1 ppg, 6.0 apg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 spg, 57.5 TS%, 26.1 PER
Nando De Colo: 494 min, 3.8 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 1.4 apg, 52.6 TS%, 13.1 PER
Toney Douglas: 675 min, 4.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 49.3 TS%, 9.2 PER
Chauncey Billups (restricted): 309 min, 3.8 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.5 rpg, 42.7 TS%, 5.3 PER
Toure Murry: 373 min, 2.7 ppg, 1.0 apg, 47.9 TS%, 11.1 PER
Daniel Gibson (2012-13): 919 min, 5.4 ppg, 1.8 apg, 1.3 rpg, 47.5 TS%, 7.7 PER
Earl Watson: 161 min, 0.5 ppg, 1.2 apg, 47.0 TS%, 2.1 PER
Jamaal Tinsley: 110 min, 1.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 1.4 rpg, 22.5 TS%, 1.9 PER
Leandro Barbosa: 368 min, 7.5 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 50.6 TS%, 11.5 PER

How the Celtics handle the point guard position entirely depends on what becomes of Rondo this summer. As currently constituted, they don’t need another point guard on the roster. In fact, Rondo, Smart and Pressey might be the best combination of players at any position for this team. Given Rondo’s contract situation, however, it seems more likely the C’s will trade their captain, leaving two young projects to man the position.

Should a Rondo trade not include a point guard like Thomas in return, Ainge would need to find a stop-gap should Smart not immediately emerge as a legitimate starter or Pressey not progress beyond a facilitating competitor with little to no scoring ability. It’s hard to imagine the Celtics dedicating big money to Bledsoe when they already have a better player in Rondo more worthy of a max contract and a younger player in Smart under their control.

While Bayless remains an option as a young veteran presence in the locker room capable of both starting or backing up either guard position, the intriguing low-cost option is Mack. His familiarity with Stevens’ system could help bridge the transition to Smart, and in the end that’s the C’s ultimate goal for the point guard position this season.

 

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics hope draftee Marcus Smart can bring passion and fire to his new team. (AP)



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


It's finally time for the Celtics to say goodbye to Rajon Rondo. (AP)

It’s almost as if the Celtics had their 2014-15 marketing campaign in mind upon selecting players named Smart and Young with their two first-round picks.



BEN ROHRBACH

BIO | ARCHIVE


There were some eyebrows raised when the Celtics selected 18-year-old swingman James Young out of Kentucky with their second pick of the first round Thursday night. But listen to the Celtics’ brass and they will tell you they were the lucky ones.

Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said there were cheers galore in the team’s war room when Young fell to them at No. 17. Pagliuca made several references to Young’s 20-point performance against Connecticut in the national championship game in April..

“There were two or three players that we felt like we would love to get at 17, and he was the one we really wanted to get,” Pagliuca said. “We were on pins and needless in there as the selections went by. We were thinking Chicago might take him but they didn’t so we were really, really happy. There was a big cheer in the war room when his name was available.

“Young, as evidenced by the final game, the top two teams in the nation playing, scoring 20 points. He’s got an inside game, an outside game. He moves well. He will fit well with Brad’s ball-movement system. So, Young’s going to bring us a player that can slash and move and hit the outside shot. He’s crafty and can defend. We’re really excited to get him at 17. Thought he could’ve gone a lot earlier.”

What was also very clear was management’s sense that Young could play several positions and serve different roles for the Celtics, even at a young age. Combine this with the backcourt versatility the Celtics see in Marcus Smart and the Celtics think they’ve added two pieces they can put in different places in Brad Stevens‘ flex offense.

“Absolutely, actually, James can play the 3. He’s 6-7, prototypical NBA body,” Pagliuca added. “And Marcus Smart is a versatile player. He can play the 1 or 2. We’re going to have a very versatile and great team. We’re really excited about this. We had these guys ranked higher than Danny drafted them. Our staff is ecstatic.

“James Young is a versatile player. He’s 6-7, he’s Young, 18 years old. Young is young. We really feel he can develop into a versatile player and help us a lot. Twenty points in the final, 14 points per game average. NBA-length and quickness. He can shoot the ball. We’re really excited about him at 17. We think that’s a great steal.

“Danny [Ainge] is always looking at all the options. We had Young ranked a lot higher than he went. He scored 20 points in the [NCAA] final. He’s really progressing. Marcus Smart is a competitor, intense. As Red always said when we bought the team, he wanted us to get instigators, not retaliators. Marcus Smart is an instigator. He got fouled just about more than anybody in college basketball. We’re really excited about his addition.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

It was the first question that came to the mind of most Celtics fans when the team selected Marcus Smart with their first first-round pick Thursday night – what does this mean for Rajon Rondo?

It was the first question that came to the mind of most Celtics fans when the team selected Marcus Smart with their first first-round pick Thursday night – what does this mean for Rajon Rondo?

Well, according to owner Wyc Grousbeck, the answer is not much at all. The reason for Grousbeck’s public stance is head coach Brad Stevens, who proved through a 25-win season that he could handle most of what Rondo could throw at any first-year head coach.

“It’s interesting, that wasn’t a topic of conversation tonight,” Grousbeck said. “We have confidence in Brad that he can manage a roster but we also had confidence that of the “Top 6″ we were going to take the best available as opposed to trying to slot in. That’s a strategy when you’re rebuilding a team, you take the best available athlete and then you let it all work out. We’ve got an all-star point guard so that’s not a question here.”

“I don’t think this has any impact on Rajon at all.”

Grousbeck acknowledged he hadn’t spoken with his star point guard before the selection was made.

Earlier this offseason, Grousbeck hinted at possible “fireworks” this summer if the Celtics found a trade partner.

“I always said fireworks were a possibility,” he said. “It takes two to tango around here. There just hasn’t been that much movement tonight. Typically on draft day, we make two trades if not three. That’s just the way we roll, “Trader Danny,” and it’s had great effect for us. We like to be aggressive about rebuilding this team. We like to become contenders again as quickly as possible. So, we’ll keep working the phones but it takes two partners to make a trade.”

So the Celtics did what Danny Ainge predicted they would at the beginning of the night — hold onto their selections at six and 17 overall, taking Smart and Kentucky’s James Young.

“We knew there were six or seven kids that we wanted,” Grousbeck said. “So, the idea of moving to eight or 10, moving slightly higher in the draft really wasn’t of interest. Maybe there’s a cliff in the draft. We wanted to stay at six or move up. We wanted to make other trades in recent days. We’d been on the phone quite a bit with other teams about other ideas. Nothing ever really seemed close to fruition, no matter how hard we tried. I remember trading for Kevin Garnett in ’07 and I got a call from Minnesota on July 30 or 31st, [so] the trade season is not over yet.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Once again, the Celtics stood pat and selected Kentucky wing James Young with their No. 17 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

James Young

James Young

Once again, the Celtics stood pat and selected Kentucky wing James Young with their No. 17 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

The 18-year-old averaged 14.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.4 minutes per game as a freshman during the Wildcats’ run to the NCAA championship game this past season. He’s probably best known for “>his aggressive dunk as part of his 20 points in Kentucky’s title loss to UConn.

Considered a potential impact scorer, Young shot just 40.7 percent from the field at Kentucky after being highly recruited out of high school. Questions also exist about his commitment to defense.

The C’s selected Oklahoma State sophomore Marcus Smart with their No. 6 pick.

More to come. For a complete scouting report, click here.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Apparently Red Auerbach paid very close attention to the “Big Bad Bruins.”

When the Celtics chose Oklahoma State fireplug point guard Marcus Smart with the sixth pick overall Thursday night, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck thought back to something Auerbach told him when he bought the team.