It has been a busy offseason in Chicago, where the Bulls have said goodbye to former MVP Derrick Rose, as well as rugged frontcourt stalwarts Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. They have replaced them with former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, as well as longtime Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade.
But the star of the team remains Butler, the 6-foot-7, 26-year-old All-Star who has emerged as one of the best two-way players in the league. Butler averaged a career-high 20.9 points a game last year, along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
The Celtics were rumored to be in on him all offseason, but couldn’t convince the Bulls to swing a deal. With Chicago signing veterans, it becomes harder to try to pry Butler with draft picks.
Now it looks like he’s not going anywhere, at least for the time being.
Pierce, who will turn 39 on Oct. 13, is now one of three active players drafted before 2000. He averaged 6.1 points per game in 18.1 minutes per game with the Clippers in his third year with three different teams. He only played 54 minutes during the playoffs.
The former Celtics forward was drafted by the Celtics 10th overall in the 1998 draft. He spent 14 years with the team, playing in ten All-Star teams and being named to four All-NBA teams.
Once the Celtics signed big man Al Horford, they no longer had room for restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, so they renounced his qualifying offer. He didn’t stay unemployed for long.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical, Sullinger has agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Raptors, which he trumpeted on his Twitter account by changing his logo to that of the Raptors. Sullinger thanked Celtics fans.
Sullinger averaged 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds a game over four years with the Celtics after being selected 21st overall in the 2012 draft. Head coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe after the C’s set Sullinger free that he’d land on his feet.
“Jared’s one of the more talented guys being able to get the ball off the glass, and he’s got beautiful touch and he’s a good guy,” Stevens said. “And so I think he’ll do well.”
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.”