Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)

Joakim Noah goes up for a basket against Jared Sullinger. (Getty Images)

It appears as though the Jared Sullinger era is drawing to a close in Boston.

The Celtics backtracked on the qualifying offer they made the 24-year-old big man, renouncing the offer and making him an unrestricted free agent. He’s now able to sign with any team. The decision by the Celtics was first reported by RealGM’s Keith Smith.

Taken No. 21 overall by the Celtics in the 2012 draft, the Sullinger era was a tumultuous one in Boston to say the least. At times, he was a valuable body in the low post who could occasionally shoot from the perimeter, and other times — this past postseason against the Hawks — was totally absent.

This season he averaged 10.3 points per game with 8.3 rebounds, with the latter being a career high for him.

At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Sullinger’s time in Boston was often characterized by his big frame, in which he was constantly overweight and out of shape and often possessed a poor, lazy attitude at multiple points, leading to him being benched.

Sullinger was originally offered a qualifying offer alongside Tyler Zeller on June 29, with Sullinger’s being valued at $3,695,169. The decision to renounce the qualifying offer will create needed cap space in the aftermath of the Al Horford signing.

Sullinger could still sign with the Celtics, but in light of the decision made today, the C’s would be offering much lower than what he’s is looking for.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Celtics fans hoping to see a glimmer of what Danny Ainge saw in Jaylen Brown before drafting him No. 3 overall will have to wait at least another day.

Celtics fans hoping to see a glimmer of what Danny Ainge saw in Jaylen Brown before drafting him No. 3 overall will have to wait at least another day.

Brown, returning to action in the C’s Las Vegas Summer League opener Saturday after missing the final two games of the Utah Summer League with a bone bruise in his right knee, played 24 1/2 unimpressive minutes in a 71-62 loss to the Bulls. Brown scored nine points, hitting just 3-of-13 shots, and grabbed one rebound. He had a strong drive to the basket in the closing minutes but missed a dunk. Defensively, he got faked out of his shoes a couple of times, biting badly on shot fakes while looking for a block.

— Terry Rozier continues to be the C’s summer star. In 29 minutes he scored a team-high 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

— While the Celtics struggled inside against the bigger and stronger Bulls — Chicago held a 46-28 rebounding advantage and outscored the C’s in the paint 40-24 — first-round draft pick Guerschon Yabusele came ready to bang. The French forward finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

— Rookie Abdel Nader was a bright spot. The 58th overall pick showed the ability to get to the basket and finish. The Iowa State product ended the night with 12 points on 4-of-8 field goals in 16 minutes.

— James Young hit just 1-of-7 shots and scored three points, and he still appears to have no interest in playing any defense.

— Jordan Mickey made his first appearance of the summer and recorded five points and seven rebounds in almost 23 minutes. R.J. Hunter, who missed the previous two games, also returned and scored six points in just under 21 minutes.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Even though Al Horford wasn’t officially a Celtic at the time of Friday’s introductory press conference due to his contract not being finalized, the mere image of the 6-foot-10 center sitting next to Wyc Grousbeck, Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens marked a big step in bringing Boston basketball back to prominence.

Stevens talked about how Horford’s shooting ability and size will help the Celtics offense. 

“I think that [Horford’s] hard work and his adaptability to the way the game has been played in a lot of ways has just enhanced him even more by adding to what was probably one of the better mid-range shots in the league to extending that range and being not only a reasonable 3-point shooter, but a good 3-point shooter and a guy that is constantly thinking about now adding to perfecting that,” Stevens said. “I think that anytime that you have the opportunity to pop, roll or play in the seam [off the pick-and-roll] is a huge advantage and he is excellent at all three and the numbers bear that out. We play through our bigs a lot and that is something we have desire to continue to do. It is great from a fit standpoint in a lot of ways, but certainty in the way that we play.”

More importantly, Horford marks the first big-name free agent the Celtics have been able to attract — and Horford indicated he expects more will follow.

“It is a great organization. There is a lot of history here. I feel like everyone around the league respects it, we acknowledge it and that is a big part of the reason why I chose to come here,” Horford said. “In years to come I feel like this will open the doors for many other big free agents. You have to consider this is a special place and I think people that are open to it they will see how special this place is.”

Grousbeck seconded the notion that Horford is only the first piece in the Celtics’ quest for superstars, and he downplayed the notion that there is a negative perception of Boston around the NBA.

“I never really believed that because I thought Kevin Garnett chose to come to us and he had to sort of agree to the whole thing back in ’07,” Grousbeck said in a post-press conference interview on CSNNE. “Al coming here sends a signal around that league that he himself said in the press conference. I think this going to open the door for other guys to come here, it is a great place to be.”

One of the big free agents the Celtics were targeting this offseason but were unable to land was Kevin Durant. Horford acknowledged that he spoke with Durant during the free agent process.

“I talked to Kevin. I can’t speak for him now, but I would have to say that he definitely considered the possibility [of coming to Boston],” Horford told CSNNE. “At the end of the day he had to do what was best for him, but yeah, during the offseason I definitely talked to him and several other free agents.”

Even though not getting Durant put a damper on the Celtics offseason, Ainge noted that the team continues to look for ways to get better.

“We felt like last year we were rightfully the third seed in the Eastern Conference and the addition of Al makes us better team for sure with his versatility, experience and leadership that we have all talked about today, but I think we are not done. We still have work to do,” Ainge said.

Blog Author: 
John Hand

Friday’s press conference to introduce free agent forward/center Al Horford started on a curious note, as Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck announced after a 40-minute delay that the paperwork on Horford’s deal is not finalized, making him a “pending” acquisition.

Friday’s press conference to introduce free agent forward/center Al Horford started on a curious note, as Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck announced after a 40-minute delay that the paperwork on Horford’s deal is not finalized, making him a “pending” acquisition.

Horford, who reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth $113 million to join the C’s, did not sound like a player who had concerns about a holdup with his contract, saying he’s looking forward to a new challenge.

“I always admired the Celtics from afar, just how everything gets carried over here, and how committed the team and the city is to winning and doing things the right way,” he said. “I’m very, very excited, and I can’t wait to get started. I know we have a lot of work ahead. So that really excites me.”

Horford played all 82 games for the Hawks last season, averaging 15.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. The 30-year-old helped the Hawks end the C’s season in the opening round of the playoffs.

Said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge: “He plays the way that great Celtics in the past have played. He plays with a passion that is contagious to his teammates. He’s a player that can fit with all sorts of different players. He can play outside, he can play inside, on both ends of the court. But he is a player that watching him play against us in the playoffs this year and flying around and contesting shots and bringing an energy and passion, I think he is a player that our fans will fall in love with. And his teammates will fall in love with. And our coach will fall in love with him as well.”

Coach Brad Stevens said Horford’s legacy of success on the court should have a big impact on the young Celtics.

“The best thing that I can say about a basketball player as a person is that he constantly enhances his teammates on the floor,” Stevens said. “And the No. 1 thing that his career has been defined by is winning. That goes back to his days in college [at Florida]. That goes obviously through the nine years in Atlanta, leading Atlanta to the playoffs in every single one of those years. For us to have an opportunity here with a person who has achieved all that he’s achieved, who has not only the ability to help your team on the court with everything that he does well but also an ability to lead what is a still fairly young team in the way that you prepare, the way that you carry yourself and everything else. I don’t think that there is a better example out there for our players. So we’re thrilled, and I’m thrilled.”

Horford played his first nine seasons with the Hawks, and he said it wasn’t easy to leave.

“It was a very difficult decision for me,” he said. “I had a great situation in Atlanta, great years. I have a lot of respect for the organization, the fans there. But just looking here and what’s ahead, the vision that I see here, and not only with the owners and the GM and Coach Stevens, but I like the direction that I saw when I met with them. I felt comfortable, I felt confident in the potential, what can be. And I’m very encouraged by the group of players that are here. A lot of young, hard-working, talented players.

“Playing in that [playoff] series, I saw the passion that they played with, and how much better they got as a team throughout the season. And it’s something that excites me to be a part of this.”

Horford, a four-time All-Star who ranks 10th among active players in career field goal percentage at 53.5, called Boston fans’ enthusiasm during the playoff series “pretty special.”

“It’s always electric here,” he said. “The fans are amazing and very passionate. I’m looking forward to playing here.”

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Even before he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining, Terry Rozier was the star of the show Thursday night as the Celtics beat the Spurs, 87-86, to win the Utah Summer League title.

Even before he hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining, Terry Rozier was the star of the show Thursday night as the Celtics beat the Spurs, 87-86, to win the Utah Summer League title.

Rozier, prepping for his second season with the C’s, scored a team-high 23 points, dished out a team-high six assists and tied for the team high with seven rebounds in 31 minutes. He made a number of key plays down the stretch as the Celtics rallied from a late six-point deficit to go 3-0 in Utah.

On the game-winning play, James Young inbounded from the sideline to Guerschon Yabusele in the high post. Yabusele passed it back out to Rozier, who was a few feet behind the 3-point arc. Rozier immediately went up for the shot and was fouled on the hand by Spurs first-round draft pick Dejounte Murray, but it didn’t matter as the ball went through the net.

Rozier missed the ensuing free throw, but Yabusele grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock.

The winning play was designed for Rozier to set a pick for Young off the inbounds, but the Spurs switched and had Young defended, leaving Rozier a small window out deep.

“I was kind of open and I got the ball and I’ve just got to knock down the shot. And it worked,” Rozier said in an on-court interview with NBA TV. “It was big. It was big. It felt good.”

Added Rozier later in a postgame interview: “I threw up a prayer and got the win.”

Rozier said he’s looking to show the C’s brass that he “can step on the court next year and play a bigger role.”

“With Evan Turner not signing back to us we need somebody to step up, and I’ve got to be that guy,” he said. “I’ve got to be that guy. I’m just trying to prove myself and be a better player on the court.”

— Yabusele scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in 27 minutes. He hit 3-of-5 shots from the field and 2-of-4 from the line.

— Young scored 10 points, hitting 4-of-10 shots (2-of-5 3-pointers). On the other end of the court, his defense needs a lot of work, to put it mildly.

— Demetrius Jackson, a second-round pick from Notre Dame, started and scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

— No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown (bruised right knee) and second-year guard R.J. Hunter (sore right wrist) sat out for the second straight game. Second-year forward Jordan Mickey, who returned to Boston for an MRI on his left shoulder, is expected to join the team in Las Vegas, where the C’s open play in that summer league Saturday.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Since Kevin Durant’s Fourth of July fireworks on Monday announcing that he would be joining the Warriors, Danny Ainge has had time to mull over what exactly happened to see Durant slip from the Celtics’ grasp.

Danny Ainge felt the Celtics had a chance at Kevin Durant. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge felt the Celtics had a chance at Kevin Durant. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Since Kevin Durant’s Fourth of July fireworks on Monday announcing that he would be joining the Warriors, Danny Ainge has had time to mull over what exactly happened to see Durant slip from the Celtics’ grasp.

“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge said to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had SOME chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.

“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen.”

Ainge admitted he was incredibly disappointed when he got the courtesy call from Durant saying he was going to Golden State shortly before his Player’s Tribune piece came out.

The Celtics certainly pulled out all the stops trying to sway Durant into wearing green next season, bringing a cavalry of team personnel, head coach Brad Stevens, players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder and even Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete — to meet with the star in the Hamptons on Saturday.

Even David Ortiz tweeted at Durant to apologize for not being able to make the meeting. And upon signing Al Horford — who multiple times indicated him and Durant had discussed playing together — the Celtics seemed like legitimate contenders for the prized free agent.

“I felt like the meeting and presentation couldn’t have gone any better. I think we all felt that,” said Ainge. “I think it went as well as it could have, and we got a really good sense that it was going to be a really hard decision for him, but that we were a strong consideration.

“We felt like that was the most important part of the whole presentation — who he’d play with and how he’d be utilized. He had some good questions about that and about his role – how he would play, how we would use him. I think we did a great job of explaining and making a great presentation, and I think it was tempting for him. I think he is very, very excited about Boston and the history, the Celtics, all of that. I think he loved what Brad had to say. I think he was impressed with Brad’s preparation, and we had a really good feeling about it.”

It’s no secret the Celtics were unable to advertise the established squad that Golden State could with Steph Curry, Clay Thomson and Draymond Green. They had to instead attempt to lure him with the promise of being part of an exciting up-and-coming team. Ainge acknowledged that he still wonders what could have been done differently to seal the deal with Durant. The only conclusion he could seem to come up with was making trades that would ultimately mortgage the Celtics future.

“You know, I thought about that before and I’ve thought about that after, and I really don’t think so — shy of a couple of moves that I couldn’t do,” Ainge said when asked if he wondered if there was something more he could have done. “But in deals that we could have done that we refused to do, I don’t think that would have mattered for this. I think that KD really likes our players.

Added Ainge: “You know, I’m not surprised. … I think everybody in our basketball world knows that Golden State is a very tempting place to play right now. So surprised? No. We just hoped that he would want to be with us, but Golden State is a very good basketball team and it will be very interesting.”

Ainge is certainly optimistic about his team’s future with where they are at with the roster they have assembled as of now.

“I feel like we’re in good position,” he said. “I feel like we still have all of our pieces. We’re excited about Jaylen [Brown]. We’re excited about what’s going on for us in free agency. And we’re continuing to develop guys that I think aren’t even in their prime of their career yet that are continuing to get better.

“And we still have a lot of opportunities. You know, we didn’t probably have as many transactions as we wanted. We had offers for the third pick in the draft and some of our young players in this process, and we just didn’t want to do it. We just thought it was too much. We like those things too much, so we’re going to move forward, and we’re excited about the direction that we’re headed.”

 

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen