Celtics coach Brad Stevens joined Merloni and Fauria on Wednesday as part of the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon to talk about basketball and his connection to cancer research. To hear the interview, go to the Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.

Stevens said he has a strong connection to cancer research because his wife, Tracy, lost her mother to cancer in 2004. Since then, the two of them have tried to be active supporters. While at Butler, Stevens said he and the team used to run tournaments that would bring in corporate teams to play and help raise money for the local American Cancer Society. Now, he and his wife have been able to tour Dana-Farber and learn more about the Jimmy Fund to get involved in both the patient care and research standpoints.

“The negative connotation of cancer has always been there, but it was really negative 15 years ago,” Stevens said. “I think we all now have learned so much, and the awareness is so high, and we’ve all invested in this fight against cancer for whatever organizations you’re working with that there’s also a positive outlook on competing against it, beating it and then living your life after it.”

Stevens said that when his players do hospital visits and see sick patients, the idea is that seeing one of the Celtics could brighten someone’s day, but it does twice as much for theirs.

“I think that that’s the same no matter who’s ever done anything or given anything back to the community,” he said. “You always feel like you got a lot more in return just from spending time with those patients, seeing how resilient they are, seeing how tough they are, all ages. But certainly the pediatric patients are the ones that certainly pull at the heartstrings, seeing young kids having to go through it. We’ve been affected by that in our family very closely, and the one thing I’ll always say about young kids, man, they’re a resilient, resilient group, and it’s the ultimate example of toughness. We throw around words like toughness pretty regularly in a team sport or a sport that’s covered closely. That’s not real compared to what these guys are going through.”

While Stevens stressed that you realize “how little importance sports are when you’re talking about [cancer and sickness],” he did talk about the Celtics some. He detailed what he’s seen from rookies Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter so far this summer.

Mickey, Stevens said, has really impressed him. Though he’s not the typical height of a power forward or center, the second-round pick has the length, quickness and timing to be really good. Rozier has come in and showcased an elite level of toughness, athleticism and drive that Stevens said he thinks will make him excel. Hunter was anxious the first two games of the summer, according to Stevens, so much so that it looked as if he was playing in Game 3 or 4 of the Finals but settled down after and did well.

“Those guys are workers,” Stevens said. “They’ll come in, they’ll work, they’ll add to that environment of work that I like the rest of our guys are doing, and so time will tell, but we’re anxious to see.”

Stevens added that he’s not so sure there’s much of a difference in personality between guys at the collegiate level compared to players in the pros.

“I think the biggest thing I would say is most similar between coaching Butler and coaching the Celtics is I’ve coached a ton of prideful guys,” he said. “When I was at Butler, we had competitive, prideful, tough guys. And so any time you have pride then there’s always going to be some times where you’re hurting, or it’s a tougher day to coach, or it’s a tougher day to get going, whatever the case may be, but you always seem to come through that because you’re willing to work, you’re willing to get better.

“I just see across basketball, it doesn’t really matter what level. If guys want to be coached, if guys want to work, then it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about an 8-year-old or you’re talking about a 25-year-old. Those guys come to work, and they’re coachable because they want to get better.”

To prepare for the season, Stevens said the best thing to do is get all of the scheduling out of the way as quickly as possible. He said you have to know how to put the appropriate amount of physical load on your players and also realize when to pull back. When the Celtics’ schedule was released the other day, Stevens said they had the travel schedule done in 12 or 15 hours because it gives him a better feel of the season.

The other thing, according to Stevens, is figuring out how to make the most out of practices in terms of teaching.

“You get a lot less practice time in the pros than you do in college,” he said. “I think we had 56 total practices last year. I do not keep those guys on the floor for three hours at a time, we’re very quick, in and out. We’re trying to be as efficient as we can, so we better have those things planned out well and early in the season, especially in that preseason when those exhibition games and travel come in a flurry. You’ve got to be good in those early days, you’ve got to be really good in those early days.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 16 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Dec. 12, 2011: Hello, Brandon Bass.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Brandon Bass: After a knee injury cost him seven games two months into his Celtics career, Bass played 309 straight regular and postseason games until joining the Lakers in free agency this summer. As Valar Morghulis might say, the man is a rock. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds a night during his four seasons in Boston, and you can probably count on one hand the number of games he wasn’t within a point or rebound of those averages. He might as well have carried a lunch pail to the Garden and worn a hard hat on the parquet.

DEPARTING to Orlando

  • Glen Davis: After four seasons as Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett‘s favorite whipping boy, including the 2008 title campaign and 2010 finals run, Davis was recruited to Orlando during free agency by Dwight Howard, who convinced the Magic it would be a good idea to extend a four-year, $25.7 million deal to an overweight and undersized forward with limited range. And while Big Baby’s averages in Orlando (11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds) top Bass’ in Boston, Davis was far less efficient and reliable, did the bulk of his damage on a lottery team and declined to the point the Magic bought out the remaining year and a half on his contract February 2014.
  • Von Wafer: After one season as Delonte West‘s favorite punching bag, including the greatest missed dunk in NBA history, Wafer’s minimum salary helped make the money work in the Davis-for-Bass sign-and-trade and appeared in 33 games for the Magic before returning to a professional basketball career overseas.

Here’s what the Magic got for their four-year, $25.7 million deal with Davis: Two and a half seasons of the NBA’s heaviest player missing 56 percent of his shots and collecting more turnovers (198) than assists (187). Also, fart jokes.

Meanwhile, the Celtics gave Bass a three-year extension following his contributions to the 2012 run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, including a 27-point effort in a pivotal Game 5 win over the 76ers in the conference semis, paying him $22.6 million over his four seasons in Boston. Again, Bass played 334 of a possible 341 games in Boston; meanwhile, Davis played 145 of a possible 317 games in Orlando. Rock vs. rocking chair, or something like that.

And while Ainge could never find a trade partner at the tail end of Bass’ tenure in Boston, the soft-spoken mound of muscle helped ease the transition from Rivers to Brad Stevens, setting examples for professionalism and work ethic in a one-year rebuild between playoff appearances. Something tells me Big Baby wouldn’t have been so helpful.

In the end, the Celtics squeezed every bit they could from Davis’ 295-pound frame without ever paying him more than $2.5 million annually, and when Orlando’s offer exceeded his value, Ainge turned his former second-round pick into four more years of production with a sign-and-trade for Bass that kept $3.1 million in his pocket. Wins all around.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

I kind of feel bad for Rajon Rondo‘s neighbor in Lincoln, Mass., insofar as you can feel bad for multimillionaires.

Here is this dude, “a thirtysomething Boston businessman” we eventually came to know as “the best neighbor in the world,” who was probably wasting away the summer jamming out to some Jason Mraz tracks and catching up on “Lost” when who but the point guard for the Boston Celtics moves into the $1.82 million home next door on Sept. 2, 2008.

As far as neighbors go, a reigning NBA champion trumps every other potential Lincolnite — accused plagiarist Mike Barnicle, mathematical biologist Martin Nowak and Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach just to name a few — especially when it comes to small talk across the hedges. Nobody wants to hear about the time you developed the method of crossed molecular beams, directed and well-defined fluxes of molecules. Everybody loves Kevin Garnett stories.

And thus began a bromance over a shared love of cornhole, which is a sentence that should not be repeated in the presence of children. We’ll let Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins explain in the best profile of Rondo ever written.

Rondo spends most of his free time playing cornhole, a game typically reserved for frat boys at Big Ten tailgate parties. He owns two wooden boards, emblazoned with Kentucky and Louisville logos, which he spaces 27 feet apart in his front yard, according to the official rules. He installed a fire pit so he can play through the winter with his neighbor, a thirtysomething Boston businessman who has become equally consumed with tossing beanbags into circular holes. Rondo is thinking of entering national cornhole tournaments. “I’m ranked Number 1,” he says. He is kidding, but you have to ask to make sure. He does nothing for amusement.

Indeed, Rondo once offered 2 a.m. Twitter proof of a particularly dominant midsummer night cornholing session.

Rajon Rondo wears his sunglasses at night so he can keep track of the visions in his eyes. (Twitter)

Rajon Rondo wears his sunglasses at night, so he can, so he can, keep track of the visions in his eyes. (Twitter)

The bromance lasted almost seven years, survived so many trade rumors, and reached its pinnacle in June 2014, when Rondo called an impromptu press conference to declare his love for Neighbor Dude publicly.

“I don’€™t like change, really, and I’€™m pretty comfortable,” Rondo said while foregoing a max extension from Boston and all but punching his ticket to Dallas. “I have a beautiful home here. I love it. I love it here. I’€™ve got a great neighbor. I’€™ve got the best neighbor in the world, so I don’€™t want to leave.”

Alas, Rondo has moved to Sacramento and put his home on the market. As you may recall from his 2009 faux “Cribs” episode for Red Bull in which he claimed he’d challenge Usain Bolt for Olympic gold in 2012, the home is aptly located at 9 Fridolin Hill in Lincoln, Mass., and comes complete with a barbershop as well as rooms for trophies, weights, film and presumably Connect 4 tournaments. Unfortunately, there is no roller skating rink.

Please tell me he got one last cornhole game in, followed by an extended bro hug and a waving Neighbor Dude fading into his U-Haul’s rearview.

“€œWhen I first toured this home seven years ago, I immediately knew this property had to be mine,” Rondo said in a press release from Coldwell Banker that we can only assume was read by his neighbor as he looked through a rain-soaked window at a barren patch on the lawn with one tear streaming down his cheek. “It is an extraordinary property, and my family and I absolutely loved living there. We especially appreciated being part of the Lincoln community, which was always welcoming and warm to us. This was a very lucky house for me, and I have nothing but fond memories of my time here.”

The asking price for the 6,500-square-foot estate has been lowered from the original $2.45 million to a measly $1.99 million, making it all the more affordable for Lincoln environmentalist Roger Payne to move in and start preserving the skunk population in the neighborhood. Here’s hoping Isaiah Thomas takes the home off Rondo’s hands, so he and Neighbor Dude can order some pizzas and play Spike Ball out back with Floyd Mayweather, 50 Cent and Justin Bieber.

Just pray they get the showers fixed before making an offer. I hear one of the five in that house is particularly slippery.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 17 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Feb. 18, 2010: Hello, Nate Robinson.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Marcus Landry: The 2013 D-League All-Star played all of one game in his illustrious Celtics career, entering a late February 2010 loss to LeBron JamesCavaliers with 2:50 remaining, missing both of his 3-point attempts and recording nary a statistic. He was soon assigned to the Red Claws before being waived six weeks later.
  • Nate Robinson: Who can forget the famous “Shrek and Donkey” game when Glen Davis and Robinson combined for 30 points off the bench in a 96-89 win over the Lakers that tied the 2010 NBA Finals at two games apiece. That alone made this trade worthwhile, as did his fair share of minutes behind Rajon Rondo.


  • J.R. Giddens: One in a string of questionable late first-round draft picks by Ainge, Giddens played just 140 minutes for the Knicks before calling it an NBA career after 38 total games and taking his game overseas.
  • Eddie House: A beloved member of the title team, if only for his diving save during the Game 7 conference semifinal win over the Cavs, House was approaching his 32nd birthday and had experienced a slight dip in production since the 2007-08 campaign. A free agent at season’s end, the sharpshooter played just one more season on the end of the Heat’s bench during their first of four straight finals runs with LeBron & Co.
  • Bill Walker: The still-contending C’s had little use for a second-round project, so they handed Walker his walking papers after bouncing him between Boston and the D-League for a season and a half. He played well for a stretch in New York, even averaging 22 minutes for the Knicks during a first-round sweep at the hands of the Celtics in 2011. After two more years in the D-League and overseas, Walker found his way back to the NBA, under his middle name Henry, as a wing on the Heat this past season. He was waived by Miami last month.

This certainly wasn’t a big deal, but its layers illustrate how much Ainge & Co. can accomplish with so little.

The Celtics pushed their record to 23-5 on Christmas 2009, but lost 13 of their next 23 games entering trade deadline day 2010. Not wanting to disturb the core of a team that had won the championship two years prior and had its title hopes derailed the previous season by Kevin Garnett‘s knee injury, Ainge was stuck with Giddens, Walker, Shelden Williams, Brian Scalabrine and Lester Hudson as the last five members of his bench. Not exactly an enticing lot.

Meanwhile, Rajon Rondo had just averaged 41 minutes a night in January, as Marquis Daniels was in the midst of missing two months due to injury and a 31-year-old House was splitting time between both guard positions. The C’s had no open roster spots to add a veteran minimum free agent and few tradable assets outside the regular rotation.

There’s a sucker born every minute, and roughly half of them have been general managers for the Knicks, so Ainge turned his focus to New York. The Knickerbockers were well on their way to a 29-win season and had naturally long since traded away their top-10 draft pick (Gordon Hayward) for the right to pay Stephon Marbury $88.1 million from 2004-09. Anywho, GM Donnie Walsh had made his intentions clear about freeing cap space for the summer of 2010.

So, why would Walsh trade Robinson’s $4 million expiring contract and Landry’s non-guaranteed undrafted rookie deal for House’s $2.86 million expiring contract, Giddens’ rookie scale salary (4 years, $5.07 million) and the remaining two-plus seasons on Walker’s four-year, $3.05 million deal? Because they’re the Knicks. (For the record, Walsh used that slightly dwindled cap space to spend $115.5 million on Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton.)

As much fun as it is to dump on division rivals, enough about the Knicks. With this deal, the Celtics added a viable 25-year-old backup point guard, freed a roster space soon used to sign 37-year-old Michael Finley and saved roughly $100,000 in the process. Not a bad haul for three guys who would no longer be in the league within two seasons.

Robinson was by no means a longterm success in Boston, as his act wore thin in the locker room and he was shipped to Oklahoma City with Kendrick Perkins (a trade we’ll get into in great detail later in this series) within seven months of signing a two-year, $8.7 million extension with the Celtics, but he shot 41.4 percent from 3 down the stretch of the 2009-10 season, helped Rondo keep his legs fresh for the playoff run and served as Donkey to Big Baby’s Shrek.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo will make his Boston exodus permanent soon, once he sells his $2 million home in Lincoln.

The 6,500-foot house hit the market Monday. It has five bedrooms, five full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms. Additionally, it features a master suite with two dressing rooms, a home theater, an entertainment lounge and a game room.

Officially, the asking price is $1,999,999 for the “glamorous home fit for a champion.”

“When I first toured this home seven years ago, I immediately knew this property had to be mine,” Rondo said a press release from Coldwell Banker. “It is an extraordinary property, and my family and I absolutely loved living there.”

“This was a very lucky house for me, and I have nothing but fond memories of my time here,” Rondo added.

Rondo acquired the property when he was 22 years old, immediately after winning the 2008 title with the Celtics. He now plays for the Kings after getting traded to the Mavericks in the middle of last season.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 18 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

June 27, 2013: Hello, Kelly Olynyk.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Dallas’ 2013 first-round pick (Kelly Olynyk): The jury’s still out on the Gonzaga product Ainge introduced to us as a “7-foot hippy quarterback.” He’s an average to above-average scorer from just about everywhere, commits as many turnovers as he collects assists and — as his teammates conceded during the Kevin Love fiasco — isn’t a great rebounder for his size. Brad Stevens didn’t trust Olynyk on defense in the playoffs, slashing his minutes to 13.3 a night, although the second-year stretch center did provide instant offense off the bench.


  • Boston’s 2013 first-round pick (Lucas Nogueira): Traded twice more before ever appearing in the NBA, the 7-foot Brazilian appeared in just six games for the Raptors in 2014-15 before being assigned to the D-League.
  • Boston’€™s 2014 second-round pick (Cleanthony Early): A throw-in to the six-player trade that brought Tyson Chandler back to Dallas, Early averaged 5.4 points in 16.6 minutes over 39 games for a horrible Knicks team, bouncing back and forth between New York and its D-League affiliate in Westchester. So far, at least, the impressive wing play that helped lead Wichita State to the Final Four in 2013 hasn’t translated to the NBA.
  • Brooklyn’€™s 2014 second-round pick (Russ Smith): Also traded twice more before ever wearing an NBA uniform — and again from the Pelicans to the Grizzlies as part of the three-team Jeff Green deal — Smith played in only 12 combined games in New Orleans and Memphis, mostly spending his rookie season in the D-League.

Ainge targeted Olynyk like Matt Moneymaker does Sasquatch, which makes sense, since the fine folks at “Finding Bigfoot” declared Washington “the Squatchiest state in America.” And there’s nothing wrong with trusting a talent evaluation brain trust that had selected Jared Sullinger and Avery Bradley two out of the previous three years.

Except that same scouting had also brought us Fab Melo, JaJuan Johnson and J.R. Giddens in recent years.

Olynyk probably falls somewhere between those two strata, but the 13th overall pick may have been better spent on Shabazz Muhammad or Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went 14th and 15th in the 2013 NBA draft. And while staying put and drafting Nogueira would’ve been a bigger bummer, Ainge’s best move would’ve been to remain at No. 16, keep both second-round picks and draft any one of these guys: Dennis Schroder (17th), Gorgui Dieng (21st), Mason Plumlee (22nd) or Rudy Gobert (27th). But revisionist history is a futile game, even if it’s an awful fun one.

Either way, this move showed the willingness and flexibility to move up in the draft for a prospect high on their board, and the pick produced a player who won’t ever be the next Dirk Nowitzki — and, yes, those comparisons have been made, on multiple occasions — but seems capable of filling out a rotation on a quality team down the line. These are silver linings on a deal that demonstrates how even when Ainge stumbles he doesn’t often fall flat on his face.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics released their full schedule for the 2015-16 NBA season. Enjoy.

Brad Stevens couldn't be more excited about the 2015-16 NBA season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Brad Stevens couldn’t be more excited about the 2015-16 NBA season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The Celtics released their 2015-16 NBA schedule. Here are 10 highlights.

Start ’em up: The Celtics have a great opportunity to carry the moment from the end of last regular season into 2015-16, as they host the ever-tanking 76ers in the season opener on Oct. 28 and play six of their first eight games at TD Garden (albeit against four returning playoff teams). They also have a nice little three-day break from Nov. 7-9 that should allow for some much-needed practice time.

All my troubles: While the league average for back-to-back games dropped by 1.5 games, the Celtics play 18 such contests, same as last season. Andy the C’s play on the road on the second night in 11 of those back-to-backs. The good news: They play just one stretch of four games in five nights, from Jan. 12-16 (Knicks, Pacers, Suns and Wizards), thanks to the league’s effort to reduce those situations by 60 percent.

On holiday: The C’s don’t play on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day or Easter Sunday, so you might have to spend time with your family this season. They do play on Veterans Day (Pacers), Martin Luther King Day (at Mavericks), Groundhog Day (at Knicks) and Super Bowl Sunday (Kings).

It’s showtime: In what might be their final two games against Kobe Bryant, the C’s host the Lakers on Dec. 30, and then visit their arch rivals in L.A. on April 3. Easy on those MVP chants, people.

Come at the king: In a rematch of their playoff sweep, the Celtics host the Cavaliers on Dec. 15 in LeBron James‘ only trip to Boston in 2015-16. The C’s visit Cleveland on Feb. 5 and March 5. The defending champion Warriors make their only tour through Boston on Dec. 11, and the Celtics visit Golden State on April 1. Start getting that David Lee tribute video ready now.

Revolution will be televised: Seeing an uptick in interest outside Boston, the C’s play seven national TV games this year: Nov. 24 on TNT (at Hawks), Dec. 9 on ESPN (Bulls), Jan. 7 on TNT (at Bulls), Jan. 13 on ESPN (Pacers), Feb. 19 on ESPN (at Jazz), March 16 on ESPN (Thunder) and April 1 on ESPN (at Warriors).

Oh, Mexico: The Celtics will face Rajon Rondo and the Kings on Dec. 3 in the NBA’s third ever regular-season game in Mexico City. Somebody please get a picture of Kelly Olynyk in a sombrero.

Boston, you’re my home: Speaking of Rondo, he will play in Boston for the first time as a member of the Kings on Super Bowl Sunday. Likewise, Kevin Garnett makes one trip to the Garden as a member of the Timberwolves on Dec. 21, and then Clippers Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce come to town on Feb. 10. Brandan Wright, of course, makes his long-awaited return as a member of the Grizzlies on March 9.

West Coast represent: The Celtics have just two road trips longer than three games. Their annual West Coast trip is March 26 to April 3, traveling through Phoenix, L.A. (Clippers), Portland, Oakland (Warriors) and back to L.A. (Lakers). Their longest home stand is shortly before that trip, as they host the Bucks, Heat, Jazz, Blazers and Knicks from Feb. 25 to March 4. That should help offset the mileage on that jet between Nov. 29 and Dec. 7, when they visit Orlando, Miami, Mexico City (Kings), San Antonio and New Orleans.

This is the end: Following the extended All-Star break from Feb. 11-18, the Celtics have a brutal end of the season. Seriously, look at their final 24 games: Bucks, Heat, Jazz, Blazers, Knicks, at Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Rockets, at Pacers, Thunder, at Raptors, at 76ers, Magic, Raptors, at Suns, at Clippers, at Blazers, at Warriors, at Lakers, Pelicans, Bucks, at Hawks, Hornets and Heat. Those last nine games, in particular, could mean the difference between a playoff seed and the lottery.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

The Celtics released their full schedule for the 2015-16 NBA season. Enjoy.

Wed., Oct. 28: Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 30: Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 1: San Antonio, 3:30 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 4: at Indiana, 7 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 6: Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Tue., Nov. 10: at Milwaukee, 7 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 11: Indiana, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 13: Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 15: at Oklahoma City, 6 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 16: at Houston, 7 p.m.
Wed., Nov. 18: Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 20: Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 22: at Brooklyn, 6 p.m.
Tue., Nov. 24: at Atlanta, 8 p.m., TNT
Wed., Nov. 25: Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Nov. 27: Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Nov. 29: at Orlando, 6 p.m.
Mon., Nov. 30: at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Thu., Dec. 3: at Sacramento, 9 p.m. (in Mexico City)
Sat., Dec. 5: at San Antonio, 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 7: at New Orleans, 7 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 9: Chicago, 7 p.m., ESPN
Fri., Dec. 11: Golden State, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 12: at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Tue., Dec. 15: Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 16: at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 18: Atlanta, 7:30 p.m.
Mon., Dec. 21: Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 23: at Charlotte, 7 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 26: at Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 27: New York, 6 p.m.
Wed., Dec. 30: L.A., Lakers, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 2: Brooklyn, 3 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 4: at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 6: Detroit, 7:30 p.m.
Thu., Jan. 7: at Chicago, 7 p.m., TNT
Sun., Jan. 10: at Memphis, 5 p.m.
Tue., Jan. 12: at New York, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 13: Indiana, 8 p.m., ESPN
Fri., Jan. 15: Phoenix, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 16: at Washington, 7 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 18: at Dallas, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 20: at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 22: Chicago, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 23: at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Mon., Jan. 25: at Washington, 7 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 27: Denver 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Jan. 29: Orlando, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Jan. 31: at Orlando, 6 p.m.
Tue., Feb. 2: at New York 7:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 3: Detroit 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 5: at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., Feb. 7: Sacramento, 3:00 p.m.
Tue., Feb. 9: at Milwaukee, 7 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 10: L.A., Clippers, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 19: at Utah 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Sun., Feb. 21: at Denver 3:00 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 22: at Minnesota, 7 p.m.
Thu., Feb. 25: Milwaukee, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 27: Miami, 3:00 p.m.
Mon., Feb. 29: Utah 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 2: Portland, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., March 4: New York 7:30 p.m.
Sat., March 5: at Cleveland, 7 p.m.
Wed., March 9: Memphis, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., March 11: Houston, 7:30 p.m.
Tue., March 15: at Indiana, 7 p.m.
Wed., March 16: Oklahoma, City, 7 p.m., ESPN
Fri., March 18: at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 20: at Philadelphia, 6 p.m.
Mon., March 21: Orlando, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., March 23: Toronto, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., March 26: at Phoenix 7 p.m.
Mon., March 28: at L.A., Clippers, 7:30 p.m.
Thu., 31-March: at Portland, 7 p.m.
Fri., April 1: at Golden State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Sun., April 3: at L.A. Lakers, 6:30 p.m.
Wed., April 6: New Orleans, 7:30 p.m.
Fri., April 8: Milwaukee, 7:30 p.m.
Sat., April 9: at Atlanta, 7 p.m.
Mon., April 11: Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Wed., April 13: Miami, 8 p.m.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 19 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

July 20, 2012: Hello, Courtney Lee.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Courtney Lee: At the time, Lee was a sought-after second-tier free agent, receiving interest from the Bulls, Hawks, Mavericks, Pacers, Suns and Timberwolves. He had just submitted his best statistical NBA season, averaging 11.4 points on 40.1 percent shooting from distance and otherwise stuffing the stat sheet. And the Celtics required a Doc Rivers recruiting job and Danny Ainge’s sign-and-trade magic to lure him to Boston.

DEPARTING to Houston and Portland

  • JaJuan Johnson: An atrocious first-round draft pick by Ainge, especially with Jimmy Butler still sitting there on the board, Johnson’s confidence had already been destroyed by Kevin Garnett‘s uncanny ability to root out unprepared rookies like a truffle hog, and he was promptly waived before ever playing a game for the Rockets.
  • E’€™Twaun Moore: He’s made a nice career out of being a solid last-guard-on-the-bench type guy, but the fact he’s been the best player Ainge let go here should tell you all you need to know about the trade.
  • Sean Williams: Signed with three games remaining in the 2011-12 regular season, Williams received a non-guaranteed $1 million deal for 2012-13 that allowed the Celtics to match Lee’s salary without Houston taking on any additional cap space. The troubled Boston College product has not played another NBA game since.
  • Sasha Pavlovic: A once valuable member of Cleveland’s run to the 2007 NBA Finals, Pavlovic made sparing contributions in Boston and reached the end of his NBA road by the end of his first season in Portland.
  • Boston’€™s 2013 second-round pick (Marko Todorovic): Technically, the jury is still out on Todorovic, a 23-year-old Montenegrin center who enjoyed a bounce-back season in the Spanish League this past year.
  • Charlotte’€™s 2013 second-round pick (Alex Abrines): Likewise, Abrines is a 22-year-old sharpshooting Spanish wing who has yet to play in the NBA. His claim to fame has more to do with this pick’s involvement along with two first-rounders, Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb in Houston’s trade for James Harden.
  • Minnesota’€™s 2013 second-round pick (Jeff Withey): Similarly, Withey never played a game for the Blazers, who swapped his rights along with two future second-round picks to net two seasons worth of Robin Lopez in a sign-and-trade deal that sent Tyreke Evans to New Orleans and Greivis Vasquez to Sacramento.

The Lee acquisition represented a win at the time, illustrating that a) a somewhat coveted free agent would choose Boston over other cities to play for a reputable coach on an attractive roster and b) the Celtics had the wherewithal to collect second-round picks, sign Williams to a tradable non-guaranteed deal on April 19 and work both Houston and Portland into a sign-and-trade that allowed them to absorb a not-insignifant $5 million annual salary. These are the sort of machinations that often help cap-strapped contending teams separate themselves from the pack.

Of course, Lee’s brief, relatively unsuccessful tenure in Boston is not lost on us, either. Then again, there is some question as to how and why exactly Lee ended up in Rivers’ doghouse in the second half of the 2012-13 season.

Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending injury midway through Lee’s first season on the Celtics transformed a team that had reached Game 7 of the 2012 conference finals to one that couldn’t get past a flawed 2013 Knicks squad in the first round. Except, Lee and Avery Bradley were branded “bulldogs” when they formed a defensively devastating starting backcourt tandem that led the C’s rattle to seven straight wins and a 16-9 record in the first 25 games after Rondo’s injury. (They had been 20-23 with Rondo.) Then, Rivers benched Lee in favor of Jason Terry, the Celtics finished the regular season 5-8 and lost in six games to the Knicks with Lee averaging all of 10 minutes in five playoff games.

You know what might’ve been an intriguing lineup? Lee, Bradley, Paul Pierce, Jeff Green and Garnett. You know how often Rivers played that lineup? A measly 16 minutes during the regular season and zero in the playoffs. (In those 16 minutes, the C’s outscored opponents by 24 points per 100 possessions, produced a 73.7 true shooting percentage, assisted on 71.4 percent of their field goals and played at a remarkable pace of 110.51 possessions per 48 minutes.)

But Rivers’ trust in the more veteran Terry alienated Lee, and he never returned to Earth in Boston, averaging only 16.8 minutes for Brad Stevens on a tanking team that valued Jordan Crawford and Phil Pressey more in 2013-14.

Jan. 7, 2014: Goodbye, Courtney Lee.

ARRIVING in Boston

  • Jerryd Bayless: The former No. 11 overall pick had three months remaining on his $3.1 million salary and played as expected — either scoring in bunches or disappearing completely — before leaving as a free agent.
  • Ryan Gomes: Playing on a partially guaranteed contract at age 31, the once productive former Celtics draft pick was waived the day the deal was completed, saving the C’s from having to take on additional salary.

DEPARTING to Memphis

  • Courtney Lee: Having made his frustration with Boston’s rebuilding process clear, Lee got his wish, receiving a trade to another contender and seeing his minutes rise from 16.8 back to 30 a night in Memphis. He started 77 games and averaged 10.1 points on 40.2 percent shooting from 3 for a 55-win Grizzlies team last season.
  • Boston’€™s 2016 second-round pick: Considering the Celtics have as many as five second-round picks coming their way in June 2016, they could probably spare their own in a deal to dump the two and a half years remaining on the four-year, $21.4 million contract signed upon arriving in Boston in July 2012.

The departure of Lee was nothing more than a salary dump to free a rebuilding team that would rather allocate minutes elsewhere from a player who would rather be playing for a contender. It was the sort of breakup that left both parties thinking they’re better off, as the Celtics saved roughly $13 million through the end of 2015-16.

The bookends of Lee’s chapter in Boston represented a juxtaposition between the kind of moves a team makes when they’re trying to extend the life of a championship team and those designed to start building from scratch again. The good news is that the Celtics were well equipped for both, making room for a well-paid talent when circumstances called for it and clearing that same salary cap room as the team turned its search to building a new foundation.

Parting ways with nothing beyond E’Twaun Moore and a couple of to-be-determined second-round picks, the Celtics took a chance on Lee that never quite panned out, and then used him as an asset to clear cap space moving forward.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach