Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas has had a busy summer. From recruiting Kevin Durant, to jet-setting to China to handing out ice cream at Faneuil Hall, the Celtics point guard has hardly been off this offseason.

In an interview with Celtics.com on Wednesday, Thomas talked about his trip to China, the team’s No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown, and what else he’s been doing this offseason when not recruiting, flying or giving away ice cream.

For the full interview, click here.

The 27-year-old went to Beijing as part of NBA Cares, an initiative to help continue to grow the game. He was joined by Karl-Anthony Townes of the Timberwolves as well as Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell of the Lakers. While there, they hosted clinics, meet-and-greets and NBA Finals viewing parties.

“It was a blessing to be able to be considered to go. Once they asked me to go I definitely wanted to see Beijing and what it was like,” Thomas said. “I’ve been to China before but it was definitely a smaller, but it was a good experience. I was hoping to meet Yao Ming but I didn’t get to, but it was nice to be in China and experience their culture a little bit.”

In his All-Star 2015-16 season in which he played in all 82 games (while starting 79), Thomas admittedly was a little banged up when the season concluded with their first round departure at the hands of the Hawks. As a result, he cited that he gave himself a little bit of time away from basketball at the start of the offseason.

“The first four to six weeks of offseason I didn’t play basketball, my body was hurting,” he said. “I needed some injuries to heal in my body so I really relaxed, spent time with my family, my kids and watched the playoffs so that was my biggest thing. Now I’m back working out, I’m healthy and I’m trying to just continue to get better each and every day so I can get ready for the season.”

Added Thomas on how the team plans to get better: “Work. Continue to work, continue to get better. Don’t be satisfied with what we did cause honestly we felt like we came up short, we felt like — give credit to Atlanta — but we felt like we could’ve beat them.”

With the Celtics often at the forefront of any and all rumors prior to the draft holding the prized third overall pick, many people were openly disappointed with the selection of Brown out of Cal. In Thomas’ case, however, he got a little reassurance that it was the right pick.

“He’s talented. Jaylen Brown is talented, he’s a workhorse,” said Thomas. “He’s somebody that when we drafted him, the older Isiah Thomas he always texts me, but he texted me and said ‘you’re going to like him. You’re going to like him. He works hard, he’s a good kid,’ So I’m excited to get to meet him, get to know him, and get to work on the court.”

He added: “The other draft picks I don’t know too much of them but they got drafted for a reason so hopefully they can help our team right away and make an impact.”

Thomas set a career high in points per game this season at 22.2. He was also just shy of his assists per game record of 6.3, turning in 6.2 helpers this season. He led the team in both of those categories this season as well. And that success was due to a number of factors according to the point guard.

“My work, my hard work that I put in. I prepared for the season like no other, I prepared to be a All-Star, that was one of my goals. But also everything just fell into place,” Thomas said. “My teammates are exceptional to where they want me to be myself, they allow me to be myself and they put me in the best position to be who I am, and same with the coaching staff. They’re a hardworking group of guys and they just want me to be me. So it’s kind of easy for me to go out there and just play because all the guys from the first guy to the last guy they just want me to be myself and it’s a great moment to have that, especially on a team like the Boston Celtics. So hopefully I can just build on it, which I will, and we can go a little further.”

Added Thomas about the season following an All-Star nomination: “This is my biggest summer yet. So making the All-Star team and then the next year is a big year not just for myself but anybody in that situation. I want to make the All-Star [game] an annual thing where I’m voted in by coaches, voted in by the fans. The next goal is to be a starter in the All-Star Game hopefully. So I’m just going to continue to work and continue to get better and never be satisfied with just one All-Star appearance.”

And when asked how he feels he stacks up against, the “elite” point guards of the league, Thomas went with his go-to phrase.

“All I’m going to say is men lie, women lie, numbers don’t,” Thomas said. “My numbers stack up against those other guys, those other top superstar guys you could say but at the end of the day I’m going to continue to work, continue to show that I’m just as good as any other point guard in the NBA.”

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Even with temperatures in the 90s in the dead of August, it’s not to early to start thinking about Christmas, and it appears the Celtics will be decking the halls of Madison Square Garden on December 25.

Even with temperatures in the 90s in the dead of August, it’s not to early to start thinking about Christmas, and it appears the Celtics will be decking the halls of Madison Square Garden on December 25.

According to a report from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, the Celtics and Knicks will be one of five games to be played on Christmas, with the Warriors and and Cavs set to tangle in a NBA Finals rematch, per ESPN’s Marc Stein.

The Celtics haven’t played on Christmas Day since 2012, when they ran through Brooklyn on the road 93-76. For reference, Rajon Rando was the leading scorer with 19 points, Kevin Garnett grabbed 10 boards and Paul Pierce had 10 assists. The Celtics still have had less than favorable results on the holiday posting an overall record of 12-17 on Christmas.

The Celtics/Knicks matchup will feature some new faces tossed into the Boston/New York rivalry with Celtics’ addition of Al Horford and the Knicks’ addition of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.

The league generally schedules the games based on how a team stands in terms of their marketability, so don’t be surprised to see the Heat, Lakers, Clippers or Bulls (all of whom played on Christmas last season) potentially get thrown into the mix this year.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Jan 27, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Ray Allen (34) warms up prior to a game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.  Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Allen played five seasons (2007-2013) with the Celtics (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

Former Celtics shooting star Ray Allen has been in contact with team officials about making a potential comeback in Boston.

In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Allen says he’s spoken with two of his former teams about making a possible return — the Celtics — where he won his first NBA championship — and the Bucks — the team that drafted him back in 1996.

“I would love going back to those places if it worked out,” Allen told the paper, “because both teams are good, too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be championship-or-bust for me to go back to the NBA.

“I want to be in a situation where I thought I could help, play a little bit and help where they have good young talent.”

Allen, who was a member of the Celtics’ new ‘Big 3’ alongside Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, helped lead the team to an NBA championship in 2008. He last played for the Celtics in 2012 before he turned down a two-year contract to stay in Boston and signed with the rival Miami Heat for less money — a move that some C’s fans deemed as unforgivable at the time.

Allen went on to win his second NBA title with the Heat in 2013 before losing to the Spurs in the finals the following year — which ended up being his last season in the NBA.

Now, at age 41, Allen says he’s still in great shape despite sitting the last two seasons.

“I worked out the other day in New York with a friend of mine,” Allen said, during a break from his annual instructional camp at East Granby High. “I was shooting, I was going through my routine like I’d always done. Yeah, I was a little winded, but I was able to go through my routine like I’d always gone through my routine and I didn’t feel like I’d missed any time in doing what I was doing. For me, it’s not ‘Can I do it anymore?’ It’s how I feel after I do it. And yesterday, I felt great.

“I could not have learned all that I’ve learned in 20 years of my life, dealing with coach [Jim] Calhoun, and how to sleep right, eat right, and then go to the NBA and do what I’ve done there and then afterwards just drop the ball and let everything go. I still weigh the same I weighed in college.”

He expects to make a decision by the start of training camp.

“At the start of the year, if nothing pans out, then basically I’ll retire,” Allen said. 

Allen, who’s a 40 percent career shooter — shot 37.5 percent from deep in his last season with the Heat. 

After finishing with the third-worst 3-point shooting in the league, the Celtics are in dire need of an outside shooter, and there isn’t another player in NBA history who’s made more 3-pointers than Allen. He’s holds the all-time regular season (2,973) and playoff (385) record for most 3-pointers made.

The C’s currently have 18 players under contract but can sign up to 20 players before the regular season — where they have to trim the roster down to 15.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

Dec 26, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens talks to guard R.J. Hunter (28) during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

R.J. Hunter will be fighting for playing time from Celtics coach Brad Stevens. (Tim Fuller/USA Today Sports)

Could 2016-17 be R.J. Hunter’s breakout season?

We’ve seen Hunter’s outside shot look very promising in exhibition and summer league games, but we’ve yet to see him put it together on a consistent level during the regular season.

The Celtics have been in dire need of a knockdown 3-point shooter since the departure four years ago of Ray Allen — a player who opponents constantly had to cover at the arc. Last season the Celtics finished with the second-worst 3-point shooting in the league (33 percent, better than only the Lakers). Hunter’s outside touch certainly could help boost them into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, but he’s going to have to earn a spot in Brad Stevens’ rotation first.

Hunter, 22, played in 36 regular-season games last season, shooting 30 percent from behind the arc in only 8.8 minutes a night. In a crowded backcourt, it was hard for Stevens to find playing time for the rookie — who was behind Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Evan Turner on the depth chart. But with Turner out of the picture (now playing for the Trail Blazers), his minutes will be up for grabs.

Hunter, coming off being a star in college at Georgia State, said last season’s transition to the pro game matured him.

“I’ve always played, so I had to kind of see the game from another angle,” Hunter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I have a better appreciation for team ball, for winning and for just being on the court. I remember at the end I just wanted to be on the court to be a part of a win. It was humbling.”

In the playoffs, Stevens turned to Hunter for offense after losing Bradley (hamstring) at the end of Game 1 — and eventually the entire series — and Hunter responded with abysmal performances. He shot 22 percent from the floor, including 20 percent from deep, and averaged a single point in 8.4 minutes. Making matters worse, Hunter couldn’t keep up with the Hawks on defense — he was late closing out on Kent Bazemore and caught behind screens in trying to cover Kyle Korver.

For a rookie who hadn’t cracked Stevens’ rotation all season long, it’s easy to see how Hunter could fail under pressure in the postseason. However, as he heads toward his second year in the league with a taste of playoff basketball in him, it may instill confidence in the young guard.

As a 3-point threat, Hunter could open up lanes for Thomas and Smart. Opponents would be forced to close out on his shot, which would allow the C’s to spread the floor and improve their offense.

In summer league play last month, Hunter was impressive from outside — reassuring his potential in becoming a go-to shooter for the C’s second unit. In five games, Hunter hit 11-of-24 3-pointers (45 percent). His best performance of the summer was against one of the league’s better young shooters, as he held his own against Suns guard Devin Booker. In a shooters’ duel, Hunter shot 4-of-6 from deep and finished with 17 points, while Booker knocked down 3-of-5 from behind the arc and finished with 24 points. 

Although he may be one of the team’s better outside shooters, Hunter is going to need to outshine his teammates before the start of the season. His 3-point shot is what separates him from guys like Terry Rozier, James Young and Demetrius Jackson – players who will be fighting for roster spots this fall.

After Thomas and Bradley, he’s the team’s most efficient backcourt 3-point shooter, and if he’s able to shoot at a high rate this season it would give Stevens a weapon he’s never had with the Celtics.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

FOXBORO — By now everyone knows how big of a Celtics fan Patriots defensive lineman Terrance Knighton is as he grew up just outside of Hartford, Connecticut.

He’s also good friends with forward Kevin Durant, so you can imagine how upset he was when he signed with the Warriors and not the Celtics last month.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

FOXBORO — By now everyone knows how big of a Celtics fan Patriots defensive lineman Terrance Knighton is as he grew up just outside of Hartford, Connecticut.

He’s also good friends with forward Kevin Durant, so you can imagine how upset he was when he signed with the Warriors and not the Celtics last month.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Knighton said after Wednesday’s practice. “I actually talked to Durant the day before he signed with Golden State. I was like, ‘Man, please come to Boston, don’t go to Golden State.’ He was like, ‘Ah, man.’ I already knew once he hung up the phone and went back to relaxing on the beach.

“I was very upset. I’m still upset at him. At the end of the day he’s a friend, I am happy for him. I’m pretty sure we will give him a warm welcome when Golden State comes to town.”

The NBA schedule will be released in a few weeks.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The Celtics will be playing a seven-game preseason schedule to get ready for the 2016-17 NBA season.

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The TD Garden will be the site of the final two preseason games announced by the Celtics. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Celtics will be playing a seven-game preseason schedule to get ready for the 2016-17 NBA season.

The team announced its preseason slate on Thursday, which will include an opener on Tuesday, Oct. 4 against the 76ers at the Mullins Center at UMass-Amherst. They will technically be the visiting team as Spectra/Comcast Spectacor is the parent company of the Mullins Center and the home of the 76ers – the Wells Fargo Center. 

Tickets for the Oct. 4 game are now available for purchase on Ticketmaster.com.

The Celtics will then face the Charlotte Hornets twice, with the first matchup taking place at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC on Thursday, Oct. 6 and the second at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT on Saturday, Oct. 8. Tickets for the Oct. 8 game are now available for purchase on Ticketmaster.com.

The preseason line-up also includes contests against Atlantic Division rivals the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. The team will start their New York road trip by facing the Nets on Thursday, Oct. 13 and the Knicks on Saturday, Oct. 15. The Celtics will close preseason play at home as they host the Nets and Knicks at the TD Garden on Monday, Oct. 17 and Wednesday, Oct. 19.

Tickets for the TD Garden games will go on sale at a later date to be announced.  Fans can visit Celtics.com, “like” the Celtics on Facebook or follow @celtics on Twitter for more ticket sale updates and information.

There will be less travel this fall as the Celtics made a trek through Italy and Spain last year as part of the NBA Global Games Europe 2015. The full preseason schedule is as follows:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME

Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET

Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

Brad Stevens will have some decisions to make at the end of the summer. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Brad Stevens will have some decisions to make at the end of the summer. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

If all things stay the same for the Celtics by the time training camp begins in late September, there’s going to be some trimming that will need to take place before the regular season tips off.

Here are a few things about roster sizes:

1. A team can carry 20 players on their training camp roster, and often times will sign players to training camp contracts bringing the size of that roster up to or near that number.

2. A team can carry a maximum of 15 players on their regular season roster.

So that creates something of a problem for the Celtics, who, after making the signings of five more players official Wednesday are carrying a roster of 18 players. 

So barring a trade or another signing, who would be out and in for the Celtics once the season begins?

Here’s a breakdown of the Celtics roster as it stands currently:

Guards: Avery Bradley, John Holland, R.J. Hunter, Demetrius Jackson, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, James Young.

Forwards: Ben Bentil, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Gerald Green, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Jordan Mickey

Centers: Al Horford, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller

There are plenty of players on this roster would be locks to make the 15-man cut. There are a group of players who could be left in limbo, however, including Bentil, Mickey, Young, Holland, Jackson and Hunter.

There are a few interesting cases here — namely Mickey, Young and Hunter.

Based on the way he tore up the D-League last season, it’s believable to think Mickey should be a lock to make the roster and the back end of Brad Stevens’ rotation, however in 16 appearances in the NBA last season, the 22-year-old was a mixed bag depending on how you look at it.

He shot an underwhelming 36.4 percent from the field and was 5-for-10 from the free throw line. If you look at his per-36 minutes numbers, he would be at 13.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per 36.

The problem for Mickey is there are players who can do what he does and do it better off the bench, such as Jerebko.

Then there’s the compelling case of Young. The most seasoned NBA vet on the Celtics summer league roster, he has far from turned out to be the player the Celtics took with the 17th pick in 2014. Granted, he will be just 21 come the start of the season, but being streaky and his inability to cash in on opportunities given to him the past few years leaves him in a precarious position.

His 2015-16 campaign was more forgettable than his rookie one, shooting 30.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc. What could keep Young on the roster is the fact the Celtics did not go out and add a totally pure shooter in the offseason with the exception of maybe Green. With optimism that Young knows how to shoot and could come around he could find himself on the roster, especially with a strong camp. 

Hunter’s sophomore campaign is an interesting one, simply because if he improves upon what he did last year, he could be a valuable asset off the bench.

He shot a mere 36.7 percent from the field, but was 30.2 percent from three. If he can find a way to hit with more efficiency, he would not only crack the roster, but see meaningful minutes.

Conversely, he received said meaningful minutes in the Atlanta playoff series and was painful to watch at times.

Holland is another interesting case, playing in just one playoff game, missing a three-point attempt. The 27-year-old Boston University grad has spent time playing in Europe and could bring a quasi-veteran presence, but that’s about it. His numbers have declined steadily since he started playing in Europe, and he does not bring much fresh to the table that would necessarily warrant him a spot in the 15.

Bentil and Jackson are also between a rock and a hard place as late-second round picks, and given their immediate status, will likely start the season in Maine.

On paper, Hunter, Mickey and Young would make the cut with Holland potentially making a case for himself, or potentially starting the season in Maine but being the first man up once injuries start to hit.

This year’s camp will be an interesting one for that exact reason. So many of the players on the bubble are so volatile, that how they play September and October is pivotal for any chance of cracking the 15-man roster.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen