Larry Bird

Larry Bird

Larry Bird understands why Kevin Durant chose the Warriors. But back in his own playing days, the former Celtics great wouldn’t have considered joining forces with rival Magic Johnson.

Speaking on SiriusXM NBA radio, Bird said Durant didn’t do anything wrong by leaving Oklahoma City to join the rival Warriors, but it’s not a choice he would’ve made.

“I know back in the day, I couldn’t imagine going to the Lakers and playing with Magic Johnson,” Bird said. “I’d rather try to beat him. But these guys are different, and I understand a lot of it and it’s within the rules, so they can do whatever they do. I can remember years ago, we were fighting when I played for free agency, pure free agency, so there’d be more movement. But I could never imagine myself going and joining another team with great players, because I had great players and I was in a great situation.”

A case can be made that Durant had a great situation in OKC, with point guard Russell Westbrook, big man Steven Adams, and a roster that took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.

Bird played with Hall of Famers Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish, among others. He won three titles and reached the Finals five times in his career.

Durant has reached the Finals once since entering the league in 2007.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

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

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