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

Russell Westbrook is a great player, but the Celtics can do better.</p>
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When the Celtics selected French forward Guerschon Yabusele with the No. 16 pick in last month’s draft, it came as a surprise — and it didn’t sit well with some Celtics fans who were hoping the team would draft a more recognizable name.

Yabusele didn’t help his cause in the Celtics’ summer league opener on Monday, tallying just five points and six rebounds and looking uncomfortable on the court. But on Tuesday he showed why the C’s considered him worthy of a mid-first-round pick.

Starting at center, the 6-foot-8, 240-pounder scored on Boston’s first possession, catching the ball at the 3-point line, driving right and then finishing with a nifty left-handed reverse against second-year Jazz center Tibor Pleis, who at 7-foot-3 stands almost a half-foot taller than Yabusele.

Yabusele finished with 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds in 24 1/2 minutes. He also had an impressive block (one of two) in which he showed his quickness by chasing down a Jazz guard.

He was one of four Celtics in double figures as Boston posted an 89-82 victory.

“Everybody came in and gave us a big lift,” Celtics summer league coach Micah Strawberry said. “Guys made big shots when they were called upon, and it was good to see. It was fun to see the bench cheering each other on, the guys that are out there.”

— Leading Boston offensively was third-year shooting guard James Young, who totaled 17 points on 4-of-9 shooting. All four of his baskets came from behind the 3-point line, and he went 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. The Kentucky product also grabbed five rebounds and two steals in almost 28 minutes. The Celtics may have a roster spot available for Young once the regular season starts, and if the 20-year-old can continue knocking down outside shots, he may lock up a spot on the bench once again. 

“It was just a team win,” Young said following the game. “I went out there and played basketball and played aggressive, but overall it was just a great team win. We went out there and played great defense, great offense and moved the ball around, and came out with the win.”

— Terry Rozier had another well-rounded game for Boston. After recording 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in a win over the 76ers on Monday, the second-year point guard finished Tuesday’s victory with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes. He also used his aggressiveness to get to the line, taking nine free throws. Rozier saw an increase in minutes near the end of last season, and with versatile small forward Evan Turner signing with the Trail Blazers, C’s coach Brad Stevens may have to rely more on Rozier for playmaking.

— Marcus Thornton was the fourth Celtic to score in double digits, finishing the game with 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. The 2015 second-round draft pick averaged 13.6 points and shot 45.7 percent from the field with the Maine Red Claws last season.

— Jaylen Brown, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, sat out Tuesday’s game with an hyperextended knee. The injury isn’t considered to be serious and the small forward is expected to return to the floor on Thursday. R.J. Hunter (sore right wrist) also missed the game as a precaution.

The Celtics next take on the Spurs on Thursday in the final game of the Utah Summer League.

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

The Celtics did not pull off the major trade many fans were hoping for prior to last month’s draft, but they still might have a chance to make a splash.

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler

The Celtics did not pull off the major trade many fans were hoping for prior to last month’s draft, but they still might have a chance to make a splash. According to a report from the Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett, the C’s have been continuing their attempts to improve their lineup by landing a big-name player — namely Bulls guard Jimmy Butler or 76ers center Jahlil Okafor.

The report notes that the C’s may have hurt their chances with their surprising selection of Jaylen Brown at No. 3.

Wrote Bulpett: Sources tell us the C’s are still holding the line on their offers from prior to the draft. They will make trades if teams come around to their price.

Jimmy Butler and Jahlil Okafor are said to be still available, but getting them now won’t be as easy as on draft night when Chicago and Philadelphia, respectively, both coveted the No. 3 overall pick so they could take Providence’s Kris Dunn.

The Celtics helped their cause with the acquisition of free agent forward/center Al Horford but clearly need to do more to compete with the best in the East.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar