Hightower signing eliminates contract drama

Hightower signing eliminates contract drama

By Tom E. Curran

The final rookie of the Patriots draft class has agreed to terms. Donta Hightower, the 25th pick out of Alabama, got his deal done Wednesday according to our buddy at ProFootballTalk.com, Mike Florio.

Just yesterday, the estimable Paoletti looked closer at the unsigned first and second-rounders and noted the hangup for Hightower was a guaranteed fourth year.

We still don't know whether he got that fourth year guaranteed or not.

What we do know is that the off-field wrangling over dollars and cents won't be keeping any Patriots out of camp this year.

And, hence, there should be an air of tranquility down in Foxboro.

We've had our share of contract stakeouts down there over the past few seasons. From Mankins to Brady to rookies like Ras-I Dowling last year, the business side has intruded.

This year, it won't. At least not directly.

Let's be honest, there is zero doubt that Wes Welker wanted to know where he'd be playing in 2013. Working for someone is easier when you don't have to worry that you'll be shown the door in a few months.

But the fact Welker is franchised and has been lugging that tag along for almost six months means he's by now reconciled to his situation.

And while the rules of media engagement require us to ask about his "leap of faith" that fell flat, he won't say anything that's a direct shot at the Patriots. If inwardly he seethes, outwardly he'll be accepting.

Some people in my line of work will pine for a good contract dustup in camp. Picking at contractual scabs - basically worrying about other people's business - is an easy angle. Better to beat that to a pulp than discuss, ya know, football.

Of course, Aaron Hernandez is going into the final year of his rookie deal in 13 months...never too early to start asking....

Thomas to represent Celtics at NBA draft lottery

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Thomas to represent Celtics at NBA draft lottery

WALTHAM, Mass. – Isaiah Thomas has been beating the odds for about as long as he has been playing basketball.

The Boston Celtics are hoping he can do the same for them during next month’s draft lottery when the Celtics learn exactly where their first round pick from Brooklyn will land in the lottery (top-14).
 
Because of the Nets' regular season record (21-61), the pick which came to Boston via the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade in 2013, has the third-best chances of becoming the No. 1 overall pick which would presumably be used to select LSU’s Ben Simmons.

Thomas was asked about representing the Celtics at the draft lottery during his exit interview on Friday.

“I’m going to do it,” Thomas said. “I’m definitely going to be that guy, hopefully bring some luck.”

When asked if he had any particular good luck charms he will bring with him, Thomas responded, “Nah. But I’m going to do my research and find something.”

Thomas was selected with the 60th – and final – pick of the 2011 NBA draft, and has exceeded all expectations of player drafted so late.

Most players selected at that point are fighting just to make an NBA roster.

But the 5-foot-9 Thomas has been among the top scorers from his draft class, and this past season was named to his first all-star team.

This past season he averaged a career-high 22.2 points per game along with 6.2 assists. While the playoffs ended on a sour note for Thomas, he still wound up averaging a team-best 24.2 points, 5.0 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game.

While some might think being asked to be at the lottery isn’t that big a deal, Thomas sees it as yet another moment that speaks to how far he has come in beating the odds that for most of his basketball career were stacked heavily against him.

“Coming from where I’m from and the story I have, you would never think I would be asked to represent an NBA franchise at the lottery,” Thomas said. “It’s a blessing for him (Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) to even ask me that. I’m excited to do it. Hopefully I can bring some luck.”

Thomas: 'If you don't want to play for Celtics, you don't know basketball'

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Thomas: 'If you don't want to play for Celtics, you don't know basketball'

The Celtics season came to an end Thursday night as the Hawks took the first-round series in six games.

That stung everybody on the Celtics pretty hard in the moments after the final buzzer. But nobody appeared more upset than Isaiah Thomas, who made it clear that he poured his heart and soul into this season.

The goal now? To get better from within . . . and from the outside. That means bringing in some star talent.

Thomas spoke with reporters Friday after his end-of-season meeting with Celtics President Danny Ainge. He told them that everybody, especially Ainge, can see that the team needs a little more talent.

Acquiring it isn't easy, but having spent a season-and-a-half in Boston, Thomas doesn't see why someone wouldn't want to play for the Celtics.

There's no beating around the bush: Kevin Durant is the prized target this offseason. The Celtics appear to at least be somewhat in the picture. You can bet Thomas will do what he can to help.

The Celtics have an energetic fan base, a young team, and a load of assets. One of those assets will be determined at the lottery. And guess who will be there?

Will free agent Zeller be back with Celtics? ‘We’ll see what happens’

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Will free agent Zeller be back with Celtics? ‘We’ll see what happens’

WALTHAM, Mass. – Tyler Zeller has been in the NBA long enough for teams to have a feel for what he can do on the floor.
 
He runs the floor. He scores in transition. He’s not a banger, but isn’t afraid to mix it up inside.
 
All those qualities will be on display next season.
 
But will he be doing them for the Celtics?
 
As a restricted free agent, Zeller has no idea what lies ahead for him in the NBA.
 
While he plans to keep an open mind about the free agent process, Zeller made it clear in his exit interview on Friday that he would not have a problem returning to the Celtics next season.
 
“It’s a great organization, a great place to be,” Zeller said. “So we’ll see what happens.”
 
Zeller, who came to the Celtics via trade in the summer of 2014 from Cleveland, has had a roller coaster of a time in Boston.
 
He has been in every conceivable positon with the team, from starter to key rotation player to reserve to an end-of-the-bench player.
 
And through it all, Zeller was able to not allow his up-and-down status affect his ability to stay ready when his number was called.
 
Boston’s 104-92 Game 6 loss to Atlanta was one of the many examples of Zeller being prepared to play when his opportunity presented itself.
 
In Game 6, the 7-foot center came off the bench and scored eight points to go along with five rebounds in just less than 12 minutes of court time.
 
As far as whether the Celtics want him back, Zeller said, “I would hope so. You always hope a team wants you back. I would think they would. But at the same time, when July comes around, we’ll really see. When those negotiations start. Until then, you can say whatever you want. Until then, we’ll see what happens.”