Ainge has 'good conversation' with Greg Oden

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Ainge has 'good conversation' with Greg Oden

BOSTON Danny Ainge has made no secret about his focus these days shifting between preparing for the present-day struggles of the Boston Celtics, while planning for the future.

Saturday's visit with former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden falls into the latter category.

Oden, who has had multiple knee injuries since being taken with the top pick in the 2007 NBA draft, was in town on Saturday to meet with the C's.

"It was just a chance to get to know Greg a little better," Ainge, president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com on Saturday. "We meet with free agents all the time."

While that may be true, few come with as much uncertainty as Oden who hasn't played since 2009 due to injuries to both knees with each requiring micro-fracture surgery.

That said, it hasn't slowed down the number of teams - the C's included - that have expressed interest in adding the 7-foot-1 center to their roster.

But all teams interested know that his availability will not be until the 2013-2014 season, and even that isn't a given.

For Ainge, Saturday wasn't so much about Oden the basketball player, but rather Oden the player and whether he could be the type of player that could fit in with the Celtics culture.

"It was a good conversation," said Ainge, who added that no contract offer was made to Oden. "When he has been healthy, he has been a good player in our league. Like I said, this was just a chance for us to get to know him better. That's all."

With no shot of Oden helping address their most immediate need - more size - there's still a definite need for the Celtics to add a big man for next season.

Kevin Garnett and Fab Melo are the only centers under contract for the 2013-2014 season. And with Garnett likely to give some thought to retirement this summer, the Celtics will surely look to add at least one center during the offseason.

And while it's way too early to say Oden is the guy, the C's are at the very least in the mix for his services.

Before an Ohio State basketball game last month, the former Buckeye All-American told the Associated Press that he was rehabbing while taking classes in Columbus, Ohio.

"I don't know when, but I'm taking this year off. I'll play next year," he told the Associated Press.

There have been multiple reports indicating that Oden was eyeing a return to Cleveland or Miami.

However, he said he's not leaning towards any one team in particular right now.

"Right now I'm not worrying about where," Oden told The AP. "I'm only worried about my knee."

Oden spent his first five NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick and in doing so, passed on perennial all-star Kevin Durant.

Injuries limited Oden to just 82 games over five seasons before the Blazers waived him in March. With Portland, Oden averaged 9.2 points and 7.3 rebounds in addition to 1.4 blocks per game.

His injury-prone professional career came on the heels of an impressive year at Ohio State, his lone season as a Buckeye. Oden was instrumental in leading the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA Final Four.

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

Celtics-Raptors preview: DeRozan, Lowry a challenge for Bradley, C's

BOSTON – Avery Bradley doesn’t mind being a standout, but this is probably not what he had in mind. 

Injuries have ravaged the Boston Celtics’ starting five to the point where only one player, Bradley, has been with the first unit in all 22 games this season. 

Just like Bradley was looked upon to step his game up in the absence of Isaiah Thomas (right groin) at Orlando on Wednesday, he will once again be challenged to lead Boston (13-9) to victory tonight when the Thomas-less Celtics face the Toronto Raptors. 

Bradley’s emergence as a two-way talent this season has overshadowed at times what has been another season of elite play defensively. 

And he’ll need to be on top of his defensive game tonight against a Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. 

Both Lowry and DeRozan present a different kind of challenge for Bradley who will spend time defending each of them at various points during the game. 

Lowry has good size, strength and deceptive quickness in addition to an under-rated perimeter game that will keep Bradley on his toes for sure. 

This season he's averaging 20.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and a career-high 7.6 assists while shooting 42.9 percent on 3's which is also a career mark. 

And DeRozan is having the kind of season that might get him a few league MVP votes. 

His 28.0 points per game ranks fifth in the NBA, but making his numbers even more impressive is that unlike most guards DeRozan doesn’t generate much offense from three-pointers.

DeRozan averages 1.8 three-point attempts per game which is the fewest attempts among any player ranked among the league’s top-25 scorers.

The 6-foot-7 All-Star is the master of the mid-range game which accounts for 31.5 percent of the points he scores. And when he’s not shooting the mid-range, he’s working a defender in one-on-one iso-situations. 

That helps explain why 76.4 percent of his two-point made field goals are unassisted. 

But here’s the thing about Bradley. 

As much as we give him props for what he does defensively, it’s his offense that has put him on the map as a potential All-Star this season. 

Bradley is averaging a career-high 17.9 points while shooting 47.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 7.8 rebounds per game in addition to shooting a career-high 40.7 percent on 3's.

But for Bradley, individual accolades are only going to come his way by the Celtics winning games; preferably against above-average teams like the Toronto Raptors.

And that would make both Bradley and the Celtics stand out this season.