The best of the C's Orlando Summer League


The best of the C's Orlando Summer League

ORLANDO, Fla. The Celtics concluded the Orlando portion of their summer league schedule Friday with a 94-73 win over the Orlando Magic. Boston finished with a 4-1 record, but let's be honest. Teams don't put much stock in wins and losses this time of year.

The focus has more to do with evaluating talent, and seeing how that talent fits in with a team's goals and objectives.

With that said, here's a look at the C's 12-man summer league roster now that their five-game Orlando summer league schedule is complete.


Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State:
Summary: Offensively, picked up where he left off in college as a good scorer around the basket. Better passer and rebounder than expected, a clear result of having a high basketball IQ. However, he tends to fall in love with the long-ball and spends too much time politicin' for calls instead of just playing through them.

Dionte Christmas, GF, Temple
Strengths: Can score in a variety of ways; plays with lots of energy at both ends of the floor; not a lock-down defender, but plays with a certain amount of smarts and savvy. However, he doesn't have a true position and doesn't play with a great amount of athleticism which at times can put him at a disadvantage particularly on defense.
Weaknesses: Doesn't have a true position on the floor. Inconsistent at times.

E'Twaun Moore, G, Purdue
Summary: Spent the bulk of his time at the point guard position, still needs to improve his court vision and setting up teammates. Still, he has the ability to score in bunches and plays with the kind of confidence you want in a floor leader. Like most young players, Moore needs to be more consistent with the things he does best - making shots.

Kris Joseph, F, Syracuse
Summary: A second-round pick, Joseph has been arguably the biggest surprise thus far for the Celtics. He didn't look particularly good in practices, but has played well in most of the summer league games. His mid-range jumper has been solid, but even more impressive has been his defense and rebounding - two things that will bode well in his quest to earn a roster spot with the Celtics.

Jamar Smith, G, Southern Indiana
Summary: Shot the ball well all week, but his ball-handling and defense need work. He did some good things and probably did enough to warrant an invite to training camp.


Sean Williams, FC, Boston College
Summary: He saw limited action, but continues to draw rave reviews from the coaches who see him as a potential rotation player this season. He has the kind of athleticism defensively that the Celtics desperately need. That athleticism coupled with him being such a willing defender makes the decision for Boston to pick up the option on his second season, a pretty easy one.

JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue
Summary: Johnson's play was up and down throughout the summer league. The C's want to play him some at the power forward position, but even against the young and inexperienced, he struggled to be an effective player in the post. He has the ability to shoot from the perimeter, but his range doesn't extend out to the 3- point line which makes him a "stretch 4" with limitations. He has to step his game up in a number of areas in order to not have a repeat of his rookie season.

Fab Melo, C, Syracuse
Summary: As billed, Melo's defense is ahead - way ahead - of his offense. He was more of a shot-alterer than a shot-blocker. His lateral quickness is surprisingly good on defending pick-and-rolls. Although he's not a great rebounder, he understands angles and how to position himself to draw charges which is rare for a big man with his shot-blocking and shot-altering talent.

Jonathan Gibson, G, New Mexico State
Summary: Other than a 17-point explosion in Boston's win over Brooklyn on Tuesday, Gibson has done little offensively. Although he's undersized, showed signs of being a good on-the-ball pressure defender in the Avery Bradley mold. He's on the bubble for receiving an invite to training camp.

Larry Owens, GF, Oral Roberts
Summary: A fringe NBA player, Owens was relatively quiet until the Friday's win against Orlando. He may in fact get an invitation to training camp, but the prospects of him leap-frogging past a player like Christmas or Joseph, seems unlikely.


Stephane Lasme, F, UMass
Summary: After being the last player cut by the Celtics a couple years ago, it's highly unlikely Lasme will get that close this time around. In fact, getting an invite to training camp will be a bit of a surprise. His defense is still pretty good. But the improvements he has supposedly made in his shooting and ball-handling, were nowhere to be found this week.

Craig Brackins, F, Iowa State
Summary: This former first-round pick had 10 points in Boston's win over Orlando, but this week by no means was a success for him. He played fewer minutes than any other Celtic. He is a big man with 3-point range, something that was not on display until Friday. He'll likely get more opportunities during the Las Vegas summer league with the Celtics to prove that his play on Friday wasn't a fluke and possibly earn an invite to training camp.

NBA Notes: League seems to be on upward surge in interest and ratings


NBA Notes: League seems to be on upward surge in interest and ratings

For so many years the NFL has had an almost impenetrable veneer in the way it has successfully pivoted away from a myriad of scandals that would have at the very least delivered a significant, noticeable blow to most professional leagues.

But that Teflon-tough image has taken a whacking of late with the league dealing with what has been for the most part an across-the-board ratings dip in its programming.

The NFL’s slide comes at a time when the NBA seems to be on a upward surge in terms of interest and ratings.

Kevin Durant’s decision to leave Oklahoma City and play for Golden State is a needle-mover across the NBA landscape. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are looking to defend their NBA title – a phrase no one thought they would ever hear even when James signed on for a second tour of duty – will certainly generate tons of interest.

The Boston Celtics added Al Horford to a team that many believe will be among Cleveland’s stiffest challengers, in addition to being a team that has played Golden State as well as anyone the last couple of years.

There are many hands responsible for the NBA having such a strong position on the professional sports landscape, chief among them being former commissioner David Stern.

He was in town last week as part of the Shamrock Foundation’s annual Gala.

Stern gave a rundown of what he’s been up to since passing the commissioner’s torch to Adam Silver.

He said he has been a senior advisor to a venture capital firm, counsels several start-up companies and of course a senior advisor to the NBA.

But it’s what he’s not doing – negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the player’s union – that seemed to bring him the most joy.

“That’s when I got the least amount of sleep,” quipped Stern.

But those sleep-deprived marathon sessions with owners and union leaders, have helped bring the league to where it is today – thriving with its players and the profits both seem to be reaping.

That’s why the reports of the NBA and the player’s union being close to coming to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, make a lot of sense. The NBA or the player’s union can opt-out of the current CBA prior to Dec. 15, although that’s looking less likely to happen because of what should be a new deal that better reflects the economic changes that currently exist in the NBA.

This past summer saw the salary cap in the NBA balloon to $94.14 million after having been $70 million for the 2015-2016 season.

With both NBA players and owners profiting significantly from the new TV deal, most of the changes to come about (paying players on the rookie scale more money; increasing the dollar amounts for veteran’s minimum and team exception contracts) are just common sense rule changes that have both sides closer to getting something done sooner rather than later.

And while he’s not directly involved in any of the current dealings, what he accomplished prior to retiring as commissioner certainly laid the groundwork for what appears to be a relatively smooth negotiation period.

“I didn’t project anything other than I was leaving it in the most spectacular of hands with an All-Star executive cast and they would just do what’s right for the league and they have,” Stern said.

And as far as the current talks that have reportedly been ongoing for months, Stern understands all too well that the last CBA talks which led to a shortened, 66-game season led to changes that has both players and owners feeling better about current negotiations.

“I’m proud to say the league has gotten to a very good place in terms of the player’s share, the owner’s share and where they can all see this is something that pays to keep going,” Stern said. “It’s fun to watch from a distance and not be involved.”



So much for that logjam in the frontcourt for the Philadelphia 76ers. The latest big man to go down with an injury is Nerlens Noel who recently had “minor” surgery on his left knee that will sideline him for reportedly three-to-five weeks. Keep in mind that the Everett, Mass. native missed his entire rookie season following left knee surgery, although the Sixers indicate this was an arthroscopic procedure and is considered minor. He joins No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons who suffered a foot injury that’s expected to keep him out until at least January. That means a lot of the trade rumors involving Noel (and Jahlil Okafor to a certain extent too) should cool off for a little bit.



Signing with Toronto during the offseason was supposed to be Jared Sullinger's chance at a fresh start. Unfortunately for him, things are looking a lot like they did in his early days in Boston. Concerns about his back dropped his draft-day stock from a likely lottery (top-14) pick, to falling in the Celtics' lap at No. 21. During his rookie season, he played well but had to have season-ending back surgery. With the Raptors, it appears he will miss some time early on due to a foot injury that occurred in the team's first preseason game which has kept him out of action ever since.  

“May be a little while before he comes back,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters recently. “He may get checked out just to see what else is going on.”

Sullinger’s weight was an issue during his time with the Celtics. It’s unclear what impact if any, it had on his current injury or whether it’s a factor in the injury keeping him out indefinitely. 



We have seen Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) in lots of different basketball roles from hitting big shots to just hitting people.

But as a coach? That is reportedly being discussed by the Los Angeles Lakers brass as they try to trim their training camp roster down to 15 players.

MWP is likely on the outside of the 15-man roster now, but the Lakers still want him to be part of the organization. While it may seem a bit of a stretch at first, he does bring a wealth of basketball experience to the table, a player how has seen the highs and lows of the game in a way few players can fully understand or speak about with a great amount of credibility.



The LaMarcus Aldridge trade talk will be one of the storylines this NBA season. The Boston Celtics will continue to be discussed as a possibility, but the team to watch is the Phoenix Suns. They came close to convincing him when he left Portland for San Antonio. Phoenix provides him a team that can be built around him (which he wants), lots of shots (which he wants) and a team with no pressure on his back to lead them to major success (yup, he wants that too). … Michael Carter Williams’ stock seems to continue to tumble after winning the league’s rookie of the Year award. He’s going into his fourth season and he’s already on to his third team. … Multiple league executives believe Devin Booker is the best 20-and-under player in the NBA right now. He's good, but I'd probably take Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns.

Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision


Bradley continues adapting, improves ball-handling and court vision

WALTHAM, Mass. – Just like Avery Bradley comes back each season with a new element in his basketball tool box, defenses have adapted to some degree to try and counter whatever Bradley is doing a better job at.

Before it was take away the mid-range shot and make him a 3-point shooter. Now it’s run him off the 3-point line by closing out hard and fast against him.

Well, running him off the 3-point line is actually playing into the hands of two areas of Bradley’s game that have seen significant growth during the offseason: ball-handling and court vision.

Bradley’s improvement in those areas has been evident in the preseason, something the seventh-year guard hopes to continue in the regular season opener on Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

“I worked on my ball-handling a lot,” Bradley said. “Instead of doing all the Kyrie (Irving) stuff that trainers have people do, I tried to focus on just one or two moves, just perfecting a few moves that I can put into my game.”

What we’ve seen from Bradley is better sense of when to attack players with his ball-handling and when to use it as a set-up to get his teammates good shots.

He attributes both to the work he has put in and just becoming an older, more wiser player on the floor.

“I’m able to make plays for my teammates because I’m a lot more confident in my ball-handling, in my play-making and my decision-making," said the 25-year-old Bradley. "I feel a lot more comfortable out there.”

While it may not seem like that big a deal that Bradley’s putting the ball on the floor more and attacking off the dribble, it’s actually really important for this Celtics team.

With Bradley now looking to attack off the dribble more, that means that the Celtics now have a starting five – Isaiah Thomas, Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson and Al Horford – with each player comfortable and confident in their ability to take most defenders and their respective positions, off the dribble.

That makes Boston a significantly better team offensively in terms of being highly unpredictable and to a larger degree, tougher to contain.

“He’s a great defender, one of the best in the NBA,” Boston’s Amir Johnson told “But people sleep on his offensive game. He can hit the corner 3s, wing 3s, pull-up jumpers … he can pretty much do it all out there. Now that he’s looking to get to the rim more, that just makes him and our team really, much better.”

Indeed, Bradley sounds as though he plans to continue probing different ways to generate points for the Celtics.

One approach he’ll surely take is to do a better job of taking advantage of the mistakes defenses make against him, like players who try and chase him off the 3-point line.

“Me being  a better 3-point shooter should challenge me to think the game a little more,” he said. “If it’s drawing fouls … I know I should be drawing more fouls from the 3-point line. There are times when people are just running out of control at me at the 3-point line. I have to be smarter.”

Bradley added, “I worked on that this summer. It’s translated in practice, so now it needs to translate in games.”