Celtics one of eight teams pursuing Lee

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Celtics one of eight teams pursuing Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. The Celtics' pursuit of Courtney Lee will probably be decided by what most of free agency decisions boil down to: money.

For Lee to get the kind of money he's seeking in a new deal, the Celtics will have to make a sign-and-trade deal with Houston.

"Houston and (Rockets general manager) Daryl Morrey . . . he loves draft picks," Lee said. "That's one thing you can do, sign-and-trade. With Houston loving draft picks and Boston not having money to pay a player, that may be an option for both teams."

Lee, a career 10 points-per-game scorer since coming into the league four seasons ago, earned 2.2 million last season.

Chances are good -- very good -- that Lee will be seeking a contract of greater value than that.

Lee said "more than eight teams" are in the hunt with the Celtics.

Maybe the stiffest competition will come from Dallas, which has lost out on a number of its top targets including Jason Terry who reached an agreement with the Celtics.

"Dallas is a team, they're looking to make one-year deals even if they have to overpay somebody so that they have enough cap space for the next year's free agency," Lee said. "That's something that if me and my agent, if we can't come to an agreement on a multi-year deal, that's something that we'll have to look into."

It certainly hasn't hurt the C's chances that Lee has been friendly for a number of years with C's head coach Doc Rivers, as well as Rivers' basketball-playing sons Jeremiah and Austin.

Lee confirmed meeting with Doc Rivers recently, but added that it was more of a feeling-out process for both sides.

"We were just hearing each other out," Lee said. "He expressed interest. I expressed interest. So now it's just . . . it's not basketball-wise that needs to be discussed. It's the front office and my agent. They need to communicate and go from there."

That relationship is only part of the allure he has for Boston.

"I want to win," Lee said. "Boston is . . . everybody knows their record and what they've accomplished over the years, especially with Doc and having KG and Paul, Rondo's still there. That's a team I feel will win and continue to win. That's one factor in the decision."

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

Celtics' team plane receives bomb threat

BOSTON -- There was a bomb threat to the Boston Celtics’ team plane to Oklahoma City on Saturday afternoon, but no one was injured.

The incident will be investigated by NBA security which will work in conjunction with the FBI on this matter which was one of several hoaxes called into airports across the country on Saturday.

News of the bomb threat was first known when Celtics forward Jae Crowder posted an Instagram photo showing players departing the plane with the caption, “BOMB THREAT ON US”.

Celtics officials declined to comment on the matter and instead referred all bomb threat-related questions to the league office.

Messages to the league office were not immediately returned.

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

Celtics' ball movement among NBA's best, with or without Thomas

BOSTON – When it comes to winning basketball, keep it moving – the ball that is – has become a staple of the Celtics this season. 
 
And lately they’ve had to do it without Isaiah Thomas, the team’s leading scorer at 26 points per game as well as their top assists guy (6.2) who will miss hish third game in a row Sunday in Oklahoma City because of a right groin injury.
 
The Celtics have split their first two games without Thomas, with the most recent being a 101-94 home loss to Toronto on Friday.
 
When it comes to this team and ball movement, fans are just as divided when it pertains to whether the Celtics move the ball better without the high-scoring Thomas in the lineup. 
 
Regardless of what fans think they know about this team and how they move the ball, the numbers paint a very clear picture that this team’s ball movement is among the best in the NBA, with or without Thomas in the lineup. 

And that will be important on Sunday against an Oklahoma City team that doesn’t rely on the ball swinging from one side of the floor to the other, nearly as much as the Celtics. 
 
The Thunder, led by MVP candidate Russell Westbrook, are dead-last in the NBA when it comes to passes made per game (267.1). 
 
Meanwhile, the Celtics are at the opposite end of the passing game spectrum, averaging 331.7 passes per game, which is second in the NBA (Philadelphia, 354.3).
 
And in the two games without Thomas, Boston has averaged 347.0 passes per game, which ranks second in the NBA in that period of time. 
 
In addition to missing his points and assists, the Celtics must also find ways to make plays in filling the void left by a player who has the ball in his hands a lot of the time. 
 
Thomas’ usage percentage (percentage of plays used by a player while he’s on the floor) of 32.9 percent ranks seventh in the NBA, ahead of notable stars such as San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard (30.9 percent), Portland’s Damian Lillard (30.8 percent), New York’s Carmelo Anthony (29.5 percent), as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James (29 percent) and Golden State’s back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry (28.2 percent).
 
So, considering how involved Thomas has been in the team’s offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the numbers in terms of passing and ball movement are better without him than they are when he’s on the floor playing. 
 
What should be surprising is that the gap statistically without him, isn’t greater. 
 
Boston has been a top five team when it comes to assists this season, currently third in the league with 24.7 assists per game. In the past two games without Thomas, the Celtics’ assists numbers have risen to 26.5 per game, but that only ranks fifth in the league in that span.
 
When it comes to potential assists and secondary assists (a.k.a. the “hockey” assist), Boston’s numbers have improved slightly without Thomas as well, but in each category Boston is ranked second in the league. 
 
And that ranking is with, and without Thomas in the lineup. 
 
While it’s not clear if Thomas knows just how close the numbers in terms of ball movement are with and without him playing, he is acutely aware that there are some who believe they are a better team in terms of keeping the ball moving without him.
 
“I can’t control that,” Thomas told reporters on Friday. “At this point, I laugh about it. I know what I mean to my teammates. I know what I mean to this organization, to Brad Stevens.”