Celtics one of eight teams pursuing Lee


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."

Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley


Beyond the numbers: The dual threat of Avery Bradley

BOSTON – Another year, another season in which Avery Bradley plans to showcase a new and improved skill that will benefit the Boston Celtics.
But with each improved skill, Bradley moves just that much closer to being an all-around, two-way talent that creates problems for teams at both ends of the floor.
We all know about Bradley’s defense, which was good enough to land him a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team last season. He also gets props for steadily improving his game offensively in some area every summer, but defenses might have their hands full more than ever with Bradley.
According to NBA stats guru Dick Lipe, the 6-foot-2 Bradley was the only guard in the NBA last season to shoot better than 70 percent in the restricted area among players who took a minimum of 200 field goal attempts.
He is among a list that includes Los Angeles Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin; Miami’s Hassan Whiteside; current teammate and former Atlanta Hawk Al Horford; San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge; Golden State’s Kevin Durant and Atlanta big man Dwight Howard.
But if you’re thinking about keeping him away from that part of the floor, Bradley also made the 3-point shot a bigger part of his offensive game last season; as in, 40 percent of his shots came from beyond the 3-point line.

Having that kind of diversity makes him a difficult player to get a clear read on how to defend. And because of that, it may open things up even more so for his teammates.
Bradley can shoot from the perimeter; he can score close to the rim. His ball-handling skills have improved in the offseason to where it no longer looks as though it’s a major weakness.
And he defends at a level few players in the league can match.
Collectively it makes Bradley one of the many challenges awaiting teams whenever they face the Celtics, a player who is poised to showcase his diverse set of skills beginning tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. 

Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue


Pregame number: Al Horford to the rescue

Tonight’s pregame number to watch is 45.4%. That was the Celtics' score frequency on pick and rolls finished by the screener last season, which was the worst rate in the NBA.

Score Frequency: The percentage of possession in which the team or player scores at least 1 point.

The major problem for the Celtics last season was personnel, as Jared Sullinger finished the most pick and roll plays for the C’s after setting a screen, and he was -- to put it nicely -- freaking terrible. Sullinger was the second-worst roll/pop man in the league, averaging a paltry 0.87 points per possession.

Fortunately, the Celtics replaced Jared Sullinger with four-time All-Star Al Horford, who is one of the elite roll/pop men in the NBA. Last season, Horford finished fifth in the NBA averaging 1.13 points per possession as a roll/pop man and boasted a more than solid 57.1 eFG% on those plays. 

eFG% (Effective Field Goal Percentage): Measures field goal percentage adjusting for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. The equation is ((FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA

If you watched the preseason, then you already know the kind of impact Horford can have on the Celtics half court offense. So keep an eye out for those pick and rolls tonight and throughout the season, and we should see that 45.4% Score Frequency jump somewhere closer to 50%.