OFFSEASON

Green soaking in every moment with Celtics

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Green soaking in every moment with Celtics

WALTHAM The first day of practice can be a drag for many NBA players.

Not for Jeff Green, who was fighting a losing battle in trying to hide his ear-to-ear grin.

"It was hard," said Green, still trying (and failing miserably) to mask a smile. "I was trying not to smile too much in practice, keep a straight face."

Can you blame him?

The 6-foot-9 forward inked a four-year, 36 million deal with the C's this summer, which is enough right there to be giddy.

But when you consider what he has gone through this past year and how this was his first training camp with the Celtics, being in a jovial mood makes sense.

After being acquired midway through the 2010 season from Oklahoma City, Green had to sit out all of last season after a routine physical showed an abnormality with his heart. That ultimately led to the one-year, 9 million contract he signed being voided, in addition to him needing season-ending heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

Months of rehabilitation and workouts followed, bringing Green to the Saturday where he was ready to go all-out - literally.

Throughout the C's first practice, Green was doing what he does best - run the floor - which caught the eye of many, including head coach Doc Rivers.

While Rivers was pleased with the conditioning of most of his players, Green stood out.

"Jeff looked great," Rivers said. "He had one of the better practices. His conditioning was phenomenal. I thought that was great."

Even if he struggled, just being back on the floor is a blessing that Green does not take for granted.

He acknowledged that there was a point in which he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to return to the NBA.

Green is not only back, but he's seemingly in even better health than before the surgery.

That bodes well for Green being able to have the kind of major impact off the bench that he and the C's are hoping for.

One way of helping make that happen would be to cut down Paul Pierce's minutes, something Rivers said he will look into trying to do this season.

Pierce, who has averaged at least 34 minutes per game in each of his 14 NBA seasons, said he has no problem with Green getting some of his playing time.

"He's a guy that makes our lineup so much more versatile," Pierce said. "He can switch from the 3 (small forward) to the 4 (power forward), or he can make us a big lineup with him at the 3 and me at the 2 (shooting guard)."

Green said he spent most of Saturday's practice primarily at the small forward position.

But there's no question that with Rivers wanting to play more "small ball" this year, there will be times and lineups in which Green will be called upon to play multiple positions.

Green is clearly more comfortable at small forward.

Considering all that he has gone through this past year, being on the court is a reward in itself.

"I've gone through the tough times and I beat it," Green said. "Now I'm in great condition; my game is getting right and I'm just happy to play basketball."

Green added, "The surgery is behind me. Good times in front of me."

OFFSEASON

Yabusele, Zizic may not be able to play in Summer League for C's

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Yabusele, Zizic may not be able to play in Summer League for C's

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics turned quite a few heads when they used two of their three first-round picks on international players.

They were part of a record-setting night for international players, with 15 being selected in the first round – the most ever in NBA history.

But like many international draft picks, it is far from a given that you’ll see either Guershon Yabusele and Ante Zizic, who were selected with the 16th and 23rd picks, respectively, next season.

While it’s not uncommon for teams to draft international players in the first round and do so with the plan being to keep them overseas for another year or two, the potential hold-up for Boston’s two international picks has more to do with coming to terms on a buyout amount with their current teams.

“We’ve had initial discussions with their representatives,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, when I asked him about it during the team’s press conference to introduce the newest Celtics on Friday. “We have not concluded anything yet. We’re still in that discussion. And I’m not sure about summer (league).”

While it remains an option, a league source told CSNNE.com that it’s unlikely that either player will participate in either of Boston’s summer league squads which will play in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

Ainge agrees that there are a number of positives one can take from drafting an overseas player in the first round.

But the decision by Boston to draft Yabusele and Zizic in the first round had a lot to do with one thing – talent.

“The reason that these two guys are here . . . is because they’re good players,” Ainge said. “The fact that they have people that want them on their teams on the international top level competition, tells you how good players they are. They could easily find jobs overseas at the top level. They’ve earned that reputation. They’re both very productive. Guerson very productive and Ante very good rebounding  . . . now we’re trying to figure out the best way they can help us for their development. We’re working with their representatives on that plan.”

Yabusele, a 6-foot-8, 275-pound power forward, averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes with Rouen Metropole Basket in the LNB Pro A league in France. While appearing in 34 games last season, he grabbed 10 or more rebounds 11 times while tallying eight double-doubles.

Zizic, a 6-11, 250-pound center, distinguished himself as one of the better players in the Adriatic League this past season. He was voted by fans, media and coaches as the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect after averaging 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 24.8 minutes while shooting an impressive 60.7 percent from the field.

OFFSEASON

If not this year for Durant-to-Celtics, then next?

If not this year for Durant-to-Celtics, then next?

BOSTON – The Celtics are considered long shots at landing Kevin Durant during free agency, which begins next week.

Still, if they come up short this summer, league sources tell CSNNE.com that the Celtics will be on a “watch list” of sorts by Durant’s camp when the former league MVP is expected to hit the free agent market once again in the summer of 2017.
 
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Durant will have teams meet with him in New York beginning next week. In addition to the Celtics, his current team Oklahoma City will sit down with him, as well as Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
 
Durant can re-sign with the Thunder for as many as five years with the total value of his contract worth slightly more than $150 million.
 
However, by signing a one-year deal or a two-year pact with a player option for the second season, Durant would make a projected $25.9 million for the 2016-2017 season and can then hit the free agent market again in 2017 when the salary cap is expected to cross the nine-figure threshold.
 
And at that time, if he decides to stay with the Thunder, he can ink a five-year deal that, when combined with his salary in 2016-2017, would be more than $230 million over six years – that’s about $80 million more than he would get by re-signing a long-term deal with the Thunder now, and would more than double what he would make by signing a maximum-salaried four-year deal with another team.
 
That’s why it makes a lot of sense for him to sign a short-term deal now and better position himself for a bigger payday the following summer when his starting salary will likely be on the north side of $35 million.
 
For the Celtics, Durant going through free agency back-to-back years affords coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics one more opportunity to continue their ascension up the Eastern Conference standings while still being a team that’s clearly in need of adding at least one additional All-Star talent to play with Isaiah Thomas.

In his three seasons as the Celtics coach, Stevens has improved the team’s win total each season.
 
However, they have failed to win a playoff series after having been knocked out in the first round each of the past two seasons.
 
While Durant is the team’s No. 1 priority on the free agent market, the Celtics will quickly pivot their attentions to other highly-regarded players as well with Atlanta’s Al Horford being among their targets.

Depending on how quickly Durant’s free agency gets taken care of, the Celtics might be able to turn their attention towards potentially re-signing Evan Turner, who was sixth in the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year voting last season.

OFFSEASON

Celtics' Isaiah Thomas continues recruitment of Durant with tweet

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Celtics' Isaiah Thomas continues recruitment of Durant with tweet

With the Celtics reportedly in the running in the Kevin Durant Derby, C's guard Isaiah Thomas is continuing his recruiting pitch with this playful tweet.

Thomas said in a radio interview earlier this week that the Celtics "definitely have a shot" at landing Durant and a few months ago, Thomas' essay in the Players Tribune is perhaps his best sales job of all.