OFFSEASON

Hollins takes on increased role for Celts

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Hollins takes on increased role for Celts

ATLANTA For most of this season, the Boston Celtics have been a team built on opportunities.

If you get one, take it.

That's exactly what C's center Ryan Hollins has done lately, whose play may earn him even more minutes -- and potentially move him ahead of rookie Greg Stiemsma in the rotation.

Hollins' play was among the few highlights for the Celtics in their 87-86 loss to Atlanta in Game 5.

He had 5 points and 4 rebounds, numbers that came well short of indicating just how much of an impact he had on the C's in Game 5.

Boston was plus-6 with Hollins in the game. The only Celtics with a higher plusminus ratio in Game 5 were Mickael Pietrus (plus-11) and Kevin Garnett (plus-17).

"His energy . . . the one thing you know when Ryan comes in the game, is something's going to happen," said C's coach Doc Rivers. "That's why we put him in and we rode him."

In just a few minutes of court time, Hollins' aggressive play seemed to bother the Hawks who managed to foul him three times away from the ball.

Ranked by a survey of players as the NBA's 11th dirtiest player, it's clear that Hollins is from the Kevin Garnett School of Mental Warfare.

When asked about possibly getting under the Hawks' skin a bit, he replied, "Hopefully. My job is to come out and play hard."

Said Rivers: "He's an instigator with how hard plays. He gets under people's skin. That's fine by us."

That's exactly what he did.

His play was especially important during a critical 10-0 run by Boston that featured Rajon Rondo either scoring or assisting on all but two points during the run.

Part of that success involved Hollins, who helped force a couple of turnovers in addition to catching a lob pass from Rajon Rondo for an alley-oop in the second half.

"I'm always trying to bring energy," Hollins said. "If I'm not bringing energy or changing the game, I'm not doing my job. So that's what I do."

And he may continue to get opportunities as Greg Stiemsma continues to struggle.

Atlanta's athletic frontcourt has seemed a bit overwhelming at times for Stiemsma, who has also labored up and down the court with foot issues.

Certainly his health has been a factor in Hollins' rise to a more prominent role.

But more than anything else, Hollins is simply playing better -- a lot better -- than Stiemsma.

Atlanta has the kind of lineup versatility that makes this series one seemingly more suited for Hollins than Stiemsma.

But don't think for a minute that Hollins is taking his increase in playing time for granted.

"I'm ready for any situation," Hollins said.

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.