Jamal Crawford intriguing option for Celtics

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Jamal Crawford intriguing option for Celtics

BOSTON The Boston Celtics will indeed be in the market this summer for a veteran shooting guard, and Jamal Crawford just might fit the bill.

The 32-year-old combo guard told a Seattle television station on Thursday that he would not opt-in to the final year of his contract with Portland, which means he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

"I'm a free agent, so I'm excited about what's there moving forward," Crawford told Seattle television station KING. "There will be a lot of teams out there with a lot of interest. I'll sit back after July 1 (the day free agency begins) and see what happens."

In his lone season with Portland, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 14 points while shooting just 38-percent from the field and a career-low 30.8 percent on three-pointers.

His availability gives the Celtics yet another option as they enter the summer with significant cap space and significant questions as to how the team will be built moving forward.

The Celtics would love to have Ray Allen come back and resume the role he had in the second half of the season as a backup to Avery Bradley.

While Allen accepted the role, it wasn't one he totally embraced. It is unclear if he would be willing to return under those same conditions, and with what would likely be a one-year contract.

Having had his name involved in trade rumors the past couple of years, the soon-to-be-37-year-old Allen (his birthday is July 20) appears to be seeking a two-year deal.

"There's still a lot of basketball left in my legs," said Allen, who underwent right ankle surgery on Wednesday. "I know that for sure."

In addition to Allen, the Celtics are also unsure about another one of the team's free-agents-to-be, Mickael Pietrus who like Allen, had surgery earlier this week.

Although Pietrus has maintained all season that he wants to be in Boston long-term, his future will depend heavily on how strong other teams come at the Frenchman or whether the C's feel they can add a better player.

Which brings us back to Crawford, a player who would fit in well with Boston.

Having played both guard positions, he gives the C's the kind of flexibility they were hoping to have this season with Keyon Dooling.

And while Dooling is the superior defender, Crawford's ability to create his own shot and score is a skill that few current Celtics (Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, truthfully) have.

Looking back at the past couple of seasons that ended at the hands of the Miami Heat, among the reasons for the Celtics' exit was their lack of players with the ability to generate their own individual offense.

Throw in the fact that Crawford is well-respected veteran who is close to one of the C's building blocks of the future, Avery Bradley who has often said that Crawford was a player he looked up to while growing up in the Seattle-Tacoma area, it makes a lot of sense for Crawford to be a player of interest for the Celtics.

Because the C's were so far over the salary cap last season, Crawford never gave Boston serious consideration before signing the two-year, 10.225 million with Portland.

Having played for 5 million last season, Crawford would most likely be seeking a similar deal this summer.

However, coming off a sub-par season coupled with an opportunity to play for a team that's focused solely on winning a championship every year, that just might be enough to entice him to take less money than he might get from another less-established team.

It would be the kind of deal that C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge needs to pull off as he goes about assembling a Celtics team whose goal next season will be no different than it was this past season - bring home Banner 18.

Thomas excited for reunion with Green

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Thomas excited for reunion with Green

WALTHAM, Mass. -- When the phone rang this summer, Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas had to do a double-take when he saw the name on the caller ID.

It was Gerald Green, his ex-teammate in Phoenix.

Although they only shared a locker room for 45 games in Phoenix, the two became quick friends.

On the court they developed instant chemistry while coming off the Suns bench. And that bond spilled off the court as Green would later spend time with Thomas in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. area in the summer months.

They were cool with each other, cool enough to where Thomas knew it wasn’t in Green’s nature to pick up the phone and call just to say hi.

“Gerald doesn’t call anybody,” Thomas said. “When he called I knew something was up.”

Green said Boston, the team that drafted him in 2006 straight out of high school, was interested in bringing him back for a second stint with the club.

“I tried to put my two cents in and he got here,” Thomas said.

There were several factors that led Green back to Boston, with a chance to reunite with Thomas being high on that list.

Green, already in Phoenix at the time the Suns signed Thomas in 2014, was impressed with the way the 5-9 guard carried himself.

“He was a genuine guy, came in really humble,” Green said. “I saw the talent was there. I knew he had the potential to be one of the best point guards in this league.”

Thomas certainly made a case for such lofty praise with how he performed last season, good enough to earn his first all-star selection.

What really stuck out to Green was that Thomas’ mentality and approach to the game was almost a carbon copy of his own.

“When we stepped on the court we had the same mentality,” Green said. “By any means necessary, get a bucket and play harder than the next team; just try and push the first team, make the first team better every day.”

Thomas was coming off the bench, showing lots of potential and promise that he could carry a heavier load if given an opportunity to do so.

He averaged 15.2 points, 3.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 25.7 minutes off the Suns bench in 46 games. Even more significant was that when Thomas did play for the Suns, they were 26-20.

In the games without him, they were just 13-23.

Green was admittedly disappointed they traded away Thomas, believing that season would have had a very different outcome had they not sent him to Boston.

And just like Green recognized Thomas’ skills and how much his team could have benefited from keeping him around, Thomas speaks in glowing terms about Green and what his return to Boston means for the team.

“We needed someone like him; a guy that could shoot the ball, a guy that could space the floor; instant scorer whether he starts or comes off the bench,” Thomas said. “Where the he starts or come off the bench. He’s going to really help us.”

Horford, Johnson wasting no time in developing chemistry

Horford, Johnson wasting no time in developing chemistry

WALTHAM, Mass. – When the news came out that Al Horford was going to be a Boston Celtic, Amir Johnson couldn’t wait to meet his new teammate.

He didn’t have to.

Johnson soon found himself on plane headed to Atlanta to not only work out with Horford, but also try and work out some of the kinks that tend to come up among new teammates in those early days of training camp.

“I took it upon myself when I saw Al was part of the team, I automatically wanted to go down to Atlanta and work,” said Johnson who added that he brought his daughter along for the trip and they went to dinner with Horford’s family during the visit. “I thought it was great just to get that chemistry going. I just wanted to get to known him, make him feel comfortable.”

It’s still early in training camp, but Johnson and Horford seem to be meshing quite well on the floor. 

“The chemistry’s definitely coming along,” Johnson said. “I know when Al wants to roll or pop, and just working my way around it. Al’s more of a popper and eventually he’ll roll. It’s up to me to read whether I stay up or work the baseline.”

Johnson has been in the NBA long enough to know that often the keys to success are subtle nuances that may be overlooked by fans and spectators, but players know are essential to them being successful.

Being able to not only understand a player’s game but figure out how to play well with them, are critical to teammates being successful.

Last season, Johnson was Boston’s primary rim-protecting big man which is a role the 29-year-old Johnson has been cast in the last few years he was in Toronto. Horford brings a similar set of defensive skills to the table which gives Boston a true 1-2 defensive punch along the frontline.

“It’s big time,” Johnson said. “We communicate to each other. It’s all about communication out there; just knowing he can hold it down and he trusts me to hold it down. It’s key.”

GREEN INJURY UPDATE

Gerald Green is expected to get a few more days to rest his hip flexor injury which he said on Thursday was feeling better.

The injury should keep the 6-6 wing from participating in the team’s Green-White scrimmage on Friday, but it isn’t considered serious.

Still, Green is eager to get back and return to full contact work which is why he is getting a steady diet of treatments during the day and returning in the evening for more treatments from the Celtics’ medical staff.

“It’s almost like a precautionary thing; make sure it doesn’t get worst,” Green said.

The injury occurred earlier this week but Green could not pinpoint exactly what he did to suffer the injury.

“I don’t think I stretched properly,” Green said. “I’m not 25 no more. Just try to come out there and go at full speed. Those are things I’ve got to learn now I’m in my 30s.”
Indeed, one of the many benefits of being older now is that Green sees the big picture of things better now, which is why he isn’t trying to rush back to the floor too quickly.

As a veteran, it’s a long season,” Green said. “You’re not trying to do too much to make it worst. Training camp is important, but being healthy at the beginning of the season is even more important.”

RUN, YOUNGSTERS, RUN

Near the end of Thursday’s practice, the Celtics had a full court game of 3-on-3 involving some of the team’s rookies and end-of-the-bench training camp invitees like Jalen Jones of Texas A&M. The 6-7 undrafted rookie had a dunk over Jordan Mickey, a 3-pointer and another strong, uncontested flush at the rim in a matter of minutes. He’s likely to wind up with Boston’s Developmental League team, the Maine Red Claws.

With Thursday morning’s session being the team’s fifth practice this season, head coach Brad Stevens thought it was a good idea to get some of the team’s younger players on the court.

“It was good to play some 3-on-3,” said Stevens who added that it was good for their conditioning since a lot of the running at this point involves trying to get the starters and the likely rotation players as acclimated and familiar with one another as possible. “We try to do that occasionally even through the season just to get everybody up and down.”

TURNOVERS? WHAT TURNOVERS?

Five practices in the books and there’s only one thing that really has stood out to the eyes of Isaiah Thomas.

It’s turnovers.

Apparently the Celtics haven’t committed too many thus far.

“We haven’t turned the ball over as much as teams usually do the first couple of days,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to learn the system, trying to get everybody familiar with what we do. But we’ve been playing well together. Guys are playing hard. Guys have gotten better, worked on their game.”

Ball-handling will be one of the areas to watch during the preseason as the Celtics look to find a replacement for Evan Turner (Portland) who has been one of the team’s best ball-handlers the past couple of seasons.

The Celtics were middle-of-the-pack last season with 13.5 turnovers per game which ranked 14th in the NBA.

Low turnovers often serve as a common trait among playoff teams. Just last season, eight of the top-nine teams in fewest turnovers committed, were in the playoffs.