OFFSEASON

Joseph 'blessed' to remain on Celtics, but more work to be done

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Joseph 'blessed' to remain on Celtics, but more work to be done

BOSTON Walking into the Boston Celtics locker room prior to Tuesday's game, Kris Joseph was sitting at his stall, surrounded by only his thoughts.

On this day his emotions were torn between the "blessing" of continuing his NBA journey with the Boston Celtics, and the disappointment in seeing that dream end - at least for now - for two of his closest friends on the team.

The C's announced on Tuesday that Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith had been waived, leaving Joseph as the lone player from Boston's summer league team still with the club.

"Still being around here," a subdued Joseph told CSNNE.com, "it means a lot."

A second-round pick out of Syracuse University, Joseph understands he still has work - lots of work - to do in order to stick with the Celtics this season.

"We look at a lot of things when we decide to keep a guy or not keep a guy," said C's coach Doc Rivers.

As for Joseph, Rivers said, "We like what he potentially could do. He has done nothing yet."

Joseph led the Orange in scoring each of the last two seasons, and was known in college as a better-than-average perimeter shooter.

He has shown glimpses of being that kind of player in the NBA, which is among the reasons why the Celtics have kept him around.

"I've been pretty confident in myself throughout training camp," Joseph said. "But it definitely increases my confidence knowing they had a choice whether to keep me, and they choose to keep me."

In addition to that, it also serves as a reminder that his days in Boston could end at any moment.

"I'm definitely blessed and humbled," Joseph said. "I know how hard those guys (Christmas and Smith) worked on their games to get better. But this is how the business is."

Joseph added, "I remember during rookie transition program them telling us that the window of opportunity is really small. So to still be here, it really means a lot."

OFFSEASON

Al Horford 'expected to draw free-agent interest' from Boston Celtics

Al Horford 'expected to draw free-agent interest' from Boston Celtics

Al Horford will reportedly have a long list of suitors when NBA free agency opens on July 1, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The Celtics are one of eight teams expected to pursue Horford, a list that also includes the Hawks, Lakers, Rockets, Magic, Pistons, Wizards, and Nets.

Stein adds that, in addition to wanting to re-sign Horford, the Hawks are “trying to wedge their way into the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.”

Zach Lowe reported in February that Durant had interest in playing with Horford next season. They entered the league together in 2007 and have remained friends. If that’s true, it’s good news for the Celtics. They are the only team on the list of eight teams that can sign both Durant and Horford to max contracts without moving a single piece to make it work.

A few other teams, like the Hawks and Magic, could make it work, but they’d have to sacrifice talent to open up the necessary cap space. No reports have indicated Durant has interest in Atlanta anyway.

If Stein’s report is accurate, the Celtics will probably look to pair Durant and Horford together.

Horford would solve Boston’s rim protection issues, and provide some spacing. And Durant would…well, you know the deal: he’s a Hall of Famer in the prime of his career.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA

OFFSEASON

Top 5 free agent wings Boston Celtics could target

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Top 5 free agent wings Boston Celtics could target

BOSTON – If there’s one thing we can expect from the Boston Celtics, it’s that they will take a lot of shots.

In fact, last season they led the league with 89.4 field goal attempts per game. Getting shots off is a good thing.

Making them?

Even better.

And it is this latter point that serves as the motivation for the Celtics to give serious thought to adding another wing player to a roster that’s already guard-heavy.

Despite leading the league in shots taken, the Celtics ranked among the bottom-10 (25th overall) in field goal percentage.

That said, here are a handful of wing players who are on the Celtics’ radar this summer with free agency beginning on Thursday.

 

5. DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto

One of the better scoring wing players in the NBA, DeRozan did not plan to talk to any other teams during free agency other than the Toronto Raptors despite rumors during the season that the Los Angeles Lakers would make a run at the former USC standout and Compton, Calif. native. DeRozan has averaged at least 20 points each of the last three seasons which includes a career-high 23.5 points this past season. And unlike most wing scorers, DeRozan does not look to shoot 3s often. But as we saw last season when he shot a career-best 33.8 percent, it is becoming a more reliable shot that compliments his strength of attacking the rim. The Celtics would love to have a crack at him, but they know better. DeRozan isn’t going anywhere.

 

4. Evan Fournier, SG, Orlando (restricted)

Whatever chance teams thought they might have had at landing Fournier, took a hit when the Magic traded away Victor Oladipo to Oklahoma City. Do not be surprised if the Magic and Fournier’s camp work towards getting a deal done as Fournier averaged a career-high 15.4 points last season. The four-year veteran has improved his scoring average every season and shot a career-best 40 percent on 3s last season. Fournier’s shooting and deceptively solid ball-handling make him a vital cog in Orlando’s chances at success going forward. As for Boston, the Celtics like Fournier’s game but like DeRozan, understand it will be extremely difficult to pry him from his current team.

 

3. Arron Afflalo, SG/SF, New York

The nine-year veteran is one of the more under-rated free agents on the market this summer. An above-average defender, Afflalo has averaged double digits scoring each of the last six seasons in addition to being a career 38.5 percent 3-point shooter. Those two qualities make the 30-year-old Afflalo a player that one could easily see fitting in quite well with the Boston Celtics. However, acquiring him would likely involve moving at least one of the team’s younger guards just to create a clearer path to playing time. Because at this point in his career, Afflalo is very interested in being part of a winning situation in which he gets decent court time which is something that’s far from a given considering how the Celtics’ roster is currently constructed.

 

2. Jared Dudley, SG/SF, Washington

Dudley is one of the few free agents who has made no secret about wanting to play for the Celtics, and actually has something to offer. The 30-year-old Dudley is a career 8.4 points per game scorer who has embraced his role in this league as a key reserve off the bench. He is a near 40 percent (39.9) shooter from 3-point range for his career and shot 42 percent last season for the Washington Wizards. The challenge is figuring out what role he would play for a Celtics team that’s extremely deep with perimeter talent. But Dudley’s 3-point shooting, desire to don the Green and White, and experience are all factors that make him an attractive free agent to Boston.

 

1. Evan Turner, SG/SF, Boston

There may not have been any player on the Celtics roster that head coach Brad Stevens trusted more than Evan Turner, something that should not be taken lightly when it comes to Turner’s free agency and how he handles what should be a decent amount of suitors. His career was at a crossroads when he came to Boston two years ago. Now he’s considered one of the best reserves in the NBA, a player whose multi-faceted skillset fits in well with the direction that most teams are looking to go with their roster. Turner’s price tag should be north of $10 million per season, which might be a bit too rich for the Celtics’ liking. But if a deal can be struck, Boston would be wise to do so. Because as much as they benefited from Isaiah Thomas’ all-star season and the emergence of Jae Crowder and the steady play of Avery Bradley at both ends of the floor, it was Turner who had the ball in his hands down the stretch of many games. And it was Turner who often made the right decision when it mattered most, something that’s not lost on the Celtics or head coach Brad Stevens who has made no secret about his desire to have Turner back with Boston next season.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN

OFFSEASON

Could Kevin Durant's love for Larry Bird lead him to the Celtics?

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Could Kevin Durant's love for Larry Bird lead him to the Celtics?

In Episode 15 of CSN's "Celtics Talk" podcast, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely are joined by Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman to discuss the impending free agency of Kevin Durant, and how Boston fits into the puzzle of suitors. Slater talks about how the Thunder fan base is feeling right about now, after the team took the Warriors to seven games. 

As far as Boston is concerned, Slater talks about how Durant has always modeled his game after Celtics legend Larry Bird, and Boston is most likely looking to just get Durant in a room, talk to him about what the franchise is about, and then hope to make another run at him next summer.

Kyle and Sherrod also go over the Celtics’ 2016 draft class, including Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ante Zizic, Demetrius Jackson, and Ben Bentil. Plus, where does the 2015 Celtics draft class find playing time this season.