OFFSEASON

Long layoff before opener is OK by Rivers

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Long layoff before opener is OK by Rivers

BOSTON Let the countdown begin . . . at eight.

That's the number of days until the Celtics tip off their season against the Miami Heat next Tuesday. After playing their final preseason game Sunday night, an 88-79 loss to the 76ers, the C's will now set their sights on the Heat if they can see that far down the road yet.

For some players, it'll feel like an eternity. For Doc Rivers, though, the time will fly by. He plans to use it to his advantage.

"Yeah, that's terrific. That's the way we wanted it," Rivers said when asked his thoughts on the break in action before an Oct. 16 game against the Nets. "If we lose bad on Opening Night, it's an awful thing laughter. But no, I think a lot of times you have not enough preparation time, especially going to Europe and your camp in a lot of ways being interrupted, we can make a case that we can have another training camp, a real one where we don't travel and we get to practice. So, I like it. I've always liked having a week, and we're going to do that this year."

The Celtics will take Monday and Tuesday off, and then it's full steam ahead. But just because Miami is the first game on the schedule, doesn't mean all their preparation will be for them.

"And were not just getting ready for Miami. Its not like football where were getting ready for the Monday night game," Rivers said. "Were getting ready for 82 games. So that would be nice, to do it that way. Obviously we have time to prepare for the first game. But well be talking about the team we play the second game, the third and fourth game. You really tend to work on your stuff more than the other teams stuff.

Jeff Green has shown more this preseason than perhaps any other Celtic. He's playing with confidence that he didn't show in his firsts stint with the squad. You can understand why he's eager to put preseason and training camp behind and get the season underway as opposed to another week of preparation.

"No, I'd rather just play," Green said. "But I'm young. Anybody else will probably love this week. But I'm ready to start the season. This preseason felt super long. We had great trips in Turkey and Milan and had some good preseason games back here, but I'm ready to get the season started."

Green, who hopes to work on "more defensive schemes, for myself" this week, will get plenty of reps with teammate Courtney Lee. Both Green and Lee are big additions for the C's over the offseason, and should see plenty of minutes with both the first and second unit. Lee sees the week ahead as a great time to work on execution and cleaning up certain sets the team runs.

"We play games every day in practice, so that's only going to help us even more as far as executing because we know our stuff so it's going to be that easier when we play against an opponent," Lee said.

Rajon Rondo doesn't seem to mind either way. He's confident enough in his team to know that whenever, whatever, they'll be prepared.

"Well we have no other choice," he said. "It doesn't matter. It is what it is, we'll be ready to play whether we play tomorrow or a week from now."

Eight days, actually. But the wait will certainly be worth it.

OFFSEASON

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.

The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.

“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”

Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.

Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:

  STARTERS BENCH RESERVES ON THE BUBBLE
FRONT COURT Amir Johnson Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller  
Al Horford Jonas Jerebko Jordan Mickey Ben Bentil*
Jae Crowder Jaylen Brown* Gerald Green James Young
BACK COURT Avery Bradley Marcus Smart RJ Hunter John Holland*
Isaiah Thomas Terry Rozier Demetrius Jackson  

So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
 
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.

Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.

Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.

If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.

It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

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Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

On a busy Saturday for the Celtics, they have brought back center Tyler Zeller and agreed to deals with draft picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier Saturday, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported that the Celtics will sign guard Gerald Green. 

Himmelsbach reports that Zeller's is a $16 million, two-year deal with the second-year not guaranteed. Jackson, the point guard from Notre Dame who was the 45th overall selection in the draft, has a guaranteed deal and Bentil, the forward from Providence who was the 51st player drafted, has a partially guaranteed deal. 

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reported that the second-year of Zeller's deal is a team option and that Green agreed to a one-year deal at the $1.4 million veteran mininum based on his nine years of NBA service.

The 7-foot Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game last season. 

R.J. Hunter, James Young, Bentil and John Holland are in position to fight for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reports, pending more deals, which the Celtics are reportedly working on. A source told Himmelsbach, that while there are probably changes coming, "There is no big deal right now." 

Bulpett reported that Celtics' talks with the Philadelphia 76ers involving a deal for Sixers' big man Jahlil Okafor have, according to sources, grown "stale" and that the moves Saturday put 2014 draft pick James Young's roster spot in jeopardy.

With Green, Zeller, and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have has 15 guaranteed contracts and three partial or non-guaranteed deals. 

 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.