OFFSEASON

Celtics keeps rolling, and so do the rumors

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Celtics keeps rolling, and so do the rumors

That's it!

Blow 'em up!

Screw this team and start building for the future!

You heard this from a lot of Celtics fans (and Boston media personalities) in the wake of Rajon Rondo's ACL injury.

You it heard again on Friday after Jared Sullinger suffered a similar fate.

Throw in the towel! These guys are toast!

Screaming!!!

In the meantime, the Celtics have run off four straight wins all four without Rondo, essentially three without Sullinger to climb back over .500. And it's not just that they're winning, but how they're winning that's so impressive. The energy. The ball movement. The commitment to defense. The passion and chemistry. It's a welcome development after what they gave us over the first few months of the season.

Of course, we'd be singing a far different tune had they not salvaged yesterday's win against the Clippers. Had they blown that game, like they were so close to doing, we'd be right back on the negative horse. They'd be the same old apathetic Celtics, undeserving of any expectations. But for now, there's hope. There's reason to remain (relatively) optimistic about the post-RondoSullinger Era.

At the very least, it's worth pumping the breaks on the "blow it up" talk. Especially when it's clear that that's the last thing Danny Ainge wants to do.

But that won't stop the rumors. From now until the trade deadline, short of the Celtics breaking off a 20-game win streak, we'll continue to hear rumblings of numerous deals that might be in the works regardless of how realistic those rumblings are. Why? Because that's the world we live in. No one cares about real. It's all about headlines and clicks.

I'm not breaking new ground here. But that's just the way it is.

For instance, take this latest rumor about a potential deal between the Clippers and Celtics . . .

"Los Angeles Clippers interested in deal for Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett, report says."

That's the ESPN headline, and when you click on the link, the story starts like this:

The Los Angeles Clippers are interested in acquiring Kevin Garnett from the Boston Celtics, the Sporting News reported Sunday, citing anonymous sources.While the Sporting News reported that officials from both teams talked about a deal before the Celtics beat the Clippers 106-104 on Sunday, sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard that no trade talks have taken place between the teams.
Look at that again.

It takes ESPN all of two sentences to render the headline meaningless. To blow the rumor out of the water. Honestly, if there haven't been any trade talks, then what's the story? That the Clippers wouldn't mind trading for Kevin Garnett? That's not news. It's an obvious and almost useless piece of information. Of course they want Garnett. Outside of the Spurs, any contender would jump at the chance for KG.

But now it's in the pipeline. Now everyone has to jump in and get their jollies. In this case, ESPN is saying: "OK, so someone else started this silly rumor, but we won't tell you that's silly until we can cash in on the sillyness."

By the way, I don't mean to single out ESPN here. Everyone does it. And everyone will continue to do it. It's a vicious cycle. No matter what happens next, the rumors will keep on coming. In turn, we'll be hit with round after round of stories like this refuting stories that were never stories in the first place.

And finally, our heads will collectively explode, bringing an official end to the human race as we know it. It's going to be a trip. And after it's all said and done, the Celtics still won't be any closer to trading Kevin Garnett to Clippers than they were yesterday or today. It will all be a big waste of time.

Unless the Celtics lose to Toronto on Wednesday.

In that case, FIRE SALE!!

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

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.