C's need all of Avery


C's need all of Avery

I don't want to oversimplify the Celtics' current struggles, but at the same time, I don't want to overlook a very basic and obvious storyline in this up-and-down season. Or really, the last two up-and-down seasons.

That is:

1. The Celtics are a very good team with Avery Bradley on the court.

2. The Celtics are a very average team without Avery Bradley on the court.

I broke down the numbers in my column from the morning of Avery's return, and just for fun, here they are again:

I'm sure some people will find that last part ridiculous, but those people forget how effective Bradley was down the stretch last season. That over 15 games in April (after officially reclaiming the starting two spot), Bradley averaged 15.1 points a night, shot .520 from the field and .545 from three point land. That more often than not, he was and will continue to be the most dominant defensive player on the floor. That he's egoless, a guy who doesn't need plays run for him, and LOVES moving without the ball. That last season, the Celtics were 20-8 in games started by Bradley and 19-19 when he came off the bench. That even in the playoffs, as Bradley played through two bad shoulders, the Celtics offensive rating was 105.9 with AB on the court and 98.8 with him on the bench. That their defensive rating 90.2 with him on the court and 103.1 with him on the bench. That, bottom line: He makes the Celtics a better team.

What happened next?

The Celtics eased Bradley back into action that night, in a 10-point loss to Memphis. After that, with AB in the mix, they won six straight games; their longest winning streaking in more than two years. Four of those wins came against quality, playoff-caliber teams. We all believed that they had finally turned the corner.

What happened next?

Bradley injured his ribs against the Hornets and the Celtics lost. He missed the game against the Bulls and the Celtics lost. He played against the Pistons last Sunday, but he shouldn't have; he was nowhere near his typically tenacious self. And the Celtics lost again, leading to Doc Rivers now famous post-game rant.

So, to sum it up: In six games with a healthy Avery Bradley, the season went from shambles to saved; in three games since his latest injury, it went from saved to "TRADE EVERYBODY!"

Like I said before, I don't want to oversimplify things. After all, Doc Rivers doesn't have a reputation as a guy who carelessly loses his cool the way he did in Detroit. You get the sense that his frustration runs much deeper than one three-game losing streak, and that, Avery or not, there are guys in that locker room who aren't living up to the coach's crazy (but necessary) expectations.

I'm just saying that it might be worth seeing what happens with a healthy Bradley back in the lineup before re-tooling the entire roster.

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

Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot


Ainge admits tough decision ahead between Young and Hunter for final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – With the Celtics waiving Ben Bentil on Friday, Danny Ainge confirmed what has been reported for weeks: the final roster spot for the Celtics will come down to James Young and R.J. Hunter.

“It’ll probably go down to the wire, down to Monday,” said Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.

Boston currently has 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts. The league-maximum of 15 players has to be met by Monday at 5 p.m.

“We’re continuing to evaluate and look for opportunities out there,” Ainge said. “If there are any deals to be had which we’ve been looking for, for a few months. Both of those guys [Hunter and Young[ have played very well and have made the decision very difficult.”

Having to make a tough call at the end of training camp is nothing new to Ainge.

But this time around is very unique.

It’s highly unusual for a team to have to waive a former first-round pick that they selected.

Young was the 17th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft by Boston, while Hunter was selected by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

“Sometimes the decision is made for me. It’s really easy,” said Ainge. “But this year it hasn’t been that way. Both of those guys have had some outstanding moments in practice, in training camp and in games. So it’s been challenging.”

Boston being in this roster conundrum is due to having lots of draft picks in recent years that either didn’t turn into impact players initially, or were unable to be flipped for more established talent via trade.

In Young’s draft class, Boston selected him with the 17th pick after picking Marcus Smart with the sixth overall pick.

And in 2015, Boston picked Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick and Hunter with the 28th overall selection. In the second round of that draft, Boston nabbed Jordan Mickey with the 33rd overall pick and Marcus Thornton at No. 45.

Last year’s draft was an even bigger haul for the Celtics, who went into the draft with a record-eight picks.

They traded two of the picks to Memphis, but used the other six which included Jaylen Brown with the third overall selection.

Ainge reiterated that the Celtics like what both players are doing, but doesn’t anticipate a trade scenario presenting itself that would result in both players sticking with the team.

“Unlikely, but always possible,” said Ainge when asked if it were possible for both to remain Celtics.

Both players are still on their rookie contracts, so that along with the increased salary cap teams have now makes each of them a low-risk addition.

However, most of the teams in the NBA have a full roster and the ones that don’t have a couple players in mind to fill out whatever openings exist.

That means there’s a decent chance that Hunter or Young will be waived, clear waivers and can then sign with a team of their choosing.

It sounds good, only if there’s a team to sign with which as stated earlier, is far from a given.






Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick


Report: Celtics offering Young or Hunter for second-round pick

The Celtics continue to offer James Young or R.J. Hunter for a second-round pick, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical reports.

The Celtics need to be down to 15 players by 5 p.m. Monday. Young and Hunter are on the bubble to make the roster. For CSN Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely’s look at the candidates for the final roster spot, click here.