Krstic fitting in with the Celts surprisingly well

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Krstic fitting in with the Celts surprisingly well

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

NEWARK, N.J. -- You better believe the Boston Celtics will be in the market for at least one center during the offseason.

They may not have to look too far to find one.

Although it's still early, Nenad Krstic's representatives like what they've seen thus far in this Krstic-Celtics union that may eventually lead to a relationship beyond this season.

Krstic will earn 5.53 million in this, the final year of a three-year, 15.5 million contract he signed in 2008.

A free agent this summer, Krstic has fit in quite well with the Celtics -- better than most would have anticipated.

His agent, Marc Cornstein, likes the way the Celtics have integrated his client into their game plan, but preaches patience in discussing Krstic's long-term plans with the C's.

"He's a great fit for the team," Cornstein told CSNNE.com. "It sounds like the Celtics feel the same way. Let's get through the rest of the year and the playoffs. Hopefully they have a great run and he has a great run with them. We'll take it from there. But it certainly has been as good as we could have hoped for at this point."

When the C's made the trade with Oklahoma City that featured Jeff Green, with Krstic as more of a throw-in, few would have expected the 7-foot Krstic to be such a valuable contributor so quickly.

In nine games (all starts), he has averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while shooting 55.3 percent from the field.

His play has helped cushion the blow of not having Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal around, both out with injuries.

The reason for Krstic's strong play is pretty simple.

In Oklahoma City, most of the Thunder offense went through All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Look at the numbers.

While with the Thunder this season, Krstic averaged just 6.5 field-goal attempts per game. With the Celtics, he's up to 8.8 per game.

"Just getting more involved, especially offensively," Krstic said. "I'm touching the ball. In Oklahoma City, I didn't really. Sometimes five or six times I didn't touch the ball. It's not to shoot, just to touch the ball. Here is different. If you play aggressive, you run the floor, get a good duck-in in the paint, you're going to get the ball."

Cornstein acknowledged how the C's Big Four have gone out of their way to embrace Krstic, which has helped make the adjustment smoother.

"They're so comfortable with each other," Cornstein said. "Being the fifth guy in there has been an easier adaptation than if you're getting thrown in with all new players still learning each other. He recognized that this was a new opportunity for him. He relishes the chance to win a title and be a contributing factor in that happening."

And while the plan still remains that Shaquille O'Neal will be the starter when he returns, Krstic has proven himself to be far more valuable than a stop-gap measure or a 'throw-in' player in the trade centered around Perkins and Jeff Green.

"It doesn't matter to me, about starting or coming off the bench," Krstic told CSNNE.com. "I'm learning a lot, because everything is new to me. I'll do whatever the team needs me to do. I just want to win, that's all."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

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NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

BOSTON – The NBA has become more of an international game as teams scour the globe in search of the next big basketball talent.

While some franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs have been poaching talented international players for years, other franchises have been more locked into adding American-born ballers.

The Boston Celtics have paid close attention to the best international players for several years.

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But more often than not, additions to their roster through the draft have come from the college ranks with an occasional international player added via free agency.

This season's team will definitely have a certain international flavor to it with overseas additions coming by way of players they drafted and signed as free agents to bolster what should be one of the deeper teams in the East.

Boston has six rookies with guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, four of which were born outside of the United States.

And of those four rookies, three of them – Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall pick); Ante Zizic (23rd overall pick) and Abdel Nader; 58th overall pick) – were selected in the 2016 draft but didn't join the team immediately. 

Yabusele who is originally from France, spent most of last season in China and came to the States and played briefly with the Celtic’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He will be among the bevy of young players competing for minutes off the Celtics bench. 

Zizic, born in Croatia, spent last season playing in his native country as well as in Turkey. The 7-foot center will come into training camp competing for playing time, possibly as Boston’s starting center.

And then there’s Nader, a G-League all-star as well as the G-League’s rookie of the year last season. The Egyptian-American wing player showed promise in each of the last two summer leagues which is in part why the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $6 million deal with only the first year fully guaranteed. 

They each have different strengths that only add value to a Boston squad that’s being built to play just about every style of play imaginable.

But the Celtics didn’t limit their pursuit of international talent to just the draft.

Boston has also signed German Forward Daniel Theis. 

Unlike the international players drafted by Boston, Theis is a bit of a mystery to most Celtics fans.

Last season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Brose Bamberg of Germany, while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 59.8 percent from the field.

And that season ended with a German championship, just like the previous two seasons for the 6-9, 243-pound forward who is expected to come in and compete for playing time off the bench for a Celtics team that’s looking for