Sixers show interest in Celtics assistant GM Zarren

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Sixers show interest in Celtics assistant GM Zarren

When you've had the kind of run the past five years that the Celtics have had, sooner or later other teams will come trying to court your best front-office talent.

Celtics assistant General Manager Ryan McDonough was in the running for the Orlando Magic GM job that ultimately went to Worcester native Rob Hennigan.

Now comes Philadelphia. The 76ers have interest in Mike Zarren, a Celtics assistant GM who also doubles as Team Counsel.

Ainge confirmed to CSNNE.com that the Sixers did ask for permission to speak with Zarren about the Sixers GM job.

While Ainge wasn't sure where things stood with Zarren and the Philadelphia GM job currently held by Rod Thorn, he's not surprised that his top assistants are garnering interest from other franchises.

"Ryan McDonough and Mike Zarren are both good candidates," Ainge said. "I knew both of those guys would get an opportunity someday, for sure."

While both have been important cogs in the Celtics maintaining a spot among the Eastern Conference's top teams, a potential loss of Zarren would be significant on several levels.

An attorney who graduated from the Harvard Law School, Zarren is the Celtics' resident salary cap whiz whose use of analytics has in many ways revolutionized the way the C's -- and a number of other teams for that matter -- go about scouting players and deciding on which free agents to pursue.

He is a regular speaker at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference held in Boston during the spring.

David Falk is one of the most respected agents in the NBA, with a past clients list that's filled with some of the greatest players to ever set foot in the NBA.

Among his current clients is Jeff Green, whose four-year, 36 million contract with the Celtics became official on Wednesday.

Falk said he doesn't usually work with the assistant GMs for teams, but because of the complicated nature of Green's contract along with all the difference nuances of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he spent a good bit of time working out details for Green's new deal with Zarren.

"Mike has an interesting combination of skills," Falk told CSNNE.com. "Moneyball skills, with his use of data and analytics."

Those qualities have been instrumental in the Celtics putting together a team for this upcoming season that has to be on the short list of contenders in the East, along with NBA champion Miami Heat.

Falk has no doubts that Zarren would be "an excellent GM one day."

However, his success would depend heavily on the role that he would be allowed to play.

"In Boston, he has a lot of influence on what the Celtics do," Falk said. "I have dealt with GMs who are basically GMs in title only. This isn't just Mike, but for any assistant GM with an opportunity to make such a move who has considerable influence in their role as an assistant GM, will they have similar or more influence at another place as a GM?"

Falk added, "As I said, Mike is an excellent candidate for any GM job. He has the smarts; he's an attorney which certainly helps. And he has good people skills."

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities. 

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

Tatum's sick final workout seals the deal for Celtics

BOSTON -- Jayson Tatum was excited about working out for the Boston Celtics. 

But he knew that, health-wise, he wouldn’t be at his best. 

TATUM SPEAKS

 
He could have easily pulled out like others had, or just told the Celts in advance so they could take it into account when they were deciding on who to take with the No. 3 pick. 
 
Instead, he kept it to himself until after his workout, focused on doing what the best in the NBA do on a nightly basis -- finding a way to play their best when at their worst physically. 
 
“I wasn’t feeling well, but you can’t make excuses,” Tatum said during an interview with CSN’s Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “There can be times in the future where there’s a game or playoff game where you’re not feeling well. Nobody is going to care. You have to produce.”
 
Did. He. Ever. 
 
The workout didn’t just go well.  It ranked among the best Danny Ainge had seen, which made the decision for Boston to select the 6-foot-9 forward from Duke with the No. 3 pick an easy call. 
 
Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, had an eye on Tatum all season and acknowledged he had high expectations for him to perform at during his workout in Boston. 
 
“He was better than I actually thought,” Ainge said during the CelticsTalk Podcast with Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely. “Which was hard to do, because we thought highly of him before.”
 
During the workout, Ainge saw a young man who had worked on improving his perimeter shooting to the point where it was actually one of his stronger qualities. 
 
 “As I watched him play earlier in his life  . . . what he lacked was his range shooting,” Ainge said. “He was a very good mid-range player and good passer off the dribble. But the range shooting, what he showed us in the workout here was very impressive. We had two workouts with him. And in both of them, he was one of the best shooters in this whole draft at any position, and one of the best shooters we’ve had in here for any draft.”
 
Making Tatum’s workout all that more impressive was it came with him far from at his best health-wise, something the Celtics didn’t learn of until afterwards. 
 
“He wanted to be here from the very beginning, even before we got the number one pick,” Ainge said. “He wanted to be here. He came in here and showed it. He came on his workout and was sick. He was on antibiotics, nose was dripping and he didn’t complain. And he still played and played well. That was impressive, how much he showed, how much he wanted to be here.”
 
Tatum said his mindset coming into his workout was simple.
 
“I knew the draft pick was on the line,” Tatum said. “I had to really perform and I think I did really well.”