OFFSEASON

Allen revered by his sharpshooting peers

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Allen revered by his sharpshooting peers

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Ray Allen is now the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made, a record that we've been counting down to for weeks.

It was fitting that when he did it, the former record holder, Indiana great Reggie Miller, was at the TD Garden to witness it.

But as both Allen and Miller understand all too well, every record achieved will be surpassed sooner or later.

And when you look at the NBA's all-time leaders in 3-pointers made, several are current players who have already taken up residence in the top 10.

CSNNE.com had a chance to catch up with all five of the current players trailing Allen who are ranked in the top-10.

Dallas guard Jason Kidd (No. 3 all-time; 1,748 made 3s)

Kidd's inclusion in the top 10 list is arguably the biggest shock among the players in the top-10.

Coming out of Cal-Berkeley, few envisioned Kidd developing into a decent jump-shooter, let alone one a player who will finish his career among the greatest 3-point shooters in NBA history.

"That would probably be a good trivia question," Kidd told CSNNE.com. "My name would probably never be mentioned."

He's right.

Kidd's success as a 3-pointer came about with hours spent working on that particular shot.

Because the knock on him for years has been his inability to shoot from the perimeter, many of Kidd's 3-pointers have been uncontested.

"I've had a lot of opportunities because I've been open," Kidd said. "The knock on me when I got to the NBA was that I couldn't shoot. So I went to work right away trying to improve that part of my game. I think I've done OK."

Dallas forward Peja Stojakovic (No. 4, 1,719 3s)

The newest member of the Dallas Mavericks, Stojakovic has been among the NBA's top 3-point shooters for a number of years.

A three-time All-star, Stojakovic has finished in the top-10 in 3-point attempts four times, and twice in the top-10 in 3-point shooting percentage.

The 33-year-old Stojakovic has always been taller than most of his colleagues as a youth, but he was fortunate to not have been asked to play in the frontcourt.

"I had coaches who recognized I could shoot the ball well, and they never tried to make me play in the post," Stojakovic told CSNNE.com.

And while Stojakovic says there are a number of great 3-point shooters in the NBA, Allen stands out for several reasons.

"Ray is an unbelievable shooter," Stojakovic said. "His form, release, everything is perfect. You can see he's so focused when he shoots. It doesn't really matter what the defense is doing."

And while Stojakovic may appear to be within striking distance of Allen, he's not banking on being in position to pass Allen anytime soon.

"It would be nice, but it's not something I think about; I don't think it's something most of the better shooters think about really," he said. "But it would be nice."

Denver guard Chauncey Billups (No. 6, 1,685 made 3s)

Billups, also known as 'Big Shot' Billups, is known for delivering game-changing shots in the closing minutes of games.

And more often than not, it's a 3-pointer.

"That is a big part of my game, obviously," Billups told CSNNE.com this summer. "But it's like anything; you can't go to it too much. It has to be part of your game, not your whole game."

Early in his career, Billups struggled to find his niche in the league as he bounced around from one team to another.

Once he arrived in Detroit prior to the 2002-2003 season, that was when he started to develop the reputation of being a clutch shooter - especially from 3-point range.

"There's a lot of great shooters in this league that I've played against," he said. "Reggie Miller and Ray Allen are the ones you think of right away."

As important as the 3-point shot has been to Billups' career, that's not necessarily what he wants to be remembered for.

"A winner," said Billups, who was named the 2004 NBA Finals MVP after leading the Pistons to the franchise's third NBA title. "That's the only reason I play; to win. All that other stuff is cool, don't get me wrong. But me, you know me I'll take winning over all that other stuff."

Washington forward Rashard Lewis (No. 7, 1,667 made 3s)

If there was a player who would fall under the category of a Ray Allen disciple, Rashard Lewis is that guy.

The 6-foot-10 forward spent four-plus seasons with Allen in Seattle, and the two have remained close ever since.

"Ray has been great to me," Lewis told CSNNE.com.

The biggest lesson he says he has learned from Allen has nothing to do with shooting the ball.

"His preparation," Lewis said, "is second to none. That's something that I really picked up from him that, if you want to be a great player in this league, you have to work at your game and never be satisfied."

As far as breaking Allen's record someday, Lewis said, "I don't know about that. He's got to retire first. Looking at him and the way he's playing and the way he's moving now, who knows when he'll retire."

Dallas guard Jason Terry (No. 8, 1,593 made 3s)

Known for his speed, Terry has meshed lightning-quick speed with the ability to knock down long range shots.

"For me, it stretches the defense," Terry told CSNNE.com. "I've always been a guy that, even in transition on the break, I'll spot up for 3. Guys just tend to forget about you, especially in transition. They like to go to the basket. You're always taught, 'go to the basket. protect the paint.' That's what guys like myself, Ray Allen, even Dirk in that trail position, get good looks at 3s."

And like the guys ahead of him on the all-time top-10 list, he too sees Allen as a living legend when it comes to 3-point shooting.

"Obviously, we know who the pioneer was for our era; it was Reggie Miller," Terry said. "He set the bar. And now Ray Allen has raised that bar. His longevity, the way he has been able to do it, and for how long he's been doing it for, I want to continue to do that. Once he leaves, hopefully I'll just slide right on in."

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

OFFSEASON

Yabusele, Zizic may not be able to play in Summer League for C's

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Yabusele, Zizic may not be able to play in Summer League for C's

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics turned quite a few heads when they used two of their three first-round picks on international players.

They were part of a record-setting night for international players, with 15 being selected in the first round – the most ever in NBA history.

But like many international draft picks, it is far from a given that you’ll see either Guershon Yabusele and Ante Zizic, who were selected with the 16th and 23rd picks, respectively, next season.

While it’s not uncommon for teams to draft international players in the first round and do so with the plan being to keep them overseas for another year or two, the potential hold-up for Boston’s two international picks has more to do with coming to terms on a buyout amount with their current teams.

“We’ve had initial discussions with their representatives,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, when I asked him about it during the team’s press conference to introduce the newest Celtics on Friday. “We have not concluded anything yet. We’re still in that discussion. And I’m not sure about summer (league).”

While it remains an option, a league source told CSNNE.com that it’s unlikely that either player will participate in either of Boston’s summer league squads which will play in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

Ainge agrees that there are a number of positives one can take from drafting an overseas player in the first round.

But the decision by Boston to draft Yabusele and Zizic in the first round had a lot to do with one thing – talent.

“The reason that these two guys are here . . . is because they’re good players,” Ainge said. “The fact that they have people that want them on their teams on the international top level competition, tells you how good players they are. They could easily find jobs overseas at the top level. They’ve earned that reputation. They’re both very productive. Guerson very productive and Ante very good rebounding  . . . now we’re trying to figure out the best way they can help us for their development. We’re working with their representatives on that plan.”

Yabusele, a 6-foot-8, 275-pound power forward, averaged 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes with Rouen Metropole Basket in the LNB Pro A league in France. While appearing in 34 games last season, he grabbed 10 or more rebounds 11 times while tallying eight double-doubles.

Zizic, a 6-11, 250-pound center, distinguished himself as one of the better players in the Adriatic League this past season. He was voted by fans, media and coaches as the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect after averaging 12.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in 24.8 minutes while shooting an impressive 60.7 percent from the field.

OFFSEASON

If not this year for Durant-to-Celtics, then next?

If not this year for Durant-to-Celtics, then next?

BOSTON – The Celtics are considered long shots at landing Kevin Durant during free agency, which begins next week.

Still, if they come up short this summer, league sources tell CSNNE.com that the Celtics will be on a “watch list” of sorts by Durant’s camp when the former league MVP is expected to hit the free agent market once again in the summer of 2017.
 
The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Durant will have teams meet with him in New York beginning next week. In addition to the Celtics, his current team Oklahoma City will sit down with him, as well as Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
 
Durant can re-sign with the Thunder for as many as five years with the total value of his contract worth slightly more than $150 million.
 
However, by signing a one-year deal or a two-year pact with a player option for the second season, Durant would make a projected $25.9 million for the 2016-2017 season and can then hit the free agent market again in 2017 when the salary cap is expected to cross the nine-figure threshold.
 
And at that time, if he decides to stay with the Thunder, he can ink a five-year deal that, when combined with his salary in 2016-2017, would be more than $230 million over six years – that’s about $80 million more than he would get by re-signing a long-term deal with the Thunder now, and would more than double what he would make by signing a maximum-salaried four-year deal with another team.
 
That’s why it makes a lot of sense for him to sign a short-term deal now and better position himself for a bigger payday the following summer when his starting salary will likely be on the north side of $35 million.
 
For the Celtics, Durant going through free agency back-to-back years affords coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics one more opportunity to continue their ascension up the Eastern Conference standings while still being a team that’s clearly in need of adding at least one additional All-Star talent to play with Isaiah Thomas.

In his three seasons as the Celtics coach, Stevens has improved the team’s win total each season.
 
However, they have failed to win a playoff series after having been knocked out in the first round each of the past two seasons.
 
While Durant is the team’s No. 1 priority on the free agent market, the Celtics will quickly pivot their attentions to other highly-regarded players as well with Atlanta’s Al Horford being among their targets.

Depending on how quickly Durant’s free agency gets taken care of, the Celtics might be able to turn their attention towards potentially re-signing Evan Turner, who was sixth in the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year voting last season.

OFFSEASON

Celtics' Isaiah Thomas continues recruitment of Durant with tweet

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Celtics' Isaiah Thomas continues recruitment of Durant with tweet

With the Celtics reportedly in the running in the Kevin Durant Derby, C's guard Isaiah Thomas is continuing his recruiting pitch with this playful tweet.

Thomas said in a radio interview earlier this week that the Celtics "definitely have a shot" at landing Durant and a few months ago, Thomas' essay in the Players Tribune is perhaps his best sales job of all.