OFFSEASON

Blakely: NBA Mock Draft 2.0

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Blakely: NBA Mock Draft 2.0

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
Here's the second installment of CSNNE.com's Mock draft.

There was very little movement near the top of the draft board. However, the uncertain buyout status of Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas will likely result in one of the top international players sliding a few spots which as you can imagine, will create a domino effect felt throughout the lottery (top-14).

Locally, at least three players from New England schools are expected to be selected in the first round. Leading the way will be UConn's Kemba Walker, who is projected by most mock drafts as a top-10 pick.

As for the Celtics, they have plenty of areas in need of added talent, so they could conceivably go in just about any direction and it be a move that helps. The Celtics have made adding athleticism a priority this offseason, which could result in the addition of 6-6 Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech, one of the most athletic players in Thursday's draft. Of course, the need for size remains, which is why the Celtics might look to draft Nikola Vucevic (6-foot-11, 260) of USC or San Diego native Jeremy Tyler (6-11, 260), who bypassed his senior year of high school and has played in Israel and Japan, respectively, the last two years. He is projected as a late-first round or early second-round selection.

1. Cleveland
Kyrie Irving
6'3''
191
PG
Duke
2. Minnesota
Derrick Williams
6'8''
248
SFPF
Arizona
3. Utah
Brandon Knight
6'3''
177
PGSG
Kentucky
4. Cleveland
Enes Kanter
6'11''
259
PFC
Kentucky
5. Toronto
Jan Vesely
6'11''
230
SFPF
Czech Rep.
6. Washington
Marcus Morris
6'8''
230
SFPF
Kansas
7. Sacramento
Kemba Walker
6'1''
184
PG
UConn
8. Detroit
Tristan Thompson
6'9''
227
PF
Texas
9. Charlotte
Kawhi Leonard
6'7''
227
SF
SDSU
10. Milwaukee
Jonas Valanciunas
6'11''
240
C
Lithuania
11. Golden St.
Chris Singleton
6'9''
230
SF
FSU
12. Utah
Jimmer Fredette
6'2''
196
PG
BYU
13. Phoenix
Klay Thompson
6'7''
206
SG
WSU
14. Houston
Donatas Motiejunas
7'0''
224
PF
Lithuania
15. Indiana
Alec Burks
6'6''
193
PGSG
Colorado
16. Philly
Markieff Morris
6'9''
241
PF
Kansas
17. New York
Jordan Hamilton
6'8''
228
SF
Texas
18. Washington
Darius Morris
6'4''
190
PG
Michigan
19. Charlotte
Bismack Biyombo
6'9''
243
C
Congo
20. Minnesota
Kenneth Faried
6'7''
225
PF
Morehead St.
21. Portland
Tobias Harris
6'8''
223
SFPF
Tennessee
22. Denver
Marshon Brooks
6'5''
195
PGSG
Providence
23. Houston
Tyler Honeycutt
6'8''187
SGSF
UCLA
24. OKC
Nikola Mirotic
6'10''
226
SF
Serbia
25. Boston
Iman Shumpert
6'6''
220
SGPG
Geo. Tech
26. Dallas
Davis Bertans
6'10''
210
SF
Latvia
27. New Jersey
Nikola Vucevic
6'11''
260
C
USC
28. Chicago
Kyle Singler
6'9''
228
PF
Duke
29. San Antonio
Justin Harper
6'9''
228
PF
Richmond
30. Chicago
Chandler Parsons
6'10''
221
SF
Florida

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

OFFSEASON

Celtics take two in international players in record breaking NBA Draft

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Celtics take two in international players in record breaking NBA Draft

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 of Boston’s international first rounder picks Guershon Yabusele and Ante Zizic who were selected with the 16th and 23rd picks, respectively.

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 6-8, 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.