OFFSEASON

Celtics' Big Four named All-Star reserves

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Celtics' Big Four named All-Star reserves

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

SACRAMENTO, Calif. It might be time to officially ditch all this Big Three talk when discussing the Boston Celtics.

The NBA released its list of All-Star reserves Thursday night.

And as expected, the Celtics led the way with four players chosen.

Paul Pierce, who will be making his ninth All-Star appearance - only four Celtics have been chosen more often - will be joined by Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo.

This will be the first time since 1975 that the Celtics will have four players participate in the All-Star game. It's also the first time since 2006 (Detroit Pistons) that one team produced four All-Stars in the same year. That quartet of Pistons included former Celtic Rasheed Wallace.

Even before it became official, Pierce anticipated that he would be joined by Allen, Garnett and Rondo.

"I look at the top of the Eastern Conference, position by position, I think between me, Ray, Kevin, Rondo, we're right up there," Pierce said prior to Thursday's announcement.

For a good chunk of the voting period, it appeared the C's would have two All-Star starters in Rondo and Garnett.

However, injuries took both players off the floor at various stretches this season.

That time off the court coincided with New York's Amar'e Stoudemire putting up big numbers, and Chicago's Derrick Rose leading an injury-riddled Bulls team - coached by former C's assistant Tom Thibodeau - to one of the best records in the Eastern Conference.

"It's great for Rose," said Rondo shortly after learning that he would not be an All-Star starter. "He definitely deserves to start, the season he's having."

Rondo's play has been impressive, as well.

He's averaging a league-best 12.5 assists per game, in addition to shooting a career-high 51.5 percent from the field.

As for Garnett, his status as an All-Star can't always be measured in his statistics.

He's averaging 15 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, but scoring and rebounding make up a small part of what he brings to the Celtics.

Garnett is their defensive anchor, the last line of defense that has once again been instrumental in the Celtics ranking among the NBA leaders in just about every statistical category on defense.

"I know my role," Garnett said. "Defensive stopper, come out and get Ray and Paul open, move the ball, be a post presence. Come out there, make sure we're energized, ready to play."

And then there's Allen, who far too often is overlooked when it comes to doling out praise and accolades on this Celtics team.

Garnett's fiery on-the-floor persona is hard to ignore. You have Rondo making how-the-heck-did-he-do-that passes all the time. And then there's Pierce, a "professional scorer" leading the way offensively most nights for the Celtics.

Allen has been arguably the Celtics most consistent player all season, evident by him averaging 17.3 points per game, which ranks second on the team.

Known for his long-range shooting, Allen is connecting on a career-best 45.3 percent of his 3-pointers. And with 2,552 under his belt, he's just nine made 3-pointers away from surpassing Indiana great Reggie Miller as the NBA's all-time leader in that category.

"His shot is perfect," said Sacramento coach and former Celtic, Paul Westphal (1972-1975). "He hardly has to bend his knees to shoot. He hardly has to face the basket. His release is so quick."

Allen is just one part of the winning formula in Boston, one that coaches throughout the league have long recognized not only for their play, but how that play meshes into what has become one of the elite teams in the NBA.

"They have different styles," Westphal said. "They blend well together because they don't play the same game. So all they do is make each other better than pound at each other's strengths."

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

OFFSEASON

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.

The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.

“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”

Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.

Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:

  STARTERS BENCH RESERVES ON THE BUBBLE
FRONT COURT Amir Johnson Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller  
Al Horford Jonas Jerebko Jordan Mickey Ben Bentil*
Jae Crowder Jaylen Brown* Gerald Green James Young
BACK COURT Avery Bradley Marcus Smart RJ Hunter John Holland*
Isaiah Thomas Terry Rozier Demetrius Jackson  

So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
 
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.

Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.

Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.

If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.

It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

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Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

On a busy Saturday for the Celtics, they have brought back center Tyler Zeller and agreed to deals with draft picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier Saturday, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported that the Celtics will sign guard Gerald Green. 

Himmelsbach reports that Zeller's is a $16 million, two-year deal with the second-year not guaranteed. Jackson, the point guard from Notre Dame who was the 45th overall selection in the draft, has a guaranteed deal and Bentil, the forward from Providence who was the 51st player drafted, has a partially guaranteed deal. 

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reported that the second-year of Zeller's deal is a team option and that Green agreed to a one-year deal at the $1.4 million veteran mininum based on his nine years of NBA service.

The 7-foot Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game last season. 

R.J. Hunter, James Young, Bentil and John Holland are in position to fight for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reports, pending more deals, which the Celtics are reportedly working on. A source told Himmelsbach, that while there are probably changes coming, "There is no big deal right now." 

Bulpett reported that Celtics' talks with the Philadelphia 76ers involving a deal for Sixers' big man Jahlil Okafor have, according to sources, grown "stale" and that the moves Saturday put 2014 draft pick James Young's roster spot in jeopardy.

With Green, Zeller, and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have has 15 guaranteed contracts and three partial or non-guaranteed deals. 

 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.