OFFSEASON

Celtics won't start in next month's All-Star game

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Celtics won't start in next month's All-Star game

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

PORTLAND, Ore. When the starters in next month's All-Star game are introduced, you won't find a Boston Celtic in the bunch.

Not to worry.

It's hard to imagine that the Celtics' Big Four - Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo - will not all be voted in as reserves.

The NBA announced the starters on Thursday.

In the Eastern Conference, fans voted Amar'e Stoudemire of New York and LeBron James of Miami as the starting forwards. At center, Orlando's Dwight Howard was a runaway winner. And the starting backcourt consisted of Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Chicago's Derrick Rose, arguably the best guard in the NBA this season.

Rondo came closer than any other Celtic to being a starter, with Rose beating him out by less than 400,000 votes.

"It's great for him," Rondo said of Rose being a starter. "It's not a disappointment not starting. He definitely deserves it, the season he's having. All of them, all five of them deserve it."

Doc Rivers, who is on track to be the head coach of the East squad, would have liked to have seen at least one of his players selected as a starter, considering they have the best record (34-10) in the East.

"You look at our record and to have no starters is surprising, but not really, because we're such a team," Rivers said. "We're not a team where individuals stand out, but because of the record they should stand out. Hopefully all four are on. I think they should be."

In 2006, the Detroit Pistons had four players chosen for the All-Star game - all as reserves.

Pierce, in line for a ninth All-Star appearance, anticipates he will be selected by the coaches, along with 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.

For Pierce, whether it's getting chosen by the fans or opposing coaches, he has no preference.

"In my career, I've earned each and every one of them," Pierce said. "That's all I can take from it. The guys that start, they earned it, too. You become popular with your play. I'm happy with the way I've gone in."

Rondo, chosen by the coaches last season as an All-Star, echoed similar sentiments.

"I don't know which one would be better; obviously starting would be great," Rondo said. "I got a lot of response from the fans. If the coaches you're playing against every night choose you, that's great as well. Either way, you can't lose. It's a great situation."

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.