OFFSEASON

Davis steady during Celtics' torrid stretch

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Davis steady during Celtics' torrid stretch

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis has heard it all.

You're not good enough.

You're too short.

You're too fat.

With so much negativity being tossed his way, it stands to reason that he plays the game with something to prove.

But there comes a time when it's not about proving a point; but simply, playing the game.

And this lesson is one Davis is still learning.

A muscle strain in Kevin Garnett's lower right leg forced him to miss nine games. In that time, Davis was the starter.

We have seen Davis fill in for Garnett in past years, but this time around it was different.

Davis knew he would have a limited number of games, because unlike the right knee injury Garnett suffered a couple years ago, the C's knew he would be back in a couple of weeks.

In that time, Davis would have a golden opportunity to play well, and potentially increase his stock as a free agent this summer.

He had his moments of stellar play.

There was the 17-point, 5-rebound night in Boston's 96-93 win over Minnesota. He later scored a season-high 23 points in Boston's 105-103 win over San Antonio, holders of the best record in the NBA.

Davis scored in double figures in all but one of the nine starts, but something wasn't right.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself when I was starting," Davis said. "I didn't play with a relaxed flow."

So while Davis was scoring, he needed a lot of shot attempts to do so. As a starter, he averaged about 14 shot attempts per game. While coming off the bench, Davis averages just a shade over 10 per game.

In addition to shooting more, Davis' defense and rebounding also suffered.

Following a 90-79 loss at Chicago, a game in which Davis played a season-high 43 minutes, coach Doc Rivers was clearly bothered by the number of shot attempts Davis took in relation to his teammates.

"We gotta shorten Baby's minutes, No. 1," Rivers said. "And we got to get him to be more of a pick-setter. Right now, he's more of a shooter. He's got to get back to setting picks."

At that time, Davis had taken more shots than Paul Pierce and Ray Allen over the course of the previous five games.

"I love him," Rivers said of Davis. "But that should never happen."

Davis acknowledged he hit a stretch as a starter when, frankly, he wasn't playing his game.

"I got out of myself and tried to be something else," Davis said. "That's not how it works. You have to be yourself."

And when he has simply been Glen Davis, the results have been impressive to the point where he is very much in the running for the league's Sixth Man of the Year award.

As a reserve, he's averaging 12.5 points per game.

While his scoring average (13.7) is slightly higher as a starter, his field goal percentage (48.4 to 41.1), free throw percentage (77.8 to 75) and rebound (5.7 to 4.2) numbers are all better when he's coming off the bench than they are when he's with the first unit.

Stretches of poor or inconsistent play have marred Davis during his three-plus seasons in Boston.

But this season, Davis' steady play has been one of the many keys to the Celtics (32-9) hitting the halfway point of the season with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

"Baby has his days, but overall, he's had very few of them," Rivers said. 'He has had a tremendous attitude, a team attitude in a contract year which is very difficult. I don't think he gets enough credit for that part of it. The only time he gets himself in trouble, is when he forgets that he's Glen Davis."

Rivers quipped, "I don't know how you can forget something that big, personally. He's just been fantastic. Our record is where it's at because we have Glen Davis on our team."

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.