OFFSEASON

A day of Shaq sights and sounds

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A day of Shaq sights and sounds

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM - Delonte West stepped down off a stool as he finished addressing a pack of reporters. Suddenly, there was a scurry to move the stool out of the way. Shaquille O'Neal was due up next, and reaching a microphone or recorder up to the big man would be nearly impossible if he weren't given a few more inches.

O'Neal's presence was felt in more ways than one on Celtics Media Day. Whether he was drawing an overflowing crowd during an interview or attracting a group of onlookers while he posed for photos, Number 36 was the number one topic of conversation.

Following Doc's Orders: MVP awards, All-Star selections, statistical accomplishments . . . O'Neal has amassed so many personal achievements that they aren't the reason why he plays basketball any more. He signed with the Celtics to help them win a title, whatever the role entails.

"Whatever Doc needs me to do, that's what I'm going to do," O'Neal said. "You know, when I first came in, my first 17 years were all about me and scoring, and now that that part of my game is over, now it's time for me to be a damn good role player. So whatever Doc and the city of Boston needs me to do, that's what I'm going to do."

It's Not About Kobe: When Kobe Bryant captured his fifth NBA championship with a Game Seven win over the Celtics in June, he proclaimed, "I just got one more than Shaq." O'Neal heard the comment . . . he just isn't focusing on it during his quest for number five.

"Yeah, I heard it," he said. "My whole career I've been the measuring stick for excellence, so I'm glad to see I'm still relevant. But I would've been more upset, more hurt if Tim Duncan would've made the comment. I don't compete with guards. They have the ball more than I do, they shoot way more than I do, you can't compete with guards. I'm only competing with Tim Duncan, so hopefully I can get number five before Tim Duncan gets it, respectfully competing with Tim Duncan."

Light on his feet: ONeal has laid off hamburgers, fried chicken, macaroni, and cornbread to stay in shape this summer. He clocks in at 345 pounds, a weight he plans on maintaining throughout the season. His teammates have noticed how well he is moving on the court.

"We've played in a couple pickup games," said Paul Pierce. "He looks good, just him getting up and down the court. In one pickup game, he got three fast-break layups. You don't really hardly hear about Shaq getting fast-break layups. But he's looked good. I think he's looked better than I guess people anticipated. A lot of people say he comes and gets in shape in camp, but he looks really good in the pickup games we've playing the last couple of weeks."
A Voice of Experience: West played with O'Neal last season on the Cavaliers and looks forward to sharing a locker room with him again. He describes watching O'Neal interact with the Celtics' Big Three as "unreal" and believes the entire team can learn from him in his 19th season.

"Just playing with him for the time I did in Cleveland, this guy has so much to offer, so much knowledge, the young guys hanging on to his every word," said West. "At the end of the day, in my opinion, he's still one of the top 10 players to ever do it. There's a lot of knowledge there. He's won championships and for some reason we still have this opinion in our minds, we still hope he goes out and scores 50 and has 25 rebounds and breaks five backboards in one game. He just wants to win and we talk about it all the time. We did all last year. He just wants to help win and do what he does to help the team win."

Added Danny Ainge, "Shaq obviously has a great deal of cache in our locker room because of what he's accomplished in his career . . . Shaq's been around a long time and I think he wants to win as bad as anybody, so I have a great deal of confidence that he'll be a positive influence in our locker room."

Comfortable in Green: O'Neal admits he never pictured himself wearing a Celtics uniform early in his career. But now that he's slipped on the white and green jersey, he likes the way it looks.

"I never really envisioned myself being here as a young guy, but sitting back this summer I made a very important decision to come to a team that was rich in the tradition of winning," he explained. "I watched the guys last year, especially when they beat us the Cavaliers, and I've been a fan of the Big Three and how they've been playing a long time. I figured this is a place I want to spend my last 735 days."

O'Neal added, "For me, I've always been a smart businessman and always been a guy to take advantage of opportunities. So it was an opportunity for me to come here and play with some great guys and hopefully we can get it done. Because I know if we get it done, I'll be, I think, the first guy to win with three different teams. I like making history, so hopefully it happens."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcamerato

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 to bring in two, 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.

  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 back Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any moves 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 done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, but at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.
 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree deal with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

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Report: Celtics agree deal 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.