OFFSEASON

Doc's task: Keeping the Stars aligned

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Doc's task: Keeping the Stars aligned

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

For the past four seasons, Doc Rivers has been tasked with managing superstar personalities and reigning them in to play Boston Celtics basketball.

This weekend, he has the job of getting 12 of the NBAs best to play on the same page.

For the second time in four years, Rivers was named head coach of the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. This time around he will have four Celtics on his roster -- Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo, who was not on the team when Rivers previously coached the All-Stars in 2008.

The Celtics will come off the bench, while Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, and Dwight Howard will start. Chris Bosh, Al Horford and Joe Johnson will round out the reserves.

While these All-Stars will have to play united on Sunday, it has only been a matter of days since they were pitted as foes.

Two weeks ago the Celtics defeated Howard and the Magic in Boston. Howard was whistled for a technical foul during Boston's victory, which had its share of heated moments.

The following weekend tensions rose as the Heat came to the TD Garden. Players dealt hard fouls as the desire to win led to arguments, and perhaps the most memorable moment of the Celtics win came when James shoved Rondo, who was trying to listen in on a Heat huddle (no timeout had been called).

And as if that competition wasnt enough, Stoudemire and Horford were also involved in a war of words in the media.

While Rivers joked about his approach to coaching these players, he isnt overly concerned once the game starts.

Im going to tell them to get it on, he smiled. Hey, lets get some action going in the locker room. I think what were going to do is just have everybody have separate seats in the locker room and face the lockers and not look at each other.

Itll be when they get in there and I think its all good. Listen, back in the days there was a lot of animosity with each other, and then they got on the floor and they loved each other, and the next day they didnt like each other again. So thats just the beast.

Rivers is taking a lighthearted approach to coaching the Eastern Conference team. When it comes to preparation, he laughed that he is going to leave it up to assistant coach Lawrence Frank.

Actually, as a matter of fact, I told Lawrence hes planning the practice," Rivers said. Were running his plans. The ones that dont work are his. The ones that work are mine.

As for a pregame pep talk, Rivers didnt have to deliver one in New Orleans. The Eastern Conference team had lost, 153-132, the previous year and James wanted to address his teammates. It worked, as the East won, 134-128.

The first one in New Orleans was phenomenal because LeBron got up and he actually gave a serious talk before then, Rivers recalled. He asked if he could say something to the team, and he was serious. I guess they had gotten blown out the game before and he talked about how embarrassing that was. And so, after he spoke I told our coaches, I think were good tonight. And we were. He was the MVP.

Even though Rivers will be coaching a new group of players this weekend, he is still concerned about his own team during the break. The Celtics begin a four-game West Coast road trip two days after the All-Star Game, and Rivers has encouraged his players to head out west early to get their bodies acclimated.

Ive suggested, go west young man. And Ive got a feeling, Vegas, probably thats what they think," he laughed. I meant like Park City would be phenomenal for them, as long as they dont ski. But I think most of them are going to try to do that.

Once the game wraps up in L.A., it is on to Oakland where the Celtics will play the Golden State Warriors, followed by matchups against the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz.

Its a good West Coast trip, he said. Usually when you go out west after the break, we always start with those deadly back-to-back games, which are killers for everyone. At least in this case we have days off, practice time.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

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.