OFFSEASON

Frank's a consultant in Vols' search . . . for now

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Frank's a consultant in Vols' search . . . for now

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM While there have been talks between University of Tennessee officials and the representatives of Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, don't expect him to be singing 'Rocky Top' anytime soon.

A league source confirmed on Wednesday that the school has spoken with Frank, but the nature of the conversation was primarily to discuss potential candidates the school should target.

It's not unusual for schools to ask the advice of a former player or, in Frank's case, a former coach, before proceeding with a head coaching search.

That said, discussing possible coaching candidates doesn't necessarily mean the Vols won't at some point in their search come back to try and lure Frank to Knoxville as a replacement for the recently-fired Bruce Pearl.

Frank, who spent three seasons as an assistant coach with Tennessee, was among the first names mentioned as a possible successor.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com that Tennessee has yet to ask for permission to speak with Frank about becoming the Vols' next head coach.

However, Ainge said he's not surprised to hear Frank's name come up as a potential head coaching candidate.

"He's a good coach, but Lawrence is committed 100 percent to our quest to win a championship this year," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "He's a quality coach who should be a candidate for a number of coaching opportunities in the future."

Sixers president Rod Thorn, a former GM with the Nets when Frank was there, also praised Frank's coaching acumen.

"I would be very surprised if he doesn't get another head coaching job at some point," Thorn told CSNNE.com earlier this season. "Things just didn't work out how he or we would have liked in New Jersey. That doesn't take away from who he is, which is a very good coach."

Frank came to Boston this summer after spending the previous six seasons as the head coach of the New Jersey Nets, a tenure that ended during the 2009-2010 season in which New Jersey lost its first 16 games of the season. He began his head coaching career with a 13-0 start, the best start in NBA history by any first-year head coach. Prior to being named the Nets' head coach, he spent three-plus seasons as a Nets assistant. He has a head coaching record of 225-241.

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

OFFSEASON

Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

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Future uncertain for Johnson and Jerebko as Celtics pursue Durant

BOSTON -- When you’re the Boston Celtics and you have your sights set on a star like Kevin Durant, the potential impact on your roster is undeniable.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well . . . not exactly.

One of the options that the Celtics are considering during the free agency period is whether to waive Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko before July 3 which would create additional salary cap space to potentially sign Durant and another near max-salaried player.

But here’s the problem.

Boston could potentially waive Johnson and Jerebko, fail to get Durant or another elite free agent and see the duo gone for nothing in return while they play their way into a big contract toiling in the NBA’s basement with one of the league’s worst teams.

How you ask?

Multiple league sources contacted by CSNNE.com Tuesday night indicated that if the Celtics waive both players, it’s “very likely” that both will be claimed off waivers.

According to a league office official, waiver priority goes to the team with the worst record attempting to claim a player.

And what team had the worst record in the NBA last season?

Yup. The 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.

And what team was right behind them, or ahead depending on how you look at things?

The lowly, 17-win Los Angeles Lakers.

Johnson is due $12 million next season while Jerebko is due to earn $5 million, chump change in this new age of the NBA with the 2016-2017 salary cap expected to be around $94 million.

In addition, both players would join clubs in contract years. Couple that with each being relatively productive and there’s the potential for each player to have a really big season.

Johnson was the Celtics’ top rim-protector last season, in addition to being a solid pick-and-roll defender. He also averaged 7.3 points, 6.4 rebounds with 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. 

And Jerebko shot 39.8 percent from 3-point range last season, and finished up the playoffs in the starting lineup.

The Celtics are well aware of how valuable both players were to Boston’s success last season, and how their production relative to their contracts makes them extremely important to whatever team they play for.

To lose them for what would essentially be a lottery ticket in the Durant sweepstakes, is certainly a gamble that it remains to be seen if the Celtics are willing to take.

Best-case scenario for Boston is to know where they stand with Durant within the first 24 hours of free agency which would then allow them time to make a more informed decision about Johnson and Jerebko’s futures.

As you can imagine, the Celtics are as eager as any team to know what Durant plans to do this summer.

Because the way things are starting to take shape with Boston’s pursuit of the former league MVP, he’s going to have an impact on the Celtics’ roster one way or another.