Friday FT's: Kobe vs. Shaq (Again); Delonte works

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Friday FT's: Kobe vs. Shaq (Again); Delonte works

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

Welcome back to Friday Free Throws, a weekly recap of the most interesting news, notes, and information that have not made the headlines but are still worth a read. In spite of the NBA lockout, there are still plenty of hoops to talk about.
Shaquille ONeal may have retired from basketball this summer but that doesnt mean Kobe vs. Shaq talk has come to an end.

Let's set the scene: Kobe Bryant is currently in Italy as part of a Nike promotional tour. According to Sportando.net, Bryant was asked about his former teammate O'Neal during a radio interview, to which Bryant responded, "I like players who work out. I used to do that 67 hours per day. I cannot stand players who practice for 30 minutes. I need to say something to them."

On Thursday, O'Neal tweeted a video of himself singing Sade's "No Ordinary Love" to ... a basketball I'm gonna miss the game.

No Doubting Wests Work Ethic
While many NBA players pondered finding employment overseas during the lockout, Delonte West announced he had applied for a job at Home Depot. This week he tweeted that he is now an employee of Regency Furniture Showrooms, and he has been sharing photos from his application to his first days on the job on his Twitter account, @CharleeRedz13:

Applied at Regency Furniture, need a 2nd job to stay afloat during the lockout.

I am now an official employee of Regency Furniture.. Check me out on my first day.

"Me and the crew at Regency. It's been a long day."

Just finished a big moving job.

Another on the job pic. This is the last one, don't wanna get fired.

Before he started his new job, West hosted the Delonte West Charity Weekend in Washington, D.C. to benefit several organizations, ranging from senior citizens to children. Check out photo (below) of West playing bingo with senior citizens at the Magnolia Garden Nursing Home. He was also at the Casino Royale benefit event with Baltimore Raven Ray Rice.

Rondo Confident One-on-One

Last weekend Rajon Rondo headed to Alcatraz in San Francisco for the final round of the Red Bull King of the Rock Tournament. Dime Magazine was there to talk to Rondo about the tournament, the NBA lockout, and one-on-one basketball. Check out a few excerpts from the interview, where Rondo is always in game mode:

Dime: If the Celtics held a 1-on-1 tournament, who would win?
RR: Probably me. I mean, we play a little 1-on-1 sometimes. Pauls pretty good hes probably the best 1-on-1 player we have cause he can score inside and outside, and he can check guards and bigs. So I could say Paul, or I could say Id win.

Dime: What about a 1-on-1 tournament with just NBA point guards. Who wins?
RR: Me.

Dime: Okay, so who would you beat in the finals?
RR: Whoever gets there.

Rondo also tweeted a photo of himself playing a game of H-O-R-S-E against fans at Alcatraz here.

Celtics Tweet of the Week

@paulpierce34: Today's game in Allen Field house brought back so many memories I couldn't have scripted the game today any better Best fans n the world

Celtics Birthdays of the Week

Celtics 1997 first round draft pick (3rd overall) Chauncey Billups turned 35 on September 25. Billups played 51 games for the Cs during his rookie year before being traded to the Toronto Raptors . . . Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, who appeared in 20 games for the Celtics during the 1978-79 season, turned 60 on the same day. He was traded to the Detroit Pistons in September of 1979 . . . Brad Lohaus turned 47 on September 29. He was drafted by the Celtics with the 45th overall pick in 1987 and played over two seasons with the C's before being traded to the Sacramento Kings along with Danny Ainge . . . Chuck Cooper, broke the NBA color line when he played four seasons for the Celtics during the 1950s, was born on September 29, 1926. He passed away in 1984 . . . Ruben Wolkowyski, who played seven games for the Celtics during the 2002-03 season, turned 38 on September 30.

This Week in Celtics History

On September 30, 2005 the Celtics traded a 2006 second-round pick to the New OrleansOklahoma City Hornets in exchange for Dan Dickau. The guard was the last player to don number 20 for the Celtics before Ray Allen began wearing the jersey in 2007.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.

Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

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Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

BOSTON – Celtics fans are slowly but surely getting over the disappointment of the team not landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery earlier this month.
 
As cool as that would have been, the conference finals serve as a reminder that while having the top pick can be a good thing, most teams have to take a different route when it comes to getting on track towards and NBA title.
 
Of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the only one that has truly been elevated to their current lofty status courtesy of landing the number one overall pick (first with LeBron James back in 2003 and more recently with Kyrie Irving in 2011).
 
That means the rest of the remaining field built their way up into an NBA power relying on a combination of making wise draft picks and shrewd additions via free agency and trades.
 
So much of that has to do with leverage, something the Celtics have plenty of on all three fronts.
 
They have the potential to free up enough salary cap space to sign a pair of max players, a first for this franchise. Boston also has eight draft picks in next month’s draft (three in the first round, five in the second), the most of any team leading up to the draft since it went to a two-round system in 1989.
 
Those picks plus a roster full of really good but not great talent, gives them the kind of ammunition to pull the trigger on a trade that could add that much-needed All-Star caliber talent.
 
But it’s like a high school chemistry experiment as the Celtics try to figure out the right combinations to avoid having it all blow up in their face.
 
For now, the emphasis has to be on the June 23 draft.
 
A big part of that planning process involves figuring out what to do with the No. 3 pick, the highest selection the Celtics have had since they took Jeff Green (and traded him that night) with the fifth overall selection in 2007.
 
If the Celtics keep the pick, it will certainly bring about some controversy regardless of who they select.
 
By taking Dragan Bender of Croatia, the Celtics will be selecting the youngest player in the draft (he turns 19 in November) who may take years to develop into a legitimate contributor.
 
Selecting Providence College’s Kris Dunn, arguably the best perimeter defender in this draft, seems a bit redundant considering all the guards Boston has under contract whose strengths are essentially the same as Dunn’s.
 
Buddy Hield of Oklahoma is another option. He’s the best shooter in this draft, but doesn’t provide much other than scoring. Is that really worthy of a No. 3 overall pick?
 
Regardless of who the Celtics take with the No. 3 pick (and that’s assuming they keep it and not trade it away which is indeed an option), one thing we know for sure.
 
History tells us that if the Celtics keep the pick, he will wind up being a pretty good player.
 
In the past 20 years, the No. 1 overall pick has produced 12 All-Stars.
 
Among top six picks in that same span of time, the No. 3 selection has generated the second-highest number of All-Stars (8), while the No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 picks each had five All-Stars.
 
That’s important to note because the need to have multiple All-Stars is paramount to a team’s chances at making a deep playoff run.
 
Take a look at the four remaining teams.
 
There’s the defending champion Golden State Warriors, whose roster includes a quartet of current (Stephen Curry; Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) and former All-Stars (Andre Iguodala).
 
Cleveland’s roster includes a similar breakdown of recent (LeBron James; Kyrie Irving; Kevin Love) and not-so-recent (Mo Williams) All-Stars.
 
And then there’s Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and Toronto (Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan) who each have a pair of All-Stars.
 
For Boston, the team's lone All-Star is Isaiah Thomas, who knows all too well that he can’t carry this team to a deep, meaningful playoff run without getting some All-Star caliber help.

The top two picks in this year’s draft – Duke’s Brandon Ingram and LSU’s Ben Simmons – are head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class, but the Celtics are in a good spot if you’re talking about adding a key piece to a potential title contender. 

Report: Ainge in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender

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Report: Ainge in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his son, Austin Ainge, the team’s director of player personnel, will be in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender, the potential No. 3 pick in the draft, the Boston Herald reported. 

Bender, a 7-foot-1, 18-year-old from Croatia, won’t be playing in games this weekend but will be practicing for Maccabi Tel Aviv.  Bender is a bench player for Maccabi, averaging 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds. Still, his size and potential to develop  have him projected to go as high as No. 3.

Here’s CSN’s scouting report of Bender.

Danny Ainge was in Croatia earlier this week scouting 6-11 Ante Zizic. 

 

Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

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Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

There’s a high likelihood the Philadelphia 76ers will trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel in connection with the June 23 draft, in which the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, ESPN’s Chad Ford reported.

The Celtics, who have the No. 3 pick, have been rumored to be willing to part with it in a deal that includes Okafor.

Ford said in an interview with Philadelphia-area radio station ESPN 97.3:

You will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season. I think that they'll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn't necessarily work.

The Sixers are expected to choose LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the top pick.  Ford and Marc Stein also reported Philly’s willingness to deal Okafor or Noel in this ESPN article. 

As a deal with the Celtics for the No. 3 pick, Ford told 97.3:

Absolutely…If I was Philadelphia, it would be done tomorrow. I don't know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100 percent. That would allow them to actually I think bring in another guard, an elite guard, whether that's Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly now you've got a very, very bright future. I think that's an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it.