OFFSEASON

Krstic still learning the ropes with the Celtics

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Krstic still learning the ropes with the Celtics

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

SALT LAKE CITY At some point, well have to stop falling back on the fact that he doesnt yet know the plays or doesnt have chemistry with his teammates or is still getting adjusted to his new situation. But seeing that Nenad Krstic is only two games, and zero practices into his Celtics career, that's in the future.

For now, all Krstic, his coach and teammates can hope for is continued improvement and overall progress until hes completely inundated into the Celtics system. And Monday night in Utah, Krstic did exactly that playing 30 minutes, scoring 11 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in Bostons five-point victory over the Jazz.

Yeah, I felt a little bit more comfortable tonight, Kristc said afterward, but Im still learning everything. It was better then the game before. Every game, me and Jeff Green, acquired with Krstic from Oklahoma City last week are going to get more comfortable offensively and of course defensively. So Im just looking forward to the next games, and practice. We havent really had a lot of practice the last few days, and Tuesday we dont have practice so you know, we need to get to the games.

The best part of his game on Monday was undoubtedly the first quarter, where he scored 10 of his 11 points as the Celtics jumped out to an early nine-point lead. But Krstic said the outburst wasnt as much about him getting more comfortable in Bostons offense as it was the fact that his Celtics teammates are so unbelievably unselfish.

I was just in the right place, he said. These guys pass the ball every time so its just being there and just run the floor. I understand that when you play with unselfish guys youre going to get the ball.

And for now, thats the only way hes really going to score. Just being around, and being ready. Especially when Rajon Rondo has the ball. Im not used to all his passes yet, Krstic said, but I will be.

For now, its all future tense for the Celtics new acquisitions.

Its too early, Doc Rivers said about Krstic and Green. Theyre just playing basketball right now. They dont know half the stuff. Their heads are spinning. So Im not even looking for growth. Im just looking for minutes.

And in the meantime he has the support of his teammates, including the locker rooms toughest judge.

Kris is very versatile, said Kevin Garnett. I didnt know he was that good of an offensive rebounder, the way hes active. I just have to learn some more small things about him. What he likes to do. But so far so good.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

OFFSEASON

Time has arrived for Celtics to make their case to free agents

Time has arrived for Celtics to make their case to free agents

BOSTON – The bewitching hour is nearly upon us when the Celtics can get down to the business of bolstering a roster that has shown tangible growth (read: more wins, baby!) every year under Brad Stevens.
 
The free agency period begins at the stroke of midnight tonight - the first shot Danny Ainge and company will get to make a case to free agents Kevin Durant, Al Horford and Dwight Howard.
 
Boston is one of six teams that Durant will meet with, so a decision by Durant isn’t expected immediately.
 
That may not be the case for Horford and Howard, who are among the most coveted free agents available and will likely get multi-year, near-max offers quickly.
 
In the past, Boston has added players that were targeted via free agency because they fit a very clear and well-defined role.
 
Boston wanted to add a rim-protector last summer, so they went out and signed Amir Johnson.
 
It certainly didn’t bring about the kind of “fireworks” Celtics fans were hoping for, but Johnson did prove to be a solid addition in helping Boston win 48 regular season games – the most under third-year coach Brad Stevens.
 
This summer is different.
 
The Celtics have to do more than just add a nice rotation player to the mix.
 
They need a stud; pure and simple.
 
They need to add a player who immediately comes in as a starter who can help jump-start Boston’s quest to become one of the game’s elite teams again.
 
Adding such a player is easier said than done, obviously.
 
And making it even more difficult now is, unlike past off-seasons when only a handful of teams came into free agency with fat pockets like Boston (they can potentially add two max-salary players), the league’s new TV deal kicks in this summer and has created a much larger field of financial fat cats.
 
With money not being as big a difference-maker now, decisions by players will likely come down to opportunity to play and comfort level with an organization.
 
And that is a good thing for the Celtics.
 
Getting  coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Ainge signed to long-term extensions was about more than just continuity within the organization.
 
It also sent a strong message to potential free agents that the guys you are negotiating with now, aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
 
And with Stevens at the helm, a number of players have come through Boston and left better for the experience, basketball-wise and financially.
 
Evan Turner came to Boston two years ago as a player many dubbed as a bust. He leaves as one of the game’s most versatile perimeter players who will land a salary that will more than triple the $3.4 million he made last season.
 
It is that quality that may convince Dwight Howard to sign with Boston. You will be hard-pressed to find a player as heavily criticized as Howard (much of which he has brought upon himself) who can still play at a fairly high level.
 
Last season was one of his worst in the NBA and he still averaged a double-double of 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game along with 1.6 blocked shots.
 
Getting him back to being one of the league’s elite centers would be the greatest reclamation success story ever for Stevens and would provide Boston with an impact free agent, a sight seldom (if ever) seen donning a Celtics jersey.

OFFSEASON

Isaiah Thomas on Dwight Howard: "Who wouldn't want a guy like that on your team"

Isaiah Thomas on Dwight Howard: "Who wouldn't want a guy like that on your team"

Isaiah Thomas joins Johnston & Flynn (in for Toucher & Rich) to discuss his recruitment of Kevin Durant and other NBA players increasing interest level in coming to Boston to play for the Celtics.