O'Neal, Bradley among Impact League players

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O'Neal, Bradley among Impact League players

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

NBA fans won't have to wait until the players union and owners reach a new deal before seeing some of the game's best play against one another.

More than 60 NBA players - a group that includes current Boston Celtics Jermaine O'Neal and Avery Bradley - will be in Las Vegas next week to participate in the inaugural Impact Basketball League.

The league is set to begin play on Monday, with four games scheduled every two hours beginning at 4:30 p.m. Games will be played until Thursday, then resume Monday through Friday the week of the 19th.

Never before in the offseason have so many great players come together to train and play," said Joe Abunassar, founder of Impact Basketball, who is widely considered one of the top training and development experts among NBA players. "I am thrilled to be able to provide our world-class training environment and system to so many great players.

In addition to O'Neal and Bradley, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have also spent some time working out and playing games at the Impact Basketball facility. It is unclear if they will join the league this summer, although Impact officials have said that players not on the original list of participants may be added.

"This will be an amazing two weeks for all of us NBA players who have been working and training hard all summer to get together and have a chance to really get after it on the court against some of the best players in the league," said former Celtic guard and current New York Knick, Chauncey Billups.

The league, which will have a limited number of tickets available at the will-call window of the Impact ticket office, comes about at a time when there's significant uncertainty about when - if at all - will the players have training camp.

When the players union and the owners couldn't reach a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this summer, players were locked out when the deal expired on July 1.

Both sides met sparingly this summer.

In fact, Wednesday's meeting in New York was just the third since the July 1 lockout. Both sides met again on Thursday.

And while none of the key figures have sounded overly optimistic that a deal was imminent, the fact that both sides have been more willing to sit down and talk - and now, they want to bring in more people to talk - bodes well for the league avoiding just the second work stoppage in its history.

Between now and getting a deal done, players will do their best to stay in shape whenever the time comes to resume playing.

Part of that conditioning includes participating in events such as the Impact Basketball league which will feature only NBA players as well as players in the league who are free agents.

Here's a list of all the players who have agreed to be in the league: Chauncey Billups; Al Harrington; Kyle Lowry; Dahntay Jones; James Anderson; Marresse Speights; Melvin Ely; Jermaine O'Neal; Jared Dudley; Alan Anderson; Austin Daye; JJ Hickson; John Wall; Zach Randolph; Wesley Matthews; Shelvin Mack; Stephen Jackson; Iman Shumpert; Derek Caracter; Shawne Williams; Jimmy Butler; Mo Williams; Roger Mason; Travis Leslie; Josh Selby; Sebastian Telfair; CJ Watson; Armon Johnson; Avery Bradley; Jared Jeffries; Demar Derozen; Jamaal Tinsley; Jordan Williams; Malcolm Lee; Ekpe Udoh; Bonzi Wells; Al farouq Aminu; Xavier Silas; Desmond Farmer; Corey Stokes; Larry Owens; Hakim Warrick; Courtney Lee; Morris Peterson; Channing Frye; Damon Jones; Terrico White; Steph Curry; Ryan Hollins; TJ Ford; Manny Harris; Rashard Lewis; Isaiah Thomas; Larry Hughes; Jordan Hamilton; Willie Warren; Dorell Wright; Paul George; Corey Maggette; Brandon Rush; Jordan Crawford; Nick Young; Kenyon Martin; Josh Harrelson; Dominque Jones; Martell Webster; Jared Bayless; Tony Allen; Kawhi Leonard; and Jeremy Evans.

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

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas is ‘our leprechaun’

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Ainge: Isaiah Thomas is ‘our leprechaun’

The Celtics will be represented at the NBA Draft Lottery by guard Isaiah Thomas. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge discussed this and more on Wednesday.

Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

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Celtics like Butler, but Bulls not making him easy to acquire

BOSTON – It’s no secret that the Boston Celtics are among the many teams that would love to swing a deal to acquire Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Well for now at least, it appears the Bulls aren’t willing to budge off moving their all-star small forward.

A league source tells CSNNE.com that the Bulls, while still open to listening to offers for Butler, are telling teams that are inquiring about his availability that their plan for now is to keep him in the fold.

And while there was some thought that a top-3 pick coupled with a few decent players might be enough to entice the Bulls to pull the trigger on a deal to trade Butler, CSNNE.com has been told such an offer would have to include at least one “legitimate, NBA starter” for the Bulls to even possibly consider trading him.

“And that might be a stretch,” the source indicated.

Any deal involving Butler to Boston from Chicago’s perspective, would most likely have to include Jae Crowder who is one of the best bargains in the NBA – and will be so for years to come.

With the increased salary cap on the horizon this summer for teams, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed last summer is looking like an absolute steal on the Celtics’ part.

Meanwhile, Butler just completed the first year of a five-year, $92.3 million contract which raises questions if you’re the Celtics as to whether the difference in their salaries makes doing such a deal worth it.

If you’re the Celtics, such a deal would be a significant bump in paid-out salaries but it would also better position Boston to acquire a second superstar a la Kevin Durant who will be a free agent this summer.

There are a number of options for the Celtics to consider in their current rebuilding process, with one possibility being to fall back on the ‘07 “blueprint for success.”

Boston used the No. 5 overall pick (Jeff Green) as part of a trade with Seattle (now Oklahoma City) that helped the Celtics land Ray Allen.

A couple of months later, Boston was able to engineer a trade for Kevin Garnett who played for Minnesota at the time.

And the rest was Banner 17 history.

Without acquiring Allen, there was no way the Celtics were going to land Garnett.

And if the goal for the Celtics is to catapult itself to being a title contender sooner rather than later, they’re going to have to acquire an elite, all-star caliber talent before they have a serious shot at Durant.

Could Butler be this year’s Ray Allen?

At this point, the Bulls have no intention of allowing that to happen.

More likely than not, the Celtics will have to go in a different direction which may result in Boston pulling off a deal for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins.

Like the Bulls, the Kings are saying all the right things now about not wanting to trade him.

Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

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Celtics work out Finney-Smith, five others on Wednesday

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Boston Celtics brought in six players for workouts on Wednesday. Here’s a glimpse at each player, all of whom are considered potential second-round selections or prospects likely to go undrafted.
 

Dorian Finney-Smith

6-8, 220, Florida

Position: Forward

Summary: Was second-team All-SEC by coaches and third-team all-conference by the AP. Led Gators in scoring (14.3) and rebounds (8.3) for the second and third consecutive seasons, respectively.

Projected draft status: Second round.

 

Quincy Ford

6-8, 225, Northeastern

Position: Guard/Forward

Summary: Averaged 16.4 points, 7.0 rebounds while shooting 34.8 percent on 3s. Underwent season-ending back surgery that sidelined him for the 2013-2014 season. Bounced back with a pair of solid seasons, the last of which earned him a spot of on the NABC All-District Second team as well as the All-CAA Second team.

Projected draft status: Late second, undrafted.

 

Marcus Georges-Hunt

6-5, 216, Georgia Tech

Position: Guard

Summary: Averaged 16.7 points, shooting 45.4 percent from the field while dishing out a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Has a knack for getting to the free throw line, evident by him ranking 13th in free throws made and 18th in free throw attempts.

Projected draft status: Undrafted, maybe late second round.

 

Sheldon McClellan

6-5, 200, Miami

Position: Guard

Summary: A transfer from Texas, McClellan averaged 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists for Miami this past season while shooting 50.4 percent from the field and 40.6 percent on 3s. Has a lot of tools that are intriguing to the NBA, but consistency and decision-making are areas of uncertainty about where he’ll eventually land.

Projected draft status: Second round pick.

 

Mike Tobey

7-0, 260, Virginia

Position: Center

Summary: Turned a few heads during Portsmouth Invitational when he averaged 12 points per game. Appeared in all 37 games this season with Virginia, but only had seven starts. Shot a team-best 60.1 percent from the field and was second on the team with 22 blocked shots.

Projected draft status: Undrafted.

 

Jameel Warney

6-8, 260, Stony Brook

Position: Power forward

Summary: The best player in Stony Brook history, Warney was a double-double machine this season in which he averaged 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds to go with 3.0 blocked shots. An Honorable mention All-American, Warney was the America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year. Does not have much of a face-the-basket game but does provide a nice strong presence defensively.

Projected draft status: Second round to undrafted.