OFFSEASON

Perk returns, Celtics roll over Cavs, 112-95

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Perk returns, Celtics roll over Cavs, 112-95

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The TD Garden erupted in applause four minutes after tip-off.

Kendrick Perkins rose from the Boston Celtics' bench and removed his warmup jersey, displaying number 43 for the first time in more than seven months. Cheers began to rumble as he walked over to the scorers table, many fans unaware of his early return.

But when the announcer introduced him for the first time this season, there was no mistaking it. The Garden crowd rose to its feet for a lengthy standing ovation.

Perkins was back.

"It felt good," Perkins said. "It felt real good, to be honest. I think just the support of everybody supporting me, I was just happy to be back out there."

Perkins return from right knee surgery dominated the attention in a matchup between the best and worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics handed the Cavs their 18th straight loss, 112-95, and improved to 34-10. The visiting Cavaliers, on the other hand, fell to 8-37.

Paul Pierce kicked off the night with 17 points in the first quarter. Perkins scored his first basket of the season at the 7:15 mark and finished the quarter with two points and two assists. The Celtics closed out the quarter on 12-3 run to lead, 34-26.

It as the first time all season that the C's starting five was on the court together.

"I thought he was terrific," Doc Rivers said of Perkins. "I thought as the game went on, his timing got better. I thought defensively he was terrific from the start. Just communication, we were loud against defensively, which was nice. You could hear him and Kevin Garnett barking orders defensively, and that makes us really good."

The Cs broke the game open in the second quarter, outscoring the Cavs 33-19. Ray Allen scored eight points in as many minutes, while Pierce chipped in another seven. Samardo Samuels and Manny Harris were the only Cavs players to score more than two points in the quarter. The Celtics took a 67-45 lead at halftime.

Even though the Cavs matched the Celtics with 24 points in the third, the deficit was too large to overcome. The Cs led, 91-69, after three quarters thanks to 11 points from their reserves. J.J. Hickson scored 10 points in 12 minutes for the Cavs.

The Celtics' second unit helped close out the game with a 21-point fourth quarter. Perkins finished his season debut with 7 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 fouls in 16 minutes - the max he was cleared to play. (He noted, to no surprise, that he wanted to play longer.)

"It felt good to be back," Perkins said. "The first quarter I got a little tired. After that, I got my second wind and I was alright. It felt good to be in the flow of things."

Pierce led all players with 24 points before heading back to the locker room during the fourth quarter after tweaking his ankle. (Rivers lightly referred to as a "veteran injury.) Christian Eyenga led the Cavaliers with 15.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

OFFSEASON

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

After flurry of moves, Celtics still aren't done

You’re probably thinking the summer fireworks are finished after the Celtics brought back Tyler Zeller, added ex-Celtic Gerald Green, and signed rookies Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil. It’s true, these moves do lower the likelihood of a multifaceted trade, but it doesn’t totally extinguish the odds of something seismic happening.

The Celtics still retain their flexibility, since none of these deals have actually been finalized. Even after they are, they’d still have the pieces required to make a deal work for a superstar like Blake Griffin. It’s not hard to make a valid trade for one player, but it is difficult if it’s a multi-step process like a Russell Westbrook renegotiate-and-extend trade.

“This is not necessarily what the team will be,” a source told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. “There’s probably changes coming.”

Well, yeah. Changes have to come. The Celtics don’t really have a choice here.

Assuming Jaylen Brown is signed, they’ll have 18 players with at least partially guaranteed contracts. So at least three players will have to be exported before the season, since the NBA requires a maximum of 15 players on a roster.

Here’s a look at the Celtics’ current projected depth chart:

  STARTERS BENCH RESERVES ON THE BUBBLE
FRONT COURT Amir Johnson Kelly Olynyk Tyler Zeller  
Al Horford Jonas Jerebko Jordan Mickey Ben Bentil*
Jae Crowder Jaylen Brown* Gerald Green James Young
BACK COURT Avery Bradley Marcus Smart RJ Hunter John Holland*
Isaiah Thomas Terry Rozier Demetrius Jackson  

So, something has to happen. It’s just a matter of what. You can choose to believe the Celtics aren’t actually trying to make a blockbuster move. Or you can choose to believe the signals that have been firing off this month from the Celtics themselves indicating they’re “not done.”

It wouldn’t be difficult for the Celtics to get closer to 15 players by completing a blockbuster trade for a player like Griffin.
 
Perhaps some combination of veterans (Amir Johnson, Avery Bradley, and Jonas Jerebko) with youth (Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, and James Young) and draft picks (2018 Nets pick) could bring in Griffin and Paul Pierce.

Saturday’s moves make sense regardless of any transactions to follow.

Zeller is a bargain at just $8 million as a steadying presence on both ends of the floor. But, if Johnson were dealt, he’d be able to slide right up the depth chart as the team’s backup center.

Green shot 37.2 percent on spot up threes, per SportVU, over the past three years, so he provides spacing as a scorer who can catch fire. Considering Brad Stevens’ track record of sapping every ounce of talent out of each of his players -- hello, Jordan Crawford! -- it’s possible the Celtics will be getting the Green who scored an efficient 15.8 points per game just two years ago in Phoenix, and not the subpar Green who struggled to stay on the court last year in Miami.

If one or two of Boston’s young wings were dealt, Green, on a mere veteran minimum contract, would have an even easier path to playing time as a spark off the bench.

It’s difficult to read into the signings of second-round picks Jackson and Bentil, but either way the should both spend the season developing with the Celtics’ D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

The Celtics haven’t made a move yet, but they also haven’t done anything to suggest they’re entirely done. These moves could be precursors to something significant, or not. But at the least they provide depth to an already impressive roster.

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

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Report: Celtics agree to deals with Zeller and picks Jackson, Bentil

On a busy Saturday for the Celtics, they have brought back center Tyler Zeller and agreed to deals with draft picks Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported.

Earlier Saturday, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported that the Celtics will sign guard Gerald Green. 

Himmelsbach reports that Zeller's is a $16 million, two-year deal with the second-year not guaranteed. Jackson, the point guard from Notre Dame who was the 45th overall selection in the draft, has a guaranteed deal and Bentil, the forward from Providence who was the 51st player drafted, has a partially guaranteed deal. 

Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald reported that the second-year of Zeller's deal is a team option and that Green agreed to a one-year deal at the $1.4 million veteran mininum based on his nine years of NBA service.

The 7-foot Zeller averaged 6.1 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes a game last season. 

R.J. Hunter, James Young, Bentil and John Holland are in position to fight for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reports, pending more deals, which the Celtics are reportedly working on. A source told Himmelsbach, that while there are probably changes coming, "There is no big deal right now." 

Bulpett reported that Celtics' talks with the Philadelphia 76ers involving a deal for Sixers' big man Jahlil Okafor have, according to sources, grown "stale" and that the moves Saturday put 2014 draft pick James Young's roster spot in jeopardy.

With Green, Zeller, and No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have has 15 guaranteed contracts and three partial or non-guaranteed deals. 

 

OFFSEASON

Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

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Report: Celtics to bring back Gerald Green with one-year deal

The Celtics will sign free agent Gerald Green, the guard they drafted with the 18th overall pick back in 2005, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reported.

Green, 30, played for the Miami Heat last season and averaged 8.9 points a game. Deveney reports Green will sign a one-year guaranteed contract. 

Green has been well-traveled since being traded by the Celtics in the Kevin Garnett deal in 2007, the year he won the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk contest. He has played for seven other NBA teams and played two seasons in Russia. His best season was 2013-14 in Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points a game for the Suns. 

Deveney also reports that sources around the league continue to indicate the Celtics are looking to make a trade for a "star-caliber type" player. Last week, he reported on their interest in the Clippers' Blake Griffin.