OFFSEASON

Powe unable to make a return trip to Boston

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Powe unable to make a return trip to Boston

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

Leon Powe has played over 100 games at the TD Garden.

This week, however, he wont be able to add to that total.

Powe, who played the first three years of his career in Boston, suffered a torn right meniscus earlier this month and will stay back in Cleveland to continue his rehab when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics on Tuesday.

I was disappointed, Powe told CSNNE.com. I wanted to go out there to Boston. I havent seen some people, especially the fans, in a while. I wanted to go out there just to say hi to everybody and make sure they see my face.

Powe was drafted by the Celtics in 2006 and was a key role player in their 2008 championship season. After signing with the Cavaliers in 2009-10, he always looked forward to returning to the city where he got his start.

His plans were curtailed, though, during a Jan. 5 contest against the Toronto Raptors. Powe, who is averaging 13 minutes in 14 games this season, was two games off a season-high 14-point performance when the injury occurred.

I was just starting to get into playing some consistent minutes, Powe recalled. I drove and I took somebody from Toronto off the dribble and got fouled. But when I came down, his knee hit my knee in an awkward position. I think my knee shifted a little bit and messed up something inside of it, some cartilage on the meniscus a little bit. Ive got to sit out for four to six weeks, so Im doing rehab for that. Its never fun, but I know how to do it.

Powe is no stranger to rehabbing through pain. He has endured a series of injures to his left knee, including a torn ACL during the first round of the 2009 playoffs with the Celtics.

This time around its a different knee, but the process is the same.

I started on the court today, he said. I did some post moves, jump shots, some stuff on getting to the basket. Motion and movement stuff and the feel for basketball movement. It felt good. The swelling has been going down since the surgery and my movement has been getting better and better. Its only been two weeks and about two days, so they say Im on schedule, everything is looking good.

Once Powe is able to get back on the court, which he projects around the All-Star Break, the hard work will just be beginning.

The Cavaliers kicked off their season with a 95-87 win over the Celtics. They went .500 over their first 10 games, but then began to plummet. At 8-35, the Cavs have the worst record in the NBA. They are in the midst of a 16-game losing streak and have not won since Dec. 18 against the New York Knicks.

Powe has already experienced this kind of skid before. He was a rookie on the 2006-07 Celtics squad that lost 18 game in a row. Four seasons later, he wants to help turn around a losing situation.

Weve been going through a lot of tough times, so I want to help the Cavaliers try to finish out on a good note, he said. What I mean by that is get as many wins as we can and try to compete every game. Just play our hearts out and play every minute like its my last. Even though weve got a losing record, weve still got to go out there and compete and be professionals. You dont just want to keep getting blown out every game. I especially dont like that. I dont like losing at all.

As Powe tries to recover his knee - and the remainder of the Cavs season - he continues to draw strength from the sources that have gotten him this far.

I think its in my family, he said. My mom, everybody has helped me along the way. You never quit on anything. Just because theres something in front of you, it doesnt mean its too big or the challenge is too hard to overcome it. I think I can overcome everything. As long as I know Ill always work hard and I know Im going to do the necessary work, if its rehab or games or guarding somebody in a match up, Im going to do the work and make sure Im well prepared for the game, or especially for rehab because I know all about it.

Even though Powe will not be able to go up against the Celtics on Tuesday, he has seen them in action plenty of times this season.

Ive been watching them, he said. Im a basketball fan so Ive been watching a lot of basketball. The guys out there, theyre still my guys. I still want them to do good, as long as theyre not playing against me and my team (laughs). But other than that, I dont have anything against them. Theyre my guys over there.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

OFFSEASON

Durant leads U.S. to second exhibition rout, 106-57 over China

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Durant leads U.S. to second exhibition rout, 106-57 over China

LOS ANGELES - Just two games into the U.S. basketball team's pre-Olympic tour, coach Mike Krzyzewski already sees the start of something big.

Kevin Durant scored 19 points, Klay Thompson added 17 and the Americans rolled to a second straight blowout exhibition victory, 106-57 over China on Sunday night.

DeMar DeRozan scored 13 points in his hometown, and DeMarcus Cousins had 12 points and seven rebounds in the second stop on the five-city tour leading the Americans to Rio de Janeiro. The victory over an overmatched opponent was impressive, but Krzyzewski liked it more for the composed, cohesive manner in which the new teammates worked together.

"We should have won, but the way we won was excellent," Krzyzewski said. "We're really growing together as a group."

After opening their showcase tour by trouncing Argentina in Las Vegas on Friday night, the U.S. team posted another rout at a packed Staples Center. Krzyzewski is finding it difficult to disguise his early optimism, praising his team's work in their brief practice time together.

And while they're still learning their teammates' tendencies and solidifying player rotations, the U.S. team looked remarkably connected for long stretches against China, which has no current NBA players.

Durant noticed it, as did Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who kicked off the festivities by blocking a shot on China's first possession and throwing down an alley-oop dunk on the Americans' first possession.

"We've only been together a week, but it seems like we've been teammates for years," Jordan said.

Jordan scored 12 points and led a strong defensive effort with three blocks for the Americans, who held the Chinese to 30.9 percent shooting. Krzyzewski believes the American team will excel at defensive switching because of its abundance of versatile players.

"I think we're learning more about one another, and our defense was there pretty much the whole game," Krzyzewski said.

The Americans haven't lost a game since the 2006 world championships, winning 65 straight games. They're 47-1 in exhibitions since NBA stars took over the roster in 1992, going undefeated since 2004.

While LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard all declined the chance to play in Rio, the Americans who accepted the opportunity appear to be serious about winning without some of the nation's top stars.

"We're young, but we've got a bunch of seasoned pros," said Kyrie Irving, who had 10 points and four assists. "We've been on a lot of journeys, and we've crossed paths before, but now we're all coming together at the right time."

Anthony was the only holdover in the Americans' starting lineup from Las Vegas while Krzyzewski works on chemistry and coordination. He put Paul George in with the starters alongside Anthony, Jordan, Kyle Lowry and DeRozan, whose family watched from courtside.

Both teams had early shooting struggles, but the Americans took charge with impressive speed late in the first quarter.

Durant, one of the two returning American gold medalists from London, heard boos from the LA crowd during pregame introductions. He quickly found his outside stroke with 14 points and four assists in the first half, and Cousins overpowered the Chinese down low for 12 first-half points on the way to a 55-29 halftime lead.

The Chinese team's most recognizable name to North Americans is Yi Jianlian, the Milwaukee Bucks' choice with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He spent five seasons with four NBA teams before heading back to the Guangdong Southern Tigers.

Yi led the Chinese with 18 points. Zhou Qi, the 7-foot-2 center drafted by the Houston Rockets in the second round last month, scored two points on 1-for-6 shooting. Exciting guard Zhao Jiwei scored 14 points.

The teams meet again Tuesday in Oakland, where Durant will play in front of his new home fans for the first time since defecting from Oklahoma City to the Golden State Warriors earlier this month.

They'll also meet Aug. 6 in the opening game of Olympic competition in Brazil.

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.