Wafer: I just want to play basketball

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Wafer: I just want to play basketball

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- A group of reporters stood behind Von Wafer as he sat at his locker with his back to the herd. He kept to himself while he scanned through his phone, like he had done after so many preseason games.

Minutes passed. He had no idea the media was waiting on him.

"That's crazy," said Wafer. "I thought you were trying to talk to somebody else."

Not on Wednesday night. By the time the Celtics wrapped up their final game of the preseason, Wafer had emerged as the favorite to land the coveted 15th spot on the roster. Training camp invitees Stephane Lasme and Mario West had been cut, and now Wafer, who signed a non-guaranteed contract, is expected to make the squad.

"It's been a great experience," he said. "It's just been fun. It's just been good to get back out there on the court. I feel like I've gotten a lot better defensively. I've just had a lot of fun."

Wafer has goals for himself. The first: To make an NBA squad. The second: To earn minutes. The 25-year-old guard made it clear he wants to play. He hopes that he has shown the Celtics enough potential during the preseason to have his name called. Wafer felt more comfortable with his game after "finding his legs" and felt that the pace of the game seemed to slow down after doing so.

"I think I showed them that I can get better, that I'm willing to just play defense," he said. "I feel like I got a lot better defensively, but hopefully I can continue to play. Just making the team is not enough for me. I want to play. I've been playing in the NBA five years and I've been sitting on the bench for four. You just can't get better sitting on the bench. I want to play, bottom line."

The bottom line on the Celtics, though, is that minutes are not readily available. The team added depth to its bench this summer, making it even more difficult for a player -- especially one who has been out of the league for over a year -- to get on to the court.

"I would rather be out there," he said. "But I've got to take whats given to me."

Wafer doesn't hide his desire to play. It's only been heightened since he lost the opportunity to do so.

Wafer was kicked off the bench by Rick Adelman during a 2009 playoff game as a member of the Houston Rockets. The reason -- arguing about playing time.

He has been out of the league since then. Wafer signed a deal with Olympiakos in Greece but returned to the United States early after reportedly clashing with his coach. He signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks in February, yet never appeared in a game.

"When I didn't get anybody who wanted to sign me for a contract, that hurt," he told CSNNE.com. "So I learned that way."

Wafer says he has learned his lesson and understands what he needs to do to fit in with the Celtics' team-first system. Acting out of line is a mistake he cannot afford to make.

"I think they should know I'm just an emotional player," he said. "But I had to learn to control those emotions because that situation in Houston cost me a lot of money. I cant afford to be giving out money (laughs). I had to learn the hard way to control my emotions. I had to learn through experiences. I know what it takes to be in this league. You just shut up, keep your mouth closed, and work hard and you're going to get paid."

Wafer could get his first opportunity at playing time at the start of the regular season while Delonte West serves a 10-game suspension for weapons charges. He doesn't know if hed get the nod, but if he did, he would be ready.

"I hope so," he said. "Like I said, I just want to play. I just want to contribute to the team. I just want to play, man. I don't know what else to say. I don't want to sit on the bench anymore. I just want to play basketball."

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA.

Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

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Phil Jackson: Knicks' biggest mistake was not trading for Jae Crowder in 2014

Knicks president Phil Jackson’s biggest mistake? Taking the job in the first place?

Well, besides that. Jackson tells Today’s Fastbreak that it was not getting Jae Crowder when he had the chance.

Here’s Jackson quote, part of a long interview with Charley Rosen: 

"I think my biggest mistake was actually this…One of the first deals I engineered when I came back to New York was to trade Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas for Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Samuel Dalembert, plus a second-round pick that the Mavs owed to the Celtics. In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn't get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo, so I took the pick, which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder."

Jackson’s timeline is actually a little off. The Chandler and Felton to the Mavs deal was actually in June 2014. The Celtics, of course, acquired Crowder at the December 2014 trade deadline in the deal that sent Rajon Rondo to the Mavericks. Still, you get the point. Jackson covets Jae Crowder, who has proven to be a little more valuable than Cleanthony Early. And, in light of where NBA salaries have gone, the five-year, $35 million deal Crowder signed with the Celtics last offseason now seems like one of the biggest bargains in the NBA. 

 

 

Can Jerebko parlay playoff starts to a bigger role with Celtics?

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Can Jerebko parlay playoff starts to a bigger role with Celtics?

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – Considering all the different storylines that developed among the Celtics at the end of last season and this summer, it’s easy to forget that Jonas Jerebko was in the starting lineup.

With sporadic minutes in the regular season, Boston found itself trailing the Atlanta Hawks 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series.

So what did coach Brad Stevens do?

He shook up the starting lineup by inserting Jerebko. who helped Boston even up the series at two games apiece before the Hawks bounced back and ended the Celtics season after six games.

Those last four games against the Hawks – the only games Jerebko started all season - served as a reminder to many that the 29-year-old could still be an impact performer.

It was the kind of run to close out the season that Jerebko will certainly be focused on trying to build upon this season.

The ceiling for Jerebko: Starter

While he will likely begin the season as a reserve, Jerebko will certainly come into camp with a little more bounce in his step courtesy of a strong showing in the playoffs.

After averaging just 4.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in the regular season a year ago, Jerebko became a major force in the playoffs for Boston.

In his first game as a starter, Jerebko had a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds as Boston won Game 3, 111-103.

He was even more impactful 48 hours later with another a second straight double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) in yet another Celtics victory.

The Hawks made some adjustments in Games 5 and 6 to close out the series, but it wasn’t before Jerebko had put together the best postseason stretch of his career.

Compared to the regular season, Jerebko more than doubled his playing time in those final four games by averaging 31.3 minutes to go with 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds.

Jerebko will be hard-pressed to return to that role at the start of this season.

Boston signed Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract, so you know he’s starting.

And Amir Johnson’s defense and ability to run the floor so effectively will likely result in him resuming a starting role, too.

That leaves Jerebko joining what looks to be a very talented and deep Celtics bench.

Even though he’s unlikely to start, Jerebko will get his share of opportunities to play.

At 6-foot-10, Jerebko has the size to play both power forward and center. And depending on the opposing team’s lineup, Jerebko has the potential play some small forward as well.

It was that versatility that made Stevens turn to Jerebko in the playoffs last season to replace Jared Sullinger, who signed with the Toronto Raptors in the offseason.

And while the idea of Jerebko as a starter seems a bit far-fetched at this point, he is yet another Celtics reserve who has proven himself to be ready to play and play well when given an opportunity to step on the floor regardless of what that role may be.

The floor for Jerebko: Seldom-used reserve

Despite a strong finish last season, Jerebko will once again have to fight and claw for any minutes on the floor. While the Celtics certainly were aided by his versatility, this season’s roster has a number of players who, like Jerebko, can play multiple positions at both ends of the floor.

NBA veteran Gerald Green is 6-8 and will play shooting guard and small forward. But depending on the lineup, it’s not a stretch to envision him playing some power forward. Ditto for rookie Jaylen Brown and starting small forward Jae Crowder sliding up one position.

Beginning the season on the rotation fringes is nothing new to Jerebko, whose role was very much up in the air when the Celtics traded Tayshaun Prince to Detroit prior to the 2015 trade deadline for Jerebko and Gigi Datome.

Gradually, Jerebko earned his minutes and proved he was indeed a valuable piece of what Stevens and the Celtics were trying to build here in Boston.

And now, with a season-plus of time with the Celtics under his belt, Jerebko finds himself once again being challenged to show that he’s more than just a body on the roster.

 

Report: Celtics renounce draft rights to 2013 pick Colton Iverson

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Report: Celtics renounce draft rights to 2013 pick Colton Iverson

By Dan Feldman, NBCSports.com Pro Basketball Talk

The Celtics bought the No. 53 pick in the 2013 NBA draft to get Colton Iverson out of Colorado State, and he thanked them by allowing them to keep his rights the last three years.

Iverson rejected the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, teams must extend to retain exclusive negotiating rights to a second-round pick – year after year to sign overseas. Accepting the tender would’ve likely meant Iverson going to Boston’s training camp and getting waived. Perhaps, the timing of that would’ve limited his European options that year. But it would’ve made him an NBA free agent – or, best-case scenario, he could’ve made the Celtics and drawn an NBA paycheck.

As it was, Iverson limited himself to joining Boston and only Boston. If another NBA team wanted Iverson, it would have had to trade for him.

And what does Iverson get for that loyalty? A Celtics contract with at least a partial guarantee?

Nope.

Just a head start on finding another team – which he could’ve gotten for himself three years ago.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

This is why second-round picks should be more aggressive about accepting the required tender. Even if you get waived, you open NBA options.

Iverson is a strong 7-foot center who plays with physicality. He can help in certain matchups, and he’d make sense as a third center on teams that have first- and second-stringers playing a different style.

But Iverson is 27, and his NBA window may be closing if it hasn’t already.

It’s a shame he spent so many years beholden to Boston, which didn’t want him.

It was probably just courtesy of the Celtics to renounce his rights now rather than have him sign the tender. They would have guaranteed him no money with the tender, and they could have gotten a few minor benefits with it – an extra body for training camp, the ability to assign his D-League rights to their affiliate after waiving him and the slightest chance he impresses enough in the preseason to hold trade value.

But them forgoing those potential advantages, even if out of courtesy, also sends a signal about how little they value him. Teams don’t do these types of favors for players they actually covet.