Laid down? Given up? A Brad Stevens-coached team? That sounds a bit like basketball blasphemy.
Heck, there were times last season when deadline-leery reporters would sigh as Stevens called a series of late-game timeouts to draw up plays with his team facing seemingly insurmountable deficits. Stevens practically wore a trench in front of the Boston bench while going offense/defense on late-game substitutions. These Celtics rarely rallied all the way back from big deficits, but they sure had a habit of making things interesting.
Did Sullinger really feel like this team gave up at times last season?
"If things were not going our way, we really weren't playing well," Sullinger clarified before Tuesday's practice. "I think that's the biggest thing. When things went bad, we didn't respond well. This year, we want to learn how to fight through that."
You can understand where Sullinger is coming from. The Celtics went 6-21 after the All-Star break last season, and there were certainly times when the team seemed defeated when games simply started to slip away. There's no denying that Boston struggled to respond to adversity.
And that's one area where the Celtics absolutely must make strides in this season. Stevens wants his players to remain composed when the road gets bumpy and find ways to keep the bus on course even when the wheels come off.
Which is why the second-year coach seemed to take an extra bit of satisfaction from Sunday's win in Brooklyn. Oh sure, it was just a preseason game, and an experimental 44-minute one at that, but his players twice showed the sort of resolve that escaped them last year.
"There's a lot of things that we can do on both ends of the floor to get better, but I was happy with how we responded [Sunday]," said Stevens. "Being down 17, coming back, taking the lead, then [the Nets] take the lead and we respond again. That showed some growth."
(Read full story)
Simmons: Our most shocking League Pass Rankings moment other than us nearly getting into an online fistfight about Charlotte -- you gave the Celts more League Pass points than I did! I gave them 21, you gave them 23. I lost some major homer cred here.
Lowe: This is called “Bill comes to his senses.” You rated Boston above the Spurs last year.
Simmons: You promised me you’d never bring that up again.
Lowe: Honestly, it was hard to forgive you. But, hey, Boston looks kind of feisty in the preseason, with all the perimeter defense, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk gunning 3s, and some other fun things! Add Rondo, a great court, and the right dose of Tommy Heinsohn, and they could be watchable, right?
Simmons: It’s an endearingly bad Celtics team. Brad Stevens truly cares — he will absolutely try to win all 82 games, even if that makes no sense whatsoever. Marcus Smart is a badass who will become a fan favorite in Boston. I’d buy a Smart jersey if I weren’t in my mid-forties. That Smart-Bradley defensive backcourt will be a nightmare for certain guards. The whole Rondo soap opera is going to be riveting — not only is he playing for a new deal, he hasn’t played in a relevant NBA game since Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern finals, and that has to be gnawing at him. Sullinger has three fun games a month. I can’t wait to watch The Steal of the 2014 Draft. And I think Kelly Olynyk is going to surprise a ton of people. (Did I win my homer street cred back yet?)
Lowe: You earned it back. I read that and thought for a second that Boston might win 50 games. Bradley proving that his 3-point percentage last season wasn’t a fluke would be huge, because the backcourt is going to feature a ton of guys who can’t shoot. Toss in a lack of rim protection and the C’s have two fundamental flaws. But they will still be semi-entertaining!
Simmons: No shooting and no rim protection … ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 NBA lottery winners, the Boston Celtics!
[Read full League Pass Rankings]
The 19-year-old rookie, the 17th overall pick in June's draft, participated in a full practice Tuesday and is now working from behind a bit trying to show that he deserves an immediate role at the NBA level.
"He’s got some ground to make up," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Tuesday's practice. "More so from a standpoint of us just evaluating him and seeing how he can perform in these environments and in these games. He did well in Game 1 on a bad hammy. He hasn’t had a chance to play or practice as far as competing yet. [Tuesday] will be the first day and [that practice] is as important as [Wednesday's game] for him because he’s going up against Jeff Green or he’s going up against Avery Bradley or Marcus Thornton. Those are guys that he needs to measure himself against right now."
Young, sweating as he chatted with reporters after a pre-practice workout on Tuesday, said he's not 100 percent yet, but is getting closer ("Somewhere in the 90s," he suggested). Young is excited to simply be back on the floor with his teammates.
"[Monday] felt really good to not just sit and watch and actually go through the actions with the team and not just sit there," Young said. Asked if it's been difficult to be patient, Young added, "I’m so young, so I try just not to think about things too much and sit there and wait. When my time is right, my time is right."
Young spent time after recent practices going over what he was missing on the floor with player development assistant Ron Nored, who also shadowed Young for much of the summer. Stevens said that the playbook for Boston's shooting guards and small forwards is interchangeable, so Young shouldn't be overwhelmed playing catchup at two positions.
The hardest part for Young might simply be taking it slow on his return. He didn't initially mention the hamstring injury to team doctors before his game debut, but has been reminded to alert the staff if he experiences any discomfort in the early stages of his return.
"The training staff, if I feel like my leg is fatigued during practice, they’ll sit me down for a little bit and have me drink some water and just get back out there," he said. "If I’m getting tired or if my leg is getting weaker, I’ll just come right out."
But he's hoping to be on the floor for an extended period during Wednesday's game.
"I want to get back into the flow of things," he said. "Try not to think about things too much and act like I’ve been on the floor for a few games and try to do what everyone else is doing."
The team has started the process of trimming its roster, informing Erik Murphy and camp invites Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford that they will be waived.
Frazier gets a minor stay of execution as he'll remain with the team through Wednesday's exhibition finale against the Brooklyn Nets and could help fill minutes as coach Brad Stevens plans to reduce the workload for his top rotation players.
"I just sat down with Erik Murphy, with Christian Watford, with Rodney McGruder, and Tim Frazier," Stevens said before Tuesday's practice. "We’re going to keep Tim through [Wednesday] night, and he knows that, because of potential minutes [against the Nets]. But all four of those guys will be waived and they’ve been great. I wish I didn’t have to waive them, they’ve been great teammates, they’ve put in extra work, they’ve come back in small groups and worked. But a couple of them had made mention that they’ve gotten better and that makes me feel good. They were all real professionals about it. I will root for them for sure."
Frazier, McGruder and Watford were brought to camp with the expectation of being funneled to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League as affiliated players. They've worked countless hours over the past month with Maine's new coach, Scott Morrison, in preparation for the likelihood they'll land with the Claws.
The Celtics can assign up to four players to Maine as affiliated players, which means Murphy also could explore that opportunity if he's not enticed by another opportunity, including what's likely to be more lucrative overseas offers.
None of the four players set to be waived were expected to make the regular-season roster. Murphy was acquired as part of last month's swap with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his contract was only $100,000 guaranteed, an ignorable amount for a team that's currently hovering about $2 million below the luxury tax line with a total commitment of $74.8 million.
Once those four players are formally waived, the Celtics will be down to 16 players and must make an additional move to get to the regular-season limit of 15 players before the start of the season.
Recently acquired Will Bynum remains away from the team as the Celtics examine potential avenues to avoid simply eating his $2.9 million contract, though waiving Bynum remains the most likely scenario if the team cannot otherwise clear space.
[Additional reading: Roster reset: How C's can trim to 15]
He underwent his first surgery -- arthroscopic procedures on his knee and ankle -- in early March last season. And now, with the start of the regular season nine days away, Wallace is trying to completely move on from his injury.
“It’s a tough progress,” Wallace said. “The little things that you take for granted are kind of difficult and hard to do after surgery. You don’t realize it until you have surgery. This is my first surgery so not being able to do the little things is kind of hurtful for me, especially on and off the court.”
During practice on Monday, Wallace sported a sleeve on his left knee while taking his normal turns during small-group drills run by head coach Brad Stevens. And while Stevens said he’s still trying to determine Wallace’s role on the team, the two are on the same page with regard to what will be expected from Wallace as a veteran surrounded by younger players.
“Whatever the coach needs me to do, we’ve already talked about it,” Wallace said. “I’m in a position where I’m comfortable with it. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to do it.
“If they need me, they need me. If they don’t, then they don’t. But I’m here, I’m always prepared and I’m ready to go whenever he calls my name.”
Despite being used sparingly this preseason as a result of his knee injury, Wallace has been OK with the reduced role. In fact, he’s been appreciative of the time, noting that it’s been easier than years previous seeing that he still feels he’s “a work in progress” getting back to being 100 percent.
“I’m still trying to get my knee back to where I want it to be at,” Wallace said. “At this point I don’t feel like I could go out and play 30 or 40 minutes right now with my knee where it is.
“Just the pain -- pushing off, exploding off of it. It’s my most dominant leg so I’m not able to do the things I’m used to doing without discomfort. I want to get to the level where I don’t have discomfort when I do them,” he said.
When he gets to that level, Wallace will provide welcome depth for a team looking to carve a new identity after last year’s difficult campaign. And while the team still figures to endure growing pains as their young players continue to develop, Wallace remains optimistic about their prospects as a whole.
“I feel good about our team,” he said. “I think they’re young, they’re hungry. We play aggressive. I think our main thing is we play aggressive and play more physical than a lot of teams. We can make up for a lot of the [faults] that we have.
“We’ve just got to continue to get better as a team and continue to get better as a unit.”
Young has been sidelined since Boston's exhibition opener with a strained left hamstring. The 17th overall pick in June's draft was expected to participate in Monday's non-contact session then ramp up again on Tuesday with the goal of playing in the Celtics' exhibition finale on Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.
"[Young will] play Wednesday if he’s able to go," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "And obviously we’ll have to balance that appropriately, because the last thing you want to do is re-injure a lingering issue. But as long as he’s cleared and gets a couple days under his belt -- he’ll be sore if he goes full hard [Monday], even though we’re not going contact, because of how much we are moving. Then that will be good [for ramping him up]."
Young injured his hamstring while stretching before his preseason debut, but played on adrenaline and scored 10 points in 20 minutes of action. He's missed the last six games while recovering.
Young's absence could force him to distinguish himself in practice. When healthy, Boston has quality depth at the perimeter positions and Young will likely have to claw his way up the depth chart despite some encouraging glimpses to this point.
For now, simply getting back on the practice floor is a start in that process.
ROSTER MOVES AHEAD
Stevens said that Boston's trim to 15 regular-season players is likely to occur "in the next couple days." The team's three training camp invites -- Tim Frazier, Christian Watford, and Rodney McGruder -- would seem likely to be waived in the aftermath of Wednesday's exhibition finale with the Celtics hopeful they'll land with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League as affiliated players.
Newly acquired Will Bynum was not at the team's practice facility on Monday. The Celtics can waive him in order to help drop to 15 if no other roster moves can be made to create additional space. Read more on Boston's impending trim down HERE.
• Coming to America: Vitor Faverani, who underwent knee surgery last week in Spain, should be back with the Celtics soon to continue his rehab here. "I think the end of the week is what I’ve been told, but I don’t know exact date," said Stevens. "I think Thursday or Friday is what we were anticipating and what we were told last."
• Split practice: The Celtics have four practice sessions scheduled this week sandwiched around Wednesday's exhibition finale. To break up the monotony, Stevens split up Monday's non-contact session. "We’re doing two small group sessions instead of one big practice, just to do something different and get a little bit more attention on individuals," said Stevens. "[Tuesday] we’ll do a normal practice and Wednesday will be probably a little less minutes for some of our main rotation players as far the guys who are going to get the most minutes. But just continue to play the same way we’ve been playing. Continue to strive to get better. There’s a lot of things that we can do on both ends of the floor to get better."
Rondo underwent a reevaluation last week that showed encouraging progress, but he has not been cleared for contact with nine days to go before the Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets to open the 2014-15 season on Oct. 29.
"I don’t know. I still haven’t had any contact yet," Rondo said when asked about the potential to play on opening night. "The opener is a little bit over a week away. I don’t want to set goals; I just want to go as my hand heals."
Rondo noted that he's little more than three weeks removed from undergoing a surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture and that the bone has not healed completely yet. The team set a recovery timeline of 6-8 weeks, but Rondo has hinted at times that he’d like to return sooner.
Once cleared for contact, which could come later this week, Rondo's comfort level with getting hit could dictate how soon he's game-ready.
"It doesn’t bother me at all when I dribble the ball, catch the ball," said Rondo. "But it’s night and day from trying to brace myself hitting the floor or going into the lane and somebody smacks my hand."
(Read full story)
Brandon Bass has carved out a nine-year NBA career in large part because of a reliable mid-range jumper. But the league has discovered a great value in moving players such as Bass back a couple of feet to beyond the 3-point arc, so he has been encouraged this offseason to explore the occasional trifecta.
Behind the scenes, we've seen Bass working on his 3-point shooting, but he's hesitated to pull the trigger during game action this preseason. Entering Sunday's tilt in Brooklyn, Bass had attempted just one 3-pointer -- and missed it -- last week against the New York Knicks.
You can understand his hesitation. Before last season, Bass had never made a 3-pointer in his NBA career. He had attempted only 15 of them over his first eight seasons in the league. But a couple fell last season and it must have made coach Brad Stevens wonder if Bass could learn to add the random 3 to his repertoire.
Maybe that's why most of the Celtics bench rose in unison Sunday when Bass caught the ball wide open in the corner during the final seconds of the third quarter. A driving Phil Pressey had drawn Bass' man away, and the clock ensured that Bass had to put up the shot.
Bass actually crashed to the floor after the attempt, but made the shot as jubilant teammates pried him off the ground. The triple capped a monster third quarter that saw Boston outscore Brooklyn by 19 points while helping it post a 95-90 triumph at the Barclays Center.
"We watch too much European basketball, man," Bass joked, according to MassLive.com. "No, but I just think the game is growing, and I think that's the direction everybody's going."
The 29-year-old Bass has to adapt on a team where young bigs Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are making a case for hefty roles with their abilities to stretch the floor. Bass is a versatile defender who has thrived around 19 feet in the pick-and-pop, but adding at least the threat of a 3-point shot makes him that much more valuable when he's on the floor.
Bass finished with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting with six rebounds and four assists -- another part of his game that seems to be growing in an offense that is stressing greater ball movement -- over 18 minutes. He's shooting 51.2 percent and gives the Celtics some additional versatility to mix-and-match at the forward position.
PLENTY OF TIME FOR SULLINGER
Some suggested that a 44-minute game might drive down stat lines as teams attempted to spread out minutes to all their players. Well, a shorter game didn't slow Sullinger in the least.
Sullinger registered team highs with 21 points and 19 rebounds over 28:35. He is now averaging a double-double this preseason at 14.9 points and 10 rebounds per game.
"He was good," Stevens said. "And he played the 4 and the 5. He hasn't played much 5. Our 4s and 5s do the exact same thing in our offense, so they are interchangeable. So it doesn't matter, you can learn both just by knowing one. I was happy with the way [Sullinger] played when he was matched up with 4s and when he was matched up with 5s."
The Celtics have stressed to Sullinger to take advantage of his matchups. They want him to post up and use his size against smaller power forwards, then draw pure centers to the perimeter to defend his improving 3-point shot. Sullinger was 3-of-5 shooting beyond the arc on Sunday and is now shooting 53.8 percent (14 of 26) from distance through seven exhibition games.
"Just playing hard," Sullinger said of his near 20/20 performance. "All this hard work I'm putting in this offseason is finally paying off."
Added Sullinger: "You just got to keep playing, honestly, keep playing hard. Keep doing work. Keep doing everything that you were doing to get this way."
(h/t: @MrTrpleDouble10 for Bass 3-pointer GIF from CSNNE broadcast)
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he noticed the change midway through the quarters while preparing to sub -- and had to remind himself that, say, six minutes on the clock meant only five minutes elapsed instead of the usual six -- and it certainly chomped into the total number of minutes available for reserves. But Stevens suggested the most noticeable aspect may have been the improved flow of the game with one less mandatory timeout in both the second and fourth quarters.
How did Sunday's game compare to Boston's typical contest this exhibition season? Here's a closer look with times from the NBA's official gamebooks:
Ironically, Sunday's experimental game was no faster than Thursday's 48-minute game in Philadelphia. But it was still 12 minutes faster than the team's six-game average entering the tilt. Stevens has noted how, over the course of an 82-game season, that time saved would certainly add up for teams. He also pointed out how four fewer minutes per game essentially equates to 6.8 total games trimmed over the course of an 82-game schedule.
"You noticed it a little bit when you were subbing at the start of quarters, but I thought the flow with one less [timeout] was actually a little bit better in the second and fourth [quarters]," Stevens said after Sunday's game. "I didn't notice it other than that. When I am subbing and I'm looking at the clock and it's seven or six [minutes] on the clock, and I have to get myself back on that only five minutes has gone on if it says six on the clock. That is a little bit different, but I had it mapped out, so I kind of knew what I was going to do. I didn't notice it a whole lot, and I don't know how much impact it had on the game."
Reaction around the league to the Celtics-Nets experiment suggests that many would rather either (1) shorten the number of games in the exhibition and regular season or (2) simply spread the games out more, potentially trimming the exhibition season to aid that.
If nothing else, the league should investigate the impact of one fewer mandatory timeout in the even quarters as that could address the issue of flow without impacting the sanctity of the 48-minute game.
The players involved in Sunday's experiment suggested the effects were not particularly noticeable on the floor.
"When you are playing, you don't really think about it too much," Celtics forward Jeff Green said. "I didn't feel a difference at all."
The clock did mess with Jared Sullinger a bit.
"I looked up, I'm so used to seeing 12, so I looked up and saw it was like 5-something left on the clock," he said. "I was like, man, normally I come out around the 7-minute mark. And they were like, 'It's an 11-minute [quarter].' Then I was like, 'Oh, that explains everything.' So, it was kind of weird, four minutes less. I'm just happy we won."
[Additional reading: C's + Nets play 44-minute game]
The biggest knock on Boston Celtics rookie Marcus Smart during the exhibition season is that he has struggled shooting the ball, particularly beyond the 3-point arc. While coach Brad Stevens acknowledged a need for greater offensive consistency from the rookie, he suggested Smart's shooting woes were not much of a concern.
Smart provided the go-ahead bucket with a straightaway 3 late in the fourth quarter as the Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in an experimental 44-minute exhibition game on Sunday at the Barclays Center.
Smart finished with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting (3 of 8 beyond the arc) to go along with 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds over 26:31. With the game tied at 85 with 3:18 to go, Smart capped his scoring with the triple that helped Boston surge ahead.
The Celtics brought Smart off the bench to start the game, but utilized him in a starter role to open the second half as part of a smaller lineup with Jeff Green playing power forward. That unit helped Boston outscore Brooklyn 33-14 in the third quarter while rallying from as much as a 17-point deficit.
Everything else you need to know from Sunday's game:
• Nitty gritty: Jared Sullinger scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 19 rebounds over 28:35. Brandon Bass scored 14 points off the bench, including hitting a corner 3-pointer to close out the third quarter. Green scored 14 points and was a team-best plus-17. Jarrett Jack and Jerome Jordan scored 17 points apiece to pace the Nets.
• No second chance: The Celtics dominated the second-chance points category, 20-2, with the Nets not getting their first second-chance points until late in the second half. Boston had a staggering 20 offensive rebounds, including six by Sullinger. That helped Boston overcome poor shooting (34 of 90, 37.8 percent).
• Loose balls: The Celtics launched 29 3-pointers, with Smart and Sullinger each making three, though Boston shot just 31 percent beyond the arc. ... The Celtics utilized 12 bodies, though Dwight Powell played just 40 seconds. ... Gerald Wallace, back after missing three games with a bone bruise, played only five minutes (and was a minus-7). ... Old friend Kevin Garnett (stomach bug) did not dress for Brooklyn.
• What it means: The Celtics improve to 4-3 on the exhibition season. They close out preseason play by hosting these same Nets on Wednesday night at TD Garden.
• 44-minute game: The Celtics and Nets are playing an experimental 44-minute game with 11-minute quarters and fewer mandatory timeouts. Stevens has expressed appreciation for the NBA's willingness to try new ideas, but admitted the shorter games could negatively impact rotation players. From a national perspective, the actual game action will take a back seat to how the shorter game time impacts rotations and the overall game length.
• Let's play three: The Celtics play the Nets three consecutive times over the next 11 days, including in the regular-season opener on Oct. 29. Both sides must balance a desire for a late preseason status check versus a desire to not give away too many secrets before the real games start (then again, there are few secrets when it comes to NBA playbooks). The Nets visit TD Garden on Wednesday for Boston's exhibition finale, then return a week later to tip the NBA season.
• What else? The Nets will be without big man Brook Lopez (foot sprain). Mirza Teletovic is expected to play in his place. ... The Celtics could have Gerald Wallace available; he's missed the last three games due to a bone bruise. ... Newly acquired Will Bynum is not with the team in Brooklyn while the team determines his future.
Coach Doc Rivers blew his whistle and ended the practice on the spot. A walk-off dunk.The veterans just stared at Bradley, wondering what had gotten into him.
Sitting inside the locker room at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine, earlier this week as the Celtics prepared for an exhibition game in conjunction with the Red Claws, Bradley shook his head while reflecting back to the series of events that helped jump-start his NBA career.
"I was a completely different person when I came back from Maine," Bradley said. "I remember I came back, and I hadn't got a haircut, and they called me a 'man on a mission.' That first practice, when I dunked on Perk and Doc ended it, from that day on, I felt like I belonged in this league."
The 23-year-old Bradley is entering his fifth season with the Celtics. He signed his first big-money extension this past summer, and he's the second-longest tenured player on the team behind only Rajon Rondo. That assignment to Maine feels like a lifetime ago, as does a short stint playing overseas in Israel soon after while the NBA navigated a lockout. But both trips to the basketball hinterlands were instrumental in shaping Bradley as a person and as a player.
(Read full story)
Mark Bartelstein, agent for Celtics' Will Bynum, says he and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have been in ongoing talks regarding Bynum's future.
Bartelstein said sides plan to "take a deep breath" and play out next week before the Celtics decide whether to keep or waive the newly acquired guard.
Says Bartelstein: "We're going to evaluate the landscape and figure out what's best for Will and the Celtics."
The Celtics acquired Bynum on Friday from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Joel Anthony. Boston's roster remains overstocked and the team must trim to 15 bodies before the start of the regular season.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Saturday in Brooklyn that Bynum is back in Boston undergoing his physical and that the team didn't expect him to join up before returning home next week.
The Celtics can continue to explore moves in the coming days before making a decision on whether to simply waive Bynum.
The Boston Celtics made a minor move Friday by shipping Joel Anthony to Detroit in exchange for Will Bynum. The move saves Boston about $900,000 as it begins to tinker with its roster in preparation for cutting down to 15 players for the start of the regular season later this month.
Let's take a look at where Boston's roster, salary cap situation, and rotation stand at the moment with our latest roster reset.
THE QUEST FOR 15 BODIES
For the purpose of this exercise, we'll ignore the three training camp invites on the roster -- Tim Frazier, Christian Watford, and Rodney McGruder. The trio is on minimum contract, nonguaranteed deals and will be waived soon with the expectation that they will land with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League as affiliated players.
Boston still has 17 players under contract, though recently acquired Erik Murphy's deal is only $100,000 guaranteed if waived before Nov. 1, which makes him a likely victim of an overcrowded roster.
Essentially, the Celtics have 16 players for 15 spots. The team also likes Dwight Powell, a rookie second-round pick acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, and would desire to carry him if space allows. So Boston is left with a couple options:
• The easy route: The Celtics, under our scenario above, can get to 15 bodies by simply cutting one player. While it would be easier to stomach a smaller contract like the one belonging to Powell, the Celtics might simply swallow hard on Bynum -- they saved themselves $900,000 with Friday's deal -- and be content to stay roughly $2 million under the luxury tax line ($76.8 million) with a total commitment of roughly $74.8 million entering the season. That affords Boston a little bit of a wiggle room to take on additional salary during any in-season trades, a luxury that shouldn't be overlooked in Friday's deal.
• The difficult route: Ever since Boston's roster became bloated, the team has sought ways to trim salary and open roster spots. One key for any rebuilding team -- or even a contending team -- is having the necessary space and money to make in-season moves. The Celtics have some avenues to take on salary this season, including a portion of the midlevel exception not used on Evan Turner, but would also have to create roster room in order to add future-minded talent. Even while simply trying to trim to 15 players, the Celtics will continue to pursue deals that would bring back less players than the team would send out. While this is an ideal route because it prevents Boston from eating a contract, the team seemingly hasn't found a willing trade partner to this point and would have to hope teams with training camp injuries might be desperate to make a deal. And let's face it, the team is more likely to generate that sort of move with in-season deals than maneuvering now when teams are typically in trim mode.
Some have wondered if second-year guard Phil Pressey's spot might be in jeopardy with the arrival of Bynum, a 31-year-old guard who has proven to be a capable player -- averaging 8.2 points and 3.3 assists over 18.5 minutes per game over seven NBA seasons -- and was a fan favorite in Detroit. But Boston is overstocked with guards and the guess here is that they'd prefer to hold onto the 23-year-old Pressey, who has a minimum contract and showed in his rookie season that he can be a serviceable quarterback off the bench. That said, Bynum's contract is a nice size to potentially be moved as part of a package deal down the road, but that might not be reason enough to part with Pressey. One way or another, you're probably paying both players, so who means more to the future of your team?
The Celtics appear to be making the move with roster flexibility in mind. The Celtics have 16 fully guaranteed contracts on their books and must trim that down to 15 before the start of the regular season. Swapping Anthony, who is set to make $3.8 million this season, for Bynum, who will earn $2.9 million, will save the team $900,000.
It's not clear if Bynum will stick with the Celtics. It could hinge on whether the team makes any additional moves before the season tips later this month.
Anthony, 32, had played sparingly, including this preseason, since being acquired from the Miami Heat in January.
If the Celtics ultimately elect to waive Bynum, the $900,000 savings from the trade would give them additional flexibility with the goal of staying under the tax line this season.
(Read full story)
Update (1:02 p.m.): The Celtics formally announced the Anthony-for-Bynum swap.
And here's ESPN Insider's Kevin Pelton grading the trade for Boston:
Boston Celtics: B
The players involved don't really matter from the Celtics' perspective. Both have expiring contracts, and neither would have made an impact on the court, so from Boston's standpoint this move was strictly financial. With 16 guaranteed contracts, they had no choice but to eat a salary, and waiving Bynum's $2.9 million contract saves them nearly $900,000 compared to Anthony's salary.
Besides the actual cash, the savings are important because the Celtics had been just more than a million dollars below the NBA's luxury-tax threshold. Now, Boston has a little additional flexibility to take on salary in a future trade without paying the tax for a likely lottery team.
The Pistons emerge with a C grade.
(Read full Insider grade)
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