No Butler, no George, but Celtics should not over-react or act impatiently. Their time will come.


What happens if the Celtics do nothing big this summer? They did not land Jimmy Butler in a trade, Paul George went to Oklahoma City, Blake Griffin re-signed with the Clippers, what if the Celtics strike out with Gordon Hayward and he chooses to stay in Utah (or go to Miami)?

First, Celtics fans will freak out online.

Then in the fall the Celtics bring back a team that was the top seed in the East last year, made the conference Finals, and who added the No. 3 pick in the draft. They remain the biggest threat to Cleveland in the East. The Celtics are still stacked with draft picks and talent and look to be a team poised to be the next big power in the conference.

In short, nothing changes. My conversations with people in and around the Celtics have them thinking of building something sustainable that hits in 2019 or 2020, they are not in win-now mode like the Cavaliers or Rockets. Celtics fans may want to knock over the LeBron wall in the East next season, but that wall could be gone in two years (he goes to the West in 2018) or will just start to crumble around him (that could even start to happen next season).

Things are not dire in Boston even if they miss out on all the guys targeted. The Celtics are still in an excellent position, just one that requires patience and vision. Danny Ainge has those things, fans tend not to.

That said, the pressure to land Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency certainly has ramped up some.

The challenge for Boston is that their cap space for the future goes away next summer when Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart all come up for new contracts — no way Boston keeps all of them anyway. That said, it’s easier for Boston if they can add Hayward this summer then decide what moves to make after seeing how all the pieces fit together. While people in Utah remain confident they can retain Hayward, the rest of the league seems to think he’s ready to move on (especially if George Hill and Joe Ingles leave as well). If he goes, Boston is in the driver’s seat.

The frustration in not landing George after seeing him go to OKC for Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo is understandable. Same with seeing Butler go to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick.

Boston has in its pocket the Nets first round pick in 2018 unprotected, the Lakers pick in 2019 (if it falls 2-5, otherwise it is the better of either the Kings or Sixers pick in 2019), the Clippers pick in 2019 (lottery protected), the Grizzlies pick in 2019 (lottery protected), Boston’s own picks the next two years, plus players such as Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Jayson Tatum, and on down the line. It’s easy to blame Ainge for being too cautious, not pushing his chips into the middle and using those assets to get an elite player now.

Except he did offer more for George, back at the trade deadline when a couple of those picks including next year’s Brooklyn pick, were on the table, but the Pacers then GM Larry Bird didn’t want to move George. When the organization was forced to move him, they reportedly asked for the Nets pick, the Lakers pick, plus players — way more than they got from OKC. Talk around the league is that in part Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers GM, did not want to send George to a team in the East where he could re-sign without a massive return (which explains not taking Cavaliers’ deal, either). Zach Lowe of ESPN says that the Celtics and Nuggets had worked out a three-team deal that ended with George in Cleveland and Kevin Love in Denver, but Indiana kept moving the goal posts. In the end, the Pacers took on Victor Oladipo rather than Gary Harris, which is not the decision most other NBA teams would have made.

Is Danny Ainge waiting for the perfect deal? Yes.

Does he have to cash in some of those hoarded assets at some point to get the final pieces needed for a contender? Absolutely.

But that time is not the summer of 2017. Paul George is not the last, best hope of the Celtics. Other opportunities will arise. Ainge and the Celtics can be patient. Even if the fan base is not.

Report: Michele Roberts to seek second contract as players’ union head

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Michele Roberts entered the NBA’s player union in a tumultuous time — long-time union president Billy Hunter had been ousted in a rancorous fight, the union felt adrift, and negotiations with the NBA on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement were looming (and players felt they had been screwed in the last CBA, following the lockout).

Roberts, the first female head of a professional sports labor union, settled things down. She cleaned up the union finances and made them more transparent to players, she worked hard to establish relationships with the players, and while she rattled some sabers with the NBA in negotiations, she also worked in a non-combative way with Adam Silver and team (unlike the Billy Hunter/David Stern relationship) and got a deal done the players liked without a lockout or labor mess.

Roberts’ contract with the union is up, but she is going to ask for a new deal — one she likely gets — reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

With an original four-year agreement set to expire in September, Michele Roberts plans to seek a new contract as the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, sources tell ESPN…

Roberts had strongly considered staying in the NBPA’s executive director role for only the length of her original contract — and expressed that to the union’s senior membership — but has recently decided to pursue a longer tenure, sources said.

NBPA president Chris Paul played a significant part in Roberts’ hiring in July 2014 and he has built a strong working relationship with Roberts.

Roberts also has a good relationship with the star-heavy executive committee of the union — CP3, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and others — making it likely she gets a new deal.

As for what’s next, at the front of that list Roberts is working with Silver and others on reforming the NBA’s one-and-done rule (it was supposed to be part of the CBA negotiations but was too big and complex an issue to fold into that timeline).

Neither the owners or players can opt out of the CBA for four more years (and if neither side does it runs a couple more beyond that) so labor peace will continue in the NBA for a while.

Isaiah Thomas rewarded on epic flop with offensive foul call vs. Heat

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Why do NBA players flop on defense? Because it works.

While there is less of it than there was a couple of years back — when the NBA made a big show about calling more flops and warning (then eventually fining players a pittance) for the move — it still exists. Case in point, this impressive one from Isaiah Thomas of the Lakers on Tyler Johnson of the Heat Friday night (hat tip AminElHassavag at NBA Reddit).

Was there a little contact, sure, but Thomas fell back like he was shot by the second gunman on the grassy knoll. He exaggerated the contact, which is the definition of flopping. Thing is, he got the call (the ref who made the call, from his position, might only have seen the contact and not necessarily the extent of exaggeration, but that’s where the other officials need to step in).

Not that everything went Thomas’ way Friday night.

Suns’ Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley fined $25,000 each for knocking down Ricky Rubio


Marquese Chriss and Jared Dudley got off light.

There should have been suspensions involved for the cheap shots leveled on Ricky Rubio by the pair during Thursday night’s blowout Jazz win. Instead, the pair were fined $25,000 a piece by the league Saturday for this incident.

Rubio has a knee contusion from the incident Jazz coach Quin Snyder confirmed, however, Rubio is available to play Saturday vs. the Kings.

Dudley was given a flagrant 2 and ejected at the time, Chriss was handed just a flagrant 1 for his escalation. I don’t completely buy Dudley’s explanation here either — I think they were pissed Rubio stepped over a down Chriss to inbound the ball and made him pay for it — but he did own up to it being excessive.

So to be clear, if you throw a haymaker and miss — as Aaron Afflalo did recently — that’s a two-game suspension. But if you throw or body check a player to the ground, that’s just 25 large, no time missed. Players wanting retaliation will take note of that.

Roulette tables are less random than the NBA’s enforcement policies.

Check out Terrance Ferguson’s acrobatic layup vs. Clippers (VIDEO)


It was supposed to be an alley-oop.

However, Raymond Felton‘s pass was low. And not just a little low, a few feet low.

Oklahoma City’s athletic rookie Terrance Ferguson was leaving the ground as the pass was thrown, meaning he had to make an in-air adjustment — and the results were spectacular.