Gerald Green

Celtics will need to shake up roster to clear space for Gordon Hayward

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Gordon Hayward finally, mercifully, is now a member of the Boston Celtics.

The Utah Jazz forward announced his decision on Tuesday with a article in The Players’ Tribune. Multiple reports have said that Hayward will sign a four-year, $128 million max the deal with Boston.

The problem with that deal? The Celtics don’t quite have the cap space for it.

That means Boston will need to make a series of moves in order to get Hayward on the roster. ESPN’s Bobby Marks let out a detailed list of some things the Celtics might need to do in order to get the deal done.

Via ESPN:

With Gordon Hayward now agreeing to a four-year $127M max contract, Celtics management now has a series of transactions to do in order to create cap space. The Celtics would have to pull the qualifying offer on Kelly Olynyk, renounce free agents Jonas Jerebko, James Young, Gerald Green and waive the contracts of Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson (or trade). The Celtics would be left with $27.6M in room and likely need to move the contract of Jae Crowder, Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart. Trading Rozier would have the Celtics short $1M of a max salary a lot.

That’s a lot of dealing left, and the Celtics will look significantly different next year when compared to the team that took the No. 1 seed the Eastern Conference in 2017.

The most interesting thing to consider is which of the wing players Danny Ainge decides to move. It appears that Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Marcus Smart are the three likely big names that could find a new team in 2017-18.

Smart has already been floated as the most likely candidate to get traded.

Via Twitter:

Meanwhile, the Jazz will reportedly try to replace Hayward’s production elsewhere. Otto Porter was a target, but he signed an offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

Gordon Hayward announces he’s signing with the Boston Celtics

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We had to it wait out a little bit on July 4, but we finally have our answer. Gordon Hayward is heading east to become a member of the Boston Celtics.

In an article released on Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune, Hayward announced his decision in a letter titled “Thank You, Utah”.

In the letter, Hayward directly acknowledged just how hard of a decision it was to make and how circuitous Tuesday’s events were as the entire NBA world waited on him to make his decision.

The letter is exquisitely written, and Hayward went on for some time about the Jazz organization personally listing all the people who affected him there. It’s really quite touching.

In the end, and Hayward pointed to wanting to settle some unfinished business with Brad Stevens at his side. Specifically, Hayward said he wants to win an NBA championship with his former Butler coach.

Via The Players’ Tribune:

And now I’ve decided to sign with the Boston Celtics.

There were so many great things pulling me in that direction. There was the winning culture of Boston, as a city — from the Sox, to the Pats, to the Bruins. There was the special history of the Celtics, as a franchise — from Russell, to Bird, to Pierce, and it goes on. There was the amazing potential of this current Celtics roster, as a team — from ownership, to the front office, to a talented roster with Isaiah, and Al, and everyone else. And of course, there was Coach Stevens: Not just for the relationship that we’ve built off the court — but also for the one that we started building on the court, all of those years ago, in Indiana.

And that unfinished business we had together, back in 2010, when I left Butler for the NBA … as far as I’m concerned, all of these years later, we still have it:

And that’s to win a championship.

Hayward’s deal with the Celtics is a four-year, $128 million max deal with the Celtics. The contract reportedly includes a player option in the fourth year for Hayward.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Celtics still have a series of deals to get done before they will be able to sign Hayward to his deal.

Via ESPN:

The Celtics would have to pull the qualifying offer on Kelly Olynyk, renounce free agents Jonas Jerebko, James Young, Gerald Green and waive the contracts of Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson (or trade). The Celtics would be left with $27.6M in room and likely need to move the contract of Jae Crowder, Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart. Trading Rozier would have the Celtics short $1M of a max salary a lot.

After Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Paul Millsap all went west, we now finally have our first big star going east. Tonight is a major bummer for Utah Jazz fans — and for Miami Heat fans — but Hayward heading to the No. 1 seed in last years Eastern Conference playoffs should have Celtics fans thrilled.

LeBron James, Cavaliers advance past Celtics to meet Warriors in 2017 NBA Finals

AP
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Let’s line it up and run it again. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are going to meet in the 2017 NBA Finals after LeBron James and the Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 5 on Thursday, 135-102.

It wasn’t much of a contest from the outset as Cleveland looked determined to put away their opponent. The Cavaliers played strong, shot well from 3-point range, and forced the Celtics into 18 turnovers over the course of the game.

The Cavaliers set a franchise playoff record in the first half, scoring 75 points in the first two periods. LeBron had 20 before the third quarter started, putting him just inches away from passing Michael Jordan to top the list for most points scored in NBA playoff history.

That moment came in the third quarter, with James dropping in a sweet 3-pointer from the left side of the arc to push him past Jordan. LeBron finished the game with 35 points, going 4-of-7 from 3-point range will adding eight assists, eight rebounds, and three steals.

Kyrie Irving was another bright spot for the Cavaliers, scoring 24 points to go along with seven assists. Kevin Love added 15 points, and Deron Williams had a rejuvenation off the bench with 14.

For Boston, yet another game without Isaiah Thomas forced their offense into stagnation. Avery Bradley — who had a considerable series in an effort that should not be overlooked — scored 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Gerald Green was Boston’s second-leading scorer in a bench role, adding 14 points.

Now we get to wait until June 1, when what seemed an inevitability way back in training camp has indeed come to pass. The Warriors get their shot at redemption after the worst breakdown in NBA playoff history, and the Cavaliers get a chance to solidify themselves over their peers and galvanize LeBron’s position as the best player of a generation.

The Finals don’t start for anther week. We’ll all be champing at the bit to see if Cleveland really does have what it takes to guard the Warriors offense. Likewise, a top defensive team in Golden State will need to prepare themselves for the LeBron that showed up against the Celtics in Game 1 and 2.

Cavaliers embarrass Celtics 130-86, take dominant 2-0 lead in series

Associated Press
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Are we sure the Cavaliers are not the Monstars?

Boston switched up their starting lineup, putting Gerald Green in the mix. The Celtics gang rebounding a focus and switched up their defensive coverages. They played with more energy.

It didn’t matter. Boston started the game shooting 0-of-7 from the floor, trailed by 14 after one quarter as the Cavaliers went on a 28-6 run spanning the first and second, and by halftime Boston had scored just 31 points and trailed by 41 (an NBA record for largest halftime deficit in a playoff game).

“It was honestly just embarassing,” Avery Bradley said after the game. “They came out not only playing harder, they knocked down shots, and I think that made it that much worse.”

Actually, things still got worse: Boston’s Isaiah Thomas strained his right hip late in the first half and missed all of the second half. His status going forward is unknown, but the injury is considered “significant” according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical (he also works for Comcast Sports Net which broadcasts Celtics games). Thomas was 0-of-6 shooting for two points in this game and was again completely smothered by the Cavaliers defense.

The Cavaliers won 130-86 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead as the series now heads to Cleveland for Game 3 on Sunday.

LeBron James had 30 points, his 18th career and eighth straight 30-point playoff game (the latter of those tying Michael Jordan for the most all time). And he didn’t even play the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving added 23, Kevin Love had 21 points and 12 rebounds.

“We’re very focused,” Irving said in a televised interview after the game, and maybe understating things a bit. “We have a lot of confidence in what we have as a team and when we come out and play like this, anything’s possible.”

This loss had to devastate Boston’s confidence. It’s hard not to imagine this ending in a sweep. Right now the Cavaliers are 10-0 so far this postseason.

In Game 2, we could talk about how Boston had no answer for the LeBron at center lineups, or how Cleveland’s passing was crisp while Boston was slow to recover, or a host of other things, but the real issue for Boston is they just cannot find a way to score on a suddenly-focused Cavaliers defense. They had no flow to their sets, everything they tried they got taken out of by the Cavaliers. The Celtics had an offensive rating of 75 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter, and the second quarter was worse. Things like this kept happening.

There has been a lot of talk this week about the Celtics future, especially with them now holding the No. 1 pick in the draft. As ugly as the losses have been for Boston in this series, they validate GM Danny Ainge’s decision to not to trade that pick and other players at the deadline for Paul George or Jimmy Butler — they would have not changed the outcome of this series. Made it closer, maybe gotten Boston a win, but that’s it for what would have been a high price. Boston has been patient and now you can see why, and you can see the path forward: Draft Markelle Fultz, make a hard run at Gordon Hayward in free agency, but if he decides to stay in Utah then make a run at someone else in 2018. Make sure the fits are right, find some guys who can be stronger inside and on the glass, and continue to improve. Boston made a step forward this season to get the No. 1 seed and reach the conference finals, just continue to build off that. Don’t panic and rush things.

For Cleveland, just stay healthy. The biggest test is yet to come.

Celtics to start Gerald Green, bring Amir Johnson off bench in Game 2

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Inserting Gerald Green into the starting lineup worked well for Boston in the first round against Chicago, that is when the Celtics were down 0-2 and turned the series around. Well, it was that and Rajon Rondo getting injured. And the Celtics just becoming more focused defensively.

Whether it works against a far better Cleveland team is another question entirely, but Boston coach Brad Stevens is going to give it a shot, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

Green is more athletic than Amir Johnson and may be slightly better suited to guarding LeBron James, although with the way LeBron is playing it’s all relative.

Expect a better, more determined effort from Boston in Game 2.

Whether that is enough is another question.