Kurt Helin

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics

Report: Celtics engaged in contract extension talks with Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger

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Will they take a little less to gain some long-term security?

That has been the contract extension debate for players around the league this summer. For players such as Jonas Valanciunas and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the answer was yes. For Tristan Thompson, the answer is no.

Boston is having those same discussions with two guys, and both may lean toward taking the security, if the number is right — Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger. The sides are talking now and that will ramp up, reports the Boston Globe.

“Obviously, those are two guys that we like moving forward,” Ainge said. “So, yeah, there will be more discussions with both of them, probably during the month of October.”

Zeller, 25, appears the most likely of the three to be in line for an extension. The 7-footer averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds last season and shot a team-high 54.9 percent from the field. Zeller’s win share of 6.5 — a metric that measures the amount of victories contributed by a player — was the highest on the team.

Sullinger, who averaged 13.3 points and 5.1 rebounds in 58 games last year, is still just 23. But he already has had back and foot surgeries, and his conditioning has been a frequent issue. Sullinger has been training in Houston with former NBA player and coach John Lucas for much of the summer and has shared pictures of his apparently trimmed-down physique through social media. But his return to Boston for preseason training will be most telling.

By the three, they are also discussing Perry Jones, but he has to make the roster first (the Celtics have to cut one guaranteed contract and he could be that guy). Even if he does make it there is no extension in his future.

Zeller can take the security of a deal with the Celtics, or bet on himself and become a restricted free agent next summer when two-thirds of the league has max cap space and will be looking to hand out deals. Zeller averaged 10.2 points a game with a very efficient true shooting percentage of 59.2 percent. He had the second highest PER on the Celtics last season (behind Isaiah Thomas), and Zeller led the Celtics in win shares (6.5). He’s a guy Ainge wants to be part of the Celtics’ future. Of course, the question becomes what’s the number that makes Zeller sign? Big men get paid, would something near Kidd-Gilchrist’s $52 million be enough?

As for Sullinger, he averaged 13.3 points and 7.6 rebounds a game last season but that doesn’t mean everyone is sold on him. He has battled injuries through his career, which may make him inclined to take the security of a long-term deal. But again, it’s all about the number that works for both sides.

If I were a betting man, I’d expect there’s a better than 50/50 chance a Zeller deal gets done. Not so sure about Sullinger.

Dwight Howard says James Harden is the best left handed shooter ever

James Harden
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Dwight Howard was on Twitter Monday asking questions, for example, “who is the GOAT?” He said you had to choose between Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, or Bill Russell. It’s all good fun.

Then he asked and answered a question on lefties:

As in James Harden. Howard’s Rocket teammate.

Which was interesting because the above-mentioned Russell is a leftie, and someone called Howard out on it. So Howard changed his tune.

I’d personally go with Chris Mullin as a shooter if we’re naming lefties.

Harden might not even be a starter on my all-time left-handed team.

Center: Bill Russell (reserves David Robinson, Artis Gilmore)
Power Forward: Dave Cowens
Small forward: Chris Mullin
Shooting guard: Gail Goodrich (Harden is in discussion with Manu Ginobili)
Point guard: Nate “Tiny” Archibald

(Hat tip Eye on Basketball for the discussion)

Fast Break notes: Baron Davis is honest about the draw of the NBA

The 2015 ESPYS - Arrivals
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If you’re reading this in August, you’re probably an NBA junkie. Just like us. Even now, there are so many great NBA-related stories being told we at PBT can’t get to them all in our regular posts, so we’re passing a few along in a bullet point format. Enjoy.

• I’ll admit my bias up front — I love Baron Davis. Ask me “who are your five favorite players to watch all time” and Davis makes my list. When he is healthy and in a groove, there is simply nobody like him with a great game IQ and flair. He wrote a brutally honest piece for NBA.com about his story since he had to be carried off the court at MSG in 2012, and it is a must read.

Once I got hurt and carried off that court in 2012 in Madison Square Garden, the Mecca and grand stage of basketball, I told myself it was over. Just forget you ever played and don’t bring it up. If anybody tries to remind you how much you love it, just brush it off as something that you were good at a long time ago. Give yourself amnesia. Tell yourself you hate playing the game and it will be easier to move on.

My grandmother always told me to have something to fall back on. “You’re not going to be able to play forever. You’re a good basketball player, but you are also good at other things. You could get hurt the way you play out there, like your life depended on it.”

• What’s it like to be a vastly underpaid NBA cheerleader? Not as glamorous as you’d think.]

• Celtics fans, you can relax. Kelly Olynyk is doing just fine.

• This is fantastic work by our old friend here at PBT Matt Moore — now with CBS — on what the LaMarcus Aldridge signing means to the Spurs on the court.

• If an NBA player signs with Toronto he pays more taxes, right? Not so fast, my friend.

• Everyone lauded the pickup of David West by the Spurs, and at the cost it is a total steal. But that doesn’t mean he’s a fit with the second unit.

Five glue guys to watch this season.

• Stephen Curry is taping Riley’s ankles for the season.

Must run in the family……. Photcred: @dmarjones

A photo posted by Wardell Curry (@stephencurry30) on

• Victor Claver is signing in Russia.

• Andre Drummond is working on his moves.

Great workout today with my og Joel Anthony, shoutout to @remyworkouts for getting me together today ! Pt1

A video posted by Andre Drummond (@andredrummondd) on

Report: Veteran forward Chuck Hayes agrees to deal with Clippers

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks
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Chuck Hayes is the kind of veteran big man fans should want on their team. He brings leadership, good defense in the post, strength on the glass, he sets solid screens, and he just hustles everywhere on the court. Teammates love playing with him.

Clipper fans should be happy.

After Hayes’ deal with Houston had fallen apart, he has turned around and reached terms with the Los Angeles Clippers, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

This is officially a make good, non-guaranteed deal. The Clippers have 14 guaranteed contracts already, so there is space for one more deal on the roster.

Doc Rivers the GM has had a good summer and this is another part of that.

Obviously, the Clippers will start Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan up front. But now behind them there is Josh Smith, Cole Aldrich, and Hayes. That means Rivers can rest his stars more — maybe even throw in some nights off — and know he has solid veterans who will make plays behind them.

This is another move that puts the Clippers right up there with the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, and Thunder as legit title contenders come out of the West. And the Clippers are as deep as any of them.

Report: Lakers to sign Brazilian, FC Barcelona point guard Marcelo Huertas to one-year deal

Brazil v Mexico - Hope Funds Three Nations
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The Lakers will be giving the ball to their new point guard, No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, and letting the rookie learn on the job this year. They are high on his potential.

Backing him up there is some real talent — the Lakers already have Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson on the roster who can handle the ball. Oh, and that Kobe Bryant guy likely will want the ball in his hands a little.

Now add to the mix a very good international point guard in Marcelo Huertas, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent guard Marcelo Huertas – one of the Euroleague’s most accomplished playmakers – has agreed to a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Huertas, 32, could give the Lakers an experienced pick-and-roll point guard to complement the development of No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell.

If you’ve watched any of Huertas guiding Barcelona to the highest levels in Europe — three straight EuroLeague Final Fours during his six years there — you know the man is a playmaker. Specifically, he is a very strong pick-and-roll guard with fantastic court vision. Synergy Sports has the numbers to back that up:

Where you probably have seen more of Huertas is leading Brazil against the USA at the Olympics and other international competitions. Coach K uses a high-pressure defensive system, wisely trying to take advantage of the USA’s overwhelming athletic advantage over the rest of the world, but Huertas handled that pretty well and gave the USA some trouble (relatively).

Bottom line, he can come in off the bench in the NBA and run a team very well. Those guys have real value in the NBA.

This is a fantastic pickup for the Lakers. If Byron Scott uses him right. The Lakers have a nice backcourt to support Russell, and the team will be competitive this season with all its additions. That’s a step in the right direction.