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.

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

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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 post shared by Wardell Curry (@stephencurry30) on

• Victor Claver is signing in Russia.

• Andre Drummond is working on his moves.

Canada cuts Olivier Hanlan, finalizes roster FIBA Americas with nine NBA players

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The Jazz drafted Olivier Hanlan No. 42, but they didn’t have a roster spot for him this season. So, the former Boston College guard signed in Lithuania.

Team Canada apparently didn’t have room for him, either.

Canada announced its roster for FIBA Americas, and Hanlan was the final cut.

It’s remarkable that Canada can afford to drop a player drafted to the NBA, but the country’s basketball team has come a long way in a short time. The Canadians will have nine NBA players:

  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Cory Joseph
  • Kelly Olynyk
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Nik Stauskas
  • Robert Sacre
  • Andrew Nicholson
  • Dwight Powell
  • Melvin Ejim

Aaron Doornekamp, Phil Scrubb and Brady Heslip round out the 12-man roster.

The top two teams in FIBA Americas – besides Brazil, which got an automatic bid as host nation – will qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The next three teams, again excluding Brazil, advance to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Canada is definitely a threat this year and next. With such a young team, its future might be even brighter.

Maybe with a little seasoning, Hanlan will eventually make the squad.

Then again, he’ll also have to fend off the next generation of Canadian basketballers, players like Trey Lyles and Jamal Murray.

A few years ago, it would have seemed incomprehensible Canada could afford to cut a player drafted by an NBA team.

Soon, Canada might form its roster completely from NBA players.

Jamal Crawford, other NBA stars take court for Seattle Pro AM vs. Drew League (VIDEO)

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This would have been fun to attend, a little showdown between the Seattle Pro AM and the Los Angeles-based Drew League.

It attracted plenty of NBA talent: Jamal Crawford, Zach LaVine, Isaiah Thomas, Stanley Johnson, Trevor Ariza, Baron Davis, Nate Robinson, Malcolm Thomas, Dorell Wright, Bobby Brown and Spencer Hawes were among the ballers. And when you turn those guys loose in a world with no defense, you get a show.

Enjoy, we’re still a couple of months away from NBA games that matter so this can be a little fix.

5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas blocks 6-foot-8 Trevor Ariza at the rim (VIDEO)

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Isaiah Thomas is a 5-foot-9 point guard. Trevor Ariza is a 6-foot-8 forward. You wouldn’t think it would be possible for Thomas to block someone who’s nearly a foot taller than him, but that’s exactly what happened this week in the Seattle Pro-Am game:

Even in a pickup game, this is pretty impressive.

(h/t Friendly Bounce)