Phil Pressey

Trail Blazers sign Cliff Alexander, Phil Pressey to contracts


Kansas big man Cliff Alexander was one of the best players not drafted back on June 25. He was considered a bubble first round guy who just plummeted off the board. He has a big, NBA-ready body as a center with fantastic athleticism. What he lacked was much of an offensive touch — he has a straight-line game that relies on his athleticism to get things done. He was a project.

The Nets gave him a chance in Summer League and he looked athletic and raw. In 22 minutes a game he averaged 8.3 points, but on 37.7 percent shooting, plus he grabbed 7.8 boards a game.

That was enough for Portland to sign him — and point guard Phil Pressey – to contracts, the team announced.

Pressey’s contract is guaranteed for one year. Alexander’s is a make-good deal — there is some buyout cash but he needs to make the roster to really get paid.

While the Trail Blazers have a couple potential roster spots available, it’s going to be hard for Alexander to earn one. They will start Mason Plumlee at the five with veteran Chris Kaman behind him, plus Meyers Leonard can play the four or five depending on the lineup.

The more likely scenario is Alexander heads to the D-League to work on his game, and if he can add some offensive versatility he will get a call-up next season. He’s got the tools; it’s just a matter of learning how to use them.


Report: Celtics looking to pursue LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews as package deal


If LaMarcus Aldridge leaves the Trail Blazers, where would he go?

The Spurs are reportedly at or near the top of his list, and the Cavaliers could factor. The Lakers and Knicks will push for him, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavericks and Rockets also pursue the native Texan.

A wildcard: Boston, which could also pursue pending free agent Wesley Matthews.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

My understanding is the Celtics are going to be open to putting together some type of package deal where they would not only bring in LaMarcus Aldridge, they’d also bring in one of his good friends by the name of Wes Matthews.

If the Celtics renounce all their free agents besides Jae Crowder and waive the unguaranteed contracts of Phil Pressey and Chris Babb, they’d be $23,700,485 below the projected salary cap.

Aldridge’s max contract projects to start at $19,027,800, not leaving much room for Matthews. Matthews might have drawn a max contract before his season-ending injury, and he’s still worth much more than a few million per year.

Boston could clear more cap space by trading a first-rounder to dump Gerald Wallace, and landing Aldridge and Matthews would easily justify losing that pick.

But why would Aldridge and Matthews sign with the Celtics? Brad Stevens is a good coach, and the Eastern Conference presents an easier road. But if the duo is just trying to recreate what it has together in Portland – a place Aldridge is still fond of – good luck doing it without Damian Lillard. Whatever advantages Boston has, it doesn’t have Lillard.

If Aldridge wants to leave the Trail Blazers, he should have better options. If he wants to stay with Wesley Matthews, they should re-up with Portland.

Report: Celtics likely to waive Will Bynum after acquiring him in trade with Pistons


Will Bynum has been a somewhat serviceable backup point guard option in Detroit for the last six seasons, but with the team loaded at the position and needing some potential frontcourt depth, the Pistons traded him to the Celtics in exchange for Joel Anthony on Friday.

But the situation for Bynum isn’t any better in Boston, and it’s unlikely he ends up sticking on the roster.

From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and guard Will Bynum are expected to meet on Saturday, according to two NBA sources, and the team is likely to waive Bynum, who was acquired Friday from the Detroit Pistons. …

The Celtics still have 16 guaranteed contracts, including that of rookie Dwight Powell, and just 15 roster spots. So Ainge will have to waive a player with a guaranteed deal or make a trade to reduce before the season opener Oct. 29 against the Brooklyn Nets.

After Saturday’s meeting, that move is expected to be Bynum, who will garner interest on the free agent market once he is placed on waivers.

Marc Stein of reports that the ultimate decision on whether Bynum stays in Boston may not come down until next week.

[Bynum’s agent] said sides plan to “take a deep breath” and play out next week before Celts decide whether to keep or waive newly acquired guard

On the Celtics side, the move saves them in the neighborhood of $900,000, and will keep the team further out of luxury tax territory for the upcoming season. If Bynum is waived, it means Boston feels it’s good at point guard with Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart, and Phil Pressey already in place.

Bynum averaged 8.9 points and 3.7 assists in 18.8 minutes per contest for the Pistons last season.

Celtics starting point guard… Evan Turner?


Rajon Rondo is injured, and unless he returns more quickly than expected, the Celtics need an opening-night point guard. The obvious candidates:

  • Marcus Smart – No. 6 overall pick but still a rookie
  • Phil Pressey – Signed with Boston as undrafted free agent last summer and played liked like it but still earned rotation role
  • Avery Bradley – Has played point guard with Rondo out before, looks more comfortable at shooting guard

So who will get the job?

Maybe none of the obvious candidates.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Boston:

The race to replace an injured Rajon Rondo in the Boston Celtics starting lineup is just beginning, but the early leader appears to be Evan Turner.

The 6-foot-7 Turner is firmly entrenched in the mix for the job, along with rookie Marcus Smart and second-year guard Phil Pressey.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has essentially ruled out Avery Bradley being called upon to fill the void that exists following Rondo’s broken left hand injury that could keep him out for as long as 10 weeks.

“I’m not planning on it,” Stevens said when asked about Bradley playing point guard.

Turner played some point guard with the Pacers last season, and he played the position with the 76ers before that. He has good playmaking skills for a wing, but they’re pretty underwhelming for a point guard. His size at the position adds a nice defensive wrinkle, though.

It’s a bit disappointing Smart isn’t leading this competition. It wouldn’t be a problem if the experienced Turner were better overall right now, but considering Smart has the advantage of competing at his natural position, I’d hope he could win the the job

Then again, maybe the Celtics just want to bring Smart along slowly. Plus, Turner getting reps at point guard should leave him with a more expanded skill set when he moves back to the wing.

This could be a good long-term play, one befitting of a tanking team.

Report: Celtics also interested in Lance Stephenson


If the Pacers let Lance Stephenson leave, he might find an unforgiving market in free agency.

Plenty of question exist about Stephenson’s maturity and focus, and without question, some teams are turned off by his antics.

But at least a couple – and there could be overlap with the teams downgrading Stephenson due to his behavior – are interested in the guard. The Lakers and Mavericks view Stephenson as a fallback option if they don’t sign LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony.

Don’t leave out the Celtics among possible suitors.

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

The Celtics can offer just the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000 starting,$22,652,350 over four years). That falls well short of Indiana’s reported five-year, $44 million offer.

However, the unguaranteed deals of Keith Bogans, Phil Pressey,Chris Johnson andChris Babb make it much easier for Boston to build a compelling sign-and-trade package. Obviously, those players alone won’t fetch much, but they make a larger deal including draft picks and/young players financially feasible.

I wouldn’t get too concerned with the money, though.

The Celtics already have Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in their backcourt, and they just drafted guards Marcus Smart and James Young in the first round. If Boston is in serious contention for Stephenson, more moves are likely in the pipeline.

This is probably a case of Danny Ainge wanting to insert himself into the biggest happenings. Maybe that’s by engineering a complex of transactions that lands Stephenson in Boston – or maybe it’s just leaking the Celtics’ interest when they don’t have the room to make a serious play.