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News » NBA NOTES 2009-06-09


NBA NOTES 2009-06-09


NBA NOTES 2009-06-09
Danny Ainge spent four days at Minneapolis' Target Center last week, getting a lot more done than the previous week at the Chicago pre-draft camp.

This time the players were actually allowed to scrimmage, with the 48 in attendance unafraid to put their stuff on display in a head-to-head setting.

The talent was deep and varied, from a big guard (Maryland's Greivis Vasquez) with an equally big chip on his shoulder to the kind of potential backup big man (Michigan State's Goran Suton) who will probably be available when the Celtics get to use the 58th pick in the draft.

There was the young, gifted and probably headed back to college (Kentucky scorer Jodie Meeks), and a highly skilled big man (Gonzaga's Josh Heytvelt) with a perimeter-oriented game.

Ainge and old friend Larry Bird of the Pacers were two of roughly 20 general managers watching the workouts at the Target Center's cozy basement gym, so there aren't likely to be any surprises, even late in the second round.

The Celtics will end up with a known quantity that slides past everyone else, this time with their lowest draft position in franchise history.

The previous lows were in 1999, when the Celtics took Kris Clack with the 55th pick in the draft, and 2002, which produced Darius Songaila with the 50th pick. As in those two drafts, the C's don't have a first-round pick this year, courtesy of their trade for Kevin Garnett.

Neither of those draftees played a minute for the Celtics , which says something about the fate of any player taken at No. 58. Except that neither Clack nor Songaila were Ainge selections. And if the Celtics executive director of Basketball operations has displayed one particular strength during the last six seasons, it's in his drafting ability, especially in the second round.

During that time he has taken eight players in the second round - nine if you count Bill Walker, who was drafted in the second round by Washington last year and sent to the Celtics for cash considerations.

With the exception of Turkish center Semih Erden, who is under contract in his home country for one more year, every one of those picks made the team as a rookie. Five, including Walker, Glen Davis, Gabe Pruitt, Leon Powe and Ryan Gomes, are still in the NBA.

Though Ainge admittedly may ultimately pass on anyone taken at No. 58 and use the roster spot instead on a veteran free agent, this is a team that has clearly made the most of its late draft choices.

But Ainge also remembers those who got away, like George Hill, a talented combo guard who is coming off a terrific rookie season with San Antonio.

``Last year we really liked him, and just before we picked, San Antonio stepped in and took him,'' said Ainge. ``It's like Rajon Rondo. We were very fortunate to get him.

``There were a whole bunch of teams that liked him but didn't have the pick,'' he said of what evolved as a draft night trade with Phoenix for Rondo, taken by the Suns with the 21st pick. ``There's a lot of hard work that goes into all of this, too, but you still have to get lucky.''

That's how the Celtics felt in 2005 when Gomes was available with the 50th pick.

Ainge had the Providence College forward rated as high as a low first-round pick. But he took Gerald Green at No. 18 and found Gomes still on the board in the second round.

``I don't know what it is,'' Ainge said. ``We've just been lucky to get these guys. The odds are against it, and we've been fortunate.

``Ryan was a guy we really liked who just happened to still be available. Leon Powe was a guy we loved, and he was still available. And sometimes the guy you like is not there.

``It's being in the right place at the right time. Sometimes someone jumps right in front of us and takes the guy we wanted. That's what happened with George Hill.''

Market moving?

It's good to be in this sports market.

The Celtics are currently at the top of the NBA list in terms of season ticket renewals, with a percentage rate well over 90 percent.

But when NBA commissioner David Stern met with the media prior to Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday, the issue of relocation, per usual, reared its head.

New Orleans, one of the 11 struggling teams that tapped into the league's line of credit, is always the subject of relocation speculation. Charlotte is said to be on the block, with Michael Jordan a willing if also under-financed (for the moment) potential buyer.

And it will get worse. Stern said that league revenues could decline by as much as 10 percent next season.

``Our teams are going to be faced with the necessity to get out and sell tickets and sponsorships, and some, quite frankly, do it better than others,'' he said. ``Some are hobbled by their record and the particular economy in their state. But everything is different.''

One thing will remain the same, though.

Those teams, like the Celtics , that choose to put talent above finances will continue to pay extra.

``There's no contemplation of eliminating or reducing luxury tax,'' Stern said.

Grist for the mill

The craziness of pre-draft madness spiked last week with a rumor that the Celtics were discussing a trade with Phoenix that would send Ray Allen (in the final year of his deal) and Rondo to the Suns in exchange for Amare Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa and the 14th pick in the draft.

The report was bogus.

``(The Celtics ) haven't even started talking with other teams about that stuff,'' said a league source.

Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, was preparing to fly to Europe for a pre-draft camp when he heard about that one.

``The thing about all of this is that 90 percent of it isn't true,'' he said.

- mrmurphy@bostonherald.com


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 9, 2009

 

 
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