Celtics

Bass to hit free agency, hopes to remain with Celtics

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Bass to hit free agency, hopes to remain with Celtics

BOSTON You can now officially add Brandon Bass to the list of free agent targets for the Celtics.

While there has been considerable speculation as to what Bass will do this summer, his agent tells CSNNE.com that the 6-foot-8 forward plans to not opt-in to the final year of his contract, and thus test the free agent waters.

However, all indications are that Bass is hoping to return to the Celtics with a multi-year deal.

"Oh absolutely," his agent Tony Dutt said when asked if Boston was his client's first choice. "Without question, he would love to go back."

The decision to not pick up the final year of his contract, worth 4.25 million, is driven by Bass' desire to sign a long-term deal with the C's.

Following Boston's Game 7 loss to Miami, he told reporters about his desire to return next season to Boston.

"I would love to be back here," he said at the time. "The fans here are unbelievable. For any player, this organization is the organization that you want to play for."

But Bass has been in this league long enough to know that ultimately, a player has to make decisions that in the long run are best for him and his family. Hopefully those decisions result in the player playing for the team of his choice, too.

The only issue left to resolve -- and it's a big one -- is determining Bass' value.

He was due to earn 4.25 million next season.

But in all likelihood, the Celtics would have to offer him something that at the very least was in the same neighborhood or higher, of the four-year, 26 million contract signed by Glen Davis when the C's sent him via sign-and-trade to Orlando for Bass.

Bass has been reluctant to say much about his contract status.

"I'm no different than anyone else," Bass told CSNNE.com recently. "I'm going to do what's best for me and my family. Hopefully that'll keep me here in Boston. We'll see."

When Bass signed a four-year, 16 million deal with Orlando in 2009, Dutt said his client could have signed elsewhere for more money. But both agreed that at the time, Orlando was the best fit.

"But I wanted to protect Brandon if things didn't work out there, or he continued to improve which we knew he would," said Dutt, explaining why he wanted Bass' fourth year to be an option. "It's part of how this business works."

For the C's, Bass averaged a career-high 12.5 points per game and 6.2 rebounds, which was also a career high.

Nowhere was Bass' growth with the Celtics more apparent than the start of Game 7 when the Celtics assigned him to begin the game defending LeBron James -- an unfathomed concept at the start of the season.

Even when he struggled at times during the regular season with his defensive assignments and rotations, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers remained firm in his belief that Bass would be fine.

"He's already a very good individual defender," Rivers said earlier this season. "If you told Brandon to just guard his guy, he's probably our best at that because he can move his feet extremely well and he can switch on smaller players."

Throughout his career, Bass has made steady strides in his all-around game.

Dutt sees that trend continuing . . . hopefully in Boston.

"We'll see this summer," Dutt said. "All indications I've been given is that the interest in getting something done goes both ways, so we'll see. But Boston is definitely where Brandon wants to be."

Celtics need to let Morris continue feasting on seconds

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Celtics need to let Morris continue feasting on seconds

It gets harder to find problematic areas when a team wins 15 straight, like the Boston Celtics have.
 
But there are some. Boston’s inability to develop a consistent scoring threat when the second-unit players are on the floor hasn’t cost them a game yet, but you can see it coming if they don’t address this at some point.
 
Well, the answer to their second-unit struggles may be staring them right in the face – Marcus Morris.
 
While he does go back and forth as a starter, keeping him on the floor in the second quarter with the second unit makes sense for all involved.
 
Morris is a better scorer than many expected, but opportunities aren’t as plentiful with the first group. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are the top two options. The team’s young wings, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, probably stack up slightly higher in the scoring pecking order than Morris.
 
So for him to get quality looks with the second unit in the second quarter not only helps the team offensively, but it keeps Morris even more engaged than he already is.
 
We saw that in Saturday’s win over the Hawks.
 
Morris had 14 points, with 10 coming in the second quarter when he was surrounded primarily with players off the bench.
 
 “We need Marcus quite a bit,” said coach Brad Stevens. “We’re still managing his minutes appropriately as he comes back.”
 
Morris missed the first eight games of the season because of a sore left knee. Since his return, his minutes have been capped at around 25 or less, in addition to not playing back-to-back nights..

But as he continues to play a more significant role, look for his minutes -- and his role as a primary scorer in the second quarter -- to increase.
 
“He brings us scoring," Stevens said. "He brings us defense, he brings us toughness, and we really needed his scoring (against Atlanta), his ability to shoot the ball both off broken plays and off movement.”
 
Here’s a look at five other takeaways from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta to extend the team’s winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history.



 
JAYLEN BROWN'S EMERGENCE

The improvement in Jaylen Brown has been evident all season, but it's really spiked the last two games. The second-year wing player dropped 22 points on Golden State Thursday, then followed that up with a career-high 27 Saturday. Conventional wisdom tells you not to bank on Brown delivering like that on a consistent basis. But as a former No. 3 overall pick who works as hard as Brown does . . . would anyone be surprised if this becomes a new-norm when it comes to Brown?


 
HORFORD STREAK CONTINUES
 
Early foul trouble and an overall lack of flow offensively had Al Horford looking at having his first game of the season with a negative plus/minus. At the half he was at -16. Then came the Celtics’ second half surge which saw them turn a 16-point deficit in the first half into a double-digit victory. And Horford’s plus/minus? For the game he stood at +2, keeping his streak alive of having a positive plus/minus in every game played this season.

KYRIE IRVING
 
An efficient scoring Kyrie Irving is an NBA team’s worst nightmare. One of the league’s well-established scorers, Irving was just too much for the Atlanta Hawks to handle. And the end result was one of the most efficient scoring nights in Irving’s career as he tallied a game-high 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting.


 
TATUM'S SECOND-HALF SURGE
 
For the second straight game, Jayson Tatum did not begin playing his best basketball until the second half. Against the Hawks, Tatum scored all of his 14 points in the second half. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, 10 of his 12 points came in the second half. “For whatever reason he was pretty tentative (in the first half),” said Stevens. “He’s a good player, so struggles aren’t going to last long. He’ll figure it out.”


 
SMART'S SHOOTING (SLIGHTLY) BETTER
 
There’s plenty of room for improvement when it comes to Marcus Smart’s shooting. Against the Hawks, he had 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting. Now the numbers won’t wow you, but they are a huge step in the right direction in comparison to how he has been chucking up shots lately. In Boston’s previous five games, Smart was a face-cringing 10-for-52 shooting, or 19.2 percent from the field. Even with all the impact he makes consistently with his defense and effort, that number has to continue to improve if Boston is able to continue along its winning ways.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

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Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE