Celtics

Report: Ainge says he ‘felt like we had a real chance’ at Durant

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Report: Ainge says he ‘felt like we had a real chance’ at Durant

Danny Ainge said he “felt like we had a real chance” at landing Kevin Durant after he and the Celtics contingent met with him Saturday, but he told the Boston Herald he wasn’t surprised Durant chose the Golden State Warriors.

“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge told Steve Bulpett of The Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had SOME chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.

“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen."

When asked if there was anything else he thought the Celtics could have done to convince Durant to choose Boston, Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, said, “Under any circumstances, we weren’t going to be able to produce Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.”

Ainge also said he thought Durant knew fellow free agent Al Horford was going to the Celtics before the C’s did. Horford made his decision known Saturday after the Celtics had met with Durant.

“I got the impression that they knew something before we did,” said Ainge of Team Durant. “I know that they had some conversation. They were very familiar with what Horford was choosing between. It seemed to me in the presentation like Al and KD had been discussing their plans together.”

Ainge said “it was fun for all of us” to bring Tom Brady along for the sales pitch.

“We flew in to the Hamptons and we got in early, so we went out to have lunch,” said Ainge. “I think it was fun for all of us to sit there and talk to Tom Brady and ask him questions. You know, here’s a guy that’s going to be 39 next month, and he talked about his health and fitness and nutrition and his dedication to the game. I thought our players were listening intently to him. And he had some fun stories.

“He’s a huge Tom Brady fan,” Ainge said of Durant. He said Brady and Durant had met once before. “They talked for a minute or two and then we sat down as a group.”

Ainge said the Celtics’ contingent, including Brady, met with Durant, then Brady and Celtic players Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk went outside to talk before Brady and the C’s players flew home. 

And of Durant ultimately deciding to leave Oklahoma City and join forces with Golden State, Ainge told the Herald, “You know, I’m not surprised,” said Ainge. “I think everybody in our basketball world knows that Golden State is a very tempting place to play right now. So surprised? No."

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter seems to be a fan of Boston Celtics' 7-foot-7 rookie Tacko Fall.

Kanter posted a video to Twitter of Fall practicing at Auerbach Center, and he took time to praise Fall's efforts on Twitter.

The Celtics' signed Kanter to a two-year $10 million deal back in July, while Fall entered Boston's system as an undrafted free agent but he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kanter is the replacement for Al Horford, who left the Celtics over the summer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two should be a great duo for the Celtics, as both have the height and skill to be something special this coming season.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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