Celtics

Celtics first-round options in the NBA Draft: Kentucky guard Keldon Johnson

Celtics first-round options in the NBA Draft: Kentucky guard Keldon Johnson

BOSTON -- Keldon Johnson was SEC Freshman of the Year, the kind of honor that in this era usually comes with an automatic trip to being selected in the NBA lottery (top-14) afterwards.

But as talented as Johnson showed himself to be at Kentucky, like so many other top-flight players in this draft class, he too comes with questions.

And those questions will likely keep the Wildcats star on the radar for Boston with its three first-round picks at No. 14, 20, and 22. 

At 6-foot-6, 216 pounds, Johnson has ideal size and length to defend most backcourt players in the NBA. 

Playing with a pair of likely first-round picks in Tyler Herro and PJ Washington (also on the Celtics radar) at Kentucky, Johnson still managed to play well enough to stand out while averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on 3’s.

Finding a way to get on the floor sooner rather than later is a challenge for any rookie trying to break into the NBA.  

But Johnson has some intangible qualities that with the right situation, could allow him to find a pathway to playing time quickly.

And with him being a player whose emotions are seemingly always on display, Johnson has the makings of a nice role player coming off the bench who can provide a lift not only in terms of his play but an emotional boost as well. 

Johnson’s length and physical strength enable him to be a decent rebounder too, which is evident by him averaging a shade under six boards per game last season with the Wildcats. 

But like most prospects in this year’s draft, Johnson is trying to answer as many questions as he can that teams might have about his potential at the next level. 

“I’m just going to show them my game, do what I do,” Johnson said during the NBA pre-draft combine last month. “Show I can handle the ball, create my own shot, stuff like that. Just play my game and do what I’m supposed to do.”

Creating his own shot, maybe more than anything else, has been a focus of Johnson leading up to the June 20 NBA draft. 

“A lot of people say I can’t create my own shot,” Johnson said. “Of course I’m going to disagree with it. Hopefully I go into workouts and show NBA teams otherwise and just be myself; I’ll be fine.”

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Bulpett: Celtics and Al Horford have discussed contract extension

Bulpett: Celtics and Al Horford have discussed contract extension

Now that Anthony Davis is off the market, the next item on the Celtics' offseason to-do list is Al Horford's player option. By this upcoming Tuesday (6/18), Horford must decide whether to pick up his $30.1 million option to return to the Celtics for at least one more season or opt-out and hit free agency. 

The deadline can be moved back to June 29 at the latest if the both Horford and the Celtics agree, and Adam Himmelsbach reported Saturday that Horford remains undecided on his player option, so it's possible we have to wait to get a resolution to the 33-year-old's contract situation. 

However, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Horford and the Celtics have discussed a new contract if the big man opts out at a lower salary figure but with more years on the deal. 

Horford has until Tuesday to opt in to $30,123,015 for next season, but the sides have been discussing a plan where he comes in at a lower number next season and gets two more years tacked on in a new deal. It’s not known whether the way things have played out over the last couple of weeks will have an effect on Horford’s outlook.

What Bulpett might mean in the last sentence there is the 'eroding' belief that Kyrie Irving will re-sign with the Celtics, and Boston's choice to hold on to their young stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Anthony Davis trade discussions. 

There is little question to whether Horford can still contribute to this Celtics team, with or without Irving, but at 33 he doesn't really fit the same contention window at Tatum and Brown would. If Horford wants to contend during the latter part of his career, he could opt in and request a trade or opt out and sign elsewhere. Danny Ainge considers Horford a priority for the Celtics this offseason, so the age factor might not matter for either party here. 

Davis and Irving were the biggest variables for the Celtics this summer, but Horford's situation will also have a major impact on the direction of this team. As is the theme with the 2019 NBA offseason, nothing is certain. 

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Reports: Celtics were open to including Jayson Tatum in Anthony Davis trade

Reports: Celtics were open to including Jayson Tatum in Anthony Davis trade

Not long after the news broke on the Pelicans agreeing to trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, three first round picks and two pick swaps, Marc Stein reported that the Celtics refused to include Jayson Tatum in a potential trade package. This opened the door for LA to get LeBron James a legitimate running mate and form its strongest roster since the days of Kobe Bryant. 

It was understandable why the Celtics would refuse to include Tatum in a deal. For one thing, the team's belief in Kyrie Irving re-signing has reportedly 'eroded,' and Rich Paul had stated publicly that Davis would leave Boston next summer.  

But according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics weren't completely against including Tatum in a trade.

But in the current situation, that same source indicated that, contrary to reports, the Celts weren’t entirely closed to the idea of including Jayson Tatum in the deal, but that there wouldn’t have been much else included.

He then goes on to explain that when the Lakers offered a deal including three young players and a multitude of first round picks for Davis, the Celtics would in no way be willing to mortgage their future for a likely one-year rental. 

The notion of the Celtics' reluctance to offer a package with Tatum and a number of draft picks was reiterated by ESPN's Ramona Shelburne on Sunday as well. 

The Boston Celtics were serious about trading for Davis, as well. They were willing to discuss young, talented players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, according to sources close to the negotiations. But the Celtics were never going to give up as much as the Lakers.

During ESPN's NBA Mock Draft special earlier this week, Adrian Wojnarowski said, "If the Lakers are drafting at No. 4 on draft night, they're in trouble because that means they didn't make an Anthony Davis trade. Right now, they are not a frontrunner or even really a major consideration among any of the elite free agents."

Based on these reports, it doesn't seem like Boston had a good chance at Davis while the uncertainty of Irving loomed. The Lakers had to make this deal, and they paid the price to get a top-five player in the world. Now we'll see how the Celtics rebound and try to get their contender status back if Irving does in fact leave. 

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