Dario Saric

Report: Sixers jockeying with Celtics on Kawhi offers

Report: Sixers jockeying with Celtics on Kawhi offers

The Philadelphia 76ers have entered the Kawhi Leonard Derby, according to a Sports Illustrated report, and while SI reports that the Sixers have not made a formal offer to the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard, they've had internal discussions of potential packages to compete with the Celtics' offer for the disgruntled forward.

SI's Jake Fischer reports that the Spurs have told teams that their preferred target in a trade is the Celtics' Jayson Tatum and Boston "is more likely to propose a deal centered around Kyrie Irving and future picks."

The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn reported earlier Thursday that Brown has not been discussed as part of Celtics-Spurs talks.  

A source told Fisher that Philly is weighing an offer that includes forwards Dario Saric, Robert Covington and a 2021 Miami Heat unprotected, first-round pick the Sixers acquired on draft night from the Phoenix Suns. 

Leonard, who can become a free agent next summer, reportedly prefers to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are very much in the bidding for him with the Celtics and Sixers via trade.

A source in Fisher's SI report said Leonard would be open to playing in Boston or New York based on his endorsement contract negotiations with Jordan Brand in March which "signaled the importance of playing in a larger market." 

Leonard also has a good relationship with Sixers coach Brent Brown, a former Spurs assistant under head coach Gregg Popovich. 

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Danny Ainge has established a good track record of getting the best player available

Danny Ainge has established a good track record of getting the best player available

The last couple of years have answered the question of whether Danny Ainge can draft. When making his first choice in 2016 and 2017, he was higher on his guy than most. In both cases, he was right. 

No major publication considered Jayson Tatum the best player last year; Ainge would have taken him No. 1 but was able to trade down because the Sixers were trading up for Markelle Fultz and the Lakers for some reason wanted to sign up for the Lonzo Ball life.

Jaylen Brown at No. 3 in 2016? You remember the boos, and you can understand why they happened. Fans were confused. If they'd been checking nbadraft.net like we all did, they expected him to be the ninth pick. 

Yet in both cases, Ainge and Co. were clearly right. Holding a high pick with no consensus option awaiting him, they wound up with the best player available. 

What's more impressive is that they've also done it later in the draft, and the further down the board you go to make your first pick, the easier it is to take a guy who won't amount to anything, let alone prove to be the best possible selection. 

That's what the Celtics did three years ago with Terry Rozier at No. 16. At the time, Bleacher Report Senior NBA writer Howard Beck deemed that selection the "biggest reach" of the draft; at the very least, the Celtics were heavily criticized for taking him where they did.

Go look at that draft and the players who were selected after Rozier. Would you rather any of those guys over Rozier? Maybe Josh Richardson? Maybe? Probably not, though? 

Now, here's where we need to note that the 2015 draft, for as good as it looks now for the Celtics, could have greatly derailed what's been an excellent rebuild. As the legend goes, Ainge intended to trade a whole lot to get from No. 16 to No. 9 in order to select Justise Winslow, who just had a worse third NBA season than Rozier. 

How badly did Ainge want to move up? According to ESPN's Chris Forsberg that summer, Ainge offered Charlotte "as many as six draft picks, including four potential first-round selections," only to have the deal rejected. Keep in mind that the Celtics still had three Brooklyn picks (which would turn into Brown, Tatum and Kyrie Irving) at that point. 

At any rate, the basketball gods saved Ainge from himself and he followed it up by making the right selection. The latter has happened three straight years now. 

Before that, the Celtics looked more human at the draft. Using 2010 as the cutoff (they didn't have a first-round pick in 2009, so 2010 seemed like a good place to keep it semi-recent), the Celtics have had their fair share of not-quite-misses-but-not-quite-home-runs. The Marcus Smart pick (No. 6 overall in 2014) could have been better spent on Dario Saric. Jared Sullinger (21st overall in 2012) could have instead been Draymond Green (No. 35). Three picks after the Celtics took JaJuan Johnson at 27 (via New Jersey), the Bulls took Jimmy Butler.

Of course, there's no more devastating "what if?" to play than looking back at 2013, when the Celtics got Kelly Olynyk at No. 13 (via Dallas), only to later learn they'd passed on the best player in that draft (Giannis Antetokounmpo). 

Yet that three-year run on not getting the best player has been sandwiched by stronger drafting. In 2010, the C's' selection over Avery Bradley at No. 19 proved to be the best pick they could have made. 

The Celtics are slotted to pick at No. 27 Thursday, a spot that promises very little, though they've got more than enough ammunition to move up. Even if they get whoever proves to be the best NBA player of the guys on the board, there's no promise that said player will have much of an NBA career. Their last three top picks have shown that if they do jump up, they'll get the right guy. 

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Stars, studs and duds: Sixers benefit from Saric-vs.-Tatum matchup

Stars, studs and duds: Sixers benefit from Saric-vs.-Tatum matchup

PHILADELPHIA – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds in Boston’s 103-92 Game 4 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

STARS

T.J. McConnell: Inserted into the starting lineup at the last minute, McConnell came up big for the Sixers with 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting to go with seven rebounds and five assists without a single turnover.

Jayson Tatum: For the second straight game, Tatum was limited in part because of foul trouble which took away some of his aggressiveness defensively. Still, Tatum led the Celtics with 20 points which extended his streak of games with 20 or more points to six straight.

Dario Saric: The Sixers really went to the Saric-versus-Tatum matchup, and it worked in Game 4. Saric led all scorers with 25 points on 9-for-17 shooting to go with eight rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot. 

MORE GAME 4 COVERAGE:

STUDS

Joel Embiid: The Celtics did another solid job defensively against Embiid, but that won’t stop him from putting up some impressive numbers. He had another double-double, scoring 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting along with 13 rebounds.

Al Horford: The shots weren’t nearly as plentiful as the Celtics need them to be for Horford to really be the impactful, difference-maker he has been for most of this postseason. Still, Horford finished with a double-double of 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and a game-high three blocked shots. 

DUDS

Aron Baynes: He played less than 20 minutes and, other than scoring Boston’s first points of the game, didn’t have the kind of overall impact he’s accustomed to delivering. Plus he shot 2-for-7 from the field with all but one of his field goal attempts being a 3-pointer. That should never, ever happen.

Celtics foul trouble: Whether it was bad defense or bad officiating, the Celtics have to do a better job of defending without fouling. The final numbers show that Boston committed 28 personal fouls compared to 23 by the Sixers. But for most of the game, Boston played with multiple players in foul trouble with their foul total for most of the game being twice that of the Sixers. 

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