Full disclosure: This Boston Celtics article will not involve Doc Rivers or the concept of trade rumors.
Now that you've all breathed a sigh of relief, let's resume our regular offseason activities. The Celtics still need a point guard and a center in the upcoming June 27 NBA draft. And, not to freak you out or anything, but rumors have been flying about that as well.
Of course, mock drafts float around as seamlessly and as interchangeably as stocks on Wall Street, so we'll stay away from those for the most part. Let's focus on the real possibilities.
The following players have reportedly been targeted by president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and the Celtics, and they might just be called out on draft day this coming Thursday.
Ainge has already made it abundantly clear (per Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald, subscription required) that he will not draft based on need, but rather based on the best player available. In a relatively shallow draft class, that might be the best avenue to take.
Boston has already worked out a few shooting guards, which indicates that it either plans to ship out Avery Bradley, Jason Terry or Courtney Lee or figure things out when they get there.
The most talented player of the lot seems to be Georgia shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who can provide an abundance of skills the Celtics clearly need. For one, he can shoot lights-out from mid-range as well as beyond the three-point stripe. He can also work off the dribble almost as lethally as he works the catch-and-shoot. He passes decently and plays good enough defense to warrant a green jersey.
Remind anyone of Ray Allen? Yeah, I thought so. The only difference is that he has two inches on the former Celtics star. This kid could be worth the hype.
Also on their list, San Diego State's Jamaal Franklin might be a good fit based solely on his athleticism. Although his body might not be NBA-ready (6'5”, 195 pounds), he has a ridiculous 8'8” reach and 6'11” wingspan. And he can jump like Vince Carter in the late 1990s.
Beyond that, the kid can slash. A team with Jeff Green and Jamaal Franklin might be too much for any defense to handle. Add to that Franklin's rebounding abilities and overall competitive edge, and you have a real winner. It's quite possible he'll slip to the second round, but if Ainge picks Franklin at No. 16, nobody should complain.
Then there's Allen Crabbe from California. Although most mocks have him going later in the first round (or even early in the second), Crabbe has a good deal of NBA potential.
The Pac-12 Player of the Year, Crabbe has received very little praise from NBA draft pundits. Considering he averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds with a 81.3 free throw percentage, you would think he would be in lottery territory. He at least caught Ainge's eye, and seems a distinct possibility on June 27.
Crabbe's defense stinks, but his shooting can be deadly. He can work as a catch-and-shoot specialist or maneuver off the dribble to free himself up or create for teammates. Ainge might have a diamond in the rough with this kid if his other targets get selected earlier.
Of course, Danny Ainge has a unique ability to defy the odds, so let's not be surprised if he grabs Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr., who also worked out with the Celts recently. The offspring of the famed Miami Heat crossover specialist seemed a bit overlooked during March Madness, given the success of lottery-bound point guard Trey Burke and fellow standouts Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III (both staying in Michigan for another year).
But don't be mistaken: Hardaway can ball. He has a great handle, a good jumper even under duress, superb instincts and the kind of quickness Boston loves. In fact, ESPN analyst Chad Ford even has him as a possibility to go as early as No. 7, citing the Sacramento Kings' efforts to get him into workouts.
The 6'6”, 205-pound guard averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season, maybe the quietest of all Big 10 numbers worth noting. He could be a Cinderella story.
The overwhelming point guard on the rumor mill so far has been Shane Larkin of Miami. Gary Dzen of Boston.com considers Larkin as one of the best fits in the draft for the Celtics.
Given his ties to current head coach Doc Rivers, fans might invest in such hearsay a bit more if not for the aforementioned trade talks with the Clippers (and Rivers' hesitance to commit to next season, before and after the attempted deal).
Larkin, who has known Rivers and his son Austin since he was eight years old, has been projected at No. 21 (Utah Jazz) by Chad Ford of ESPN in the ESPN NBA draft combine conference call. His sophomore season at Miami looked impressive, with averages of 14.6 points, 4.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and two steals per game, while shooting 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from deep.
And, although he is small (5'11”, 176 pounds), he just looks like a Celtic. Oh, and he felt right at home during his workout. He knew Rivers, assistant coach Jay Larranaga (whose father Jim coached Larkin at Miami) and video coordinator Brandon Bailey (from their time at DePaul).
As he told Baxter Holmes of Boston Globe, "It just feels right, coming up here. Hopefully, there’s a chance I can come up here and play up here. But it was good, knowing those people coming into this workout."
The Celtics have also been linked to Germany's Dennis Schroeder, who was supposedly “promised” by the organization that it would draft him, according to Aran Smith at hoopshype.com. The young guard, known for his Rondo-like speed, quickness and penetration, apparently never heard such a promise. At least that's what he and his agent said (per Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times).
Still though, a Rondo clone would pay dividends for a team that struggled through an opening-round series of the playoffs without a true point guard. Since Rondo's torn ACL is still healing, it could be a beneficial selection in both the short and long term.
It seems more likely that the Celtics would go with Larkin over Schroeder, given Ainge's preference toward slashing floor generals over jump shooters. Just don't expect Doc Rivers to have any say in the process.
The Celtics have reportedly coveted Steven Adams of Pittsburgh throughout the offseason, per Jay King of MassLive.com. His superb showing at the pre-draft combine in Chicago probably helped the seven-footer's cause, as Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reports (subscription required).
Earlier in the year, mock drafts had the New Zealand native going in the second round at best. Suddenly, the Celtics could be facing competition, with many more teams aware of his professional potential.
After Adams' workout with the C's, they were impressed with a number of things. For one, he has amazing size at 7'0”, 250 pounds. Secondly, they enjoyed his rebounding and defending, two points of concern during Boston's 2012-13 campaign.
If he remains available at No. 16, and the best available guards have already been selected, it might be impossible for Ainge to pass Adams by. Former Celtic and Boston fan favorite Brian Scalabrine even called him a “freak athlete” during an interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub. With a 7'5” wingspan and maximum vertical leap of 33 inches, who can argue that point?
Many mock drafts have Louisville standout Gorgui Dieng as the better option, however. A younger and possibly more offensively reliable Dikembe Mutombo, Dieng could just be the best sleeper in the first round.
Everyone who witnessed his impact during this year's March Madness tournament already understands his 7'4” wingspan and 9'4” reach. But those looking deeper probably see his ability to hit mid-range jumpers, pass with uncanny precision and rebound with Larry Bird-like instincts. Some say Dieng is too old, but to many Celtics fans, he seems just right.
Mock draft information and statistics for this report were compiled from ESPN.