Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Thanks to their run to the Eastern Conference finals, we’ve only gone about three weeks without Boston Celtics basketball. And if we can hang on for just over two weeks more, we’ll see them again – at least, the young guns version – in the Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues.
The Vegas schedule was announced yesterday, but here are both lineups, with tipoff times shown as Eastern Time.
Salt Lake City
Monday, July 3: 7 p.m. – Boston vs. Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 5: 7 p.m. – Boston vs. San Antonio
Thursday, July 6: 9 p.m. – Boston vs. Utah
Saturday, July 8: 8:30 p.m. – Boston vs. L.A. Lakers (ESPN)
Sunday, July 9: 8:30 p.m. – Portland vs. Boston (ESPN2)
Tuesday, July 11: 6:30 p.m. – Philadelphia vs. Boston (ESPN2)
The Vegas league will have playoff rounds following the games listed above. Go to www.nba.com/summerleague for full details.
A side note is that, on the heels of the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about the Celtics-Lakers rivalry, the league is hyping the two teams’ match-up in Vegas, which will likely be the first meeting between the no. 1 and 2 picks in this year’s draft. Whomever they may be.
On Page 2: Speaking of the draft…
Projected no. 1 pick Markelle Fultz worked out yesterday for the Lakers, and he looked less than thrilled to be there. No wonder: Fultz wants to be the top pick. In the perfect scenario, the Cs will grab him before LA gets a chance to take him in the second slot.
Of course, with the draft scheduled for Thursday, June 22, this is prime time for speculation and anonymous reports. We were treated to both yesterday.
One anonymous rival GM believes the Boston Celtics will pass on Markelle Fultz to take Josh Jackson at No. 1 in next week’s draft, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford.
From Ford’s latest story at ESPN Insider:
“I’ve picked (Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s) brain for years,” one GM said. “Jackson is an Ainge player all the way. Tough, athletic, long, versatile, elite motor. If he’s keeping the pick, Jackson just to me, far and away, is the most Celtics-type player for them to draft. From all my conversations with them, I’m convinced they’ll take Jackson No. 1.”
Not buying this. Not at all. If anyone did actually say this, it’s a GM picking near the top who hopes Danny Ainge will make a mistake. Not many think he will.
Fultz raised a few eyebrows when he scheduled a workout with the Lakers, and even more when it was reported that he’d meet with the Sacramento Kings, owners of the Nos. 5 and 10 picks. But it doesn’t seem likely that Danny Ainge would trade the chance at a franchise cornerstone for more assets, though with Ainge, you really never know.
But for now, one week away from selections flying off the board, the mock drafts all have Markelle Fultz going to Boston.
By the way, if you think a trade for Paul George is the way to go, that just got more complicated after comments he made last night.
Paul George says he’s committed to playing for the Indiana Pacers next season.
After that, it’s anybody’s guess.
The four-time All-Star forward provided clarity on his short-term plan Thursday before playing in a charity softball game just a short walk away from the only NBA arena he’s called home.
“I am a Pacer. I am under contract and I intend to play,” he said while sitting in the first base dugout.
MassLive – 2017 NBA Mock Draft, Facebook Live: Will Markelle Fultz go to Boston Celtics at No. 1? | Boston Celtics Draft 2017: Why Markelle Fultz makes more sense than Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, others
And, finally: Bill Russell, the GOAT
Bill Russell – a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA Champion with the Boston Celtics – will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the first-ever NBA Awards on TNT, airing Monday, June 26, with coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
Among his numerous athletic achievements, Russell was the first player to win an Olympic Gold Medal, an NBA Championship and a college title. While playing at the University of San Francisco, he led his team to back-to-back championships (1955 and 1956). A civil rights pioneer, Russell became the first African American to coach a major professional sports team (1966) and win a championship when he guided the Celtics to back-to-back titles (1968 and 1969).
One of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, Russell won five NBA MVP Awards, earned 12 NBA All-Star selections and left an indelible mark as a superb shotblocker who revolutionized NBA defensive concepts. The annual NBA Finals MVP Award is named in honor of Russell, an NBA Champion in all but two of his seasons as a player with Boston.
The NBA is copying the NFL and NHL by consolidating its award announcements into a prime time, Academy Award-style TV special that will no doubt boost the league’s marketing profile. On the flip side, it’s sure to annoy those of us who enjoyed the NBA’s traditional announcements of award winners during the playoffs.
But if the league executives are going in this direction, at least they have the good sense to honor their most venerable and accomplished former player, one William Felton Russell.
It’s common for younger fans today to dismiss Russell’s record because he was, in their minds, playing against physically weaker competition than he would face if transported to today’s NBA. Not sure why one would say that Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson and Bob Pettit weren’t formidable, but that’s an argument for another day.
All I know is, if the fate of the planet hinged on the outcome of one basketball game, and I had first pick of all those who ever played, in their primes, I’d go with the greatest winner in basketball history.
And just for the hell of it…
Related: CBS Boston – Bill Russell To Receive NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award