Celtics coach Brad Stevens admits that a return in two weeks for Marcus Smart from his lower left leg injury is the most optimistic timetable, and a doctor unaffiliated with the Celtics or Smart who spoke to Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com believes a more likely period of recovery is four to six weeks. The C’s have a deep stable of point guards, but none of them can defend the way Smart can, as Forsberg examines. The Celtics are one of a surprising 11 Eastern Conference teams with winning records thus far, so it would appear they face a more daunting path back to the playoffs than expected. See more from the Atlantic Division:
- Injuries have contributed to some sluggishness in Toronto’s play to start the season, but with offseason signees DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph and Luis Scola all coming through when they’re on the floor, the 9-6 Raptors haven’t disappointed this season, argues Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Jonas Valanciunas, who signed a four-year, $64MM extension this summer, was also in top-notch form, Lewenberg observes, before suffering the broken hand that’s reportedly expected to keep him out for six weeks.
- Nets draft-and-stash prospect Juan Vaulet believes he has a long way to go before he’s ready for the NBA, but the owner of the Argentinian team Vaulet plays for wouldn’t object to Vaulet coming stateside in spite of their contract, reports Fernando Rodriguez of La Nueva (translation via NetsDaily).
- Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel each do much better when the other isn’t on the court, as Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examine in an Insider-only piece, leading Ford to speculate that the Sixers might trade Okafor this season, given his relatively high value around the league.