Boston Celtics

Eastern Notes: Harris, Biyombo, Lamb

Former Bucks coach and current Magic coach Scott Skiles said he was never in favor of trading power forward Tobias Harris to Orlando, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Sentinel. Skiles didn’t give Harris a lot of playing time as a rookie and second-year player but liked Harris’ potential and attitude, the story continues. Harris was dealt from the Bucks to the Magic on Feb. 21st, 2013 in a six-player swap. None of the players Milwaukee acquired are still with the team. “At that time, we just felt (Luc) Mbah a Moute was a better defender and (Mike) Dunleavy was a better offensive player, and Tobias didn’t get as many minutes. But we were high on him,” Skiles told Gardner. “Not that anybody would have listened to me, but if I would have still been the coach, I would not have been for moving Tobias.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Bismack Biyombo‘s stint as Jonas Valanciunas’ injury replacement is off to a strong start, Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press reports. Coach Dwane Casey likes what Biyombo brings to the starting unit as the new Raptors starting center after he had 11 points and 12 rebounds against the Cavs this week, Ewing continues. “He set the tone for us defensively,” Casey told the Toronto media. “Protecting the paint, talking, being physical, being a deterrent at the rim and that was big for us.” Valanciunas is out approximately six weeks with a hand injury.
  • Jeremy Lamb could be a serious candidate for the league’s Sixth Man and Most Improved Player awards if he continues to produce at his current level, Steve Aschburner of write. The Hornets shooting guard is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists and field goal percentage. Lamb, who agreed to a three-year, $21MM extension, has surprised coach Steve Clifford with his passing ability, Aschburner continues. “I knew he could shoot — I mean, he can really shoot — but I had no idea how well he could pass the ball,” Clifford told Aschburner. “He can pass off the dribble. He makes good decisions, so he’s a better pick-and-roll player than I thought. And what he’s done for us, he’s given us a lot of drive-and-kick plays that I didn’t know he was capable of doing.”
  • The Celtics have assigned rookie power forward Jordan Mickey to the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, the team tweets. Mickey, an early second-round pick out of LSU, has played a total of just five minutes with Boston.

2016/17 Salary Cap Projection: Boston Celtics

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 has been set at $70MM, which is an 11% increase from last season, and the luxury tax line is fixed at $84.74MM. The last cap projection from the league prior to the official numbers being announced had been $67.1MM, and the projection for the tax line had been $81.6MM. Many league executives and agents believe that the salary cap will escalate to a whopping $95MM for 2016/17, a higher figure than the league’s last projection of $89MM. This significant bump is a result of the league’s new $24 billion TV deal that kicks in just in time for next season.

The increase in the salary cap will almost assuredly set off a flurry of activity in the free agent market next summer, and it will also make it easier than ever for teams to deal away their higher-priced stars. Prudent executives are acutely aware of exactly how much cap room they have to play with, not just for the current campaign, but for next season and beyond as well. While the exact amount of 2016/17’s salary cap won’t be announced until next summer, it always pays to know just how much salary is on the books for each franchise. With this in mind, we at Hoops Rumors will be breaking down the projected 2016/17 financial commitments for each franchise, and we’ll continue onward with a look at the Boston Celtics:

  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments: $33,971,629
  • Partially Guaranteed Salary Commitments: $0
  • Non Guaranteed Salary Commitments: $17,000,000*
  • Total Projected Salary Cap Commitments: $50,971,629

*Note: This amount will become fully guaranteed if both Amir Johnson ($12MM) and Jonas Jerebko ($5MM) remain on the team’s roster past July 3rd.

If the salary cap were to fall in line with the projection of $89MM, Boston would have approximately $38,028,371 in cap space, or $44,028,371 if the cap were to be set at the higher mark of $95MM. Again, these are merely predictions until the exact cap amounts are announced, and they are not meant to illustrate the exact amount that the team will have available to spend this coming offseason.

Boston will also need to make decisions regarding Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger, both of whom are eligible to become restricted free agents next summer. If the Celtics wish to retain the right to match any offer sheets the two players were to receive the team would need to submit qualifying offers to both, with Zeller’s being worth $3,695,169 and $3,270,004 for Sullinger. This would increase the team’s projected cap commitments by a total of $6,965,173, though that number would merely be a place holder until the players either inked new deals or signed their qualifying offers, which would then set them up for unrestricted free agency the following offseason.

Trades and long-term free agent signings made during the season will also have a significant impact on the figures above, and we’ll be updating these posts to reflect the new numbers after any signings and trades have been made official.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

And-Ones: Mudiay, Mickey, Henderson

Blazers swingman Gerald Henderson has struggled as he makes his way back from hip surgery in July, and he says that he still needs time to round into form, Jason Quick of writes. “You know, it’s tough. I’m coming back from surgery, trying to implement myself into what we are doing … and I just haven’t found my rhythm yet,” Henderson admitted. “It will take me a while to get into the type of shape I’m used to being in. You missed pretty much the whole summer, the preseason, and the start of the year … like I said, I’ve got some catching up to do. It’s nothing more than that.’’ Henderson was acquired by Portland from the Hornets over the summer as a part of the Nicolas Batum trade, and he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • The Thunder have recalled Josh Huestis from the Oklahoma City Blue, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Huestis has appeared in four games during his three D-League assignments this season, averaging 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 31.3 minutes per game.
  • The Celtics recalled power forward Jordan Mickey from the D-League, the team announced (via Twitter). This was Mickey’s fourth assignment to the Red Claws this season.
  • Nuggets rookie Emmanuel Mudiay has played the second most minutes out of any rookie thus far this season, and it will be an interesting case study to see how the increased minutes impact his development, observes Brett Koremenos of Real GM in his look at the young point guard. The 19-year-old is averaging 12.5 points and 6.3 assists in 30.0 minutes per contest through 15 games.

Northwest Notes: Garnett, Towns, Waiters, Kanter

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admits he was careful about the sort of young players he brought around Kevin Garnett, who “could be intimidating — and destructive — if the player didn’t respond in the right way,” he tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN The Magazine. That’s evidence that Minnesota’s plan to use Garnett as a mentor for its host of young players isn’t foolproof, but the intense Garnett and No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns have taken to one another, and Garnett has accepted his purpose as a team leader, even giving Towns uncharacteristic advice to ease up at times, as MacMullan details. The edginess that Garnett brings to the Timberwolves has been a positive, GM Milt Newton tells MacMullan, and the late Flip Saunders cited Garnett’s ability to work well under Sam Mitchell when Saunders reacquired Garnett for Minnesota last season, MacMullan notes. See more on the Wolves and other Northwest Division teams:

  • Jahlil Okafor outplayed Towns this week in a matchup of two of the top three picks, but the Timberwolves still chose wisely when they went with the former Kentucky big man, opines Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune“It was an off-game for Karl,” Mitchell said, “but you look at the other 11, 12 games that Karl has played, he’s been unbelievable.”
  • Kevin Durant lifts the performances of many around him, but that’s especially so with Thunder teammate Dion Waiters, notes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Both are set to become free agents at season’s end, and Waiters has denied rumors that he wants to jump to the Sixers to play in his hometown of Philadelphia, a most unlikely destination for Durant.
  • Enes Kanter elicited questions about his maturity from some executives around the league in the wake of pithy comments he made about the Jazz after they fulfilled his request for a trade last season, but the Thunder big man is contrite these days, The Oklahoman’s Anthony Slater observes. “I think that I was a little, you know, harsh,” Kanter said. “But I just want to clear, I have no problem with the players or the fans. I respect the guys and they helped me a lot with my career. They helped me a lot in my first three and a half years.”

Atlantic Notes: Larkin, Sullinger, Brown

Shane Larkin spoke of his displeasure with the triangle offense this summer after leaving the Knicks to sign with the Nets, and he feels the results so far this season, in which he’s scored more points in fewer minutes per game than he did last year, prove his point, as Brian Lewis of the New York Post chronicles.

“Yeah, it’s a much better fit for me in a lot of ways,” Larkin said. “You can see my numbers have been better. I’m just playing better overall, because I’m more comfortable in a pick-and-roll system or an up-and-down system, doing different things rather than coming down and setting in the triangle.’’

Still, Brooklyn’s reserves have been one of the NBA’s least effective bench units statistically, Lewis points out. Sunday’s win over the Celtics, which also saw a strong contribution from fellow former Knick Andrea Bargnani, was an exception, as Lewis details. See more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The best is yet to come for soon-to-be restricted free agent Jared Sullinger, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told Chris Forsberg of in a Q&A. Ainge criticized the fitness level that offseason trade acquisition David Lee had at the start of camp but praised Lee’s work since then, and the exec cited his team’s depth for its strong defensive play thus far, as Forsberg relays. Ainge also referred to coach Brad Stevens as “a keeper.” Jared has played really well,” Ainge said to Forsberg. “I know what he’s capable of doing. I think Jared is still so young. I think that his best basketball is still ahead of him. But I do see a lot of great progress from Jared.”
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown wishes he sometimes had more of a veteran presence on the team, but he accepts much of the responsibility that would usually fall to experienced players for himself, observes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Carl Landry is the only Sixer with more than three years of service. “It’s on me,” said Brown, a former Spurs assistant. “I’m privileged to have seen five NBA [Finals] and won four of them. … I like sharing stories like that with my players.”
  • The radical rebuilding plan the Sixers have undertaken comes with no guarantees and requires plenty of patience, but the team has largely controlled what it can as it’s stockpiled the assets necessary to pounce on a superstar when the opportunity arises, argues Derek Bodner of Philadelphia magazine. Still, it’s possible the team erred when it selected Jahlil Okafor instead of Kristaps Porzingis with the No. 3 overall pick, as Bodner examines.

Atlantic Notes: Prokhorov, Celtics, Stoudemire

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t feel like pushing the panic button despite the team’s woeful start, as he indicated to Andy Vasquez of in an email exchange. Prokhorov is preaching patience, which is something he hasn’t shown in the past, Vasquez notes. “We have a lot of new players and quite a few younger pieces, so it takes some time for the team to gel and to show its full potential,” Prokhorov told Vasquez, adding that “I think we’ve seen some positive progress and my hope is that these efforts will soon be reflected in the wins column.”

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics have positioned themselves for a very bright future, as Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post analyzes in his new role as the newspaper’s national NBA columnist. GM Danny Ainge made shrewd moves in the draft and in trades to secure quality pieces like Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas but that’s just the start, Bontemps continues. They have the Nets’ unprotected first-round pick next summer, courtesy of the 2013 Paul PierceKevin Garnett trade, with an unprotected pick swap in 2017 and another unprotected first rounder in 2018 still to come their way from the deal. They could also have more than $50MM in salary-cap space next offseason to chase high-level free agents, Bontemps adds.
  • Heat power forward Amar’e Stoudemire blames his Knicks coaches for not taking advantage of his offensive skills in conjunction with Carmelo Anthony, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Stoudemire and Anthony wanted to run more pick-and-rolls together during Stoudemire’s years in New York but couldn’t get their coaches, namely Mike D’Antoni and Mike Woodson, to call those plays often enough, Berman continues. “I don’t think that pick-and-roll offense between Melo and I was ever taken advantage of, which we could have,” he told Berman. “The way he shoots the ball, handles the ball from the outside and the way I attack the rim, it could’ve been a pretty good combination. I don’t think the coaching staff at the time really bought into that.’’
  • The Raptors have to do a better job of getting everyone on the roster up to speed with all of their plays, according to Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. Coach Dwane Casey has become increasing reliant on his reserves, and they haven’t demonstrated that they know the plays as thoroughly as the starters, Ganter adds.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Carroll, Vaulet, Okafor

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 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:

Atlantic Notes: Nets-Celtics Deal, Bradley, Caboclo

The future looks vastly different for the Nets and Celtics two years after the eight-player deal that brought Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn, according to Chris Forsberg and Mike Mazzeo of The key to the trade for Boston was a parcel of draft picks that included the Nets’ unprotected first-rounders in 2014, 2016 and 2018, along with the option to swap first-round picks in 2017. As a result, the 7-5 Celtics are looking at a draft bonanza over the next three seasons, while the 2-11 Nets must focus on free agency to have any shot at rebuilding. Mazzeo notes that Brooklyn GM Billy King is in the final year of his contract, and Nets fans are worried that if he stays with the team next summer, he will spend a possible $40MM in cap space on lesser free agents if he doesn’t land Kevin Durant or Mike Conley. Forsberg speculates that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may be willing to trade the Nets’ 2016 pick to acquire an impact player for this season.

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins told Brian Robb of that he doesn’t dwell on the traded picks and believes the Nets can be successful without them. “I think more importantly it’s what we do daily, the foundation that we lay,” Hollins said. “There’s always second-round picks that are bought. There’s always second-round picks that are traded.” 
  • Four productive games off the bench have the Celtics thinking about keeping Avery Bradley in that role, Forsberg writes in a separate story. Bradley has been a starter in Boston for the past three seasons, but switched to a reserve role earlier this month while returning from a calf injury. “I’m not thinking,” Bradley said about the difference in coming off the bench. “Even if I did happen to go back to the starting lineup or whatever, I just need to continue to just play hard. That’s the most important thing for all of us. I feel like the best way to play basketball is without thinking. That’s when we are all at our best.”
  • Bruno Caboclo, whom Toronto took with the 20th pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is considered a franchise player for the Raptors‘ new D-League squad, according to Michael Grange of SportsNet. The 20-year-old Brazilian appeared in just eight games for Toronto last season but is getting attention with his play for Raptors 905.

Atlantic Notes: Valanciunas, McConnell, Porzingis

Undrafted rookie point guard T.J. McConnell has been one of the early season’s pleasant surprises for the Sixers, something that even McConnell didn’t anticipate, Andy Jasner of writes.  “Did I expect to play this much so early in the season?,” McConnell asked. “I would have to say, ‘no.’ Like I’ve said, weird things have gone on. My number has been called and I’m going in to compete and fight for minutes. It’s every day that you have to compete and play hard and learn. To keep this dream going, it’s keeping that work ethic going and continuing to play well. I just want to take advantage of this amazing opportunity.”

McConnell is a realist and understands that his future with the team is unclear once Kendall Marshall and Tony Wroten return to action, Jasner adds. “I hope so,” McConnell responded when asked if he had a future in Philly. “I’ve already had such a great experience here. The coaches and my teammates are amazing to be around every day. My teammates are always encouraging me and the coaches are teaching all the time. I’m here to learn and get better. I don’t ever want to look down the road. Sure, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t think about it. But my job is to stay in the moment and improve as much as possible.

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas fractured the fourth metacarpal in his non-shooting hand on Friday night, and will be evaluated to determine just how long he’ll be out of action, the team announced via a press release (h/t to Valanciunas broke a similar bone in his right hand during his 2012/13 rookie season and missed 18 games as a result.
  • Kristaps Porzingis has taken New York by storm, as well as surprised many around the league with his solid start, but the Knicks rookie isn’t shocked that he has been able to contribute immediately, Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post writes. “Everybody [was] saying project, few years,” Porzingis said. “I will get better in a few years, but I knew I’d be able to play right now.
  • The Celtics have recalled Terry Rozier and James Young from the Maine Red Claws, their D-League affiliate, the team announced.

Atlantic Notes: Joseph, McHale, D-League

Cory Joseph has exceeded all expectations that the Raptors had for him when they inked him to a four-year, $30MM deal this offseason, Josh Lewenberg of writes. “When you do these things, you try to get good players and you try to figure out,” said GM Masai Ujiri of Joseph. “You do your scouting, you do your analytics, and you try to figure out if the team will fit together. But honestly, until they start playing, we [don’t know]. When we looked at it, we tried to look at two-way players who bring us some kind of toughness and that’s what he is. He’s a two-way player that will pick up the ball full court and put pressure on opposing guards. He knows how to fight people and make people better and score a little bit too. So you hope that it translates to the basketball court.

Coach Dwane Casey is also a fan of Joseph’s, but he also admits the play of the 24-year-old playmaker has exceeded expectation, Lewenberg adds. “He has [been a pleasant surprise],” said Casey. “His energy, his toughness wasn’t a surprise but it’s really been glaring. He’s really filled in. I didn’t know how much we could play the two [point] guards together but he plays bigger than he is. He’s not the typical point guard, he can guard twos, he can get down there and wrestle with some threes. If he gets switched off he gets into the big guys’ knees and boxes them out. So he is better than expected.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would like to bring former teammate and fired Rockets coach Kevin McHale to the Celtics in some capacity, even if it’s just in a consultant’s role, Ainge told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The Mavericks are also interested, league sources said to Marc Stein of
  • The Nets have respect for the coaching of Randy Ayers, whom they recently hired as a scout, though team officials say the organization doesn’t regard him as a coach-in-waiting in case Lionel Hollins is fired, reports Chris Mannix of
  • The Celtics have assigned Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier and James Young to the D-League, the team announced (Twitter link).

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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