Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Thomas, D-League Recalls

The Celtics’ pipeline to the lottery, via the Nets, and the possibility of moving some of those picks for an established star, gives them real hope of becoming a serious contender, Jonathan Tjarks of opines. Brooklyn must give Boston unprotected picks in 2016 and 2018. The Celtics also have the right to swap picks in 2017. There’s a good chance all those picks might be top five selections, Tjarks deduces, providing them multiple opportunities to select a future superstar. It might be wiser, however, for Boston to accelerate its timetable by acquiring a franchise-caliber big man for those picks, with the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins and Cavs’ Kevin Love being obvious targets to upgrade their flawed frontcourt, Tjarks adds.

In other doings around the Atlantic Division:

  • Isaiah Thomas’ improvement as a defender makes him an All-Star candidate, Chris Forsberg of outlines through advanced metrics. While the Celtics’ diminutive point guard hasn’t become a defensive stopper, he’s become a more willing defender by fighting through screens and using his quickness to cover more areas of the court, Forsberg continues. Thomas’ impact on the team’s offensive efficiency remains his best argument for All-Star selection, as he’s one of its few players who can create for himself off the dribble and get to the free throw line, Forsberg adds.
  • Raptors coach Dwane Casey clearly misses having power forward Amir Johnson on his team, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reports. Johnson signed a two-year, $24M contract with the Celtics during the offseason. “Amir plays with pure heart,” Casey told Lewenberg. “There’s no agendas. He’s about the team, he’s about winning, he’s about giving everything on the court, he’s about his teammates … each and every night he was going to give you the same effort.”
  • The Raptors recalled power forward Anthony Bennett, small forward Bruno Caboclo and and combo guard Delon Wright from their D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, the team’s media relations department tweets. Toronto plays six home games the remainder of the month.
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