Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Martin, Thibodeau, Milton

Following individual workouts in Boston ahead of traveling to the Orlando campus for the NBA’s season restart, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens noted that All-Star point guard Kemba Walker‘s knee gave him “a little discomfort” and he was subsequently held out of practice Monday, per Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

Though Walker is expected to have an increased role in practice tomorrow, these early reports on the 30-year-old ahead of the season restart on July 30 in Orlando raise obvious red flags. Restrictions will be placed on Walker’s minutes in team scrimmages and any upcoming seeding games ahead of the NBA playoffs in mid-August.

Losing Walker for any amount of time would be a huge blow for Boston’s playoff hopes. Superstar forward Jayson Tatum and two-way force Jaylen Brown have clearly benefitted from Walker’s veteran leadership. In 50 games for the Celtics during the 2019/20 season, Walker is averaging 21.2 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.1 RPG, while shooting 37.7% from three-point range and 86.7% from the free throw line. The 43-21 Celtics are the No. 3 seed in the East.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Rookie Nets point guard Jeremiah Martin, who went undrafted out of Memphis in 2019, has been proving himself a valuable asset to the team, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post“I’d say Jeremiah Martin has been a surprise for us, his ability to compete,” interim head coach Jacque Vaughn. “That’s all we ask at this beginning stage, is to compete. Whether that’s knowing the plays, knowing different implementation, or having yourself ready every day.”
  • Head coach interviews for the Knicks are heating up, according to The New York Post’s Marc Berman. Tom Thibodeau remains the leader in the clubhouse for the gig, though Jason Kidd is nipping at his heels following a strong second interview. Kenny Atkinson also remains in the running for the position. The team conducted at least 11 three-hour second interviews that wrapped up yesterday.
  • Second-year Sixers guard Shake Milton has taken over starting point guard duties in team practices, moving All-Star Ben Simmons to the power forward slot and big man Al Horford to the bench, the significance of which has been unpacked by The Athletic’s Derek Bodner. Horford, 34, signed a splashy four-year, $97MM contract (worth up to $109MM with incentives) in 2019 free agency, but has underwhelmed during his first season of that deal. “I think [Milton] has a huge opportunity to help us accomplish what we believe we can, and he’s been doing an amazing job just running the team,” All-Star center Joel Embiid said of the move.


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15 thoughts on “Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Martin, Thibodeau, Milton

  1. illowa

    Hope that the sixers really do stick to this line-up. They could finally be what everyone expects them to be.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Having too many bigs in their starting lineup was never going to work in today’s small-ball era. Moving Simmons to his natural position at PF is a no-brainer. Now they just need to work on getting more reliable shooters around Embiid and Simmons to make them more effective together.

  2. Jeff Zanghi

    Based on how Kemba’s knee was holding up (or rather not holding up) during the season and now that he’s had 3 months of rest and it’s still giving him trouble… I’m kind of thinking it’s a LOT more serious than they’ve let on. Not sure if it’s a situation where he’s going to eventually need surgery — or worse a situation that’s never going to improve (ie Dustin Pedroia in baseball type situation) — but if it’s not fully healed from rest at this point… my guess is it never will be. So hopefully something can be done this off-season to fix it… otherwise it’s going to be a LONG next few years if he’s going to be constantly on minutes restrictions and missing games. Which really sucks, because he has been a tremendous fit seemingly both on and off the court with the C’s, and a healthy Walker would mean a legitimate chance at making it to the finals this season (or at least the eastern conference finals) and going forward if Tatum and Brown continue to take steps forward in their progress… they could be a legitimate contender for years to come — however ALL of that is in serious jeopardy if Walker’s knee doesn’t hold up.

    • downeysoft42

      Yeah this knee things got me concerned too. I do however believe that they don’t really know what the issue is either. Somethings definitely up but discomfort is such a broad term there’s no way for any of to being to point to an issue which I find more frustrating. Like miniscus tear or something bad sure cool atleast you know and can treat it. Being left in the dark is just agonizing, especially for him I’d imagine.

  3. Sillivan

    Below are from reporters

    76ers trade Horford (34) and a First round pick to Suns for Booker (23)

    John Hollinger projected Kuzma 4 years contract 27 million dollars.

    My thought
    Suns can easily get a guy like Horford and 3 Firsts.
    Kuzma is worth 4 years 54 million

    • Simmons>Russ

      Booker is worth a heck load more than Horford and a first. Maybe Horford and 7 first round picks

    • I give no fox

      I’m a sixers fan and I know that trade is highway robbery. Who reported it, you mention Hollinger for Kuzma contract but nothing for the trade

    • 123Redsox

      Horford needs to play center. With Ayton young and needing PT and Baynes a capable cheaper vet, why would the suns do that deal?

  4. Simmons>Russ

    I am a huge Simmons fan and I understand why they move him but not sure PF is right and question the timing a lot.

    Brett Brown has moved Simmons to PF now and has probably had just a few team training sessions to prepare the team for this. According to reports there training facility opened in June and I doubt they would’ve went straight into full team drills. The team will have 8 regular season seeding games then playoffs, so moving one of your most important players is a huge call. Reminds me of what Jimmy Butler said on the Jj Reddick podcast. All season long Ben Simmons was the teams ball handler then come playoffs that took that role off him and gave it to Jimmy.
    It’s these stupid late decisions which can ruin players and teams.

    I hope this results in Brett Brown getting sacked

    I’m not completely against moving him away from point guard cause I like the idea of Shake at PG adding some more shooting. I think Simmons at SF would make more sense tho. PF has such a range of players from Anthony Davis, Giannis, etc but you also have players like Kevin Love, Porzingis with size and shooting, you have smaller bigs like Draymond, Covington and Siakim.
    When Simmons played point guard he had easy match ups size wise and now he’s going to be evenly matched or undersized. It’s not like he can stand in the corner and provide spacing either. So I’m unsure on the timing and a few things.

    I would’ve prefer if he was to get moved it was to SF. I think aside from Bron, Middleton, Kawhi, Tatum and Butler, the depth across SF in the NBA is weak and he could have easy match ups. I also think the team would have better spacing with him at the 3. Look into trading Josh Richardson, Al Horford and a first for something like Buddy Heild and a cap filler. Then between Shake Buddy and Tobias you have some good floor spacers and also players that can get off their own shot and play in a free flowing offence. Plus making the decision to trade players and move Simmons during the offseason gives you more time to build chemistry and get players more familiar with a game plan

    • I give no fox

      Pretty sure Brett is a lock to get shown the door, barring a finals appearance. Maybe he keeps it with an ECF depending on how competitive the series

  5. El Don

    Not looking good for Kemba, they must try to do everything possible to get him back at 100% before he plays again or it can end up very badly. Always think about the future not the present, for his sake I hope he is not made to play, as he might regret it for a long time. Anyway this year is not looking like BOS will compete at all anyway.

  6. KnickerbockerAl

    It’s best for team chemistry to move Simmons. I prefer he play SF but Harris is more suited for SF. No room for error now. He can play PF with everyone going small. And having stretch 4s. He can guard all no problem. His issue will be PFs who play in the post. He will not do well there. Plus you don’t want him get beat if there. He can still run offense from there. There will be times when you can go big with Horford and Embiid. But this is best for team now. Plus it makes bench stronger. Be interesting to watch them.
    Best case scenario to me. They move Horford and Harris. Bring in a stretch 4 like Bertans. They can alit back for those two. Redo team now. Embiid and Simmons can definitely work.

  7. KnickerbockerAl

    Just sign Thibodeau already. It’s starting to get nauseating.
    Celtics not going anywhere without Kemba. I think he’s ok. Just rusty, being cautious is a good thing. The East playoffs should be competitive. It’s been a long time since we could say that.

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