Al Horford

Celtics Notes: Horford, G. Williams, Brown, Mazzulla

Al Horford has already left the Celtics once for more money and there’s a chance it might happen again next summer, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. The 37-year-old Horford said this week that he’d like to play another two or three seasons, so he’ll be looking for a contract that covers that time. Whether that keeps him in Boston will depend on the salary he’s willing to accept.

Deveney talked to a Western Conference executive who points out that most of the teams that will have cap room in 2023 are young and aren’t likely to have interest in a player nearing 40. The unidentified executive expects Horford to land a two-year contract worth between $20-25MM, while another league source tells Deveney that Horford may get a three-year deal in the $40-42MM range with the final year as a partial guarantee or a player option.

An Eastern Conference executive believes the Celtics’ offer to Horford will depend on how much they have to pay to keep Grant Williams, who is headed for restricted free agency.

“Right now, you’re paying those guys $30MM,” the executive said. “They don’t want to add a bunch of salary, so if you can keep them below $30MM in starting money next year, it is not a bad situation. Other guys are going up, so you’d like to save where you can. If you start Williams at $16-17MM or so, you can go to $11-12MM for Al and still keep yourself around $180MM in payroll. They want both of those guys around so they have to think about them as a sliding scale.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston has the league’s best record at 13-3 and has figured out how to win with limited production from Jayson Tatum, notes Souichi Terada of MassLive. The Celtics posted back-to-back wins over the Hawks and Pelicans this week with Tatum limited to 19 points in each game on subpar shooting. Derrick White and Payton Pritchard have filled in with Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart hurt, and the team is also getting valuable bench minutes from Williams, Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet.
  • Jaylen Brown credits the success to trust from new head coach Joe Mazzulla, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Whenever the Celtics hit a rough patch, Mazzulla usually prefers to let the players work through it rather than calling a timeout. “It challenges us for not only the situation at hand in front of us but to be better down the line,” Brown said. “We’ve been in the NBA long enough to know how to get to our spots and how to correct some of our mistakes. We have a poised team so that’s a lot of trust from our head coach that he instills in our players and us to figure it out. To be honest, that’s what you want as a player. You want that relationship with your head coach that he’ll trust you out there that you’ll figure it out.”
  • With nine straight wins, the Celtics appear to have solved their crunch-time rotation questions, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Tatum’s ability to fill multiple roles makes the team hard to defend with the game on the line, Weiss adds.

Atlantic Notes: Banton, Raptors Bench, Horford, Brogdon

With several starters out of the Raptors lineup, Dalano Banton erupted for a career-high 27 points in a victory at Detroit on Monday. The 2021 second-rounder displayed his growth during that performance, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes.

“He obviously scored it really well,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “He is kind of naturally a point guard but when we have other lineups in there, we like having him off the ball so he’s not under so much duress to make plays all the time. I think sprinkling him on and off the ball helps him set some people up. And obviously he’s shooting the ball really well this year, when he’s catching and faced up, you’re expecting him to make them now, which is a huge step forward for him.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors’ early-season injuries might be a blessing in disguise, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports opines. Nurse has generally leaned heavily on his starters and used a tight rotation since becoming the head coach but now he’s gaining more trust in his bench.
  • Al Horford becomes a free agent next summer and wants to finish out his career with the Celtics, Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com reports. Horford gave an emphatic ‘Yes’ when asked if he wanted to stay in Boston. The 36-year-old forward also feels he has at least a couple more years left. “I’ve thought about it,” he said. “I want to keep playing for two, three more years, for sure.”
  • Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon, who has missed the last three games due to right hamstring soreness, is listed as questionable to play against Atlanta on Wednesday, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Durant, Griffin, Horford, Tatum, Hartenstein

Cam Thomas‘ playing time dropped late last season and it doesn’t figure to spike upward with all of the Nets’ stars back in action this season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes.

“We’ll see how it goes after training camp. But he clearly is on a veteran team with a lot of guys who can play, have had a lot of success,” coach Steve Nash said. “We know Cam’s talented, and just trying to continue to develop him and see if he can keep pushing and getting better at certain things that’ll help him get minutes. I said whether he plays or he doesn’t play, he has to stay positive, he has to keep the belief that this process is going to help him.”

Thomas appeared in 67 games last season, averaging 8.5 PPG in 17.6 MPG.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After all the drama he created during the offseason, Nets superstar Kevin Durant doesn’t want to continue answering questions about it, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell“Can we move on past that at some point?” Durant said. “I know it’s an interesting story. I know that it took up most of the offseason and drama sells, I get that, but I didn’t miss any games, I didn’t miss any practices, I’m still here. So hopefully we can move past that.”
  • Blake Griffin‘s versatility convinced the Celtics to take a flier on him, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. He was used more as a floor spacer and roller rather than the post-up scorer last season with the Nets, and he’s an adept ball handler. That makes him a more natural fit in Boston’s scheme. Griffin, who agreed to a one-year guaranteed deal, could see minutes at either power forward or center despite his defensive limitations.
  • With Ime Udoka out of the picture and young assistant Joe Mazzulla serving as the Celtics’ interim coach, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum need to take on bigger leadership roles, Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com opines. Horford can be more vocal and even demonstrative, while Tatum can set a better example by not complaining as much to the referees and by being quicker in terms of ball movement.
  • Center Isaiah Hartenstein will bring a new dimension to the Knicks’ second unit, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. Hartenstein fits the blueprint of what coach Tom Thibodeau demands on the defensive end due to his rim protection, Popper notes, and he’ll be tasked at times as the orchestrator of the second-unit offense. Hartenstein signed a two-year, $16.7MM contract as a free agent in July.

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Udoka, Smart, Tatum, Brown, Horford, Brogdon

Joe Mazzulla has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight as the Celtics’ interim coach after Ime Udoka was suspended this season for violating team policy. Guard Marcus Smart believes Mazzulla, who has been a Celtics assistant since 2019, can handle the job, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com writes.

“It would’ve been different if we had somebody new that we didn’t know and were trying to build that connection with,” Smart said. “Joe has been here. He knows the scheme, he knows the players, so it makes it a little bit more easier to adjust to a guy that’s been here and knows you.”

We have more on the Celtics as they prepare for another run at the championship:

  • Smart admits the players were blindsided by Udoka’s suspension right before camp started, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. “Nobody really knows anything,” Smart said. “We’re just in the wind, like everybody else. The last couple of days have been confusing.” Jayson Tatum says he doesn’t know all the details that led to the suspension, Mannix adds in another tweet. “Apparently there are a lot of things they can’t speak about. I’m kind of in the same boat,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer if things were handled in the right way or they weren’t.”
  • Jaylen Brown also expressed confusion over why Udoka was handed such a severe penalty by the organization, Weiss adds in a separate tweet. “I wish we had more details,” he said. “From what we know, it’s hard to make a decision based on whether it’s consensual or not in the workplace, which we know has happened before in the workplace. It looks like there is more to it than what meets the eye.”
  • Generally, the players are frustrated they don’t have more information on Udoka’s situation, though legally the team may have to withhold certain information, Mannix notes (Twitter link).
  • Brown tried to downplay questions regarding the Kevin Durant trade rumors over the summer, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Brown was the most prominent player mentioned among the discussions Boston had with Brooklyn. “I think it’s been the same since I’ve been here. It wasn’t surprising or not surprising, to make me feel some type of way,” he said. “It just is what it is. I talked to my teammates and the organization about it and now it’s just time to play basketball.”
  • Al Horford missed 13 regular season games last season as the Celtics chose to ease the workload on the now 36-year-old big man. Horford said he prepared this offseason to handle an increased workload and play back-to-backs this season, according to Weiss (Twitter link).
  • Malcolm Brogdon was presented with a few different trade options by the Pacers and told them he wanted to be dealt to Boston “because I want to win,” Bontemps tweets.

International Notes: Irving, Adams, Bey, Dominican National Team

Nets guard Kyrie Irving is already thinking about his career beyond the NBA. In response to a fan’s tweet about “gassing up” for the regular season, Irving speculated about his future several years down the road, saying he eventually expects to play overseas.

“I don’t ever have to Gas myself up,” Irving wrote (Twitter link). “I am going on my 12th year in the best league in the world and I am only getting better. When I am 38 years old and have time to reflect on my career truly, I will do so, but until then, I am enjoying every moment.”

“And no I won’t be done playing basketball at 38 years old lol,” he added (Twitter link). “I’ll be in leagues all over the world playing and teaching the youth all that was taught to me.”

Irving just turned 30 in March, so the future he’s talking about is several years away. He’s under contract to Brooklyn for one more season after picking up his $36.9MM option last month.

Here are some more notes related to international basketball:

  • Jaylen Adams, the Most Valuable Player in Australia’s NBL last season, has signed with KK Crvena Zvezda in Serbia, according to Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link). Adams, who appeared in seven games with the Bucks during the 2020/21 season, attended a mini-camp with the Lakers last month.
  • Former NBA small forward Tyler Bey is receiving interest from Ironi Ness Ziona in Israel, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Bey held a two-way contract with the Rockets in training camp last year, but he was waived before the start of the season and wound up playing for Houston’s G League affiliate. A former star at Colorado, Bey played 18 games with the Mavericks in 2020/21.
  • Al Horford, Karl-Anthony Towns and Chris Duarte are the most prominent names on the Dominican Republic’s preliminary 25-man World Cup roster, according to Cancha Latina. The team has qualifying games next month against Panama and Venezuela. Horford has been a member of the national team since 2008, and Towns has represented the country since 2012.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, R. Williams, Horford, Mitchell

Danilo Gallinari‘s first exposure to the NBA came in the form of Larry Bird tapes that he watched while growing up in Italy, so it was an easy decision to join the Celtics in free agency, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. At age 33 and after 14 years in the league, Gallinari gets to live out his dream of playing for Bird’s former franchise.

“I think it’s something that is honestly gonna motivate me,” he said. “If I can do and achieve, team-wise, just a little bit of what he achieved in the past for the Celtics, it will be amazing.”

The Bulls would have given Gallinari more money, according to Weiss, but his affection for the Celtics prompted him to take their offer of $13.3MM over the next two seasons. Now that he’s officially in Boston, the forward wants to be part of bringing an 18th NBA championship to the city.

“You walk even in this facility, you look around and see what’s going on around the banners and the history and everything the Celtics were about, it was an easy choice,” Gallinari said.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Center Robert Williams isn’t showing any ill effects from playing in the postseason after undergoing meniscus surgery in March, a source tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. Williams dealt with frequent knee soreness and swelling, but he was still able to be on the court for 17 of Boston’s 24 games in its run to the NBA Finals. He hasn’t experienced any knee issues since then, according to Deveney’s source, and will resume training after a six-week rest period.
  • Al Horford is likely to see a reduction in playing time next season, Brian Robb of MassLive speculates in a mailbag column. He points out that Horford was fresher heading into this season because he was coming off a year in which he played just 28 games for Oklahoma City. The changes the Celtics have made so far this summer have created a deeper bench and provide more opportunity to rest Horford, particularly in back-to-backs.
  • The Celtics aren’t likely to get involved in Donovan Mitchell trade talks, Robb adds in a separate story, citing league sources, but he notes that there are other ways for Boston to benefit. Robb points to Jarred Vanderbilt as a low-cost option that the Jazz might make available.

Celtics Notes: Bryant, Trade Exception, Tax, Horford, Davison

The Celtics had an open offer out to Thomas Bryant to fill the backup center spot in the rotation, team sources tell Jared Weiss of The Athletic, but Bryant opted to join the Lakers on a one-year, minimum-salary deal because he has a chance to become the starting center. Other teams that were interested in Bryant’s services included the Raptors, Bucks and Jazz, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, who reported that Bryant was signing with Los Angeles.

Weiss writes that Bryant was taking a wait-and-see approach to how the Kevin Durant situation might play out in case another opportunity arose, but he decided to accept the Lakers’ offer before it disappeared. As Weiss relays, with Bryant off the board and the free agent center options either aging or relatively unproven, it remains to be seen which player Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens might find to fill the backup role.

Here are a few more notes from Weiss about Boston’s plans for the rest of the roster:

  • The Celtics are still considering ways to use the $17,142,857 traded player exception (created by the Evan Fournier sign-and-trade to New York last summer) that expires on July 18, as our tracker shows. However, Weiss reports that the team is unlikely to use it on a high-salary player due to luxury tax concerns. According to Danny Leroux of The Athletic, Boston is $20.2MM over the tax line with 12 players on the standard roster, which amounts to a $45.8MM tax bill. If the team used the full $17.1MM trade exception, that bill would nearly triple, per The Athletic.
  • The backup center spot will be important for next season because the Celtics plan to limit Al Horford‘s minutes in the regular season, including sitting out “most” back-to-backs, team sources tell Weiss. Horford turned 36 last month and appeared in 92 games last season (regular season and postseason combined), so ensuring that he’s as spry as he was in the playoffs in 2021/22 is certainly a logical move for a team that hopes to compete for a title again next season.
  • JD Davison, whom the Celtics selected 53rd in the draft a couple of weeks ago, will sign a two-way deal with Boston, but sources tell Weiss that Davison will be given the opportunity to earn a standard roster spot over the coming months. Brodric Thomas, who was on a two-way contract with the Celtics last season and is currently a restricted free agent, will also be given a chance to win one of the final roster spots, according to Weiss.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Horford, Stoudamire

Coming off another poor shooting night, Jayson Tatum understands that he needs to improve for the Celtics to win the NBA title, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Tatum was 8-of-23 in the Game 4 loss and is shooting just 34% in the Finals.

“I give [the Warriors] credit,” he said. “They’re a great team. They’re playing well. They got a game plan, things like that. But it’s on me. I got to be better. I know I’m impacting the game in other ways, but I got to be more efficient, shoot the ball better, finish at the rim better. I take accountability for that.”

Tatum has been more effective as a passer than a shooter in the series, but Bontemps points out that he has 22 assists and four turnovers in Boston’s two wins, with nine assists and 10 turnovers in the two losses. Coach Ime Udoka believes Tatum is too focused on drawing fouls rather than trying to make his shots when there’s contact.

“At times he’s looking for fouls,” Udoka said. “They are a team that loads up in certain games. He’s finding the outlets. Shooting over two, three guys. That’s the balance of being aggressive and picking your spots and doing what he’s done in previous games, which is kicked it out and got wide-open looks. That’s the ongoing theme, so to speak. Him getting to the basket, being a scorer as well as a playmaker. They do a good job with their rotations. Sometimes hunting fouls instead of going to finish. I’ve seen that in a few games so far.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston has been mentioned in trade rumors involving numerous stars in recent years, but most of those deals fell through and the Celtics were forced to build through the draft rather than trying to form a super team, notes Sopan Deb of The New York Times. As a result, they have a young roster that looks like it can be a title contender for a long time.
  • At 36, Al Horford has adopted an elder statesman role and he’s excited to see his younger teammates succeed, per Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. “They’re different, they’ve grown, they’re much better,” Horford said. “This is kind of their team. This is kind of their time, you know? And I’m just happy to be a part of it now.”
  • Celtics assistant coach Damon Stoudamire wants the team to take inspiration from a tough loss he had with the Trail Blazers 22 years ago, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Portland led the Lakers by 13 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the conference finals, but the game slipped away and Stoudamire never reached the NBA Finals as a player. “This group will never get this moment back,” he said of the current Celtics team. “That’s the way I look at it. But if we win together, we’ll be entrenched together. Our group texts now as a staff, as a team, it’ll be the group texts forever. We’ll share moments as a family because we won together. That, to me, is what this is all about.”

Celtics Notes: Williams, Tatum, Brown, Horford

Celtics big man Robert Williams is battling a knee injury that has sidelined him for several playoff games and limited his effectiveness in others, but head coach Ime Udoka has maintained a desire to use Williams whenever possible, writes Jay King of The Athletic. As King outlines, the Celtics view Williams as a foundational piece and want him to be “adaptable” to a variety of matchups — the Warriors’ offense presents some unique challenges for him to figure out.

“It’s the NBA Finals and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do to win,” Udoka said. “But this is the core group going forward, and to have the confidence to be able to figure it out with him is going to be big going forward.”

In Wednesday’s Game 3, Williams was a difference-maker on defense in the second half, registering three steals and a block during one impressive two-minute stretch and helping the Celtics limit Golden State to just 11 fourth-quarter points. The big man said his knee injury is one that would normally require more time off, but the extra days off after Games 1 and 2 have helped him, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I’m just trying to be accountable for my team,” Williams said, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). “We made it this far. I had a discussion with myself about pushing through this, but I’m happy with how it’s going. We’ll worry about the injury at the end of the season. But for now, I’m still fighting.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • As they did repeatedly during the season’s second half and in the first three rounds of the playoffs, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown showed once again on Wednesday why the idea of breaking them up with a trade – a popular topic of speculation in the first half of 2021/22 – is one that shouldn’t come up again, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com.
  • Tatum said earlier this week that he’s not sure why the debate over whether or not he’s a true superstar has been such a common one over the last couple years, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays. “I’ve seen there’s a huge debate: Is he a superstar or is he not? I want to know where that came from,” Tatum said. “… It’s been a big deal this last year and a half or two years. I see it all the time. There’s always been a question in the back of my head, I wonder who spoke on my behalf or said that or why that was such a big deal.” The Celtics forward added that he’s more concerned about winning a title than determining his individual standing in the NBA: “If you win a championship, they can debate a lot of things. They can’t debate whether or not you’re a champion.”
  • In a separate story for ESPN, Bontemps takes an in-depth look at Al Horford‘s 15-year journey to his first NBA Finals and what the veteran big man means to the Celtics.

Atlantic Notes: Boeheim Brothers, Knicks, Horford, White, Kokoskov

The Knicks recently worked out a pair of brothers — Buddy Boeheim and Jimmy Boeheim — ahead of the NBA draft, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Boeheim brothers are the sons of Jim Boeheim, who’s served as head coach at Syracuse since 1976.

“They’re getting an opportunity,” Boeheim said of his sons. “They worked hard all their life. They’ll do workouts and see where they stand in the whole picture. It’s fun for them.

“We’ll see where they can go — anywhere from the NBA to G-League to overseas. Nobody knows. I told them: Just keep your head down, work hard, go through workouts and get on a summer league team and see what happens there.’’

Both Boeheims played for their father at Syracuse last season. Buddy averaged 19.2 points per game on 41% shooting last season, while Jimmy averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest. The Knicks own the No. 11 and No. 42 picks in the draft this year.

Here are some other notes from around the Atlantic:

  • Jayson Tatum praised veteran big man Al Horford for his leadership with the Celtics this season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. Horford is in his 15th NBA campaign. “Al is the best teammate ever, just a consummate professional,” Tatum said. Horford also made the NBA Finals for the first time in his career this year.
  • Celtics guard Derrick White briefly responded to Draymond Green‘s comments following Game 1, as relayed by Brian Robb of Masslive.com. Green pointed out that White, Marcus Smart and Horford combined to shoot 15-of-23 from deep in the game and seemed confident it wouldn’t happen again. “I mean, we knew what their game plan was going in, so it’s just up to us to make shots,” White said. “I mean, it is what it is. He said what he said. Just going into Game 2, just have the right mindset and whatever it takes to help us win games.” Green turned out to be right in Game 2, as White, Smart and Horford combined to shoot just 2-of-7 from deep.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post explores what Igor Kokoskov could bring to the Nets. Brooklyn is expected to hire Kokoskov, who holds a relationship with Steve Nash and recently coached with Dallas, as an assistant coach.