Celtics Rumors

MRI Negative On Kemba Walker’s Sore Knee

An MRI on Kemba Walker‘s left knee came back negative, but the Celtics guard will sit out tonight’s game against the Suns, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Coach Brad Stevens provided reporters with a pre-game medical update, saying Walker’s knee is still “very sore.”

“Kemba got ahold of our doctors last night and said he had some knee soreness,” Stevens said. “Went and got an MRI today, didn’t show anything structurally wrong, but very sore … I don’t get the impression it’s a long-term thing.” (video link from Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston)

Walker experienced some pain in the knee during preseason, but has missed just four regular season games, three of which were because of the flu. He underwent operations on the knee in 2016 and 2017 after suffering a torn meniscus while he was with the Hornets.

Walker is coming off one of his best games of the season, scoring 40 points Thursday in a loss at Milwaukee. He is averaging 22.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in his first season with the Celtics and is a strong contender for his fourth straight All-Star appearance.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Rose, Wooten, Anderson

There are few players who are off the table in trade talks for the Knicks, as I recently wrote for SLAM Magazine. RJ Barrett, who injured his ankle earlier tonight, and Mitchell Robinson are both unlikely to be dealt. Everyone else on the roster seems available for the right price, including Marcus Morris, who returned from a five-game absence in the loss tonight.

As we wait to see which players from New York get traded before the deadline, let’s take a look around the Atlantic Division:

  • Should the Sixers trade for Derrick Rose? ESPN’s Tracy McGrady (video link) believes the point guard could be the right target for Philadelphia at this year’s trade deadline.
  • Kenny Wooten‘s two-way contract with the Knicks runs through two seasons, ESPN Bobby Mark tweets. Wooten’s deal is just one of seven like it in the NBA.
  • Javonte Green is getting a chance to live out his dream with the Celtics, as he tells NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg.“When I first got the offer from [Danny Ainge], it was a dream come true,” said Green. “I still don’t think it’s really hit me. But every day, a random day, I can just be going to the grocery store, and I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m really in the NBA.’”
  • Justin Anderson will re-join the Raptors‘ G League affiliate, per the team’s Twitter feed. Anderson was with the Raptors 905 before signing a 10-day deal with Brooklyn.

Robert Williams Won’t Return Before All-Star Break

Celtics center Robert Williams, who has been sidelined for about a month because of a bone edema in his left hip, will remain out of action until after the All-Star break, according to a tweet from the team.

Coach Brad Stevens explained that Williams is undergoing a three- to four-week “workup program” that began at the start of January. His condition will be re-evaluated once he completes that program, but Stevens doesn’t expect him back before the break, which stretches from February 13-20.

Williams has been limited to 19 games this season, averaging 3.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in about 14 minutes per night. He played 32 games last year as a rookie, but spent much of the season in the G League.

Checking In On 2020’s Protected First-Round Picks

We’re nearly at the halfway mark of the 2019/20 NBA regular season, with several teams having already played their 41st game. As such, it’s a good time to check in on the traded 2020 first-round picks that have protections on them to get a sense of whether or not those protections will be applied this year.

Of this year’s 30 first-round selections, 10 have been traded, and all 10 have some form of protection on them. In other words, the ’19/20 standings will dictate whether or not those first-rounders actually change hands in 2020.

Here’s our latest look at which of those picks are safe bets to move, which ones will likely be retained, and which ones are still up in the air:

Likely to change hands:

  • Bucks acquiring Pacers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Celtics acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-7 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Sixers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Thunder acquiring Nuggets‘ pick (top-10 protected)

It’s safe to say at this point that the Pacers (25-15), Bucks (35-6), Sixers (25-16), and Nuggets (27-12) aren’t missing the playoffs this season, which means their traded first-round picks, which range from lottery-protected to top-7 protected, will be on the move.

Currently, the Milwaukee and Denver picks project to fall near the end of the first round, while the Philadelphia and Indiana selections could end up in the late-teens or early-20s, as our Reverse Standings show.

Unlikely to change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘ pick (1-7, 15-30 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected)

The Warriors (9-32) keeping their first-round pick is the safest bet on the board. Not only will that first-rounder land within the top 20, but it appears likely to be a top-five selection. Brooklyn will see the value of that asset decline significantly when it’s officially protected this year, receiving a 2025 second-round pick in place of that first-rounder.

Meanwhile, the Jazz (27-12) would have to finish out of the playoffs for the Grizzlies to get their first-rounder this year. That was always unlikely to happen, even before Utah’s recent hot streak. The protections on that pick will roll over to 2021 and will be identical next year (1-7 and 15-30).

Still up in the air:

  • Celtics acquiring Grizzlies‘ pick (top-6 protected)
  • Hawks acquiring Nets‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Pelicans acquiring Cavaliers‘ pick (top-10 protected)
  • Sixers acquiring Thunder‘s pick (top-20 protected)

Usually by this point in the season, we have a reasonably clear idea of which draft picks will be protected, but these four first-rounders are still very much up in the air.

The Thunder (23-17) weren’t considered a probable playoff team entering the season, but they’re comfortably holding the seventh seed in the West for now and project to have the No. 18 pick. Another winning streak or two could move that pick outside the top 20, which would be good news for the Sixers. If the pick is protected this year and Oklahoma City keeps it, Philadelphia would instead receive second-rounders in 2022 and 2023.

Like OKC, the Grizzlies (18-22) are defying modest expectations and hold one of the final playoff spots in the West. If they keep playing like this, there’s no chance their pick will end up in the top six, so it would be sent to the Celtics. But if Memphis doesn’t make the playoffs, there’s always a chance the lottery could push that selection into the top four, where the Grizzlies would keep it. In that scenario, Memphis would owe Boston its unprotected 2021 first-round pick.

The Nets (18-20) are the eighth seed in the East for the time being, and would send their lottery-protected to Atlanta as long as they hang onto a playoff spot. The Hawks would be happy for the Nets to stay where they are, resulting in the No. 16 overall pick. If Brooklyn slips out of the playoff picture and hangs onto its protected first-rounder, Atlanta would almost certainly receive a less valuable pick in 2021 when Kevin Durant returns and makes the Nets a more dangerous team.

Finally, it may seem safe to assume that the Cavaliers (12-28) will keep their top-10 protected pick, but we’re not writing that in pen yet. Even though the Cavs currently have the NBA’s fourth-worst record, only 3.5 games separate them from the 15-24 Timberwolves, who are the league’s 11th-worst team. I expect Cleveland to continue losing as the team shops its veterans, but there are enough bad teams in the NBA that hanging onto their pick can’t quite be considered a lock.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/13/20

Here are Monday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Clippers assigned rookie center Mfiondu Kabengele to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team’s PR department tweets. Kabelgele, a late first-round pick, is averaging 16.7 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 2.0 BPG for the G League team in 15 starts.
  • The Grizzlies assigned forward Bruno Caboclo and Marko Guduric to the Memphis Hustle, the team’s PR department tweets. They will play in the Hustle’s game against the Santa Cruz Warriors on Monday. Caboclo has appeared in 22 games with the Grizzlies this season but only one this month. Guduric has appeared in 28 games but has only made two cameos since December 14.
  • The Celtics assigned rookie guard Carsen Edwards to the Maine Red Claws, the team tweets. The second-round pick has seen action in 27 NBA games.

Celtics Have Monitored Danilo Gallinari

Grizzlies' Pick Declining In Value; Fall Talks Road To NBA

  • A year ago, a surprisingly strong Kings’ season meant that the first-round draft pick they sent to the Celtics wasn’t as valuable as initially believed. That may happen to the C’s again in 2020 with the pick the Grizzlies owe them. Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston explores how Memphis’ recent hot streak has affected the value of that top-six-protected first-rounder.
  • In an interview with ESPN (video link), beloved Celtics rookie Tacko Fall spoke about his road to the NBA and how he has adjusted to fame.

Theis Playing Larger Role In Team's Success

  • Big man Daniel Theis has become an invaluable member of the Celtics rotation with key plays he’s made late in games, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston notes. Theis is essentially playing for his contract since his $5MM salary for the 2020/21 season is not guaranteed.

Celtics, Nuggets Among Teams Eyeing Bertans

While the Wizards have suggested both privately and publicly that they’re interested in retaining Davis Bertans beyond this season, that hasn’t stopped teams from showing interest in the veteran sharpshooter as next month’s trade deadline approaches.

According to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, the Celtics and Nuggets are among the teams that have emerged as possible suitors for Bertans. Hughes, who previously identified the Sixers, Lakers, and Hawks as teams to watch, suggests those clubs remain in the mix as well.

Bertans has been sidelined since December 21 with a quad injury and has been ruled out for Monday’s game against Boston, but appears to be nearing a return. Our Chris Crouse tweeted today that Bertans has a chance to be ready to play as soon as Wednesday in Orlando, while Hughes hears from a source that the 27-year-old should at least be back by the end of the weekend.

Assuming Bertans makes it back within the next week and picks up where he left off, the Wizards will face a tough choice at the February 6 deadline. Bertans, who is averaging 15.4 PPG with a .434 3PT%, has been one of the NBA’s most effective shooters and has shown some play-making ability too. He’s also on expiring contract.

The former Spur would be a hot commodity at the deadline and could net the rebuilding Wizards a strong asset or two. However, he may also make sense as a foundational long-term piece in Washington, assuming the team is willing to pay up for him this offseason. Hughes notes that many observers believe Bertans’ price tag will increase to $15MM+ annually this summer. He’s currently making $7MM.