Celtics Rumors

Jaylen Brown Probably Won't Be Swayed By CBA Change

Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo has been suspended one game without pay for headbutting Celtics big man Blake Griffin, the league’s PR department tweets.

Jaylen Brown Earns $2MM+ In Bonus Money

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown earned more than $2MM in bonus money on Thursday when he played in his 65th game of the season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

As Marks explains, Brown’s contract with the Celtics includes a bonus of $518K for simply appearing in 65 regular season games. That was considered a likely incentive since he appeared in more than 65 contests last season. Brown’s deal also includes a $1.55MM bonus for making the All-Star team and playing in 65 games, Marks adds. That incentive was considered unlikely, since he wasn’t an All-Star a year ago.

Brown can earn an additional $1.1MM in incentives this spring based on certain individual honors and how far the Celtics advance in the postseason, Marks adds (via Twitter). Reporting from the time that Brown signed his contract suggests he’d have to earn an All-NBA spot and have the Celtics win at least one series to earn that bonus money.

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Pritchard, Embiid, Simmons

After having recently made some noncommittal remarks about his future in Boston, Celtics forward Jaylen Brown told reporters that he’s “thinking about clarifying some of the things that have been recently said,” according to Jay King of The Athletic. Asked what he wanted to clarify, however, Brown opted not to explain further.

“Right now the only thing I want to clarify is that the Celtics need to play better and win more games,” Brown said. “If I want to say something in the future about the kind of things that have been floating around I will. But in terms of right now, I like when people hear things from the horse’s mouth and you can see my reaction, my face and everything how I feel about what I’m saying. Sometimes those things can get lost in translation, you know? So if I feel the need to do so I will.”

Brown would be eligible to sign a contract extension anytime during the 2023/24 league year, starting in July. However, because he’s earning well below his maximum salary and would be limited to a 20% raise in the first year of a veteran extension, the Celtics wouldn’t be able to offer him a maximum-salary deal until free agency.

That would change if Brown earns a spot on an All-NBA team this spring, in which case he’d become eligible for a super-max contract extension (worth 35% of the 2024/25 cap) entering the final year of his current deal.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics guard Payton Pritchard returned to action on Tuesday following a nine-game absence due to a left heel injury. According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link), Pritchard said he had plantar fasciitis and a bone bruise in the heel.
  • In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Sixers center Joel Embiid discussed his health, the MVP race, and why he won’t necessarily take a “title-or-bust” mentality into this year’s postseason. “People have been talking about who has the most pressure to win. People want to mention me,” Embiid said. “I’m not at the top of that list. I’m not a two-time MVP, I’ve never made first team All-NBA, I’ve never won anything. So why is there pressure on me to do something when there are guys that have won two MVPs, a bunch of MVPs and haven’t done anything either?”
  • Speaking to Ian Begley of SNY.tv and Andrew Crane and Brian Lewis of The New York Post, Ben Simmons‘ new agent Bernie Lee said that Simmons’ back issues are part of the recovery process from the microdiscectomy he underwent last May, adding that the Nets guard/forward won’t require additional surgery and is on track to be ready for training camp in the fall. “Ben is a 26 year-old-guy who is just starting his career and clearly there have been some challenges recently,” Lee told Begley. “But like every truly great person I’ve observed, Ben is motivated internally to continue to develop himself and his talent and test his ability and, most importantly, compete. He simply needs to gain the opportunity to be healthy which we believe we’ve found.”

Brandon Ingram, Jaylen Brown Named Players Of The Week

Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram and Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced on Monday (Twitter link).

In three games last week, all victories, Ingram averaged 32.3 points, 10.0 assists and 6.3 rebounds on a stellar .525/.462/1.000 shooting line. It looked for a while like New Orleans was in serious danger of falling out of the playoff race, but the team is now 37-37, the No. 8 seed in the West.

Brown, the East’s winner, averaged 31.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists on a similarly excellent .559/.391/.714 shooting line. Boston blew out the Kings, Pacers and Spurs last week to go 3-0. The Celtics have the second-best record in the league at 52-23, trailing the top-seeded Bucks by 1.5 games.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jaren Jackson Jr., Nikola Jokic and Naz Reid, while Zach LaVine, Tyrese Maxey, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Franz Wagner were nominated in the East.

Atlantic Notes: Johnson, Tatum, Brown, Pritchard, Harris

New Nets forward Cameron Johnson is convinced Brooklyn has enough quality players to make some noise in the postseason, per Jared Schwartz of The New York Post.

“Obviously, combining a couple players, there’s some things we have to iron out,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “But I think the core of what we have, and what we’re trying to do, I think it’s pretty special. We’ve got guys that compete, guys that play hard and you’re gonna start seeing us build this thing together.”

Across his 18 games with his new team, Johnson is averaging 16.2 PPG on .438/.358/.824 shooting. He’s also chipping in 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.4 SPG.

The Nets have gone 8-12 since trading All-Star forward Kevin Durant, and have slid to the East’s sixth seed with a 40-34 record.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Asked this week about the conversation he had last summer with teammate Jaylen Brown while rumors circulated that Brown could be involved in a trade for Durant, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum explained what he said during that phone call. “Just re-sharing the obvious that we need him and he’s a big part of this team and this franchise,” Tatum said, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Without him, we can’t reach our goal.”
  • Celtics reserve point guard Payton Pritchard had his status upgraded to questionable to play ahead of today’s contest with the Spurs, Weiss tweets. A heel injury has kept Pritchard unavailable for the past three weeks’ worth of games.
  • Sixers power forward Tobias Harris has accepted that he is generally the fourth scoring option for a talented Philadelphia team, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s just staying patient in the flow of everything,” Harris said. “There’s going to be nights where the ball finds me more than others. There’s going to be nights where [it doesn’t]… Really, I just have to be OK with that, and just really do other things on the floor and do things that’s going to help the team win, and stay ready and stay patient.”

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Pritchard, R. Williams, Brown

Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is making 45.1% of his three-point attempts this season, which represents a career high and places him third in the NBA. Speaking to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Brogdon suggested that his strong shooting performance is a result of his complementary role, as well as having teammates like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to draw the attention of opposing defenses, which wasn’t the case in Indiana.

“I think I’m less run down,” Brogdon said. “When I was with the Pacers, I had to do a lot. I had to run the show, I had to guard the best player, I had to do a lot. Here, I don’t have to do that. I don’t have all the responsibility. I have a role to play and I specialize in that role.”

Brogdon’s numbers in both Milwaukee and Indiana suggest there may be something to his theory. During his three years as a Pacer, he had a 25.3% usage rate and knocked down a respectable 35.2% of his three-pointers. The last time he had a usage rate lower than this season’s 22.5% was with the Bucks in 2018/19, when he converted 42.6% of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Celtics guard Payton Pritchard, who has been out since March 6 due to a left heel injury, went through a live workout on Thursday and has a chance to return to action before the regular season ends, according to head coach Joe Mazzulla (Twitter links via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). Pritchard was upgraded from out to doubtful for Friday’s game vs. Indiana.
  • Boston held the No. 1 seed in the East for much of the season, but has slipped to second and is just a half-game ahead of the No. 3 Sixers. Still, guard Derrick White said the Celtics – who made last year’s NBA Finals as a No. 2 seed – aren’t too concerned about where they end up. “If we get the one seed, it’s cool,” White said, per Souichi Terada of MassLive.com. “If we don’t, it’s the same. We didn’t have it last year so we just want to keep playing the best basketball going into the playoffs, whether we are the No. 1, 2 or 3 (seed). It doesn’t matter.”
  • Robert Williams came off the bench in his return to action on Tuesday following an eight-game injury absence. While Williams may reclaim his starting spot once he gets up to speed, Mazzulla isn’t willing to commit to that plan quite yet, according to Terada. “It’s just going to depend on who we’re playing, who else is healthy and what the matchups are,” the head coach said. “So Grant (Williams) has started, Derrick has started and Rob has started. … So putting our team in a bind like, ‘This is our starting lineup,’ just doesn’t maximize our roster and the lineups that we can play. So we just have to see.”
  • In the wake of Jaylen Brown‘s noncommittal comments about his long-term future in Boston, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com spoke to some rival executives to get their thoughts on which teams might make sense as landing spots for the star wing if he doesn’t re-sign with the Celtics. Brown’s current contract runs through 2024.

Injury Notes: Embiid, Wizards, Raptors, Simmons, Gallinari

Sixers All-NBA center Joel Embiid sat out the second half of Philadelphia’ 116-91 blowout victory over the Bulls Wednesday with mild right calf tightness, but he’s expected to suit up for the Sixers’ next game on Friday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

While the injury is considered minor, Rich Hoffman of The Athletic suggests it could impact how Philadelphia handles its final 10 games of the 2022/23 season. The Sixers’ other top scorer, point guard James Harden, sat out the win with a sore left Achilles.

Hoffman notes that Philadelphia is prioritizing postseason health over regular season wins down the home stretch, a strategy that could cost the team’s the East’s second seed and home court advantage in the second round of the playoffs should it match up with the Celtics.

“We’ve gone into the playoffs two years in a row with injuries,” head coach Doc Rivers said in a postgame presser. “We all know that you don’t win in the playoffs when your key guys aren’t healthy, period. So, we’re going to do whatever we can to be healthy.”

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the league:

  • Wizards power forward Kyle Kuzma and shooting guard Bradley Beal will both miss Washington’s game Friday against the lowly Spurs, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Kuzma is dealing with a sprained right ankle, while the oft-injured Beal is currently grappling with left knee soreness.
  • Deep-bench Nets big man Ben Simmons is currently only engaging in individual workouts and not yet working out with the team as he continues to rehabilitate his sore left knee, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). Head coach Jacque Vaughn was noncommittal when he was asked if the team would be able to ramp up Simmons before the end of the regular season.
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, big man Precious Achiuwa, and shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. did not practice on Thursday and are questionable Friday in a winnable game against the rebuilding Pistons, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Grange observes (Twitter link) that Barnes is exercising caution with his ailing left wrist. Achiuwa is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Trent has an elbow ailment.
  • When Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL six months ago, the injury was considered very likely to end his season. Though it remains a long shot, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston writes that the Celtics forward continues to keep the door ajar for a potential return for the postseason. “Playoffs, it’s still in my head,” Gallinari said. “A lot of steps that need to be done before you play an actual game. And even maybe after all those steps, you are not ready for a playoff game because when you don’t play the whole season and then be ready to play a playoff game is not easy for anybody, not just body-wise but mentally-wise. But like I said, it might happen. So we’ll see.”

Robert Williams Returns From Hamstring Injury

  • The Celtics were happy to welcome back Robert Williams in Tuesday’s win at Sacramento, per Souichi Terada of MassLive. Boston’s starting center was back on the court after missing the past eight games with a hamstring injury. “Obviously we’re a lot bigger when he’s out there,” Jayson Tatum said. “It just makes us much more dynamic, I felt like. His presence. Even if he’s not blocking shots, maybe he’s turning people away from attacking the basket. He’s grabbing rebounds. Giving us second or third opportunities. Obviously a lob threat.”

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown Noncommittal On Long-Term Plans

Celtics wing Jaylen Brown is under contract through the 2023/24 season, meaning he could reach unrestricted free agency in a little over 15 months. Asked by Logan Murdock of The Ringer if he wants to remain in Boston for the long time, Brown didn’t exactly commit one way or the other.

“I don’t know. As long as I’m needed. It’s not up to me,” Brown said. “We’ll see how they feel about me over time and I feel about them over time. Hopefully, whatever it is, it makes sense. But I will stay where I’m wanted. I will stay where I’m needed and treated correct.”

Brown would be eligible to sign a contract extension anytime during the 2023/24 league year, starting in July. However, because he’s earning well below his maximum salary and would be limited to a 20% raise in the first year of a veteran extension, the Celtics wouldn’t be able to offer him a maximum-salary deal until free agency.

That would change if Brown earns a spot on an All-NBA team this spring, in which case he’d become eligible for a super-max contract extension (worth 35% of the 2024/25 cap) entering the final year of his current deal.

Still, it doesn’t sound as if Brown is thinking too much about all of his potential contract options quite yet. As Murdock notes, the 26-year-old kept the focus on the present rather than the future when asked how long he wants to play with star teammate Jayson Tatum.

“I just enjoy the time that you have now,” Brown said. “If it’s your whole career, it’s your whole career. If it’s not, it’s not. Some of the greatest players of all time haven’t finished with their organization. Michael Jordan retired a Wizard. As much as we like it here and enjoy being here, you see where life takes you. You see how the process goes. All you do is really focus on what’s in front of you right now, to be honest.

“But I don’t really know or want to answer that question because that type of stuff makes Celtics fans speculate and go crazy. Especially right now, I’ll just say we’ll get there when we get there.”

Whether or not Brown qualifies for a super-max contract, the Celtics will have the ability to offer him more years and more money than any rival suitor when he signs his next contract. So they remain in the driver’s seat to retain him beyond his current deal — and there’s no reason at this point to believe that they won’t want to do just that.

As for Brown, his noncommittal stance may simply be a pragmatic choice rather than an indication that he’s lukewarm on a future in Boston. His former teammate Kyrie Irving once publicly declared his plans to re-sign with the Celtics, then had a change of heart by the time his free agency arrived nine months later. It will be at least a few more months before Brown can sign a new contract, so there’s no reason to lock himself into a single path yet.

The fact that Brown has been at the center of trade speculation multiple times during his years in Boston may also make him wary about publicly committing to the franchise without a new contract in hand. According to Murdock, while Brown received assurances from the organization following Kevin Durant‘s trade request that he wouldn’t be moved, that “nearly endless cycle” of trade rumors over the years “has left some scars.”

Celtics Notes: Williams, Slump, Adjustments

Celtics center Robert Williams will be active for Tuesday’s game against the Kings, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). Point guard Marcus Smart and big man Al Horford will also be able to suit up for Boston.

Williams has already missed 44 games this season with various maladies. Most recently, he has been sidelined for Boston’s last eight contests with a hamstring injury. The 6’9″ big man has averaged 8.4 PPG on 75% shooting for the Celtics this season. He’s also chipping in 8.6 RPG, 1.5 APG and 1.2 BPG.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Williams’ recent extended absence, along with the lackluster shooting of Celtics All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, are big factors behind the club’s recent performative decline, opines Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. That said, the team has also suffered some inexplicable defeats recently, staggering instead of striding toward the Eastern Conference playoffs.
  • The Celtics have dropped to the East’s No. 3 seed following an 8-7 run across their past 15 contests. Jared Weiss of The Athletic outlines the steps Boston can take to pivot from this recent skid and improve their play down the season’s home stretch.
  • As we previously discussed, the Celtics could be in line to receive a very valuable bonus second-round draft pick courtesy of the Trail Blazers or Rockets, thanks to stipulations from two separate trades.