Celtics Rumors

Eastern Notes: Pistons, D. Green, Celtics, Sixers

An Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com believes the Pistons are a team to watch if Draymond Green doesn’t sign an extension with the Warriors before he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023. Green was born and raised in Saginaw, Michigan, attended Michigan State, and grew up rooting for the Pistons, who have long had interest in acquiring him, according to the executive.

“(Pistons owner Tom) Gores is a Michigan State guy, and they wanted to give Draymond an offer sheet when he was a free agent (in 2015), but by then, the Warriors were going to match any offer,” the executive told Heavy.com. “So they just have not had the chance. If they can show some improvement this year with their young guys, they could get themselves in the mix.”

The idea of Green playing a mentor role on a young Pistons team is an intriguing one, and the combination of his local connection, Detroit’s projected 2023 cap room, and the rising cost of the Warriors’ roster make it a possibility worth considering. But for now, this feels more like idle speculation by a rival executive than anything concrete.

If Green and the Warriors are far apart in contract talks and he seriously considers leaving in 2023, Detroit could certainly emerge as an option, but there’s no reason at this point to think that Golden State won’t make every effort to lock up one of the cornerstones of its recent dynasty.

Here are a few more notes from around the East:

  • In a separate story for Heavy.com, Sean Deveney spoke to a pair of assistant coaches about veterans the Celtics could theoretically target with one of their trade exceptions if they want to fortify their frontcourt. Alex Len, Tony Bradley, and Marquese Chriss are among the names mentioned, though I suspect the team may simply fill that spot on the depth chart with a minimum-salary signing.
  • Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com considers the best- and worst-case scenarios for newly-signed Sixers forward P.J. Tucker, noting that the veteran’s age (37) increases the risk of a decline in his performance.
  • Addressing recent rumors linking Kevin Durant to the Sixers, David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer says the team needs to answer two important questions: Do the 76ers have the assets necessary to acquire Durant? And if so, would it make sense to cash all of them in for the two-time Finals MVP?

And-Ones: Offseason, Tampering Rules, FA Signings

In a roundtable discussion, Howard Beck, Chris Mannix, Robin Lundberg, and Rohan Nadkarni discussed the best, worst, most surprising, and most intriguing moves of the 2022 NBA offseason, agreeing on some issues and sharing opposing views on others.

For instance, while Beck and Mannix both view the Rudy Gobert blockbuster as the best roster move of the summer, Beck makes the case that the Jazz‘s side of the deal was the offseason’s top move, while Mannix argues for the Timberwolves‘ side.

Beck, Lundberg, and Nadkarni, meanwhile, all named the Hawks‘ acquisition of Dejounte Murray as the summer’s most intriguing roster move, while Beck and Lundberg agree that Kevin Durant‘s trade request with four years left on his contract was the offseason’s worst move. From a basketball perspective, Durant would be best off staying in Brooklyn and playing for a Nets team that looks capable of contending for a title, Beck writes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA’s tampering rules aren’t exactly working as intended, but it’s unclear if there’s any obvious way to fix them, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “The threat of harsher penalties and random audits doesn’t even make teams flinch,” one source told Todd. “And at this point, if we investigated every possible instance of tampering, the whole league would come to a screeching halt and nothing would ever get done.” According to Todd, multiple front office executives that she spoke to expressed support for moving free agency ahead of the draft, among other changes to the current system.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic wrapped up his series on which teams improved the most and least this offseason by listing his picks from 20 to 11 and from 10 to one. The Sixers were Aldridge’s choice for the team that made the best roster upgrades, followed by the Hawks, Nuggets, Celtics, and Timberwolves.
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer shines a light on seven under-the-radar free agent agreements that he’s intrigued by, including the Heat‘s three-year deal with Caleb Martin, the Timberwolves‘ acquisition of Kyle Anderson, and the Pistons‘ investment in Marvin Bagley III.

Celtics' Robert Williams Off-Limits In Trade Talks

Sportsbook Pegs Celtics With Highest Win Total

  • The Celtics lead all teams in projected regular season wins at Caesars Sportsbook, as Doug Kezirian of ESPN relays. The Celtics’ win total over/under for the 2022/23 campaign is 54.5, followed closely by the Suns (53.5), Bucks (52.5), Warriors (52.5) and Clippers (51.5).

Kevin Durant Rumors: Ultimatum, Harrington, Nash, Sixers, Celtics

The ultimatum that Kevin Durant presented to Nets owner Joe Tsai – trade me or fire Sean Marks and Steve Nash – hasn’t had its intended effect so far, Brian Windhorst said during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday (video link).

Windhorst suggests that by presenting Tsai with such a “preposterous” alternative to trading him, Durant was hoping to “speed up the process,” since trade talks between the Nets and potential suitors had stagnated in recent weeks. However, the Nets appear to be digging in their heels, while Durant is running out of options.

“He has asked for a trade and it hasn’t been granted. He has asked for the coach and general manager to be fired and that hasn’t been granted,” Windhorst said. “And so now, how do you go forward and report to training camp when you’ve been told no? That’s now the coming drama with this situation.”

Given that multiple reports have indicated no team is willing to meet the Nets’ sky-high asking price for Durant, the 33-year-old’s goal may have been trying to force the team to lower that asking price to a point where a potential trade partner would meet it. But Windhorst points to Tsai’s statement supporting Marks and Nash as a sign the team isn’t willing to reduce its trade demands, at least for now.

“Obviously, the first sentence – where he’s saying he’s not firing his coach and GM – is important,” Windhorst said. “The second sentence was a message to Durant and the whole league, which is, ‘We’re going to do what’s best for the Brooklyn Nets.’

“That is code for, “We’re not going to make a trade just to satisfy this player, no matter how good he is and no matter how much pressure he’s going to put on us. We have all the cards, we have a four-year contract.’ And so I suspect that that will be their position come the start of training camp, and that could lead to Durant not showing up.”

Here’s more on Durant:

  • A source tells Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of The New York Post that the Nets’ decision to fire director of player development Adam Harrington this spring without consulting Durant is one source of tension between the player and the team. “There are simple things that erode a relationship,” the source told The Post. “You fired someone he was close to and didn’t have a conversation about it.” The same source suggested that Durant wants Marks to be fired because the star forward feels as if the GM “traded away too many pieces.”
  • Both The New York Post and Ian Begley of SNY.tv pushed back against the idea that Durant was the one who urged the Nets to hire Nash as its head coach in 2020. Sources told Lewis and Kosman that Marks was the driving force behind that hiring, and Begley has heard the same thing.
  • According to Begley, there are some “high-ranking” members of the Sixers who have been interested in engaging the Nets in discussions about a Durant trade. A Philadelphia offer would likely have to include Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and draft assets. However, the 76ers’ ability to trade additional first-round picks is limited (they already owe two to Brooklyn), and Harris’ pricey multiyear contract limits his trade value, so it’s unlikely such a package would appeal to the Nets.
  • Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe hears from a source that the Nets “initially tried to pry” both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from the Celtics for Durant, which Boston obviously had no interest in. The C’s also rebuffed Brooklyn’s attempt to acquire Brown, Marcus Smart, and several first-round picks in exchange for Durant, Himmelsbach adds.
  • According to Begley, Durant would have interest in playing in Boston, but he’d like to play with Smart if he’s traded to the Celtics. Begley also cites people familiar with the situation who say Durant would view Philadelphia as a “desirable landing spot.”
  • Celtics president Brad Stevens and head coach Ime Udoka have kept Brown in the loop about the Durant trade conversations, and Brown seems to understand the situation, a league source tells Himmelsbach.

Tatum Feels Team Got Better With Additions

  • Jayson Tatum is brimming with confidence the Celtics will win the title next season, fortified by the additions of Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari, he told The Athletic’s Jared Weiss“I mean, what kind of teammate would I be if I said no?” he said. “We got this close, and we added two really good players. I think it makes us better.” Tatum is staying out of the way of other potential moves, including chatter regarding a Kevin Durant blockbuster. “(President of basketball operations Brad Stevens) lets me do my thing. I let him do his thing,” he said. “In all honesty, that’s his decision and that’s his job.”

Nets’ Durant Reportedly Reiterates Trade Request, Gives Tsai Ultimatum

In a face-to-face meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai in London on Saturday, star forward Kevin Durant reiterated his desire to be traded and gave Tsai an ultimatum, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, Durant told the Nets owner that he needs to choose between trading him or firing general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash. Durant said that he doesn’t have faith in the team’s direction, sources tell The Athletic.

Charania says his sources described Saturday’s meeting as “transparent and professional,” adding that the Nets have “direct knowledge of the reasons behind Durant’s request” and have reason to believe he’ll be resolute in his stance. People around the NBA have speculated about the possibility that the two-time Finals MVP won’t report to training camp if the Nets don’t make a deal within the next seven weeks, per Charania.

Sources tell The Athletic that Brooklyn has spoken to nearly every team in the NBA about a possible Durant trade, but no club has met the Nets’ “sky-high” asking price. According to Charania, the Celtics, Heat, and Raptors are widely viewed as the most legitimate suitors for the 33-year-old, who is entering the first season of a four-year, maximum-salary extension.

Charania cites sources who say that Tsai and the Nets have “made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant.” However, it’s hard to see how the team has the leverage to make that sort of deal, given these latest developments in the summer saga.

Of course, Marks and Nash held their current positions when Durant signed that four-year extension a year ago, and the star forward was believed to have played a role in Nash’s hiring in the first place, back in 2020. It’s unclear why Durant has soured to such a significant extent on Brooklyn’s leadership group.

It’s possible Durant’s dissatisfaction is related, at least in part, to the team’s handling of his good friend Kyrie Irving. The Nets refused to allow Irving to be a part-time player during the first half of last season when vaccine requirements prohibited him from playing home games. The club then opted against offering Kyrie a lucrative long-term extension this offseason.

While recent reports have indicated that Irving plans to be a Net to start the 2022/23 season, there’s a belief that Brooklyn will seriously consider trading him if and when the team finds a Durant deal it likes.

Atlantic Notes: Maxey, Rivers, Raptors, Celtics

Tyrese Maxey believes the Sixers‘ offseason additions will turn them into a legitimate title contender, writes Isabella DiAmore of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Veteran forward P.J. Tucker is among the league’s toughest defenders and was part of a championship team in Milwaukee. Danuel House offers similar skills, while De’Anthony Melton brings depth and versatility to the backcourt.

“I think they’ll definitely help us with mental toughness,” Maxey said. “I think they’ll also help with just the physical toughness. The grit and the grind that we need to bring to our team and also, I think guys like P.J., he’s gonna bring the championship mentality. I think we’re really going to appreciate him for that. Training camp and an entire season together is going to be nothing but good things.”

Philadelphia’s prospects will depend heavily on Maxey, who made a huge jump during his second NBA season, averaging 17.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 75 games. The 21-year-old guard has set his sights even higher for 2022/23. 

“I think other people tell me they have confidence in myself that just builds my confidence,” Maxey said. “My confidence comes from just being in the gym, working out every single day, watching film, and then having success on the court, so for (president of basketball operations Daryl) Morey to have confidence in me, and my teammates, as well as the organization, it just makes me want to go out there and give them my all.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Appearing this week on the Vince Carter Show podcast, Sixers coach Doc Rivers said tampering allegations against the team are “not true.” (Hat tip to James Foglio of Basketball Insiders). The NBA is investigating the Sixers for “early contact” with Tucker, as rival teams believed he was certain to sign with Philadelphia before free agency officially opened. The team was able to create cap space to give Tucker a three-year, $33MM contract because James Harden was willing to opt out of his deal and re-sign for less than the max. “Honestly, when James did this and said this … first of all, we didn’t know what we were going to do with the money we were getting,” Rivers said. “And listen, James won, too, because James could’ve opted into a one-year deal. Instead, we gave him (two) years. And so both parties won in a lot of ways.”
  • Sportsbet has listed the Raptors as the highest-valued sports franchise in Canada, relays Denette Wilford of The Toronto Sun. The nation’s only NBA team is reportedly worth $2.2 billion, a number that has grown by more than 400% over the past decade.
  • In case you missed it, Celtics star Jayson Tatum talks about his successful partnership with Jaylen Brown, and Grant Williams speculates on how it would feel to be included in a Kevin Durant trade.

NBA Schedule Not Expected For At Least Another Week

Everyone eagerly anticipating the release of the schedule for the 2022/23 season will have to wait a little longer, according to NBA insider Marc Stein (Twitter link). Sources tell Stein that the schedule isn’t expected to be revealed until after next week, which puts the date sometime in mid-August.

The league typically releases its schedule during the second week of August, although that has been affected over the past two years by shortened offseasons caused by the pandemic. Last year’s schedule was announced on August 20.

Possible trades involving Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Donovan Mitchell may be slowing the process this summer as the schedule makers wait to see if any of those situations get resolved before locking in prime TV dates.

A few things are known about the upcoming season, including league-wide media days on September 26, followed by the start of training camps a day later. The Pistons and Bulls will travel to France for the January 19 NBA Paris Game, according to the league’s website, and All-Star Weekend is set for February 17-19 in Salt Lake City.

The preseason schedule is virtually set and will begin with the defending champion Warriors facing the Wizards in Tokyo for a pair of games September 30 and October 2. The Raptors and Jazz will meet October 2 in Edmonton, the Bucks and Hawks will square off October 6 and 8 in Abu Dhabi, and the Raptors and Celtics will play Oct. 15 in Montreal.

Based on past schedules, the 2022/23 regular season will likely tip off on October 18.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Brown, G. Williams, Durant

Jayson Tatum spent much of his career hearing from critics who said he and Jaylen Brown could never be an effective combination, but he tells NBC Sports Boston that he and Brown never had any doubts (video link). Responding to a question about how their legacy might look if they both spend their entire careers with the Celtics, Tatum said his focus is more immediate.

“We just try to stay in the moment,” he replied. “It’s not necessarily about our legacy will look like if we did this or that. Just trying to be the best versions of ourselves, the best players that we can be and compete at the highest level. I think we really took those next steps last season. We’ll be the first to tell you that we got more to do, more to accomplish. We’re eager to do so.”

There were frequent calls for Boston to break up its star duo last season before the team began rising up the Eastern Conference standings in January. More recently, Brown was reportedly included in the Celtics’ trade offer to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant, but Tatum would like to see their partnership continue.

“Despite all the people that said we couldn’t play together,” Tatum said, “we always believed that we could.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • In an interview with Justin Quinn of Celtics Wire, Tatum confirmed the shoulder injury he suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals has healed. “Yeah, it feels a lot better, it got a lot of time to rest that it needed,” Tatum said. “So, it definitely felt a lot better.”
  • Grant Williams tells Mike Thomas of Sportscasting.com that he prefers to stay in Boston, but there would be a certain honor in being part of a Durant trade. Williams recalls a story from former Celtics executive Danny Ainge about breaking the news to Al Jefferson that he had been sent to the Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett deal. “If I get involved in the KD trade — I don’t want to leave Boston, I love Boston, it’s one of the places I want to be — but he’s a top-10 player ever,” Williams said. “You can say, ‘Dang, I got traded for Kevin Durant. I was a value add in that trade.’ It’d be cool to say that, but at the same time, I don’t want to go anywhere. I’d rather stay where I’m at.”
  • The Celtics remain the betting favorite to land Durant, per Jeremy Cluff of The Arizona Republic. OddsChecker lists Boston as -175 to be Durant’s next team in updated odds released on Thursday.