Daniel Theis

Celtics’ Brad Stevens Talks Rotation, Injuries, Smart

The Celtics will enter the 2018/19 season widely viewed as the odds-on favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. However, during an appearance at the ABCD Hoop Dreams fundraiser on Tuesday, head coach Brad Stevens said he doesn’t want his players entering the season even taking for granted that they’ll be a playoff team, let alone a title contender.

“Nobody’s played a game yet; nobody’s lost a game yet,” Stevens said, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “We have to go back and earn all that.”

Besides addressing expectations for the Celtics in 2018/19, Stevens touched on a number of other topics of note, including the perception that Boston’s depth could work against the team by limiting playing time for veterans who believe they’ve earned more minutes. Here, via Blakely, are a few of the highlights from Stevens:

On concerns over whether there are enough minutes to go around:

“We have a really good locker room. It’s no secret to anybody that there’s 240 minutes in a game. (It’s) human nature of being disappointed if you’re taken out — that’s OK. But if we struggle with that, we won’t be pretty good. If we don’t (struggle with that), we have a chance to be pretty good.”

On whether he has a plan in mind for the Celtics’ rotation:

“I’m more focused on how we want to play and not necessarily how we’re going to rotate. Things can change, your rotation can change in a heartbeat. Bottom line is, we have an idea of who will play together and who best fits together. But we’ll see how it all shakes itself out.”

On Daniel Theis and the other injured Celtics:

“I’ve been told that everybody is gonna be ready to go. Daniel was in the gym this morning. He looks great. He has not been cleared for 5-on-5 play yet, but the anticipation is he will by the start of training camp, September 25.

“(Gordon Hayward) looks good. I saw him a couple weeks ago in San Diego. I went out there and watched him work out. He looked really good. … He’ll be cleared to (play) some 5-on-5 like very, very soon, anytime soon.”

On bringing back Marcus Smart after an extended restricted free agency:

“Marcus knows how we all feel. Restricted free agency is restricted free agency; there’s pluses and minuses to that. Obviously, we’re thrilled to have him back for a long time. … We went into free agency hoping that would be the case. And we all know what Marcus brings to the table. I keep going back and one of the moments where you have chills when you reflect back on a season was when he entered the game against Milwaukee and the first thing he did was dive on the floor. Everybody says they want it and want to do that type of stuff. He’s a guy that does it every day. We appreciate the way he competes. We love having him around. I’m glad he’s here for the long term.”

Celtics Notes: Theis, Bird, Irving, Schedule

Forward Daniel Theis is making steady progress in his recovery from a torn left meniscus injury and expects to be ready for training camp, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports.  The 6’9” German native was enjoying a solid rookie campaign before his season ended in mid-March. Theis has returned to the team’s training facility to continue his rehab and recently began doing full-court sprints.  “I’ve been back two weeks,” he told Blakely. “I’ve been doing new stuff every day.” Theis was a rotation player last season, appearing in 63 games, including three starts. He averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 14.8 MPG. He’ll have to fight for minutes next season with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum established as starters and Marcus Morris, Semi Ojeleye, Guerschon Yabusele and rookie Robert Williams also on the 15-man roster.

In other developments involving the Celtics:

  • Swingman Jabari Bird considers his first opportunity to play last season as a turning point in his career, as he explained to Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com. Bird got his number called in the second half with the team trailing by eight against the Sixers. Boston rallied for its first win of the season. “Getting drafted is one thing. That’s an honor. Playing Summer League and having some good games, that’s one thing,” he said. “But when you do it in an NBA game, regular season, road game, hostile environment, it just felt like I really belong at this level. Moving forward, I just knew: I’m here for a reason.” Bird parlayed his two-way deal last season into a standard two-year contract this summer with the first season guaranteed.
  • Kyrie Irving is expected to opt out of his contract next summer and become a free agent but coach Brad Stevens has no plans to discuss the situation with his point guard, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports reports. Stevens told Mannix that the atmosphere around the franchise speaks for itself. “I’m not going to talk to him about it at all,” Stevens said. “One of the things I want to do is give everything I can to all these guys while they’re here. Hopefully, the people that are here recognize that it’s a really good environment with a high upside for a long time.”
  • In his latest post, Blakely offers a month-by-month breakdown of the Celtics’ just-released regular-season schedule.

Daniel Theis, Wayne Selden Get Salary Guarantees

When center Daniel Theis signed a two-year contract with the Celtics last summer, the second year of that deal was non-guaranteed. However, Theis would be assured of his full 2018/19 salary guarantee if he remainder under contract through July 10.

According to multiple reports, including one from Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), the C’s had no intention of waiving Theis by Tuesday. As such, his $1,378,242 salary for next season is now guaranteed.

It was an easy decision for Boston after Theis enjoyed a solid rookie year as a regular part of the team’s rotation. In 63 games (14.9 MPG), the German big man averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG, providing crucial depth in the Celtics’ frontcourt. His season came to an early end in March when he underwent surgery to repair his left knee lateral meniscus, but he should be ready to go for training camp.

Meanwhile, another player – Grizzlies shooting guard Wayne Selden – also had a July 10 guarantee deadline on his salary for 2018/19. However, Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com recently indicated (via Twitter) that Memphis elected to guarantee Selden’s full $1,544,951 salary prior to the start of Summer League.

Theis and Selden will both be eligible for restricted free agency in the summer of 2019.

Atlantic Notes: DeRozan, Lowry, Nets, Theis, Burroughs

DeMar DeRozan was named to the All-NBA team on Thursday, joining Vince Carter as the only Raptors players in history to make several All-NBA teams. While it’s a special honor for DeRozan, it does not mean he is a lock to return to Toronto next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes.

The Raptors began an overhaul after another early postseason exit, firing head coach Dwane Casey. Wolstat writes that Casey’s dismissal may not be the only significant move the team makes, but there is a strong chance that DeRozan remains. Sources tell Wolstat that the team will “explore all options.”

DeRozan earned All-NBA honors for good reason, as he enjoyed arguably his best season to date. He averaged 23.0 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go with a career-best 5.2 APG and 3.9 RPG in 80 games. The one-two punch of  Kyle Lowry and DeRozan has led Toronto to several successful regular seasons — including the best record in the Eastern Conference this season — but after repeated early playoff exits, general manager Masai Ujiri will look everywhere to improve.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Speaking of Lowry, the Raptors point guard missed out on several “unlikely” incentives in his contract by not making an All-NBA team, Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic details. Lowry could have maxed out his incentives at $2.17MM but will instead pocket just $200K in bonuses.
  • The Nets will have several choices to make when it comes to the roster for next season as several players are headed for either restricted or unrestricted free agency. Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) breaks down the Nets’ pending free agents and their individual likelihood of returning to Brooklyn.
  • Daniel Theis joined the Celtics roster hoping to be a valuable contributor to a potential championship winning team. Unfortunately, a torn left meniscus ended his season early and he just recently joined the Celtics as a spectator on the bench. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe detailed Theis’ recovery and the progress he has made. Theis hopes to join the German team for the FIBA World Cup before joining the Celtics for training camp next season.  “It’s a good preparation for me, too,” Theis said. “I think I can start basketball like full contact in August. Then if I can play high level in, like, September it’s good for me, it’s good for the team to see how I’m progressing in terms of training camp in September.”
  • Eugene Burroughs won’t return to the sidelines to coach the Sixers‘ G League affiliate next season, sources tell Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days. In two seasons as a head coach, Burroughs compiled a 42–58 record.

Co-Owner Wyc Grousbeck Confident About Celtics’ Future

Celtics co-owner, managing partner, and CEO Wyc Grousbeck appeared today on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston before tonight’s Game 2 between the Celtics and Cavaliers to discuss a bevy of topics, as relayed by Adam Kaufman of WBZ-AM NewsRadio 1030 (click here for links).

Perhaps most interestingly, Grousbeck uncovered the fact that the Cavs were interested in obtaining/would have accepted Jayson Tatum instead of the Nets’ upcoming pick in the 2018 NBA Draft in last summer’s blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. Ultimately, the Celtics preferred to send the pick instead of their prized rookie, which sure appears to have been the right decision as we sit here today.

Faced with the upcoming free agency of Marcus Smart this summer and the potential free agency of Irving, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier next summer, Grousbeck was also asked to discuss the Celtics’ willingness to dip into the luxury tax if necessary. Per Kaufman, Grousbeck said the Celtics are prepared to “pay for performance” and “to do whatever it takes to win again.”

As for Irving’s knee injury that has kept him out of this year’s postseason, Grousbeck said that he has no long-term concerns about Irving’s knee, which parallels the report from about a month ago that Irving was already seen walking around without a noticeable limp just a little over a week after his surgery.

Given Irving’s positive prognosis, the relative youth of the Celtics’ roster and head coach, and the prowess the team has exhibited so far this postseason without Irving, Gordon Hayward, or Daniel Theis, it’s no surprise that Grousbeck feels very confident about his team’s future, even going as far as to say he’d be disappointed if the Celtics aren’t back in the same position they’re in now for the next five years.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Horford, Theis, Hayward

Jaylen Brown missed the second half of Saturday’s close-out game against the Bucks because of a Grade 1 right hamstring strain, but he’s optimistic he’ll be ready for the start of the next series, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Brown will have an MRI today to learn the full extent of the damage.

“Massage, rest, ice, all of the above,” he said in describing his treatment plan. “I hate taking pills. Like, I probably haven’t taken a pill in over 10 years. But they’ve got me taking anti-inflammatories and stuff like that. So just whatever it takes. Because I wouldn’t miss this next series for the world.”

Coach Brad Stevens said Brown probably could have returned to the game if needed, but he decided to be cautious, especially as the Celtics pulled away in the second half. Brown ran some test sprints and rode an exercise bike at courtside before taking a seat on the bench for the fourth quarter.

There’s more this morning from Boston:

  • With the two stars they added last summer both sidelined by injuries, the Celtics have turned to their top free agent addition from 2016, notes Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Al Horford helped finish off Milwaukee with 26 points, eight rebounds and three assists in Game 7 and seems to have won over a Boston fan base that was skeptical after he was given a $113MM contract over four years. “He’s such a pro with how he approaches his job,” said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “And he knew what Boston was about. He knew the history. We get so much out of Al. He’s been such a stabilizing force for our team.”
  • Rookie center Daniel Theis reached a milestone in his recovery this weekend when he was cleared to walk without crutches for the first time since surgery, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Theis, who had his left knee lateral meniscus repaired in mid-March, probably won’t be cleared to start playing again until July, according to Stevens.
  • Gordon Hayward continues to do rehab in Indiana as he works his way back from a fractured ankle, Blakely tweets. Hayward was at Saturday’s game, but doesn’t expect to travel with the team in the next round.

Injury Updates: Thomas, Ball, Irving, Curry

Isaiah Thomas is declaring his right hip to be “fixed” after season-ending surgery, relays Bill Oram of The Orange County Register. Thomas played just 17 games for the Lakers before opting for the March 28 procedure to address lingering problems in the hip. He talked to reporters at Friday’s game and proclaimed his time with in L.A. to be successful.

“I came in here with … nothing on my agenda and nothing in my plans,” Thomas said. “I just wanted to play basketball and get that joy back and being on the Lakers brought that joy back from having a tough couple of months in Cleveland.”

Thomas added that the pain in his hip never went away, even as he sat out for seven months in an attempt to rehab the joint. He expressed confidence that the situation won’t affect his offers in free agency, believing that teams will understand he was trying to play through an injury.

There’s plenty of news tonight on the injury front:

  • The season may not be over for rookie guard Lonzo Ball, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Ball, who has missed the past five games with a left knee contusion, participated in some drills today and the Lakers have upgraded him to questionable for Sunday’s contest. Teammate Kyle Kuzma is also questionable after suffering a mild sprain to his left ankle Friday night.
  • The Celtics expect Kyrie Irving to be ready for training camp after having knee surgery today, according to Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Irving had two screws removed from his left knee and has a projected recovery time of four to five months. “The surgery went exactly as planned, and we expect Kyrie to be fully healthy for training camp in the fall,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a prepared statement.
  • Celtics center Daniel Theis, who had season-ending surgery on his left knee, said he hopes to be able to get off his crutches in two to three weeks, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.
  • Celtics forward Guerschon Yabusele will have an MRI on his knee after sitting out practice today, according to Tom Westerholm of MassLive“They don’t think it’s anything,” coach Brad Stevens said of team doctors, “but they’re going to get some imaging just to make sure.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr declined to offer an update on Stephen Curry before tonight’s game, tweets Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. The star guard will miss at least the first round of the playoffs with an MCL sprain. “There’s nothing there,” Kerr said. “[Check back] next week.”
  • The Nuggets are preparing to finish the season without guard Gary Harris, who is recovering from a knee injury, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post (Twitter link). “Right now, I’m not expecting Gary Harris back [in the regular season],” coach Michael Malone said before today’s game. “We have to continue to find ways to win games and compete at a high level with the players that are available, and Gary’s not on that list right now.”
  • The Bucks had hoped that Malcolm Brogdon could play tonight, but decided to hold him out for another game, writes Matt Velazquez of The Journal Sentinel. Brogdon hasn’t been available since since partially tearing his left quadriceps tendon more than two months ago. “Honestly there hasn’t been many setbacks,” Brogdon said. “I’ve had maybe two or three sore days in the whole rehab process and that’s not many at all. Very few setbacks. I’ve made progress, progress, taken big steps almost every day so it’s been a very smooth rehab so far.”

Daniel Theis Undergoes Season-Ending Surgery

MARCH 15: Theis underwent successful surgery to repair his left knee lateral meniscus, the Celtics announced in a press release on Thursday. He will miss the remainder of the 2017/18 season but is expected to be ready for training camp, per the release.

MARCH 12: The Celtics’ frontcourt depth will take a hit the rest of the way, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, who reports that Daniel Theis has suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee. Theis will undergo knee surgery and will miss the rest of the season, sources tell Charania.

Theis, who signed with the Celtics last summer as an international free agent, had turned into a reliable rotation piece in Boston. For the season, the German big man has averaged 5.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 63 games (14.9 MPG). However, it looks like he won’t take the court again for the 2017/18 Celtics.

With Theis sidelined, the C’s figure to lean a little more heavily on Aron Baynes and Greg Monroe behind starting center Al Horford. Theis also saw action at power forward, so his absence could mean a few extra minutes for Marcus Morris and/or Semi Ojeleye. Additionally, the club could play some smaller lineups with someone like Jayson Tatum at the four to lessen the load on the frontcourt, if necessary.

As for Theis, he likely hasn’t played his last game as a Celtic. The 25-year-old remains under contract for one more year, with a non-guaranteed salary of $1,378,242 for 2018/19. That’s a bargain price for a rotation player, so Theis’ roster spot for next season should be safe unless he’s included in an offseason trade.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Irving, Brown, Rozier, Theis

The Celtics continue to hold their breath as they wait for Marcus Smart to receive a second opinion on his right thumb injury. Postponed due to a snowstorm, Smart’s appointment to get his injury reassessed is now set for Thursday, per Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald.

As Murphy details, there’s a belief that Smart tore a ligament in his thumb — if it’s a full tear, surgery would likely be required, with the recovery potentially taking three or four months. If it’s only a partial tear, Smart may try to play through the injury. Appearing today on the Zolak & Bertrand radio show in Boston, head coach Brad Stevens downplayed the idea of a quick return for Smart, though he acknowledged there’s a variety of potential outcomes, as ESPN’s Chris Forsberg writes.

“He told me today that he’s going to take a couple of days, see what it feels like early next week, get all of the different doctors’ opinions [then] sit down early next week and weigh his options,” Stevens said. “There could be a slight chance that he’s back sooner rather than later, but I’d say that it’s not going to be any time too soon. And there’s a chance that he would not be back [this season].”

Given how much better the Celtics play defensively with Smart in the lineup, the diagnosis will be a critical one. As the club waits for more details on Smart’s thumb, let’s round up a few more C’s notes…

  • Joking that he might have to sign himself to a 10-day contract to help plug the holes in the Celtics’ lineup, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he thinks Kyrie Irving is “going to be fine,” writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, a league source tells Himmelsbach that it “doesn’t look good” for Smart.
  • Stevens said today that Irving underwent an MRI on his sore knee and “everything looked great” (Twitter link via Murphy). There’s even a chance he’ll play on Friday, according to the team (Twitter link). The club also announced today that Jaylen Brown is “clearly better,” but won’t travel with the C’s on this weekend’s road trip.
  • Ainge tells Himmelsbach that the slew of injuries to Celtics regulars will give the healthy players a chance to shine: “I’ve seen many times where players that were not thought very highly of get an opportunity and make a name for themselves. So over these next couple weeks, there will be some guys that have those opportunities. We’ve seen players throughout the years that have responded, so this is a chance for some of our players to step up and see how much they can contribute to winning.”
  • Terry Rozier is one of the Celtics who figures to play a starring role with Irving, Smart, and others on the shelf. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg takes an in-depth look at the man known as “Scary Terry.”
  • Daniel Theis is scheduled to have surgery on his torn meniscus on Thursday, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Stevens confirmed today that Theis will be out for the rest of the season, tweets Himmelsbach.

Atlantic Notes: Theis, Monroe, Nets, Sixers

Daniel Theis‘ season-ending knee injury will force the Celtics to make adjustments in their frontcourt, as Taylor Snow of Celtics.com details. While the C’s figure out how to replace Theis’ minutes, Brad Stevens says he expects the rookie to make a full recovery and eventually return “better than ever.”

“You really feel for him,” the Celtics’ head coach said of Theis. “He was a guy that came in knowing he could play, but maybe not even expecting to have the type of season he had. And he didn’t change that when we brought Greg (Monroe) in and mixed up minutes here and there. He just kept being who he is, and we’re going to miss him on the court.”

Speaking of Monroe, he’ll get a chance to take on a larger role and make good on his one-year deal with the Celtics now that Theis is out, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. “One of the reasons why we wanted to sign Greg was because you never know what can happen with your depth inside,” Stevens said.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic: