Danny Ainge

Atlantic Notes: Mudiay, Ntilikina, Bruno, Ainge

The Knicks were interested in both Emmanuel Mudiay and Elfrid Payton as minutes winded down to the trade deadline and the team ultimately decided to swing a deal for Mudiay. Both former lottery pick point guards have been disappointments but Mudiay may have been the more sensible target for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

While Mudiay and Payton both come with some downside, they are also both still young and possess talent. Berman quotes two executives who believe Mudiay — who is still under contract for one additional season beyond 2017/18 — is a better fit for the Knicks. The Knicks also gave up Doug McDermott, who was not in New York’s future plans, Berman notes.

In 42 games this season, Mudiay has averaged 8.5 PPG and 2.9 APG.

Check out other Knicks news below:

  • While adding another young point guard could be interpreted as the Knicks losing faith in Frank Ntilikina, he is not worried about the acquisition, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone writes. Ntilikina views the addition of Mudiay as a positive that will benefit both sides.  We’re not competing against each other,” Ntilikina said. “We’re going to bring each other to the top to make the Knicks a competitive team. We can both play with the ball, we can both play off the ball, so it might be great for us.”
  • The Raptors‘ trade of Bruno Caboclo to the Kings for Malachi Richardson may not be a major deal on a blockbuster deadline day but it has salary cap implications, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Trading Caboclo sheds nearly $1MM in salary, which gives Toronto flexibility to fill its 15th roster spot without going over the tax line.
  • Despite numerous rumors entering the deadline, the Celtics ultimately kept Marcus Smart. Greg Monroe‘s deal with Boston also became official and the chase for Eastern Conference supremacy continues. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe spoke to general manager Danny Ainge about the deadline, Smart staying in Boston, and the team’s future — including plans to explore the buyout market.

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Draft Picks, Zeller

Of all the moves that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has made at the helm of the Celtics organization, hiring head coach Brad Stevens could be his best, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes. When Stevens was hired, he had no prior NBA head coaching experience but Ainge said that his communication and work ethic made him a natural fit.

“You know, Brad was an outstanding move, yeah. He’s a joy to work with. I think that not only is he fun for me to work with, he’s fun for everybody to work with,” Ainge said to Bulpett. “I think he’s someone that respects every person in the organization, from the lowest-level people all the way up to Wyc and Pags (part-owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca). I think he has relationships with everybody in the entire organization. And that makes my job easier, because so much of my job is managing people, and when there’s conflict, it just makes my job harder. So having a guy like Brad around makes my job easier, and I can focus on more important things.”

The Celtics currently own the best record in the Eastern Conference at 30-10, three games ahead of the Cavaliers. While the roster has changed a lot since Stevens took over for Doc Rivers, Stevens’ ability to manage and guide the team to winning has not changed.

Check out other Celtics news below:

  • As the Nets win more games, the Celtics could not be happier as it reduces the chance that the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick — which was sent from Boston to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving trade — being first overall, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. It’s the last remnant of the lopsided 2013 trade that sent future Hall of Famers Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn for a series of first-round picks.
  • Former Celtics center and current Net Tyler Zeller recently spoke to Jared Weiss of Celtics Wire to discuss his three-year stint in Beantown. Zeller discussed how he accepted a constantly changing role in Boston as he went from playing 82 games (59 starts) in 2014/15 to an occasional reserve last year.

Celtics Rumors: Thomas, All-Star Game, Irving, Schedule

Celtics GM Danny Ainge is baffled by Isaiah Thomas recent criticism of the team’s former medical staff, he said in a weekly radio interview that was relayed by Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports. Thomas called out the Celtics in an ESPN interview, saying he would have sat out last postseason if he knew he’d have a long-term recovery from his hip injury. Speaking on 98.5 FM The Sports Hub, Ainge said he was blindsided by the comment. “As you remember, he had a pretty special playoff run, including a 53-point game, but I really don’t remember what he’s referring to,” Ainge said. The Celtics did not retain their trainer and strength coach but Ainge declared it had nothing to do with their handling of Thomas’ injury.

In other news regarding the Celtics:

  • The team hasn’t hosted an All-Star Game since 1964 but owner Wyc Grousbeck is hoping to change that, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe reports. The team has been reluctant to apply for hosting the annual event because of the way the league distributes tickets but Grousbeck is willing to accept its terms. “We can’t get all of our fans into the game, all of our season ticket-holders,” Grousbeck said. “We have a season ticket-holder wait list and relatively few of our season ticket-holders would be able to come to a game that we host. But nonetheless, we’re going to get a (application) package and see if we can work something out.” The earliest that could happen is 2022 because the league has already booked other venues prior to that year.
  • Coach Brad Stevens has managed Kyrie Irving‘s minutes and the star point guard is fine with that approach, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBCSports.com. Irving is averaging 32.2 MPG, compared to 35.1 MPG in his last season with the Cavaliers. “Whatever is needed, I’m willing to do for the team,” Irving told the assembled media. “And I know Brad will echo the same things, so I trust what he’s got going on.”
  • Fatigue is a factor in the Celtics’ inconsistent play of late, Chris Forsberg of ESPN notes. Boston has endured a front-loaded schedule  in which it plays half of its games in 79 days, Forsberg points out. The Celtics will play their final 41 games over a 97-day stretch.

Celtics Planned To Use Hayward As No. 2 Playmaker

The Celtics planned to run a Warriors-style offense this season prior to Gordon Hayward‘s serious leg injury on opening night, Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated reports. The coaching staff wanted to utilize Hayward as a second ballhandler with Kyrie Irving running the attack. Many of Boston’s sets centered around Irving and Hayward playing a two-man game in the mold of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson with the Boston duo making plays off weakside screens and pindowns, Jenkins continues. Forward Al Horford would have also had a playmaking role, much like the Warriors’ Draymond Green, spacing the floor and distributing the ball to cutters. Without Hayward, Irving has been relied upon more as a scorer and Horford’s playmaking duties have been expanded, Jenkins adds.

Other nuggets from the SI piece on Hayward include:

  • GM Danny Ainge sees a healthy Hayward as the missing piece to a championship team. “What do we need? A versatile 6’8” defender who can switch one through four, handle the ball, create offense for others and make shots,” Ainge told Jenkins. “That’s what we need. That’s Gordon Hayward.”
  • It’s not out of the question Hayward could return this season if the Celtics make a deep playoff run. Hayward is trying to be realistic about his situation, so that he doesn’t set himself up for disappointment. “Wishing to be on the court, trying to be on the court, those are the thoughts that kept me up at night,” he told Jenkins.
  • Hayward’s predicament led to deeper bond among his teammates. That helped the Celtics get off to a strong start without him. “I think Gordon’s injury made us closer,” guard Terry Rozier told Jenkins.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Ujiri, Porzingis

There’s no denying that the Nets were in a pickle when Sean Marks took over from Billy King as general manager of the franchise. In the time since, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes, the former Spurs‘ staffer has changed the culture of the franchise by consistently and patiently strategizing ways to improve.

Another transformative figure within the Nets organization is head coach Kenny Atkinson. O’Connor details Atkinson’s hands-on approach and willingness to get in the foxhole with his players.

The results speak for themselves. While the Nets don’t exactly strike fear in their opponents yet, they’ve managed to amass a solid cache of promising young players despite the previous regime having unloaded a bounty of picks in one of the worst trades in sports history.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ex-Celtics big man and current Heat forward Jordan Mickey gives his former boss the benefit of the doubt regarding his release from the team. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets that Mickey was surprised about being waived in the summer but that he trusts that Danny Ainge knows what he’s doing.
  • Give Masai Ujiri more credit for his work with the Raptors, Tom Ziller of SB Nation writes. The Raps’ president of basketball operations has turned a fledgling squad into a consistent playoff team and now a potential contender, all without bottoming out.
  • Desperate to build enough strength to avoid injuries, Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis has been working with famous personal trainer Carlon Colker, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes. The doctor and former MMA fighter has worked previously with Shaquille O’Neal and, uh, Justin Bieber.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Hollis-Jefferson, Ntilikina

The Celtics had a historically busy offseason, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes, involved in so many major transactions that it’s hard to pinpoint just one single deal to to summarize the commotion. In early July it was announced that the C’s had agreed to a deal with Gordon Hayward, the only thing they lacked was cap room.

Given that it was a known fact around the league that the Celtics would need to shed salary, Boston executives were swamped with calls from teams looking to facilitate their Hayward signing by helping the club clear space. The eventual deal that was agreed upon – the one that would send Avery Bradley – to the Pistons – was struck at the last minute.

News of the deal was initially kept quiet while the Celtics and Pistons set out to inform the respective players involved but Detroit managed to get in contact with Marcus Morris well before the C’s were able to reach out to Bradley. Bradley, it’s said, had to find out that he was traded through Google.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Entering his third season with the Nets, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has yielded praise from head coach Kenny Atkinson, Greg Joyce of the New York Post writes. “I’ve really been kind of thrilled with his performance and that’s from the first day of training camp,” Atkinson said. “He’s matured. I think he’s more level, even-keeled, I think he’s more consistent. It’ll be huge if he can continue that type of demeanor, that type of approach.
  • In response to comments that Isaiah Thomas would, possibly, never talk to Danny Ainge ever again, the Celtics‘ general manager said the guard would forever be a part of franchise history. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg posted a transcript of Ainge’s exact comments on Twitter.
  • The Knicks have been impressed with Frank Ntilikina‘s eye for Xs and Os, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. The guard apparently picked up on new plays that Jeff Hornacek added to the rotation while watching a preseason game from home as he nursed a knee injury.

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Thomas, Rozier, Pierce

Celtics president Danny Ainge says the decision to include Isaiah Thomas in a package to get Kyrie Irving from Cleveland was “the toughest call I ever had to make,” relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Thomas shared his thoughts on the deal in an article this week for The Players Tribune, which Ainge called a “fabulous job.” As a former player, Ainge said he empathizes with the feelings of being sent from one organization to another.

Ainge refused to explain his motivation for the deal, but explained that he is always trying to improve the team. “It’s in everybody’s best interest that I don’t share all the reasons [for the trade],” he said. “But the bottom line is obviously I felt like it was the right thing for our franchise to do. But it’s a deep and complicated process. It’s not as simple as people think it is. … It’s not easy for these office people that become great friends with the players. There’s a reality that I see and that’s what makes any sort of trade challenging. But it’s just part of the world that we live in, but it’s got to be done. You’ve got to do what’s best for the franchise. The franchise is bigger than all of us. Bigger than one individual.”

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Terry Rozier wasn’t worried about being traded over the offseason, he told Adam Kaufman of 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston. Entering his third season with the Celtics, Rozier is among the most tenured players on the team following this summer’s roster shakeup. He said he concentrates on producing on the court and leaves the personnel decisions to the front office. “The guys up top, their job is to get the team together and our job is to play,” Rozier said. “I’m pretty sure Danny and all our organization who make the decisions will have us ready, put us in the right spot.”
  • Paul Pierce is ready to end his feud with Ray Allen, according to Adam Reisinger of ESPN. Pierce posted a photo on social media of himself and Allen, who are both serving as coaches for a celebrity basketball game in Shanghai, with a caption that read, “Time to get the band back together.” Allen has been an outcast with many of his former teammates since leaving Boston to sign with the Heat in 2012.

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Stauskas, Nets, Celtics

A report earlier this week suggested that friction between the Knicks‘ young phenom Kristaps Porzingis and head coach Jeff Hornacek caused the Latvian to skip his exit meeting earlier this offseason. However, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports that issues between the player and coach were not the source of Porzingis’ issue with the team.

Porzingis was reportedly frustrated with the front office (particularly ex-president Phil Jackson) and the team’s treatment of Carmelo Anthony. Issues between Hornacek and Porzingis suggest that his problems with the team went beyond Jackson and company. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported in July that Porzingis and Hornacek’s relationship “sat on rocky terrain” for most last season, partly because of his loud and critical treatment of the Knicks’ former first-round pick.

“We try to get good relationships with all our guys, not just the star guys,” Hornacek said to Bondy about his relationships with players on the team. “We’re talking to these guys every day. We see them every day. We travel with them. As a group we’re trying to do more things as a team, kind of family-type stuff. We’ll try to grow on that, that way.”

For what it’s worth, the Knicks have insisted that the organization’s future rests on its young assets with the 22-year-old Porzingis at the forefront. With key changes to the front office and the roster, New York enters 2017/18 with cooled expectations but a clearer vision for the future.

Below you can read additional news around the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Okafor, London

While the plan has always been to bring rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina along slowly, the fact that the Knicks failed to land a notable veteran at the position this offseason gives the first-year player an opportunity to sneak into the starting lineup.

Of course [I want to start],” Ntilikina told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, before stressing that he’s a team player more concerned with simply improving over the course of his first campaign with the Knicks.

The Knicks added Ramon Sessions over the summer but while Sessions brings a source of veteran leadership, he hasn’t been a consistent starter previously in his 10-year career.

Regardless of where he ends up in the rotation, the Knicks’ eighth-overall pick acknowledges a need to work on his body and brace for the physical challenges of stepping into the NBA.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Although his name has frequently come up in trade rumors, Sixers big man Jahlil Okafor “couldn’t be happier” in Philadelphia. The center spoke with Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times about the idea of suiting up for another squad.
  • The Celtics aren’t about to plan their offseason around what the Cavaliers are doing. “We have our own problems and our own challenges and trying to put players together that can win and compete in the league today is very difficult,Danny Ainge said recently on the Dan Patrick Show (via CSN New England).
  • The Celtics and Sixers will take their talents to the United Kingdom this season, an NBA.com press release reveals. The two division rivals will square off in NBA London Games 2018 on January 11.

Ex-Cavs GM Suggests Celtics On Irving’s List

In an appearance on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Monday (h/t to CSNNE.com), former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin suggested that the Celtics are on Kyrie Irving’s short list of preferred destinations.

Griffin mentioned Brad Stevens and Gregg Popovich as “really good coaching situations” that Irving covets, as well as Irving’s desire to play with “Gordon Hayward in Boston” or “Kawhi Leonard in San Antonio.”

The Spurs had previously been reported as a team on Irving’s list, but this is the first the public is hearing about the Celtics as a desired destination for the disgruntled point guard. Aside from the Spurs, the Knicks, Heat, and Timberwolves were reported by Chris Haynes as Irving’s top choices for landing spots.

While the Celtics certainly have the assets to land Irving, with a trove of draft picks and Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and other desirable players, Danny Ainge has been reluctant to part with these assets in trades for Paul George and Jimmy Butler, which led to the pair being traded elsewhere for far less than the Celtics could have offered.

Furthermore, if the Celtics were to strike a deal for Irving, he and Isaiah Thomas would make for an awkward fit starting in the backcourt, and a particularly troublesome pairing for Boston on defense, with neither point guard known for his defensive prowess. Irving also has reportedly wanted to be the lead guy on his next team, but Thomas is – and would likely continue to be – the Celtics’ franchise player. More likely, in the improbable event that the teams make a trade involving Irving, Thomas would have to head the other way.