Derrick White

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Mazzulla, Pritchard, Jackson, White

The Celtics continue to hope their coaching situation resolves itself with Ime Udoka landing another job, but a rival general manager tells Steve Bullpett of Heavy that may not be likely. Although Boston is expected to keep Joe Mazzulla in place beyond this season, he’s still technically the interim coach. Udoka’s suspension for an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate will expire June 30, and the team may have to negotiate a settlement to keep both Udoka and Mazzulla happy.

The problem appeared to be solved when Udoka emerged as the frontrunner for the Nets’ job after they parted ways with Steve Nash in November. But Brooklyn officials changed their minds about hiring Udoka, which the GM believes may reflect the opinion around the league.

“There’s still a lot of question about all that went on with him, but even just the fact that he didn’t fight the suspension says something,” the GM said. “From a team standpoint, it’s hard to bring him in right now. You’ve got women on your staff that could have a problem with it, and there’s the public. … Just the social media climate would bring a lot of criticism.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Payton Pritchard has sat out 14 games this season due to coach’s decision, but he has been delivering when called on, observes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Pritchard turned in solid performances this week while replacing Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, and he might see regular minutes during Brown’s expected absence. There have been trade rumors regarding Pritchard, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension during the offseason, but he’s been trying to ignore them and focus on playing. “Obviously I hear it, I see it,” he said. “I know what it is. But that’s not something I can focus on. I’ll let my agent handle that and (team president) Brad (Stevens). I’ll focus on basketball.”
  • The decision to keep Justin Jackson on the roster past last weekend’s salary guarantee date was made to provide insurance in case of a long-term injury to Brown or Jayson Tatum, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. The Celtics don’t have many other options at the wing, Robb adds, so it was safer to guarantee Jackson’s contract than to fill the opening through 10-day deals.
  • Derrick White was forced to leave Saturday’s game at Charlotte after spraining his neck midway through the first quarter, per Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Spurs Notes: Bassey, Bates-Diop, White, Murray, Primo

Last month, Charles Bassey was trying to keep his job with the Sixers, but he’s been given a much larger role since joining the Spurs, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. On October 13, Philadelphia waived the 22-year-old, who had fallen to fourth on the team’s center depth chart after the signing of Montrezl Harrell. Eleven days later, Bassey got a second chance with San Antonio on a two-way contract.

“He knows his role,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He rebounds, blocks shots, runs the floor, and he does it with a lot of energy.”

Bassey has more than doubled his playing time in his second NBA season, averaging 6.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per night. He only appeared in just 23 games as a rookie, but he’s still thankful for the opportunity he got from Sixers coach Doc Rivers.

“Me and Doc, we were good,” Bassey said. “Doc was one of the coaches I was excited to play for, but everything didn’t work out. Both these coaches (Rivers and Popovich) have coached great guys. Doc coached ‘KG’ (Kevin Garnett in Boston) and Pop has coached Tim Duncan. Philly gave me the opportunity to play in this league, and I am grateful to that organization. But playing for the Spurs right now is a dream come true.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Since joining the Spurs last season, Keita Bates-Diop has learned to be ready for anything, Orsborn adds in a separate story. That was useful Thursday night in Sacramento when he found out shortly before game time that he would be starting because Keldon Johnson was sidelined by ankle soreness. “I am always constantly ready when I hear a guy is maybe in, maybe out,” Bates-Diop said. “My mind is always ready regardless.”
  • Watching Derrick White and Dejounte Murray square off in Wednesday’s Celtics-Hawks game was a reminder that the Spurs have moved on from what appeared to be their backcourt of the future, notes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio traded White to Boston in February and dealt Murray to Atlanta in June, and the Spurs are now building around Johnson and Devin Vassell.
  • Although Dr. Hillary Cauthen has reportedly settled her lawsuit against the Spurs and Joshua Primo, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department is continuing its investigation of the case as it considers possible criminal charges, Orsborn tweets.

Jae Crowder Rumors: Hawks, Jazz, Celtics, Grizzlies

Rival teams are a little surprised by the way the Suns have handled the Jae Crowder situation, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who notes that keeping a player away from the team generally lowers his trade value. Crowder didn’t join the Suns for training camp this fall as the two sides attempt to find him a new NBA home.

“I thought the way Phoenix played the situation was strange,” a Western Conference executive told Fischer. “You’re not a super deep team. You’re a contender. Doesn’t it seem like there’s some other way to resolve this other than him sitting out and hurting your depth?”

An Eastern Conference exec who spoke to Fischer offered a similar assessment: “For Jae to hold out is pretty rare. It’s pretty extreme. It’s really interesting they didn’t just play hardball with him.”

A Shams Charania report earlier this week indicated that the Hawks are among the teams with interest in Crowder, and Fischer confirms that Phoenix and Atlanta have had conversations about the veteran forward throughout the offseason. The Hawks are believed to be one of Crowder’s preferred landing spots, along with the Heat, Fischer writes.

As for what the Hawks might be willing to give up for Crowder, that remains unclear. Front office personnel have speculated about the possibility of a Crowder/Landry Shamet package for Bogdan Bogdanovic, but one source told Fischer that Shamet isn’t part of the Suns’ discussions with the Hawks. Some league executives have wondered if Atlanta would give up De’Andre Hunter in a deal for Crowder, says Fischer, but there’s no indication the team is exploring that scenario.

As I suggested on Monday, a package of Justin Holiday and a young player such as Jalen Johnson could theoretically work from a salary-matching perspective. According to Fischer, it’s possible that structure would work if a third team were involved, allowing the Suns to acquire a different player on their wish list.

Here’s more on Crowder from Fischer:

  • The Suns have inquired about acquiring Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson in exchange for Crowder, sources tell Fischer. It’s unclear whether Phoenix would be willing to attach a draft asset to Crowder to land Clarkson. The rebuilding Jazz wouldn’t have much interest in Crowder as a player, so they’d need to be enticed to make a deal.
  • The Suns are believed to have interest in Celtics guard Derrick White, but Boston hasn’t entered the mix for Crowder so far, according to Fischer.
  • While the Grizzlies could theoretically build a package for Crowder around Danny Green‘s expiring contract, there are a couple roadblocks, as Fischer explains. The Suns don’t want to take on Green while he recovers from a torn ACL and are reluctant to send Crowder to a Western Conference rival unless the deal makes Phoenix significantly better. Sources tell Fischer that Memphis isn’t actively pursuing Crowder.

Celtics Notes: Griffin, Smart, Small Ball, Hauser

Blake Griffin, who officially signed with the Celtics on Monday, was pleasantly surprised by how the team greeted him upon his arrival, Darren Hartwell of Yahoo Sports relays.

“I’ve talked to pretty much everybody,” Griffin said. “I was talking to some guys (Sunday). … I’m actually very — not surprised, but the amount of maturity and welcomingness (that the Celtics’ players showed) … it’s a different atmosphere than I was sort of used to, in a good way. They were very welcoming: everybody, one through 15. Practice today was focused, very encouraging, helpful. I think you kind of take that for granted because it’s not always the case everywhere you go.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Marcus Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, hopes Boston is the only team he plays for, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “That’d be special, especially playing for a franchise that’s known for greatness,” Smart said. “So it’s something I’ve been thinking about and it’ll continue to be something I think about. It’s a great thing to think about. You see those banners when you walk into the Garden. You feel the history and the past. You feel the blood, sweat, and tears that the people in front of you left, and you want to be part of that.”
  • Though they looked a little sloppy at times, the Celtics had an eye-opening start to the preseason, routing the Hornets by 41 points. One of the interesting twists from interim coach Joe Mazzulla, as Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes, was a small-ball lineup he used in the second quarter with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at the power positions and guards Malcolm Brogdon, Smart and Derrick White rounding out the unit.
  • An informal poll conducted by Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston during Media Day revealed Sam Hauser as the player who could have the most surprising impact this season. Hauser, who re-signed with the club on a three-year deal, appeared in 26 games off the bench last season. “Sam, in open gym, didn’t seem like he ever misses,” White said. “He didn’t miss much last year. And so just getting that year under his belt, being more assertive, and more sure of himself.”

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Smart, Durant, White

New Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is comfortable with the idea of playing a sixth man role for his new team as Marcus Smart retains the starting point guard job. As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes, Brogdon is also confident that the two guards will complement one another well when they share the floor.

“I think we have different strengths,” Brogdon said. “He’s an All-Defensive player and Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s incredible in that facet, but I also think he contributes offensively. You’ve seen his game grow and seen him be able to knock down shots and create for his teammates.

“And we both can play on and off the ball. That’s the beauty of us. We’re smart, we have high IQs, and we’re unselfish, so I think it’s going to work well.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Although they were once viewed as a serious suitor for Kevin Durant, the Celtics never came “remotely close” to actually acquiring the former MVP, according to Himmelsbach, who heard from league sources that the Nets never pushed particularly hard to trade Durant.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic considers possible trade options the Celtics could explore with Danilo Gallinari expected to miss most or all of the 2022/23 season, suggesting that Derrick White could potentially become a trade chip if Brogdon is healthy and effective. However, Weiss notes that Gallinari was more of a luxury than a necessity, meaning the team won’t feel urgency to go out and acquire a replacement.
  • In his latest mailbag, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston discusses Sam Hauser‘s role, the battle for back-end roster spots, and expectations for Payton Pritchard, among other Celtics-related topics.

Celtics Emerge As Serious Kevin Durant Suitor

6:26am: The Celtics offered Brown, White, and a draft pick to the Nets in exchange for Durant, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that Brooklyn turned down that offer and countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart, multiple draft picks, and possibly one additional rotation player.

The Celtics aren’t currently inclined to include Smart along with multiple other picks or players, but they’re considering their next move in the negotiations, according to Charania, who suggests that Boston has emerged as a “serious” potential landing spot for Durant. No deal is imminent, but the C’s view Durant as a player who could be the missing piece as they pursue a title, Charania writes.

Charania also reports that the Suns “appear to be all but eliminated” from the Durant sweepstakes with Deandre Ayton back under contract and ineligible to be traded.


5:58am: The Celtics are among the teams engaged in discussions with the Nets about a possible Kevin Durant trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who hears that Boston has been in “regular contact” with Brooklyn.

It doesn’t appear the two sides have made any significant progress toward a deal, however, with Wojnarowski reporting that Boston isn’t any closer to acquiring Durant than a handful of his other suitors are. However, Woj says that the Celtics’ ability to include Jaylen Brown as a centerpiece in an offer makes the club “formidable in its pursuit.”

The Celtics view All-NBA forward Jayson Tatum as off-limits in any hypothetical Durant deal, per Wojnarowski. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, that leaves just seven contracts that Boston could trade without restrictions, led by Brown.

Wojnarowski suggests that a Celtics offer could theoretically include Brown and up to three first-round picks (2025, 2027, and 2029), as well as pick swaps in 2024 and 2026.

Because Brown is earning approximately $28.7MM in 2022/23 while Durant is making $44.1MM, the Celtics would have to include about $6.5MM in additional salary in order to meet the NBA’s salary-matching requirements.

Al Horford ($26.5MM), Marcus Smart ($17.2MM), Derrick White ($16.9MM), Robert Williams ($10.9MM), Grant Williams ($4.3MM), and Payton Pritchard ($2.2MM) are Boston’s other movable players, Marks notes. All are expected to be part of the team’s regular rotation in 2022/23.

While Durant hasn’t backed off his request to be traded out of Brooklyn, there’s a sense that the Nets also haven’t gained any real traction in any of their trade talks involving the former MVP, says Wojnarowski. The club continues to seek a return that includes “impactful” players, along with multiple unprotected first-round picks and swaps, sources tell ESPN.

The Raptors, Heat, and Suns are among the other teams believed to have interest in Durant, Wojnarowski writes. The 33-year-old has reportedly identified Miami and Phoenix of two of his preferred landing spots.

It’s unclear how Durant would feel about landing in Boston, but since he has four years remaining on his contract, a team trading for him wouldn’t have to worry about him leaving as a free agent in a year or two.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, R. Williams, Smart, White

Jayson Tatum hasn’t forgotten the feeling of being passed over by the Lakers in the 2017 draft — or that the Celtics almost didn’t take him either, according to Ramona Shelburne and Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN. Tatum, who has become the biggest star among that year’s draft class, grew up as a Lakers fan and still offers subtle tributes to Kobe Bryant. L.A. owned the No. 2 pick, but was focused on Lonzo Ball, ending Tatum’s hopes of wearing purple and gold.

“The Lakers were my favorite team, and Kobe was my favorite player,” Tatum said. “So it was crazy that the Lakers had the second pick and I was so close to a dream come true. But it was just like they didn’t want anything to do with me at the time.”

Tatum had a strong pre-draft workout for Boston, which owned the top pick. Danny Ainge, who ran the Celtics at the time, had planned to take Markelle Fultz, but Fultz shot poorly at his workout and didn’t seem fully healthy, so Ainge traded down and grabbed Tatum at No. 3.

“After my workout, I remember one of the [Boston] scouts came up to me and said, ‘That was a great workout. I’m excited for you. But we got the No. 1 pick, so we’re not going to pick you,'” Tatum recalled. “He still works for the Celtics now, so I f— with him all the time.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Robert Williams has earned a new level of respect by playing in pain throughout the postseason, per Jay King of The Athletic. Williams has come a long way since college, when there were questions surrounding his work ethic and maturity level. “Rob has made huge jumps,” teammate Jaylen Brown said. “Not just in his game, but just the mental game. Just being able to be consistent, being able to be solid, being able to be available. And a lot of that comes from confidence. A lot of that comes from self belief, inner belief.” Williams was listed as questionable for tonight’s Game 3, but he’ll be in the starting lineup, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • Marcus Smart tells Steve Bulpett of Heavy that the Celtics are stronger because of the trials they experienced during their 18-21 start. “We definitely made it hard on ourselves,” Smart said. “But, you know, we always hear the saying: if you want something great, it’s never gonna be easy to achieve it. So, you know, we take that full head-on as a team, we accept it and we ride with it.”
  • After being traded to Boston by the Spurs, Derrick White found a lot of similarities in the system run by Ime Udoka, who was a former assistant in San Antonio, but he said the Celtics place more emphasis on physicality, Grant Afseth writes for Sports Illustrated“In San Antonio, we had a lot of emphasis on not fouling,” White said. “To keep them [opponents] off the line. Obviously, they don’t want dumb fouls here, but I’m just trying to be more physical. Just little things like that.”

Atlantic Notes: Boeheim Brothers, Knicks, Horford, White, Kokoskov

The Knicks recently worked out a pair of brothers — Buddy Boeheim and Jimmy Boeheim — ahead of the NBA draft, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Boeheim brothers are the sons of Jim Boeheim, who’s served as head coach at Syracuse since 1976.

“They’re getting an opportunity,” Boeheim said of his sons. “They worked hard all their life. They’ll do workouts and see where they stand in the whole picture. It’s fun for them.

“We’ll see where they can go — anywhere from the NBA to G-League to overseas. Nobody knows. I told them: Just keep your head down, work hard, go through workouts and get on a summer league team and see what happens there.’’

Both Boeheims played for their father at Syracuse last season. Buddy averaged 19.2 points per game on 41% shooting last season, while Jimmy averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest. The Knicks own the No. 11 and No. 42 picks in the draft this year.

Here are some other notes from around the Atlantic:

  • Jayson Tatum praised veteran big man Al Horford for his leadership with the Celtics this season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. Horford is in his 15th NBA campaign. “Al is the best teammate ever, just a consummate professional,” Tatum said. Horford also made the NBA Finals for the first time in his career this year.
  • Celtics guard Derrick White briefly responded to Draymond Green‘s comments following Game 1, as relayed by Brian Robb of Masslive.com. Green pointed out that White, Marcus Smart and Horford combined to shoot 15-of-23 from deep in the game and seemed confident it wouldn’t happen again. “I mean, we knew what their game plan was going in, so it’s just up to us to make shots,” White said. “I mean, it is what it is. He said what he said. Just going into Game 2, just have the right mindset and whatever it takes to help us win games.” Green turned out to be right in Game 2, as White, Smart and Horford combined to shoot just 2-of-7 from deep.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post explores what Igor Kokoskov could bring to the Nets. Brooklyn is expected to hire Kokoskov, who holds a relationship with Steve Nash and recently coached with Dallas, as an assistant coach.

Atlantic Notes: White, Smart, Sixers, Anunoby, Raptors

Like longtime Celtics Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, former Spurs guard Derrick White was a member of the USA Basketball team that played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. As Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes, the training camp for that World Cup represented the first time that Smart met White, who is now playing a key role for Boston as the team seeks a championship.

“We knew that Derrick understood the game, the way he plays,” Smart said on Thursday, revisiting their first meeting. “Watching him play before we got to USA reminded myself a little bit of me. So, just instantly off the bat, I loved the way he played.”

While Team USA had a disappointing run at the 2019 World Cup, finishing in seventh place, White and Smart are having more success as Celtics teammates. Boston is now just three wins away from a title after White, acquired in a deadline deal in February, played a key role in Thursday’s Game 1 win with 21 points and five three-pointers.

“Every day he’s done something new to make you go, ‘That’s why he’s here,'” Smart said of his fellow guard.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Smart was no longer listed on the Celtics‘ injury report for Game 1 on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean his right ankle sprain has fully healed. The ankle is a pretty serious injury,” Smart said on Wednesday when asked about it (Twitter link via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). “I’m thankful to let alone play and still be walking. It hurt, but my mama always told me if you’re gonna play, you can’t make no excuses.”
  • Now that they know they’ll have the No. 23 pick in this year’s draft rather than sending it to Brooklyn, the Sixers can focus on what to do with that selection. Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice identifies five draft prospects who would make sense as potential targets if Philadelphia hangs onto the pick.
  • In a Twitter thread, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca explains why he believes the Raptors are extremely unlikely to trade OG Anunoby this summer, despite rumors that he could be available.
  • Gabe Brown (Michigan State), Marcus Bingham (Michigan State), Trent Frazier (Illinois), and JD Notae (Arkansas) are among the prospects who worked out for the Raptors earlier this week, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and Brandon Simberg of Busting Brackets (Twitter links).

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Williams, Diop, Nets, White

Celtics starters Marcus Smart and Robert Williams are listed as questionable for Game 6 on Friday, the team tweets. It’s the same injury designation they had for Game 5.

Smart wound up playing 24 minutes on Wednesday despite his right ankle sprain and Williams made it through 27 minutes on his sore left knee.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • DeSagana Diop is the new head coach of the G League’s Westchester Knicks, Marc Stein tweets. Diop was represented by Knicks president Leon Rose when Rose was a player agent. Diop has assistant coaching experience with the Jazz and, most recently, the Rockets.
  • It has been reported that the Nets will likely defer the first-rounder owed by the Sixers from this year to next summer. However, that doesn’t mean the Nets will hold onto it and draft a rookie next summer, according to Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney. They might instead use it to facilitate an in-season trade next season to address injuries or roster shortcomings.
  • The deadline deal that sent Derrick White from San Antonio to Boston has proven to be crucial to the Celtics in their postseason run, Brian Windhorst of ESPN notes. They have registered blowout wins in two of the three games Smart has missed during the playoffs and having White at their disposal was a key to those successes. The Spurs acquired Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, the Celtics’ 2022 first-round pick, and the conditional right to swap first-round picks with Boston in 2028 in exchange for White.