Gordon Hayward

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Smart, Walker, Ainge

Gordon Hayward is working harder than ever to get back to playing like an All-Star, Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison tells Jay King of The Athletic. Morrison is among the staff members working this summer with Hayward, who has spent most of the offseason in Boston rather than his home in San Diego.

After signing with the Celtics as a free agent in 2017, Hayward saw his first season wiped out by a broken ankle on opening night. His 2018/19 season was filled with frustration as he tried to overcome the lingering effects of that injury. Now he’s determined to return to the top of his game.

“I think this year he’s just eager to get back out there and play well and play to where he thinks he’s capable,” Morrison said. “So he was very motivated to put the extra time in, put the extra intensity into his workouts. For me as a coach, that was kind of music to my ears.”

One area of emphasis for Hayward was to improve his ball-handling, even before the team knew that Kyrie Irving was signing elsewhere. Although Kemba Walker was added to take over lead guard duties, back-up Terry Rozier also departed, meaning that Hayward may sometimes run the offense with the second team.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Marcus Smart has been ruled out of Team USA’s final two World Cup games, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smart had X-rays this week that came back negative on an injured left knuckle, but pain in his hand as well as the quad/calf area contributed to the decision. The Americans are out of medal contention after losing to France earlier today.
  • The Celtics who are playing alongside Walker in China rave about his humility and willingness to fit in, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. That draws an obvious comparison to Irving, who wasn’t known for either of those traits during his two years in Boston. “I’m saying this about Kemba,” Jaylen Brown insisted. “I’m not saying this about everybody else. … I’m looking forward to this year. I’m not thinking about last year. Last year was what it was. Spend your time in the past, you’re blinded by it and you’re missing your future. I’m not painting that picture at all.”
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines whether president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will be more active on the trade market now that he’s not entering a season with a team that’s among the favorites to win the title.

Atlantic Notes: Stevens, Feaster, Donaldson, Ainge

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will have a new-look roster to work with this season, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, and while replacing All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker will be the easy part, replacing defensive stalwarts Al Horford and Aron Baynes should prove a bit more challenging.

Another question is who starts — Gordon Hayward or Jaylen Brown? Do both of them start, with Marcus Smart back on the bench? According to Stevens, it really doesn’t matter, as long as the lineups mesh together.

“We’re obviously going to have to figure out lineups that work best together,” Stevens said. “Everybody is going to make a big deal over who starts, but we all know who the five guys are that are going to play the very most on our team, and everybody can probably write that down right now, and then it’s a matter of who fits best. They’re not all in the same position, but we’ve got to figure out who’s going to play the big spot and with which groups.”

Enes Kanter figures to get most minutes at center starting out, but young big Robert Williams could push for more playing time as the season progresses. The Celtics will also rely on Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier for frontcourt depth.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics have hired Allison Feaster as director of player development. Feaster is a former WNBA player and Harvard graduate who also worked in the G League.
  • Raptors data analyst Brittni Donaldson has been promoted to an assistant coach on the staff of head coach Nick Nurse, per a tweet from Stadium (Twitter link).
  • In a piece for NBC Sports Boston, Blakely writes that Danny Ainge is concerned with Stevens happiness this season, saying “My biggest concern through all of this was, I want my coach to be happy who he’s coaching and that’s the hardest job. I’ve been at this business a long time. It’s…you gotta have fun. You really have to have joy. That doesn’t mean every minute is going to be happy. Everybody is going to face adversity and challenges and trials through the course of a season. But, it still has to be fun.”

Atlantic Notes: PEDs, Ennis, Knicks

The NBA has revealed that Nets forward Wilson Chandler will miss the first 25 games of the regular season after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug called Ipamorelin, as we detailed on Thursday.

In the wake of that suspension, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) took a deep dive into the league’s stance on PEDs and noted that Chandler becomes just the second player to serve such a suspension under the league’s latest set of governing rules.

When the NBA and NBPA debuted their new collective bargaining agreement ahead of the 2017/18 campaign, it came with stricter rules regarding steroids and PEDs. Only Jodie Meeks had been tagged with a suspension since the new document went live.

According to the CBA, the default punishment for a first offense is 25 games. Meeks split his 25 games between the 2018 postseason and the first 19 games of the 2018/19 regular season. Prior to the new CBA, players like Joakim Noah and Hedo Turkoglu faced varying punishments for PED use.

The Nets will now have several options for how they want to proceed. As of November 2, after the team plays its fifth game of Chandler’s suspension, they can move him to the Suspended List and free up a roster spot. Alternatively the club could waive a player altogether – they’ve got 15 guaranteed contracts – and look for a replacement… like *cough* Carmelo Anthony *clears throat*.

There’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Although he’s a member of the Celtics now, forward Gordon Hayward is a product of Indiana and is on the short list of humans most capable of understanding the thought process behind Andrew Luck’s decision to retire from the NFL. “It sucks; you feel isolated,” Hayward, no stranger to extensive rehabilitation, told A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports. “It feels like a job because you’re not getting to do the fun parts of it. And you always have those [thoughts], ‘What if I’m not the same player?’ You have to bottle that and just focus on the present … I understand exactly where [Luck is] coming from.
  • He signed a two-year, $4.1MM deal to remain with the Sixers, but James Ennis had other, more lucrative offers on the table in free agency. Ennis recently told Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he chose to stay with the team that acquired him mid-season last year because he’d like to remain in Philly long-term. Hoops Rumors’ own J.D. Shaw connected with Ennis in June and the veteran wing spoke highly of the support the 76ers give their players.
  • Do the Knicks have a plan? Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News writes that the organization has been relatively silent after an interesting – and at times puzzling – offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Miller, Prokhorov, Celtics, Scott

The Knicks have hired Mike Miller as an assistant on David Fizdale’s staff after he served as their G League coach since the 2015/16 season, according to a team press release. Miller, not to be confused with the longtime NBA player, compiled a 108-92 record with the Westchester Knicks. Derrick Alston, who served as an assistant to Miller, has been promoted to head coach of the G league team, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Mikhail Prokhorov, who recently sold his interest in the Nets, inquired about other NBA franchises — including the Knicks — before he was approved as the majority owner of the Brooklyn franchise. His top basketball adviser, Sergei Kushchenko, revealed that to TASS in a story relayed by NetsDaily.com. ”We were looking over various options at that time,” Kushchenko said. “Among them were the New York Knicks, who asked for a bizarre sum, the Phoenix Suns and the New Jersey Nets. We decided to focus on the New Jersey Nets since it was a completely different market then in addition to the prospect of the new arena’s construction along with a full-fledged business framework.” Prokhorov was also scared away by the Knicks’ debt load, according to NetsDaily.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens will have a dilemma if he wants to get all of his best players on the court during crunch time, Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. The team’s top five include Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, which would leave them without a true power forward or center in those situations.
  • Sixers forward Mike Scott said some advice from Clippers coach Doc Rivers helped him after he was dealt to Philadelphia last season, Kevin Murphy of The Athletic writes. Scott emerged as a key reserve after he was included in the Tobias Harris blockbuster and earned a two-year, $9.8MM contract in free agency. “I feel I didn’t play well in L.A., and I think for the most part it was on me,” Scott said. “I was still trying to figure it out. When I got here, I said, ‘[The heck with it], I am going to ball-out and try to do what Doc says.’ Do the little things and see what happens.”

Celtics Notes: Brown, Hayward, Walker, Langford

Now that Draymond Green is off the 2020 free agent market, demand could be higher for a pair of Celtics next summer, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Green’s four-year extension with the Warriors could bring more attention to Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward if they both opt for free agency in 11 months.

Brown is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, but Forsberg doesn’t expect that to happen before the October deadline. If there’s no deal, Brown will become a restricted free agent and Boston will be able to match any offer he receives. Forsberg notes that Jamal Murray and Ben Simmons, two other players from Brown’s draft class, have already agreed to max extensions. However, Brown’s uneven production and the absence of teams with significant cap room next year take away the incentive for the Celtics to offer Brown a similar deal.

Hayward, who is trying to rediscover his game after a severe ankle injury at the start of the 2017/18 season, has a $34.2MM player option on the final year of his contract. He is about to complete his 10th NBA season, which will make him eligible for a deal at 35% of the estimated $117MM salary cap. Of course, he would need an All-Star type of season for a team to make that kind of offer.

There’s more tonight from Boston:

  • Jayson Tatum is claiming some of the credit for convincing Kemba Walker to sign with the Celtics, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Tatum spent time recruiting Walker while they were in Paris together for a Jordan Brand event. “I never told him to come, but I told him I would love for him to join the team and told him how it was,” Tatum said. “Obviously everybody has to do what’s best for themselves, and I’m happy for him.”
  • Lottery pick Romeo Langford tells Tom Westerholm of MassLive that the thumb injury that began bothering him in college is almost fully healed. Langford was held out of Summer League play, but spent 10 days with the team and ran through drills with new assistant coach Joe Mazzulla. “I haven’t done any contact still, but I’m going against coaches and stuff like that,” Langford said. “But I haven’t gone live against defenders.”
  • In an interview with Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, rookie Grant Williams admits being a “geek” in his cerebral approach to life and basketball.

Lowe’s Latest: Walker, Brogdon, Mavs, Rubio, Butler

The Celtics might be the frontrunner for Kemba Walker‘s services but devoting most of their cap space to the All-Star point guard would leave them without any proven frontcourt players and limited ways to acquire them, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an in-depth look at free agency. The addition of Walker would force coach Brad Stevens to use either Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward at power forward, Lowe notes. Walker also ran more pick-and-rolls with the Hornets than Kyrie Irving did with the Celtics, yet Irving was sometimes accused of being a ball hog, Lowe adds.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from Lowe’s column:

  • Bucks restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon will lose a suitor if the Celtics ink Walker. The Suns, Bulls, Mavericks and Pacers could potentially extend Brogdon an offer sheet but some teams are concerned about his foot issues.
  • The Mavericks are not looking to sign any high-level free agents.
  • The Pacers are looking to make a run at point guard Ricky Rubio. They are also likely to let power forward Thaddeus Young walk and go with a frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Indiana rejected trade offers for Turner at the draft.
  • The Heat could get involved in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes via a sign-and-trade.
  • The Nets have no interest in doing a sign-and-trade with the Timberwolves involving restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell if it means taking back Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins.

Celtics Preparing For An Offseason Of Change

Slightly over a year ago, the overachieving Celtics were competing with LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the conference finals. The landscape in the Eastern Conference has changed dramatically over the ensuing 13 months and Boston has not been left out of the league-wide shake-up.

The franchise is now operating as if Kyrie Irving and Al Horford won’t be back. Irving has been in communication with the Celtics since the season ended and the point guard has been “forthright” about his intentions, sending both public and private signals that he’ll be departing in free agency, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Brooklyn will likely be Irving’s next destination.

Early in the season, Irving declared to a packed crowd at the TD Garden that he would be re-signing the club once his contract expired. That was before a 2018/19 season in which ‘chemistry’ became a buzzword akin to the words ‘disrupter’ or ‘synergy’ in corporate speak.

A number of factors contributed to the uneasiness in Boston’s locker room. Jackie MacMullan (via Dane Delgado of NBC Sports) hears that coach Brad Stevens’ dedication to Gordon Hayward caused some issues. Stevens wanted Hayward to regain confidence and he gave the wing opportunity after opportunity on the court to show his pre-injury form.

Stevens has a history with Hayward from their Butler University days, though the coach would have taken the same approach with any player coming back from a major injury. Hayward continued to struggle, proving he wasn’t ready for the minutes and with many mouths left unfed, the crabs-in-a-barrel mentality festered.

Next season, different elements will contribute to the team’s locker room chemistry. Hayward will outlast Irving in Boston, as the veteran wing has two more years left on his deal (the final year is a player option worth slightly less than $34.2MM). Horford appears set to be elsewhere, and new faces will surround the tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as the team hopes of remaining competitive in an enhanced Eastern Conference.

Last spring, the narrative out of Boston centered around how the team was ready to compete in the present but was also built for the future. The Celtics’ story is a lesson in never underestimating how much things can change in just one year.

Celtics Notes: Davis, Hayward, Draft, Adams

The Celtics should be regarded as favorites to trade for Pelicans star Anthony Davis, an NBA insider tells Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter link). According to the source, Jayson Tatum tops the Pelicans’ wish list, and new head of basketball operations David Griffin likes Marcus Smart as well. Robert WilliamsSemi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele could help fill out the deal, along with at least this year’s first-round pick, which falls at No. 14.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (appearing on The Sedano Show podcast) suggested the Lakers could still be in the running for Davis if they are willing to offer the same package they did at the trade deadline. McMenamin says several people he talked to in the Pelicans’ organization would love to have Brandon Ingram and wanted to take the Lakers’ proposal at the time. GM Dell Demps, who turned down the offer, has since been fired.

The Celtics’ prospects for Davis will depend on whether Griffin believes Ingram has a brighter future than Tatum and if he might be more intrigued by R.J. Barrett, which would bring the Knicks into play with their No. 3 pick, writes John Karalis of MassLive.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is confident that Gordon Hayward will return to an All-Star level next season, relays Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Hayward was inconsistent this year as he worked his way back from a devastating ankle injury, but Ainge believes another offseason to recover will help. “I’m really excited for Gordon’s upcoming season,” Ainge said. “He’s working hard right now in the gym. He’s here every day with five or six coaches and bodies out there working extremely hard. He’s put a lot of time in. I’m anticipating great things from Gordon this next year.”
  • In a separate story, Forsberg looks at a few point guards the Celtics could target in the draft if they don’t expect to re-sign free agents Kyrie Irving or Terry Rozier. Forsberg states that Boston could try to trade up for North Carolina’s Coby White or stay at No. 14 and target Virginia’s Ty Jerome, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Mississippi’s Terence Davis, Tennessee’s Jordan Bone or Brewster Academy’s Jalen Lecque. The Celtics also own picks No. 20 and 22 in the first round.
  • Connecticut guard Jalen Adams worked out for the Celtics yesterday, tweets Chris Grenham of NESN.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Lottery, Hayward, Shrewsberry

Although many Celtics fans have turned on Kyrie Irving following a disappointing playoff performance, losing him in free agency would be a worst-case scenario for the franchise, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Even though he damaged his reputation and alienated younger teammates this year, Irving remains among the league’s best players at a crucial position, Forsberg states, and would be very difficult to replace.

Even if they subtract Irving’s $21.3MM salary for next season, the Celtics won’t have much cap room to work with, assuming Al Horford opts for one more season at $30.1MM. Losing Irving would also leave Boston without a superstar presence who might attract other stars or inspire Anthony Davis to sign a long-term deal if the Celtics trade for him.

A sign-and-trade deal involving Irving probably isn’t realistic, Forsberg adds. The Celtics wouldn’t be able to offer a fifth season in that scenario and it would only benefit a team that doesn’t have the cap space to sign him. Teams where Irving might be headed, such as the Knicks, Nets, Clippers or Lakers, can already offer a max deal.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Tuesday’s draft lottery will help define the Celtics’ plans for the offseason, notes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. With the Clippers’ pick at No. 20 and their own selection at 22 already in hand, Boston will wait to see what happens with the Kings’ and Grizzlies’ choices. The Celtics will receive Sacramento’s pick unless it lands at No. 1 and Memphis’ choice if it’s outside of the top eight. All those selections could be valuable in a potential trade for Davis.
  • Gordon Hayward is eager for another offseason to continue his comeback from a devastating ankle injury, Bulpett relays in a separate story. “I’m definitely looking forward to having a good summer, not dealing as much with rehab but still definitely working on the ankle and all that type of stuff,” he said. “But that’s going to be nowhere near as much as before. I’m a lot of time removed from the surgery, and that’s for sure exciting. Now I can do what I’ve always done every summer, and I’m for sure looking forward to that, getting back to that and really digging in and trying to have a really good summer.”
  • Micah Shrewsberry tells Dustin Dopirak of The Athletic that his decision to leave the Celtics’ staff for a job at Purdue was simply a matter of preferring the college game. “My personality is more geared toward the college side,” Shrewsberry said. “I’m a relationships guy. If you would ask anybody that’s run across me, I value relationships, continuing and maintaining and having those. That’s something you get in college.”

Southeast Notes: Riley, Heat Outlook, Bryant, Hornets

Heat president Pat Riley felt it was time to invest in his own roster after he failed to sign top-level free agents in recent years, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. “Once we didn’t land Kevin Durant or didn’t land Gordon Hayward, then it was time to sort of move on from searching for room and at the same time holding your other players hostage,” Riley said. “To move into a two- or three-year window with young players that we drafted and others who we thought were on-the-brink-to-make-it veterans that hadn’t made it somewhere else. What we came up with and what we found out is that we have a very, very competitive team.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Riley made moves during the trade deadline to get rid of the glut of guards and wing players on the roster. He also waived Rodney McGruder right before the end of the regular season to dodge the luxury tax. He feels the roster is much more balanced now heading into the summer. “I think we have built a base. … We have our draft choices,” he said. “The possibilities of room are right around the road. Don’t be making any kind of conclusions about next year in that we’re stuck with certain contracts or whatever it is you think we can’t get out of. That would be foolish thinking on your part.”
  • Center Thomas Bryant will be a restricted free agent if the Wizards extend a qualifying offer of $3MM and he intends to re-sign, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “They gave me an opportunity to play,” said Bryant, who inherited the starting job with Dwight Howard playing only nine games. “Why would I want to leave?” Retaining Bryant is high on the current front office’s priority list but the GM who replaces fired Ernie Grunfeld might not feel the same way, Hughes points out. League provisions could also come into play if Bryant signs an offer sheet. The Wizards hold his Early Bird rights but salary-cap concerns would grow if Bryant signs a back-loaded contract.
  • If the Hornets move up in the lottery and snag a top-three pick, GM Mitch Kupchak would likely listen to trade offers, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines in his latest mailbag. However, that would only make sense if Kupchak was confident that bringing in an impact veteran would secure a commitment from Kemba Walker. Otherwise, the Hornets would be in a rebuild mode, and a rookie with star potential would be more valuable to them.