Gordon Hayward

Celtics Notes: Rivers, Tatum, Brown, Irving

The Celtics are off to the best start in the East, and even Clippers coach Doc Rivers has noticed how much better the atmosphere surrounding the team has been, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Rivers, whose team hosts the Celtics tonight, attributes the difference to personnel changes.

“Last year you had Gordon (Hayward) and Kyrie (Irving) both coming back from being out,” Rivers said. “Gordon hadn’t played the whole year before, and Kyrie hadn’t played in a while either, so they hadn’t really played together. And they just never could get their traction. The rest of it, I stay out of. I’ll let y’all deal with that.”

Rivers was referring to locker room differences that sabotaged a team that entered the season as a favorite to reach the NBA Finals. He noted that coach Brad Stevens seems much happier on the sidelines this year.

“It’s a great lesson for all of us. Chemistry is so important,” Rivers said. “Chemistry and youth, you know, they had both going at them. They were expecting guys in their second year to just take over, and sometimes that takes a little while. It’s just good to see them playing well now.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics have been enjoying success with smaller lineups, but that might not work in the playoffs against Joel Embiid and the Sixers or other tall teams like the Bucks and Raptors, states Brian Windhorst of ESPN. A source tells Windhorst that Boston won’t offer its core players in any deal, including Marcus Smart and Hayward, who have been mentioned as trade possibilities before. Outside of their top five, the only players making more than $4MM are centers Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter, which becomes challenging for matching salaries. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge addressed the possibility of adding another big man in an interview with Bulpett. “It’s always about who,” Ainge said. “It’s not, like, how tall they are. It’s not like you can just go find any 7-foot guy and put him out there and all of a sudden you’re going to be better. It depends on who that is and whether they’re better than Marcus Smart guarding the center. So I don’t worry so much about that. I mean, obviously we have stars at every other position and we really don’t have stars at our big positions. So everybody thinks that that’s what we need to do, but it all depends on who that is.”
  • Roster changes have allowed Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to expand their roles, giving the Celtics two big wings that most teams can’t match up with, observes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer.
  • Celtics fans may not get a chance to welcome Irving back in his first scheduled game in Boston since leaving in free agency, tweets Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Irving missed his third straight game tonight with a shoulder impingement, and Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson refused to speculate if he will be healthy enough for next Wednesday.

Celtics Not Expected To Trade Grizzlies’ Pick For Big Man Help

The Celtics‘ 11-2 start has catapulted them into contender status in the Eastern Conference with Kemba Walker‘s arrival rejuvenating the club. Boston still has a weakness in its interior, having rotated through starting big men, and the club has a major trade chip that could help land a major piece to man the center position, as Sean Deveney of Heavy.com writes.

As a result of the 2015 Jeff Green trade, the Celtics own a future Grizzlies first-round pick. The protections on the pick have kept it from conveying over the past couple years and it’s only top-six protected for the 2020 draft before potentially becoming unprotected in 2021.

However, some around the league don’t see the Celtics using this pick to acquire a bigger piece unless it’s for the right player.

“It’s a high-value pick no matter what happens, it is a lottery pick,” one rival GM tells Deveney “They’d be willing to trade the other pick they have (from the Bucks), but it wouldn’t make sense to move the Memphis pick. If it’s Anthony Davis then, OK, you change your plans. But there’s not really anyone on the market who is going to get them to move that.”

Deveney mentions Myles Turner among the candidates that Boston could be interested in, but hears that the Pacers are unlikely to trade the big man to an Eastern Conference rival — or at all. Deveney also names LaMarcus Aldridge as a possibility but that would likely require the Celtics to send Gordon Hayward to San Antonio, which is something Boston is reluctant to do.

Boston also owns Milwaukee’s 2020 selection, which figures to be among the last five picks or so in the first round. Packaging that pick along with salary to acquire a center seems much more likely.

Hayward Undergoes Left Hand Surgery, Out Six Weeks

7:07pm: Hayward is expected to miss approximately six weeks after undergoing the surgery, the Celtics announced in a press release.

2:51pm: Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will undergo surgery in New York this afternoon on his broken left hand, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). The team is waiting until after the procedure is complete to establish a timeline for Hayward’s return, Woj adds.

Hayward suffered the injury during Saturday’s win in San Antonio, as we previously relayed. At the time, Bartelstein told Wojnarowski that his client would be seeing a specialist on Monday to determine whether or not surgery was necessary.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens suggested in the wake of the injury that surgery may give Hayward the quickest path to returning to action. While Boston has yet to formally determine or announce a recovery timetable, I’d expect the 29-year-old to miss at least a few weeks. Stephen Curry was recently ruled out for at least three months after undergoing left hand surgery, but he fractured a different part of his hand than Hayward did.

The timing is especially unfortunate for Hayward, who appeared to be rounding back into his old form after being slowed last season by the ankle injury that caused him to miss the entire 2017/18 campaign. In his first seven games for the Celtics this season, the former All-Star was averaging 20.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, and 4.6 APG with a .564/.444/.842 shooting line.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Hayward, Green, Smart

Jaylen Brown suddenly has a much larger role in the Celtics’ offense after Gordon Hayward suffered a fracture in his left hand last night, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. Brown responded right away, scoring 30 points in the win at San Antonio, with 18 of those coming after Hayward left in the game in the second quarter.

It’s a chance for Brown to prove he’s worth the four-year, $115MM extension that Celtics management gave him last month. It was a surprise to many after Brown’s scoring average dipped to 13.0 PPG in a disappointing second season, but he believes it was a matter of what he was being asked to do.

“I wouldn’t say (the game) slowed down,” he said. “I just think a different role, more opportunity. I keep preaching that. I don’t think I had the same opportunity last year.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Hayward will meet with doctors tomorrow to determine if surgery is necessary, and coach Brad Stevens believes it might be the quickest path to playing again, Deveney relays in the same story. “It sounds like, should he decide that, the surgery option might actually be a better timeline,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “We’ll see what that all plays out to be. Who knows? It’s too bad.” The injury happened shortly before halftime as Hayward collided with LaMarcus Aldridge on a screen. He was wearing a cast on the hand as the team returned home.
  • The emergence of Javonte Green gives the Celtics another weapon to help survive the loss of Hayward, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Green has modest stats through six games, averaging just 3.0 points per night, but his numbers per 36 minutes (19.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, 55.6% shooting) are similar to Hayward’s. Green earned the Celtics’ final roster spot after making a strong impression during Summer League and in the preseason.
  • Marcus Smart was fined $15K for criticizing the officials after Thursday’s game in Charlotte, according to Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “I wish they would call the game the right way, you know?” Smart said. “A lot of calls that they called, I didn’t understand where the fouls were. And it just seems like, whenever I get the ball and I’m on offense, I can’t get a call.”

Gordon Hayward Suffers Hand Fracture

Gordon Hayward suffered a fracture in his left hand during today’s game in San Antonio, the Celtics confirmed on Twitter.

Hayward appeared to be pointing to the middle or ring finger area on the hand as he was removed from the game, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. An X-ray in the locker room confirmed the fracture.

Hayward will see a specialist Monday to determine if he will need surgery, agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The operation would take place Monday if doctors decide it’s necessary, but a timeline for him to return won’t be set until that ruling is made.

Hayward is off to a strong start this year and appeared to be fully healthy for the first time since fracturing his ankle on opening night of the 2017/18 season. He averaged 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists through the first seven games as the Celtics rose to the top of the East with a 6-1 start.

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Walker, Fall, Smart

The Celtics may finally have the version of Gordon Hayward that they invested a four-year max deal in, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Two years ago, Hayward suffered a severe ankle injury that wiped out virtually his entire 2017/18 season and limited his effectiveness throughout 2018/19.

But through the first six games of this season, he seems back to his All-Star self, averaging 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per night while emerging as the leader of Boston’s offense. The latest example came last night as he hit 17-of-20 shots from the field and posted 39 points in a win at Cleveland, then told reporters that he hopes to leave concerns about his ankle in the past.

“I don’t think about it,” Hayward said. “I haven’t thought about it for a while. Hopefully you guys can stop asking me questions about that.”

There’s more Celtics news to pass along:

  • Some of Kemba Walker‘s former Hornets teammates shared their memories of him with Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer in advance of Walker’s return to Charlotte tomorrow night. Walker spent eight years in the city and set nearly every franchise scoring record before signing with the Celtics this summer. “If you didn’t know basketball, and you walked into our locker room, you wouldn’t guess that guy was the star,” Nicolas Batum said. “He never acted crazy with any of that star stuff, like skip practice or be lazy today.”
  • With the G League season starting soon, fan favorite Tacko Fall will probably only make brief appearances with the Celtics, according to Tom Westerholm of MassLive. Fall is limited to 45 days in the NBA, and the team wants to maximize that time in case early-season injuries to its centers continue. “We’ve played multiple games now down two bigs,” coach Brad Stevens said. “So now we’re going to have him come up for one day (at a time) a lot I think, rather than a week at a time or two weeks at a time.”
  • Marcus Smart had an injury scare during a collision last night, relays John Karalis of MassLive“The oblique again, the exact same one, and it knocked the wind out of me,” Smart said in reference to the torn left oblique that limited his availability in last year’s playoffs. “It was scary because I thought the same thing was about to happen that happened last year. But thank God the oblique is stronger and it’s able to withstand hits like that, so that’s good.”

Danny Ainge On Celtics: “Are We Good Enough?”

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge admits the team’s talent level will be a greater concern this year, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The Celtics entered last season as clear favorites to win the East, but expectations are lower now that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford both left in free agency.

“I think that last year’s questions were more based on how is it going to jell? There was not a question of how much talent we had,” Ainge said to reporters before today’s open practice. “This year, the question is, are we good enough? And can players step up and take advantage of the opportunities that they’re given to become more elite?”

Signing Kemba Walker helped to ease the loss of Irving, and Enes Kanter will likely take over in the middle. Ainge said he’s encouraged by the early results from training camp as the players work to erase the memory of last year’s disappointment.

Ainge addressed several other topics in the session with the media:

On Gordon Hayward‘s progress nearly two full years after a severe ankle injury:

“I think, right now, there’s been a lot of buzz about Gordon and his comeback and I’m worried that it’s getting a little out of hand. Like, I think he’s Gordon. He’s back to being Gordon. And we’re very excited about that. I sometimes worry, like, ‘Oh my gosh, they think it’s somebody else.’ But I’m excited about Gordon. I’m excited about Kemba. Jaylen [Brown] and Jayson [Tatum] had really good summers. They’ve looked really good in training camp. Obviously they have a great comfort level with the system. And Marcus [Smart]. So, we know who all of those guys are. I think there are lots of questions in lots of other places on the roster.”

On coach Brad Stevens’ status after the team failed to meet last year’s lofty expectations:

“If 49 wins is the worst season in your coaching career, you’re probably going to be OK. But Brad just keeps getting better. These experiences, he’s a young coach, works harder than anybody, very bright. I have all the confidence in the world that last year was a learning experience for him, just like all of our young players. Like I said many many times before and I’ll continue to say, he’s the least of our worries. He’s prepared, and I think these experiences are going to make him a great coach.”

On the competition at center without Horford and Aron Baynes:

“Most of [the bigs] are new. I think Daniel [Theis] has the most experience of that group of guys with our group. I think he’s got a little bit of a head start, just mentally and emotionally and understanding what Brad wants. I think I can see some of the new-ness of the other guys. I think Robert [Williams] has taken big strides from last year to where he’s at. I think his work this summer, you can see it already. So that’s an advantage for him. Those are question marks that I’m not sure how good it’s all going to fit and work but I think, individually, they all can contribute.”

Celtics Notes: Poirier, Hayward, Training Camp, Walker

Vincent Poirier had an awkward first meeting with four of his new Celtics teammates at the World Cup, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Poirier was part of the French team that gave the U.S. their second loss of the tournament and eliminated them from medal contention.

“After the game I think they were a little bit mad, so I don’t come to them and say, ‘Hey, I’m Vincent,” Poirier said. “But they knew who I was, so that was good.”

Poirier took home a bronze medal from the World Cup and talked extensively to his French teammates about life in the NBA. Poirier has spent the past three seasons in Spain and is ready for the NBA challenge at age 25. Celtics scouts have seen him in person at least 10 times over the past two years and were interested in signing him at the end of last season, but he preferred to wait.

“I told a couple people I think this is the best year for me to go to the NBA because I’ve got 100% confidence in myself,” he said. “I trust my basketball and I think it’s a perfect moment.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Gordon Hayward offered a message to fans on his personal blog, promising “the reins are off” for the upcoming season. Hayward was still recovering from a severe ankle injury last summer and said he has benefited from having a full offseason to work on his game. “Last year, I was in my own head a lot, thinking about a lot of different things—hoping that it was going to be okay, hoping that I was going to be right—because I just hadn’t done it. I hadn’t had a chance to put in the reps,” Hayward wrote. “Going into this season, I’ve put in the reps all summer. I know my body is still just as good and feels 100 percent, and certainly, I know the guys on the team a lot better now than I did last year too. All the unknowns are gone. That’s the biggest difference.”
  • There will be several interesting battles to focus on when training camp opens, writes Jay King of The Athletic. One will occur at the wing position, where Hayward will be competing with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to join Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum in the starting lineup. The other story lines involve who plays center at the end of games and who can earn reserve minutes at power forward and in the backcourt.
  • Even though Walker had a full summer with his World Cup responsibilities, coach Brad Stevens said the free agent addition will be “ready to roll” when camp begins, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

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.”