Grant Williams

Atlantic Rumors: Durant, Nets, Raptors, Claxton, Celtics, Sixers

Now that Kyrie Irving has been dealt, Kevin Durant find himself under the spotlight once again as league observers wait to see if the Nets forward will resubmit the trade request he made last summer.

Asked on Monday about that possibility, head coach Jacque Vaughn said that’s not something he has talked to Durant about and he doesn’t plan to do so. In Vaughn’s view, as long as the Nets can continue to show they’re capable of competing with the best teams in the East, there’s no reason for Durant to seek a change of scenery.

“At the end of the day, Kevin wants to win,” Vaughn said on Monday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “That’s always been our goal. He wants to win at shootaround, he wants to win any game of the week. That’s why he loves to play and that’s why he wants to play 82 games. That will be our holy grail. We’ll continue to try to put a group out that wins and until there’s something for me to be concerned about, then I’ll carry on business as usual.”

While the Nets added two solid role players in their Irving trade, their championship upside probably took a hit as a result of that deal, so the team has been exploring further roster upgrades, as we detailed on Monday. According to Ian Begley of, before trading Irving, the Nets had also remained in touch with the Hawks about John Collins and had spoken to multiple teams about Joe Harris and Patty Mills.

Although it’s possible Durant could push for a change of scenery again, most people around the NBA don’t expect that to happen this week, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said in a podcast with colleague Brian Windhorst (YouTube link), especially since the Nets’ additions of Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith signaled a desire to continue building a roster around Durant that’s capable of contending — Finney-Smith is a player KD likes and wanted Brooklyn to acquire if the team made a deal with Dallas, Lowe stated.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Following up on reports suggesting that the Nets were talking to the Raptors about Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says Toronto “covets” Brooklyn center Nic Claxton, having also attempted to acquire him at least season’s trade deadline. Ben Simmons and multiple first-round picks have also come up in the Nets’ trade discussions with the Raptors, Scotto adds.
  • The Athletic’s Jared Weiss and Jay King take a look at what could be on tap for the Celtics at the trade deadline, considering whether it’s realistic to expect them to make a play for Durant and noting that a deal for a center remains the team’s most likely move. Weiss and King also examine Grant Williams‘ up-and-down play and conclude it still doesn’t make sense for Boston to trade him, despite a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer stating that teams are inquiring on Williams.
  • While Daryl Morey is always a good bet to make some sort of move at the trade deadline, the Sixers president of basketball operations tells Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice that he’s not expecting to make a huge splash this week. “I think it’s very unlikely we’re involved in anything big,” Morey said. “It could easily be that we continue to just develop chemistry and then have the group we have. I and (general manager) Elton (Brand) and everyone feels a responsibility in an important year like this to see if we can find anyone who can upgrade the team.”

Cavs Rumors: Small Forward, Reddish, Hart, G. Williams, LeVert, Love

Although the Cavaliers remain on the lookout for an upgrade on the wing, there’s a “growing sense” that they don’t love the options available to them on the trade market and would be comfortable standing pat if no deal comes to fruition, writes Chris Fedor of (subscriber link).

Isaac Okoro has been impressive since becoming the full-time starter at small forward, averaging 9.2 points per game with a .500 3PT% in his last 18 games. Given how strong a defender Okoro is, he may be the Cavaliers’ best option at that spot even if his offensive game doesn’t continue to develop, according to Fedor.

Still, Fedor runs through several of the options available to Cleveland, identifying Malik Beasley, Tim Hardaway Jr., Doug McDermott, Luke Kennard, Royce O’Neale, and Hamidou Diallo as some potential players of interest, though most of them come with some caveats.

Sources tell that there are mixed feelings within the Cavaliers’ front office about Knicks forward Cam Reddish, who is considered more of a fall-back option. Reddish has talent and untapped potential, but he’ll be a free agent in a matter of months and isn’t a clear upgrade on what the team already has at small forward, Fedor explains.

Fedor adds that Trail Blazers forward Josh Hart is one player who is high on the Cavaliers’ list of targets, writing that he has “plenty of fans” within the organization and that Cleveland explored a possible sign-and-trade for him two years ago before pivoting to Lauri Markkanen.

There’s a belief around the NBA that Hart will be on the move this week, according to Fedor, who notes that the Blazer has a similar skill set to Okoro but would bring a level of experience and consistency that the former No. 5 overall pick lacks.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Sources tell that the Cavaliers checked in with the Celtics about forward Grant Williams, but got the sense that he’s unavailable — or would at least cost much more than the Cavs are in position to offer.
  • Veteran wing Caris LeVert tells Fedor that he expects to remain a Cavalier through Thursday’s trade deadline. If LeVert does stick around, Cleveland would be interested in signing him beyond this season, assuming the price isn’t exorbitant, Fedor writes.
  • Although there’s no indication that he’s on the trade block, it’s worth noting that veteran forward Kevin Love has fallen out of the Cavs’ rotation as of late to make room for Dean Wade. Love, who hasn’t played since January 24, had a conversation about his role with head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, tweets Fedor.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents during the 2023 offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Atlantic players.

Fred VanVleet, G, Raptors

  • 2022/23: $21,250,000
  • 2023/24: $22,824,074 player option
  • Stock: Down

VanVleet was a deserving first-time All-Star last season, averaging 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals on .419/.401/.874 (.572 true) shooting through 50 games. However, he struggled mightily after the break due to a lingering bone bruise in his right knee, appearing in just 15 games with averages of 16.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals on .343/.291/.872 (.479 true) shooting. He was clearly hampered in the playoffs as well, posting similar shooting percentages.

In the offseason, he and the Raptors discussed a four-year, $114MM extension – the maximum amount they can offer based on his current contract. VanVleet felt he had outplayed his four-year, $85MM deal to that point, so he wanted to wait and see if he could get a more lucrative contract in 2023.

I definitely understand why VanVleet bet on himself. The former undrafted free agent has turned himself into a very good player through his hard work, tenacity and determination. He was also a major part of the Toronto’s title-winning team in 2019.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone according VanVleet’s plan thus far in 2022/23. A significant portion of his offensive game is tied to his ability to space the floor, but he’s shooting just 32.9% from three, compared to his 37.5% career mark.

VanVleet turns 29 next month, is undersized, has played a ton of minutes the past few years, his point-of-attack defense isn’t what it once was, and he missed an average of just over 18 regular season games from 2018-22. VanVleet’s leadership and competitiveness are unquestioned, but there are a lot of red flags for potential suitors if he declines his player option, which seems likely.

T.J. Warren, F, Nets

  • 2022/23: $2,628,597
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Warren is another player with an injury history, having appeared in just four games in the two seasons leading up to ‘22/23. While the length of those absences was abnormal, the 29-year-old has never appeared in more than 67 games in a season, averaging just under 55 games in his first six years, so durability has always been a concern.

As a free agent last summer, Warren wound up signing a “prove it” deal with the Nets for the veteran’s minimum, and it took him a while to return to action — he made his season debut on December 2. However, he has only missed one game since (the second of a back-to-back), and his production hasn’t disappointed.

Warren has always been a mid-range sniper, and this season is no different – he’s shooting 52% on those looks, which ranks in the 93rd percentile of all players, per Through 17 games, he’s averaging 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists on .532/.353/.889 shooting in 20.4 minutes per contest.

As long as Warren stays healthy, there’s a very good chance he’ll get a big raise in free agency — his ability to score from all over the court is the most valuable trait in basketball.

Grant Williams, F, Celtics

  • 2022/23: $4,306,281
  • 2023/24: RFA
  • Stock: Up

Williams and the Celtics couldn’t agree on a rookie scale extension prior to the season, with the 24-year-old reportedly looking for more money than the cost-conscious Celtics were willing to offer. Betting on himself in restricted free agency has been a worthwhile gamble for Williams so far.

Although his averages of 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game are all career highs, those numbers don’t jump at you. But he’s a solid defender across the three frontcourt positions and is highly efficient, posting a .504/.404/.859 (.659 true) shooting line through 42 games (16 starts, 28.0 MPG).

If he maintains his top-tier efficiency, Williams might get more than he was reportedly seeking before the season, which was in the $14-16MM range annually.

Derrick Rose, G, Knicks

  • 2022/23: $14,520,730
  • 2023/24: $15,596,339 team option
  • Stock: Down

The former league MVP has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, but he’s actually been relatively healthy in ’22/23. The problem is, he just hasn’t been effective on the court, averaging career lows in minutes (12.9), points (5.8) and FG% (.394) through 26 games.

Long a favorite of head coach Tom Thibodeau, Rose has fallen out of the Knicks’ rotation. His $14.5MM contract has negative value on the trade market, and his team option for ’23/24 is essentially a lock to be declined at this point.

Unless there’s a dramatic turnaround, the 34-year-old is probably looking at a veteran’s minimum deal in the offseason. Considering his age and injury history, even that might not be a given.

Shake Milton, G, Sixers

  • 2022/23: $1,997,718
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Milton is an interesting player. He’s a subpar defender who isn’t a great athlete by NBA standards, but he finds effective ways to work around those limitations.

He impressed as a fill-in starter when Tyrese Maxey and James Harden were injured, averaging 20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists on .542/.425/.967 (.652 true) shooting in nine games (38.0 minutes). While those shooting percentages are an anomaly, given his career averages (.457/.361/.822 splits, including .557 true), Milton is a patient and crafty pick-and-roll play-maker who has plus size (6’5″, 205 pounds) for a combo guard.

The former 54th overall pick initially signed a two-way deal and then was converted to a standard four-year, $7MM contract back in 2019. He’s only 26 years old, and has certainly outperformed his current deal. Something in the $5-8MM per year range seems within reach.

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, G. Williams, Stevens, Smart, R. Williams

In an interview with Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon says he isn’t interested in the Sixth Man of the Year award (Twitter video link).

I really don’t care about that award at all. I really want to win with this team — I came here to win a championship, to put up banner 18. And that accolade really means nothing. I want to win,” he said.

Brogdon, acquired in offseason trade with Indiana, has a strong case for the award, even if he doesn’t care about it. Through 27 games (24.1 MPG), he’s averaging 14.0 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 3.8 APG on an excellent .482/.451/.855 shooting slash line.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics have hit some adversity for the first time in 2022/23, dropping five of their past seven games, including a lackluster performance on Wednesday against Indiana, when Boston trailed by 28 at halftime. As Jay King of The Athletic writes, the poor stretch seems like a “meaningful moment” to see how the team responds. Forward Grant Williams agrees. “We can let it derail our season,” Williams said, “or we can let it shift and make us understand where we’re trying to be and allow us to zone back in. Because in a month like this, where you’re approaching January in midseason, you can easily take your foot off the gas and step back. But for a team to be great, for a team to be special, for a team to do what we want to do, you can’t do that.” For what it’s worth, the Celtics beat Minnesota on Friday, recapturing the No. 1 seed in the East after the Bucks lost to the Nets.
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens says he will continue to evaluate the roster and make changes if needed ahead of the trade deadline, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (subscriber link). “Listen, we want to win, there’s no question about it. We have a really good team and hopefully we are playing great over the next couple of months, but we’ll evaluate that and we’ll make decisions, right or wrong, we think may give us the best chance at winning,” Stevens said.
  • Stevens also gave a strong endorsement for interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, Washburn adds in the same story. “It’s been really good,” Stevens said of Mazzulla’s job performance. “Looking at where we started from the start of training camp, the leadership, the organization, the way that everybody embraced him, he’s very open to people to the different ideas that they have, maybe too open sometimes, he’s been great.”
  • Guard Marcus Smart (non-COVID illness) returned to the lineup on Friday after missing Wednesday’s game, but big man Robert Williams was ill and ruled out, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Williams just made his season debut last week after offseason knee surgery, so having him out of the lineup again so soon obviously isn’t ideal. Still, there’s plenty of time left for him to get acclimated ahead of a playoff push.

Eastern Notes: Williams, Sims, Hartenstein, Nets, Bey, Bagley III

Celtics forward Grant Williams will be a restricted free agent in the summer and Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV (video link) that he’ll attract strong interest. Charania anticipates Williams will receive something in the range of $15-17MM annually on his next deal. If he doesn’t reach an agreement with Boston, the club would have to decide whether to match an offer sheet.

“When you look at the cap space teams in the summer, the Orlandos, the OKCs, the Indianas, those are teams that you can plug a Grant Williams on a team that’s not competitive right now, he can help you with leadership and obviously, on the court as well,” Charania said of the Celtics forward.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • With Obi Toppin sidelined by a leg injury, the Knicks have been using the power combination of Isaiah Hartenstein and Jericho Sims on the second unit. Coach Tom Thibodeau likes what he’s seen from that duo, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. “I think it gives you rebounding. It gives you size,” Thibodeau said. “It gives you physicality.”
  • The Nets overcame an early 18-point deficit against Toronto and a 19-point deficit at Detroit. That’s not a recipe for long-term success against tougher competition, forward Royce O’Neale told Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “It’s a big challenge for us. So I think we’ve got to raise our level of play,” he said. “The way we’ve been playing sometimes, you know, can’t come out with lack of energy or [focus]. We’ve got to set the tone from the jump and then we’ve just got to execute and control the whole game.”
  • Saddiq Bey and Marvin Bagley III have been moved to the Pistons’ second unit by coach Dwane Casey. It has led to better bench production, though the team has lost six of its last seven after falling to Utah on Tuesday, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News writes. “It’s no disrespect to Saddiq, no disrespect to Marvin at all being in the second unit,” Casey said. “We need that. I love the way our second unit is coming in and changing the game and kind of having an identity, defensively, offensively, some go-to actions that they can click with.”

Atlantic Notes: Williams, Sharpe, Randle, Brunson, Rose

Celtics forward Grant Williams has been fined $20K for hitting the game ball into the spectator stands, the league’s communications department tweets. The incident, for which Williams was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred late in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ 123-107 loss to the Warriors on Saturday.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets forward Day’Ron Sharpe may have earned more playing time with his performance on Saturday with many of the team’s regulars out, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Sharpe had a career-high-tying 20 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks as the Nets defeated Indiana. “He’s a young young dude, he’s still learning the speed and where to be. For us to throw different things at him and for him not to get flustered and have poise was great to see,” coach Jacque Vaughn said of the 2021 first-round pick.
  • Knicks forward Julius Randle got tossed during the third quarter against Sacramento on Sunday for picking up two technical fouls. Coach Tom Thibodeau believes the coaching staff needs to calm Randle down in those situation to keep him on the court, according to Zach Braziller of the New York Post. “When he got the first [technical foul], we have to do a better job of helping him walk away,” Thibodeau said. “As a team, staff, all of us.”
  • Derrick Rose, who was recently removed from the Knicks‘ rotation, could get some playing time restored if Jalen Brunson needs to miss some games, Braziller writes in a separate story. Brunson left Sunday’s game with what the team’s PR department described as a sore right foot (Twitter link). The Knicks don’t play again until Wednesday.

Celtics Notes: Horford, G. Williams, Smart, Udoka

Al Horford gave the Celtics a “hometown discount” by signing a two-year extension this week valued at $20MM, an Eastern Conference executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. The executive believes Horford could have received more money if he had waited for free agency, but at age 36 he wasn’t interested in leaving Boston for a rebuilding team.

“The teams with money next year are mostly young teams,” the executive said. “So maybe Horford was looking at the landscape and saw who had cap space and wound up saying, ‘I do not want to go to Houston, man.’ It is a win for both sides, really, but if he wanted to chase money, he could have gotten more.”

Horford’s team-friendly deal puts the Celtics in a better position to re-sign Grant Williams, Deveney adds. Horford is making $26.5MM this season and Williams is at $4.3MM in the final year of his rookie contract. Boston wants to keep their combined salaries in the same range, so the team could theoretically offer Williams a new deal starting at about $20MM per season. However, sources have told Deveney that the Celtics might be reluctant to match an offer for the restricted free agent that’s in the $18-20MM range.

“I don’t know that they would go into $20MM a year for Grant Williams,” the executive added. “I don’t know that anyone else would, either. But they have some cushion. If it winds up being $15MM a year for Grant, they can match that and still be in a position where they’re not adding to that (tax) burden.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Horford is the latest in a series of players that president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has signed to extensions before their contracts expired, notes Souichi Terada of MassLive. Stevens said Horford’s versatility and leadership have been instrumental as the Celtics have compiled the league’s best record. “Al is such an important part of our team,” Stevens said. “He’s a high-level player who enhances everyone around him on both ends of the court. His work ethic, commitment to his body and craft, and his unselfishness set a daily example on how to win big in the NBA.”
  • Marcus Smart is listed as questionable for Sunday with a left hip contusion, Terada adds in a separate story. Derrick White will likely replace Smart in the starting lineup if he has to miss the game, according to Terada, while Malcolm Brogdon and Payton Pritchard would see increased minutes.
  • Actress Nia Long has criticized the Celtics for the way they handled the suspension of coach Ime Udoka, her longtime partner, per Kevin Slane of The Boston Globe. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Long said the team made details of the incident more public than they needed to be, which caused embarrassment for their 11-year-old son.

Celtics Notes: Horford, G. Williams, Brown, Mazzulla

Al Horford has already left the Celtics once for more money and there’s a chance it might happen again next summer, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy. The 37-year-old Horford said this week that he’d like to play another two or three seasons, so he’ll be looking for a contract that covers that time. Whether that keeps him in Boston will depend on the salary he’s willing to accept.

Deveney talked to a Western Conference executive who points out that most of the teams that will have cap room in 2023 are young and aren’t likely to have interest in a player nearing 40. The unidentified executive expects Horford to land a two-year contract worth between $20-25MM, while another league source tells Deveney that Horford may get a three-year deal in the $40-42MM range with the final year as a partial guarantee or a player option.

An Eastern Conference executive believes the Celtics’ offer to Horford will depend on how much they have to pay to keep Grant Williams, who is headed for restricted free agency.

“Right now, you’re paying those guys $30MM,” the executive said. “They don’t want to add a bunch of salary, so if you can keep them below $30MM in starting money next year, it is not a bad situation. Other guys are going up, so you’d like to save where you can. If you start Williams at $16-17MM or so, you can go to $11-12MM for Al and still keep yourself around $180MM in payroll. They want both of those guys around so they have to think about them as a sliding scale.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Boston has the league’s best record at 13-3 and has figured out how to win with limited production from Jayson Tatum, notes Souichi Terada of MassLive. The Celtics posted back-to-back wins over the Hawks and Pelicans this week with Tatum limited to 19 points in each game on subpar shooting. Derrick White and Payton Pritchard have filled in with Malcolm Brogdon and Marcus Smart hurt, and the team is also getting valuable bench minutes from Williams, Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet.
  • Jaylen Brown credits the success to trust from new head coach Joe Mazzulla, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Whenever the Celtics hit a rough patch, Mazzulla usually prefers to let the players work through it rather than calling a timeout. “It challenges us for not only the situation at hand in front of us but to be better down the line,” Brown said. “We’ve been in the NBA long enough to know how to get to our spots and how to correct some of our mistakes. We have a poised team so that’s a lot of trust from our head coach that he instills in our players and us to figure it out. To be honest, that’s what you want as a player. You want that relationship with your head coach that he’ll trust you out there that you’ll figure it out.”
  • With nine straight wins, the Celtics appear to have solved their crunch-time rotation questions, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Tatum’s ability to fill multiple roles makes the team hard to defend with the game on the line, Weiss adds.

Scotto’s Latest: C. Johnson, Washington, G. Williams, Reddish, White

The Suns discussed a rookie scale extension with Cameron Johnson that would have been worth about $66-72MM over four years, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on his latest podcast. Scotto points out that those figures are in line with recent contracts for shooters such as Davis Bertans, Joe Harris and Duncan Robinson, but there’s a belief that Johnson can earn more considering the expected rise in the salary cap and his role on a contending team.

Johnson was off to a great start, averaging 13.0 points per game and shooting 43.1% from three-point range, before undergoing meniscus surgery that could sideline him for up to two months. Scotto notes that Phoenix gave Mikal Bridges a four-year, $90MM extension and cites league sources who have told him the team doesn’t want to approach that number to keep Johnson.

On the same podcast, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype said Johnson will be in demand as a restricted free agent, even if he doesn’t make a full recovery during the season. He notes that Collin Sexton received $72MM over four years after missing nearly an entire season with a meniscus tear and suggests that Johnson will get at least that much. Gozlan adds that Johnson is much easier to trade without an extension and wonders if that was the Suns’ plan all along.

The duo discussed several other players who are headed to restricted free agency:

  • The Hornets were offering P.J. Washington a four-year extension in the $50-52MM range, but he’s hoping for an annual salary closer to $20MM, sources tell Scotto. Washington has become a full-time starter with the loss of Miles Bridges and is averaging a career-high 14.6 points and 1.1 blocks per game. Gozlan believes Washington made the right decision, noting that the mid-level exception will soon be in the range of Charlotte’s offer.
  • The Celtics never offered Grant Williams more than $50MM in guaranteed money over four seasons, according to Scotto, who adds that Williams would have accepted a deal that paid him at least $14MM a year. Williams’ hot start puts him in line for a much bigger contract, and some sources tell Scotto he’ll get an offer starting in the $18MM range, which might be too high for Boston to match.
  • The Knicks didn’t have serious extension talks with Cam Reddish, but he has a chance to change his outlook after moving into the starting lineup, Scotto notes. Gozlan expects Reddish to get full MLE offers next summer if he keeps producing.
  • Coby White has become a trade candidate for the Bulls, NBA executives tell Scotto. White’s production continues to fall and he doesn’t appear to have a future in Chicago’s backcourt.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Udoka, Mazzulla, R. Williams, G. Williams

Celtics guard Marcus Smart remains frustrated that he and his teammates don’t know the whole story about why head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire 2022/23 season, and he was surprised to learn on Tuesday that Udoka might be headed to the Nets, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Smart said that he had been given the impression that Udoka would be back with the Celtics next season.

I guess it was deemed that whatever happened was enough for him not to be the coach here, but I guess not enough for him (not) to be a coach anywhere else, obviously,” Smart told Himmelsbach. “… (Udoka’s) name got slandered and slaughtered and it was, ‘He’ll probably never coach again.’ And a couple of months later now he’s possibly going to be the coach of one of our biggest rivals? It’s tough. It makes no sense. But we can’t control that. We have to control what we can and I love the team here. I love the coaching staff. I love Joe (Mazzulla).”

Smart acknowledged that he recognizes why Celtics management can’t necessarily be fully open about the circumstances of Udoka’s suspension, but said that doesn’t make the situation any easier or any less confusing.

“It really doesn’t matter what we say (to the front office),” Smart said. “We can voice our opinion, but I’m sure it’s going to be, ‘Yeah, we hear you.’ And that’s it. I’m sure they know how certain people feel. But it is tough, because there’s only so much that they can say. It’s a tough spot for everybody. It just sucks all around.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics’ brass is “fully invested” in Mazzulla and is happy with the work he has done as the head coach since replacing Udoka, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. That’s a key reason why the team seems comfortable moving on from Udoka.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic considers what’s next for the Celtics and Udoka if the team lets him leave for Brooklyn. As Weiss notes, the C’s would be able to get Udoka’s contract off their books and would no longer have to worry about what to do when his suspension ends, but the team would probably have to prepare some turnover on its coaching staff, especially if Mazzulla wants to bring in some of his own assistants.
  • The Celtics had the NBA’s top defense a year ago, but only rank 22nd so far this season. While that number should improve, Boston’s ceiling on defense is limited until Robert Williams returns, writes Steve Bulpett of “Without Rob Williams, they’re a very good team, but they’re in that second tier,” a source told Bulpett. “With Rob Williams, they’re a top defense and a championship level team. That’s what he does for them.”
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams sat down with Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) to discuss several topics, including not signing a rookie scale extension before the regular season began.