Grant Williams

Celtics Notes: Smart, G. Williams, Roster Spots

Marcus Smart agrees with the theory that a shallow rotation left the Celtics exhausted by the time they reached the NBA Finals, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart, who admitted that he still rewatches the Finals to see what he could have done differently, said the team exacerbated the problem by getting off to a slow start and not playing to its potential until January.

“I think depth was one of the big things that hurt us,” he said. “You had me, Jayson (Tatum), Jaylen (Brown) and our starters playing, clawing (up the standings) and we did it to ourselves.”

Smart likes the offseason additions the Celtics made, though Danilo Gallinari may be lost for the season with a torn ACL. Smart heard his name mentioned in Kevin Durant trade rumors this summer, but he’s thankful that he wasn’t moved and that the core of the team has remained intact.

“For someone who’s always talked about in trade talks, I didn’t really pay too much mind to that. Until it actually happens, I don’t believe it,” Smart said. “We can sit here and say this person said this, but we don’t even know who said it. It’s like a telephone game. By the time it gets back to you, you don’t know what changed and who said what. Until it actually happens, I try to pay trade rumors no mind.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • In an interview with Bobby Manning of CLNS Media, Smart revealed that he’s still feeling the effects of injuries from last season’s playoffs. He suffered a sprained right foot in the Eastern semifinals and a sprained right ankle in the conference finals. He also had to miss Game 2 of the Bucks series after aggravating a right thigh injury. “My ankle is feeling better, it’s still healing, so I’m dealing with that,” Smart said. “Just giving it as much rest as I can, but definitely back on the court. I’m definitely back into the action. It feels like yesterday we just started playing, we haven’t really missed a beat, but I’m definitely doing everything I can to be ready for next season and to go deeper. I’m pretty close (to 100%), obviously it’s September, you don’t want to be in June, July, May shape right now so I’m trying not to go too crazy, but I’m really close and I’ve been doing this going into my ninth season.”
  • Grant Williams‘ hopes for a contract extension will be impacted by the three-year, $33MM deal that Maxi Kleber got from the Mavericks, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Robb believes Williams would be better off taking what he can get in an extension rather than dealing with the unpredictability of restricted free agency.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines the battle for roster spots at Celtics training camp and views Sam Hauser, Luke KornetMfiondu Kabengele, JD Davison and Jake Layman as having the best shot at making the team.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, Free Agents, Brogdon, G. Williams

The Celtics are expected to apply for a disabled player exception in the wake of Danilo Gallinari‘s ACL tear, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A report Friday indicates that Gallinari hasn’t given up hope of playing toward the end of the upcoming season, but it appears to be a long shot given his age and the severity of the injury.

If the request is approved, Boston’s DPE would be about $3.2MM, which is half of Gallinari’s salary for 2022/23. The team would be able use that amount to sign a free agent, claim a player off waivers or acquire a player through trade, though Himmelsbach views that last option as unlikely because the Celtics already have two trade exceptions that are worth more.

Boston signed Gallinari in July to provide veteran help off the bench and another three-point shooting threat. His contract includes a $6.8MM player option for next season that he seems almost certain to exercise in light of the injury.

There’s more from Boston:

  • With Gallinari likely unavailable for the entire season, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe looks at some options that are still available on the free agent market. He points to Carmelo Anthony, who might welcome the chance to end his career on a title contender, along with DeMarcus Cousins, Jeremy Lamb, Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Washburn notes that Kevin Durant‘s trade demand worked to the Celtics’ advantage because it froze the free agent market for several weeks, leaving a wealth of veteran players available in September.
  • Malcolm Brogdon may used as the primary backup wing to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. Brogdon, who was acquired from the Pacers in July, has the size to handle the role at 6’5″ and is probably the team’s best defensive option at that position. Robb notes that it would also provide more backcourt minutes for Derrick White and Payton Pritchard.
  • Grant Williams will likely ask for a starting salary in the mid-teens in his extension negotiations, Robb adds in the same piece. Robb doesn’t believe president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will meet that price, even though Williams becomes more important with Gallinari sidelined.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, G. Williams, Hauser, Trade Exceptions

NBA players who sustain ACL tears often take a full calendar year to return to action, but Celtics forward Danilo Gallinari isn’t giving up on playing in 2022/23 after learning of his diagnosis, according to Tim Bontemps and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. A source tells Wojnarowski that Gallinari is determined to try to play before before the end of the season.

“This has been a tough week for me as I have learned the extent of my injury,” Gallinari wrote today in a statement on Twitter. “This game means everything to me and not being able to be on the court with my Celtics teammates hurts. I plan to give everything I can to the Celtics organization and my teammates as we hunt for a title.”

Even if the Celtics make another deep playoff run and play into May or June, Gallinari would need to make it back onto the court approximately eight or nine months after tearing his ACL in order to contribute in the postseason. That’s a tall order for any player, let alone a 34-year-old who tore the same ACL in 2013.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Gallinari is expected to undergo surgery on his left knee after the swelling goes down, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. According to Himmelsbach, Grant Williams will likely play an increased role with Gallinari out, while Sam Hauser will have a chance to earn a spot in the regular rotation.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic takes a look at what’s next for the Celtics with Gallinari sidelined, noting that Boston still has a pair of trade exceptions worth $6.9MM and $5.9MM that could be useful if the team wants to try to add some reliable veteran depth via trade.
  • In another article for The Athletic, Weiss examines how the Cavaliers’ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell affects the Celtics’ place in the Eastern Conference hierarchy and considers whether Collin Sexton‘s new four-year, $72MM deal will be a reference point when Boston discusses a potential rookie scale extension with Grant Williams.

Eastern Notes: Gallinari, Hauser, Durant, Holden, Pistons

Danilo Gallinari‘s knee injury could open up some playing time for second-year Celtics forward Sam Hauser, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Gallinari suffered a meniscus tear during a World Cup Qualifier while playing for Italy and there’s no timetable for his recovery.

Hauser, who remained with the Celtics by signing a three-year deal in early July, can provide some perimeter shooting as Gallinari mends, though he needs to improve defensively. Boston could also go with more small-ball lineups with Grant Williams or even Jayson Tatum playing the center spot.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Kevin Durant and the Nets have smoothed over their differences for the time being and Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report delves into the question of whether they can continue to maintain a peaceful relationship. It’s likely the team will keep an awkward status quo while hoping to make a deep playoff run, Pincus writes. If things go awry, they can revisit offers for Durant at the trade deadline or next offseason.
  • Speaking of the Nets, former Euroleague standout J.R. Holden is expected to be named GM of their G League affiliate in Long Island, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Holden would replace Matt Riccardi, who accepted a front office position with Dallas this summer.
  • While there’s a good vibe coming out of Detroit, it will be very difficult for the Pistons to improve enough just to make the play-in tournament, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com points out. They may be better than they were last season but none of last year’s playoff and play-in tournament participants, save perhaps Charlotte, project to take a big step backward. At the same time, lottery teams New York and Washington have made major roster additions.

International Notes: Brown, Basketball Without Borders, World Cup

Former NBA wing Anthony Brown has agreed to terms on a deal with Russian club Unics Kazan, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. A former EuroLeague club, Unics Kazan now competes in the VTB United League.

After being selected with the No. 34 pick by the Lakers in 2015 out of Stanford, Brown bounced the NBA and G League for several seasons. He suited up for the Lakers and their NBAGL affiliate, at the time called the Los Angeles D-Fenders (now the South Bay Lakers), the Magic and their affiliate team the Erie BayHawks/Lakeland Magic, the Timberwolves and their NBAGL club the Iowa Wolves, and the Pelicans. In 41 total NBA games, the 29-year-old has averaged 3.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG across 18.6 MPG.

Brown first headed overseas in 2018, and has since suited up for teams in Serbia, France, Spain, Turkey and Israel. While playing for Maccabi Rishon LeZion in Israel Super League competition last season, the 6’7″ swingman posted averages of 16.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG and 1.0 SPG, with a shooting line of .465/.396/.821.

Here are more international basketball odds and ends:

  • Several NBA players and coaches will head overseas to take part in a Basketball Without Borders camp set for Cairo, Egypt, per a league press release. The event will run from this Sunday, August 28, through next Wednesday, August 31. Sixty-four of the best boys and girls hailing from 26 African nations, aged 18 and under, will travel to the camp. Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, Magic center Mohamed Bamba, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Grant Williams, and retired Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo will be among the camp’s coaches, with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, Pelicans head coach Willie Green, Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, Bucks associate head coach Charles Lee, and Hornets athletic trainer Quinton Sawyer also participating. The camp’s roster of directors will be pretty star-studded as well, led by Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Cavaliers GM Mike Gansey, and Clippers scout Lance Blanks.
  • With almost exactly one year to go before the 2023 FIBA World Cup tips off, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press checks in on USA Basketball as the organization ramps up its preparation for the event. The first games in next year’s competition are scheduled to be played on August 25, 2023. Fielding a lineup that features G League and international-caliber American players, Team USA currently has a 6-1 record in the World Cup qualifiers. Next year, Steve Kerr will coach Team USA, featuring a likely-star studded roster. This year, that task falls to former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen. “We’re learning a lot because the NBA game has changed over the last seven or eight years, too,” Sean Ford, the U.S. men’s national team director, said. “There’s much more shotmaking. It’s just unbelievable, incredible the amount of 3-point shots that are taken, the freedom of movement, the flow of the game. But the international game has stayed the physical way.” 
  • Former Thunder swingman Terrance Ferguson has made the jump to overseas play, signing on with Polish team GTK Gliwice. Get full details here.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Grimes, Brown, Williams, Maxey

Who’s the best backcourt partner for Jalen Brunson on the current Knicks roster? According to analytics expert Joseph Gill in an interview with SNY TV’s Ian Begley, Quentin Grimes is the best fit alongside the high-priced free agent acquisition. Grimes is a legitimate threat to space the floor and he doesn’t turn the ball over very often. That makes him a better pairing with Brunson’s skill set than Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett or Immanuel Quickley, in Gill’s estimation.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • What would a Jaylen Brown extension look like? Keith Smith takes a deep dive into that subject in a Spotrac article. With two years left on his current contract, the Celtics wing is eligible to sign a three-year deal this offseason. He could wait until after next season and sign a Designated Veteran Extension or after the 2023/24 season and ink a Designated Veteran contract if he meets certain criteria. He could also sign with Boston or another team as a free agent in 2024.
  • Grant Williams has communicated with Brown regarding the trade rumors involving the Nets and Kevin Durant and says Brown is handling it well, Matt John of Heavy.com relays. “I feel like JB is mature in his mindset, and he knows that. I talk to him, texted him, reach out of as often as I can,” Williams said. “It’s one of those things. It’s the league. It’s a business. It’s one of those things that you can’t be discouraged by because we love JB. It also shows how valuable he is.”
  • Developing even greater offensive chemistry with Joel Embiid and getting selected to the All-Star team would be aspects of a best-case scenario for Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey in 2022/23, Kyle Neubeck of Phillyvoice.com writes. Not living up to increased expectations would be part of a worst-case scenario for Maxey next season.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Brown, G. Williams, Durant

Jayson Tatum spent much of his career hearing from critics who said he and Jaylen Brown could never be an effective combination, but he tells NBC Sports Boston that he and Brown never had any doubts (video link). Responding to a question about how their legacy might look if they both spend their entire careers with the Celtics, Tatum said his focus is more immediate.

“We just try to stay in the moment,” he replied. “It’s not necessarily about our legacy will look like if we did this or that. Just trying to be the best versions of ourselves, the best players that we can be and compete at the highest level. I think we really took those next steps last season. We’ll be the first to tell you that we got more to do, more to accomplish. We’re eager to do so.”

There were frequent calls for Boston to break up its star duo last season before the team began rising up the Eastern Conference standings in January. More recently, Brown was reportedly included in the Celtics’ trade offer to Brooklyn for Kevin Durant, but Tatum would like to see their partnership continue.

“Despite all the people that said we couldn’t play together,” Tatum said, “we always believed that we could.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • In an interview with Justin Quinn of Celtics Wire, Tatum confirmed the shoulder injury he suffered in the Eastern Conference Finals has healed. “Yeah, it feels a lot better, it got a lot of time to rest that it needed,” Tatum said. “So, it definitely felt a lot better.”
  • Grant Williams tells Mike Thomas of Sportscasting.com that he prefers to stay in Boston, but there would be a certain honor in being part of a Durant trade. Williams recalls a story from former Celtics executive Danny Ainge about breaking the news to Al Jefferson that he had been sent to the Timberwolves in the Kevin Garnett deal. “If I get involved in the KD trade — I don’t want to leave Boston, I love Boston, it’s one of the places I want to be — but he’s a top-10 player ever,” Williams said. “You can say, ‘Dang, I got traded for Kevin Durant. I was a value add in that trade.’ It’d be cool to say that, but at the same time, I don’t want to go anywhere. I’d rather stay where I’m at.”
  • The Celtics remain the betting favorite to land Durant, per Jeremy Cluff of The Arizona Republic. OddsChecker lists Boston as -175 to be Durant’s next team in updated odds released on Thursday.

Trade Rumors: Brown, Durant, Smart, G. Williams, Irving

The CelticsJaylen Brown is the best individual talent the Nets could hope to get in a Kevin Durant trade, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says in a discussion with Jared Weiss of The Athletic. News that Boston made an offer to Brooklyn that included Brown, Derrick White and a draft pick shook up the rumor mill on Monday, about a month after Durant made his trade request.

Brown is a potential All-Star over the next few seasons, Scotto adds, and could become a cornerstone for the Nets long after Durant has retired. White, meanwhile, is easier to part with after the Celtics acquired Malcolm Brogdon from the Pacers.

Scotto also notes that there’s an element of risk with Durant, who will turn 34 in September and has been through two significant injuries. He adds that some teams are starting to question the value of paying exorbitant salaries to stars in their 30s, and the four years remaining on Durant’s contract might not be universally seen as something positive.

Scotto and Weiss address trade rumors involving a few more players:

  • Replacing White with Marcus Smart might make the Nets more willing to take the Celtics’ offer, even if it means getting fewer draft picks. Sources tell Scotto that Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks has been an admirer of Smart for years and would love the chance to add him to Brooklyn’s roster. Weiss questions whether the Celtics can afford to give up the fiery guard, who represents a large part of the team’s defensive identity, and said he’s probably worth more to Boston than he would be to just about anyone else.
  • The Celtics are interested in an extension for Grant Williams, but they may hold off to see if he’s needed in a Durant deal, according to Weiss. Another factor, Weiss adds, is how high Boston is willing to go on a raise for Williams considering the expected rise in the salary cap.
  • Scotto is among the observers who believe the Nets would prefer to hold onto Durant and Kyrie Irving and see how the season plays out, which is part of the reason they’re keeping the price for Durant so high. With a healthy Ben Simmons and Joe Harris, plus a full season of Seth Curry and the addition of T.J. Warren, the Nets might be in a position to contend as long as Durant and Irving are still around. Weiss supports Brooklyn trading Irving for Russell Westbrook, but only if the Lakers include two first-round picks in the deal.

Extension Rumors: Hunter, C. Johnson, Poole, G. Williams, More

Of the players eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason, Spurs forward Keldon Johnson became the first to sign a new deal worth less than the maximum. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link), Johnson’s new four-year contract will have a base value of $74MM, with $1.5MM in annual unlikely incentives that could push the total value of the deal to $80MM.

Johnson’s contract will serve as a point of comparison for many of the other extension-eligible players who will be negotiating with their respective teams this summer and fall, Fischer writes in a full story for Bleacher Report.

For instance, representatives for De’Andre Hunter figure to seek a similar deal for their client, though the Hawks may be reluctant to invest heavily in a player who has appeared in just 76 games in the last two seasons due to injuries. One cap strategist who spoke to Bleacher Report said Hunter’s injury concerns “are very real,” and sources tell Fischer that the 24-year-old and Atlanta are approximately $20MM apart in their discussions about a four-year extension.

Johnson’s extension with San Antonio is worth roughly the same amount annually as deals signed by sharpshooters like Davis Bertans, Duncan Robinson, and Joe Harris, and all four of those deals will be reference points when Cameron Johnson and the Suns discuss a new deal, according to Fischer, who suggests an extension for Johnson could easily surpass $15MM per year.

Here are a few more notes from Fischer on rookie scale extension candidates from around the NBA:

  • There’s a sense that the Warriors may be best off waiting on an extension for Jordan Poole unless they can get a team-friendly rate this offseason, Fischer writes. “What’s the upside in locking him in now?” the team cap strategist said. “He’s not Luka Doncic or Donovan Mitchell, who’ve proven they can carry a team. He’s close. If he does it again, you pay him. But prior to this year he was a borderline rotation player.”
  • Cap experts who spoke to Fischer believes that the Celtics‘ four-year extension for Robert Williams (worth $48MM, plus $6MM in incentives) will be a benchmark for their extension talks with Grant Williams. However, rival executives don’t think the C’s will want to spend much more on Grant than they did on Robert.
  • The Trail Blazers and Nassir Little may both be motivated to work out a new deal this summer. As Fischer explains, Little could increase his value (and his price tag) in 2022/23 if he’s part of Portland’s new-look starting lineup, but his injury history might make him inclined to take a guaranteed payday sooner rather than later.
  • There has been no traction on extension talks between the Sixers and Matisse Thybulle, sources tell Bleacher Report. Fischer also classifies Bulls guard Coby White as a player who is unlikely to sign an extension before the season.

Atlantic Notes: G. Williams, Duke, Koloko, Mitchell

The Celtics have a recent history of reaching extensions with their first-round picks, and Grant Williams hopes to be next, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Weiss reports that Boston has already started extension talks with Williams, who displayed his value during the team’s run to the NBA Finals. He provides a strong defensive presence off the bench and shot 39.3% from three-point range during this year’s playoffs.

Williams talks about wanting to play his entire career for the Celtics and help the organization add more banners to the rafters. Weiss notes that negotiations might be tricky in light of recent deals for similar players, but Williams expressed confidence that management will be fair with him.

“Just making sure that the extension works for both sides. My number one focus is winning,” Williams said. “You take care of the good guys. You take care of the guys that provide value to your team, both on and off the floor. I feel like the Celtics are feeling the same way. I’m not too stressed about the negotiations because I feel like both parties want to get a deal done.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • David Duke Jr. improved his chances for a standard contract after turning down a two-way offer from the Nets prior to Summer League, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Duke, who also had a Summer League offer from the Raptors, showed the most improvement among Brooklyn’s second-year players in Las Vegas, Lewis observes. “The great thing is I haven’t noticed anything other than complete professionalism and dedication to playing well and doing everything we asked of him: Attacking and being aggressive within the team framework,” coach Adam Caporn said. “I just love what he’s doing defensively, picking the ball up, setting the tone. He’s doing everything the right way.”
  • The Raptors may be saving part of their mid-level exception to sign second-round pick Christian Koloko, Eric Koreen of The Athletic suggests in an overview of Toronto’s roster. Koreen adds that the team might also be waiting to to see if the Arizona center’s draft rights are needed in a trade package before officially signing him.
  • The Knicks‘ collection of young players and draft assets makes them seem like a logical landing spot for Donovan Mitchell, but Fred Katz of The Athletic looks at why Jazz CEO Danny Ainge and New York’s front office might night not be perfect trading partners.