Guerschon Yabusele

Aron Baynes To Be Sidelined “A Few Weeks”

Celtics center Aron Baynes is “shutting it down for a few weeks” because of pain in his left foot, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. The team says the injury is to the cuboid bone, adds Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).

Baynes said the pain started about two weeks ago and “wasn’t getting any better,” relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). He has tried to play through it, logging 21 minutes Friday against the Knicks, but it has become too severe.

The timing means Baynes will almost certainly be out through the All-Star break. Baynes’ absence will mean more minutes for Daniel Theis, Guerschon Yabusele and rookie Robert Williams, although Williams will miss today’s game with back soreness.

Baynes has seen reduced playing time in his second season with the Celtics, averaging, 5.7 PPG and 4.3 RPG in about 15 minutes per night. He has a $5.45MM player option for next season.

Celtics Notes: Baynes, Frontcourt, Roster, Bird

Appearing this morning on Toucher and Rich in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed that Aron Baynes is undergoing surgery today on his broken hand, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

While an exact timeline for Baynes’ return likely won’t be determined until after that procedure is complete, Ainge said that he doesn’t expect the Celtics to seek out roster help while Baynes is sidelined. Boston’s frontcourt is banged up, but Al Horford and Guerschon Yabusele should be ready to return soon, according to Ainge, so reinforcements are on the way.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • After an eight-game win streak, Boston has taken a step back over the last two games, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com details. “This is the NBA season. You just want to have great pockets of games, you have good consistent run, and then now you have a lapse,” Kyrie Irving said. “Now it’s [time to] build it back up, continue to work every single day to be a very great team. It’s a work in progress every day.”
  • Coming into the season, the Celtics were viewed as one of the league’s deepest teams, with multiple All-Stars leading the way. However, the supporting cast around Irving has been somewhat underwhelming this season, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. According to Forsberg, last year’s standouts like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier have “rarely asserted themselves” when the C’s need someone other than Irving to save them this season.
  • Jabari Bird, who was arrested on assault charges in September, appeared in court on Tuesday and is scheduled to do so again on January 30, per Nicole Yang of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The Celtics appear prepared to continue waiting on a decision from the league before they decide what to do with Bird, though if they really need an extra roster spot, that could change the equation, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports.

Atlantic Notes: Walker, Hernangomez, Butler, Yabusele

While Kemba Walker did not sound enthused about returning to his native New York and play for the Knicks, he did not shut the door on the possibility, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

“I don’t have any interest in coming back home — right now,” Walker said. The 28-year-old Bronx native is set to hit free agency this summer and will be one of the most sought-after guards on the market.

New York is expected to have cap room to sign at least one top-tier free agent and Walker fits the bill. While he admitted to enjoying his time playing in Madison Square Garden as a visitor, Walker appeared to shut down the possibility over the summer

“I’ve been hearing it for years now, the Knicks,” Walker said. “Every time I come home, it’s ‘When are you coming home to the Knicks?’ MSG is a special place, man. The Knicks are a special team. Of course, I’ve been a Knicks fan growing up, always rooted for the home team. But I really can’t see myself in a Knicks jersey — only because I’ve been in one jersey. I really don’t know.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • Former Knicks center Willy Hernangomez said he requested a trade last season after it became clear he was no longer in the team’s long-term plans, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “Obviously with Phil [Jackson] out, he was the person who bought me here from Spain, who believed in me from the beginning,” Hernangomez said. “Him and Steve Mills. Summer, they made a change. I think that changed the mentality to the future. You see how many players from my first year are on the team now.”
  • Sixers big man Joel Embiid said the acquisition of Jimmy Butler and subsequent change to his role have impacted his play. Speaking to reporters, including Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Butler downplayed Embiid’s comment and expressed his support for Embiid. “I know where his heart is, man,” Butler said. “His heart is pure. He wants to win. I can feel for him. It’s new to him. It’s new to myself. It’s new to everybody.
  • Celtics big man Guerschon Yabusele suffered a “bad sprain” in his right ankle during the team’s on Saturday, A.Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. Yabusele is expected to “be out for a while,” according to head coach Brad Stevens.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/16/18

Here are Friday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Pistons have assigned third-year forward Henry Ellenson and rookie guards Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown to the Grand Rapids Drive, Keith Langlois of the team’s website tweets. That will allow the trio to play in two Drive home games this weekend, Langlois notes. The Pistons are in the midst of a rare four-day layoff and there’s no need for any of them to remain with the NBA club during that stretch.
  • The Celtics have recalled center Rob Williams, forward Guerschon Yabusele and guard Brad Wanamaker from the Maine Red Claws, the team’s PR department tweets. All three started in the Red Claws’ loss to Raptors 905 on Thursday, combining for 52 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
  • The Magic have assigned guards Isaiah Briscoe and Melvin Frazier Jr. to Lakeland, allowing them to get some game action against Greensboro on Friday, the Magic’s PR department tweets. Briscoe, an undrafted point guard, has played five games with Orlando this season. Frazier, a second-round pick in June, has seen action in two NBA games.
  • The Grizzles recalled rookie guard Jevon Carter for the team’s morning shootaround, re-assigned him to the Memphis Hustle for afternoon practice, then recalled him once again in time for the team’s game against the Kings on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. Carter, an early second-rounder, is still looking to make his NBA debut.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/15/18

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Eastern Notes: Boylan, Hornets, Saric, Yabusele

Former Cavaliers assistant coach Jim Boylan has filed an age-discrimination lawsuit against the franchise, which the team has labelled “frivolous” and a “shameless cash grab,” according to an Associated Press report. Boylan, 63, worked five seasons under former coaches David Blatt and Tyronn Lue but did not have his option picked up this summer. Boylan contends GM Koby Altman told him owner Dan Gilbert wanted a younger coach.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Hornets have used a committee approach at the center spot and that position is likely to remain in flux, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Starter Cody Zeller, Willy Hernangomez, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nicolas Batum, Frank Kaminsky and Bismack Biyombo have all taken turns in the middle but first-year coach James Borrego isn’t worried. “We’re still searching (but) I like the dilemma I have,” he told Bonnell.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown is allowing forward Dario Saric to work through his shooting slump, Sarah Todd of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Saric has scored in single digits in each of the last three games while shooting 2-for-13 from long range. Brown has no plans to reduce Saric’s workload. “If he came to me and said, ‘I need some time,’ I would listen,” Brown said. “But I don’t feel like I’m force-feeding anything, I do not feel like I’m hurting him. In fact, I feel like I’m helping him.”
  • Guerschon Yabusele’s option was picked up for next season because his game fits the modern NBA, according to coach Brad Stevens, and the Celtics believe the 22-year-old has high upside, the team’s PR department tweets. Boston’s brass decided to retain Yabusele despite a cap hit of $3,117,240, a figure that could grow if Boston pays the luxury tax. The 6’8” Yabusele has played just 18 minutes this season after seeing action in 33 games in his rookie campaign. But with several players hitting the free agent market next summer, the Celtics felt Yabusele was too valuable to give up, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald notes. “Having Guerschon gives us continuity. He knows our system,” GM Danny Ainge said. “He’s loved by everybody. It’s just not easy to find that type of player.”

Celtics Pick Up Options On Tatum, Brown, Yabusele

The Celtics have picked up their 2019/20 team options on three players, according to an official announcement from the club (Twitter link). Jaylen Brown‘s fourth-year option has been exercised, as have the third-year options for Jayson Tatum and Guerschon Yabusele.

The decisions on Tatum and Brown come as no surprise. Tatum has looked like a rising star since being selected third overall in the 2017 draft, and the decision to lock in his $7,830,000 cap hit for 2019/20 was a no-brainer. Brown hasn’t flashed the same sort of star potential as his fellow No. 3 overall pick, but the starting shooting guard continues to improve on both ends of the court, and guaranteeing his $6,534,829 cap charge for next season was also an easy call for the Celtics.

Boston’s decision on Yabusele is a little more surprising. The former 16th overall pick has played in just 38 games for the Celtics since joining the team last season, and hasn’t made an impact, with 2.2 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 6.7 minutes per contest.

Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Robert Williams, Daniel Theis, and Semi Ojeleye are all in Boston’s frontcourt mix, and the team sometimes plays Tatum or Gordon Hayward at the four, leaving few opportunities for Yabusele. Nonetheless, the Celtics apparently still value him highly enough to lock in his $3,117,240 cap hit for 2019/20. The C’s will end up paying a higher price to retain Yabusele if they’re well over the tax line next season, as is expected.

All of the rookie scale option decisions for 2019/20 can be tracked right here.

Celtics Face Difficult Decision On Yabusele

The Celtics have three more days to decide whether to pick up the third-year-option on Guerschon Yabusele, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.

The team’s other option decisions are easy, with Jayson Tatum sure to get $7.83MM in his third season and Jaylen Brown $6,534,829 in his fourth. Committing $3,117,240 to Yabusele, who isn’t part of the rotation, is a tougher call, especially with the team projected to be well into luxury tax territory if Kyrie Irving and Al Horford both opt out and re-sign as expected.

Adding in tax payments, the final cost for Yabusele would be in excess of $6MM, which is a high price tag for a player who is only playing 3.8 minutes per night and got into just 33 games as a rookie.

Yabusele said he hasn’t heard anything from team officials about their plans, but his preference is to remain with the franchise.

“I would love to be back here with the team,” he said. “The Celtics are a great organization, so if I have a chance to be back here, I would love to do that.”

The Celtics’ other choice is to decline the option now and take their chances on re-signing Yabusele as an unrestricted free agent in July. There’s risk involved because Yabusele could become much more expensive if he has a productive season. Other teams would also have an advantage because Boston would be limited to the $3,117,240 figure as a starting point for any new offer.

Bulpett notes that if the Celtics decide to pick up his option, they will face the same decision again next fall when he will have a fourth-year option of $4,781,846.

Five Rookie Scale Options That May Not Be Exercised

Team and player options on veteran contracts must be exercised by the end of June before the new league year begins on July 1, but the same rules don’t apply to team options in rookie scale contracts. First-round picks who signed standard rookie contracts have third- and fourth-year options included in their deals, and those options must be exercised – or declined – seven months early.

The deadline for rookie scale option decisions is October 31, which means that teams have about another month to decide whether to pick up those options for the 2019/20 season.

It’s an unusual structure, one that forces teams to make decisions before seeing how their players will perform on the court that season. Last fall, for instance, the Magic turned down their fourth-year option on Mario Hezonja for 2018/19. Hezonja subsequently enjoyed his best season as a pro, and instead of entering the final year of his rookie contract with Orlando, he was able to hit the open market and secure a larger salary with the Knicks.

Cases like Hezonja’s are rare, however. For the most part, teams will exercise their rookie scale options, particularly third-year options. Third-year options are generally pretty affordable, and decisions are due after a player has been in the NBA for just one season, so clubs are reluctant to give up on their first-round picks that early.

Still, while many of this year’s rookie scale option decisions will be no-brainers, there are at least a small handful of players who aren’t locks to have their options picked up. Here’s a look at five players who fall into that category:

  1. D.J. Wilson, Bucks (third year, $2,961,120): Wilson had some good games in the G League last season, but his overall NBAGL numbers were just okay for a first-round pick, and he only played 72 minutes in 22 NBA games. As noted above, teams often don’t give up this early on first-round picks, and Wilson’s cap charge is affordable enough that it’s probably worth securing him for at least one more year. This isn’t a slam-dunk though.
  2. Malachi Richardson, Raptors (fourth year, $2,581,597): When the Raptors sent Bruno Caboclo to Sacramento in exchange for Richardson at last season’s trade deadline, it reduced their 2017/18 payroll and increased their flexibility to make a move on the buyout market. But it also meant taking on Richardson’s guarantee for 2018/19, while Caboclo’s contract expired. Richardson seems unlikely to have any sort of role this season on a deep, talented Toronto team, and with the club at risk of being in the tax again in 2019/20, I don’t expect the Raps to lock in Richardson for another year.
  3. Guerschon Yabusele (third year, $3,117,240): While the “Dancing Bear” has no shortage of fans in Boston, it’s hard to see how he’ll earn playing time in a frontcourt that features Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis, and first-rounder Robert Williams — especially if Jayson Tatum and/or Gordon Hayward see significant minutes at the four. Yabusele has promise, but with the Celtics now in the tax, it might make sense to use his roster spot on a minimum-salary player starting in 2019/20.
  4. Malik Beasley, Nuggets (fourth year, $2,731,714): Denver’s lack of reliable backcourt depth bodes well for Beasley, who could parlay a solid Summer League showing into a regular backup role at shooting guard. The Nuggets don’t have serious tax concerns for 2019/20, so exercising Beasley’s modestly-priced option wouldn’t be a major risk. Still, it would be an easier decision if he’d shown more improvement in his sophomore season. Instead, he posted just 3.2 PPG on 41.0% shooting in 62 games in 2017/18.
  5. Justin Patton, Timberwolves (third year, $3,117,240): After missing nearly all of his rookie season due to foot problems, Patton has undergone another foot procedure this month, raising some doubts about his availability for the 2018/19 season. Nonetheless, I expect the Timberwolves will want to give Patton another chance to get healthy before cutting their losses on him, particularly since he may soon be the lone piece remaining from last summer’s trade with the Bulls.

For a full breakdown of this year’s decisions on 2019/20 rookie scale options, click here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Leonard, Irving, Draft, Summer League

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is wary of paying a steep price for Kawhi Leonard without a guarantee that he’ll stay more than one season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Leonard has asked for a trade out of San Antonio and the Celtics may be able to put together the best offer, but Ainge will probably be cautious, according to Washburn.

He suggests Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum would have to be part of the package, along with the rights to the Kings’ first-rounder in 2019. It might be easier to match salaries by including Gordon Hayward, but his trade value has dropped after missing the season with a severe ankle fracture.

Kyrie Irving can already opt out next season, and the Celtics might be reluctant to have two stars on their roster who could leave at the same time, especially if it means breaking up a young core that looks like it will be a contender for several years.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Irving hopes to resume playing again “in like a month,” he said in an appearance this week on The Bill Simmons Podcast. NBC Sports Boston relayed a few of his comments, including an explanation of what it was like to deal with a knee infection that forced him to miss the entire playoffs. “I was leaving the games at halftime because I had eight-hour shifts of antibiotics I had to take for my infection,” Irving said. “I had a PICC line in my arm for two months and I’m just like… every day is like OK, I can’t necessarily lift, I can’t run, I can’t do anything. If I didn’t have my PICC line in for my infection I would have definitely tried to go after being ready for at least the Eastern Conference Finals.”
  • The Celtics have a recent history of going the draft-and-stash route late in the first round, but the overseas talent doesn’t warrant it this year, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Apart from Luka Doncic, the only foreign players with a shot at being taken in the first round are French point guard Elie Okobo and Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa, according to Blakely.
  • Guerschon Yabusele, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird are all expected to be part of the Celtics’ summer league team in Las Vegas, Washburn notes. Bird has a two-way contract, so Boston has to make a qualifying offer before he is eligible. Jay Larranaga will coach the team.