Jabari Bird

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.

Atlantic Notes: Bird, Nogueira, Raptors, Sixers

After barely playing for the Celtics this season, two-way player Jabari Bird has averaged 22.8 MPG in Boston’s last two games, posting 12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 2.5 APG while shooting 11-of-15 from the field. Despite his solid play lately, Bird won’t be postseason-eligible for the Celtics unless the team converts his two-way contract into a standard deal. And to do that, the C’s would have to waive one of their 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

There are no obvious expendable pieces on the Celtics’ roster, so the idea of Bird joining the team for the postseason may be a long shot. For his part, the rookie tells A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston that he’s focused on playing hard during the regular season and “trying to control what I can control.” Brad Stevens also deferred on the topic of Bird becoming playoff-eligible, but had praise for the youngster.

“Those aren’t my discussions or my job,” the Celtics head coach said of Bird’s contract situation. “But at the end of the day, I think he is playing well. He’s doing some good things. I thought offensively he was pretty good, especially early. He’s done a good job in the last couple of games and will probably play some of the next two.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Raptors center Lucas Nogueira will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but a qualifying offer “seems unlikely,” writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. That’s probably a reflection of Toronto’s cap situation and depth chart rather than an indication of how much the team likes Nogueira. He falls behind Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl at center for the Raptors, who also sometimes use Serge Ibaka at the five.
  • Much has been made of the Raptors‘ “culture reset” within the last year, but what exactly did that culture reset consist of? Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca attempts to pull back the curtain, writing that the culture change in Toronto isn’t just about the club’s reworked offense. “The culture change is about the whole organization. It’s not about offense and defense,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “Believe me, when [president Masai Ujiri] mentioned that, it was about all of us. Everything we do. From scouting, training, how we go about our day in the front office, it’s included in that.”
  • The Sixers are the NBA’s hottest team right now, but there are still questions about how the club will look in the playoffs. Sarah Todd of Philly.com explores the potential postseason roles for Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell, while David Murphy of Philly.com wonders how much responsibility – and how many minutes – Ben Simmons will be asked to handle.

Celtics Notes: Bird, Tatum, Larkin, Hayward

Jabari Bird, who watched the Celtics’ season opener from his California home, played a key role in Friday’s comeback win over the Sixers, writes Taylor C. Snow of NBA.com. Coach Brad Stevens called on Bird in the third quarter to guard J.J. Redick. He wound up playing 14 minutes and rallying Boston from an eight-point deficit to a four-point lead.

Bird never expected this type of early action after signing a two-way contract in early September. But an opportunity occurred when Gordon Hayward suffered an opening-night injury that is expected to keep him out for the season. Bird boarded a plane that night and joined the team in Milwaukee on Wednesday. He is limited to 45 days in the NBA, but the clock doesn’t start until G League training camps open Monday.

“All the way through preseason and training camp, I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he’s got a huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in the preseason practices and his ability to guard on the ball, especially shooters cutting off screens, is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he would step up.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • So far, the Celtics are decisive winners in the June trade that sent the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft to Philadelphia in exchange for the No. 3 choice and a future first-rounder, declares A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports BostonJayson Tatum has shined in the early season, averaging 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds in three games, while Fultz has struggled with injuries, including a sore shoulder that is affecting his shot.
  • Shane Larkin was an overlooked signing when he inked a one-year deal with the Celtics in late July, but he had the best plus-minus rating on the team in Friday’s win in Philadelphia, Blakely notes in the same piece. Larkin, who played in the Spanish League last season, has been getting an opportunity because of Marcus Smart‘s injured left ankle.
  • Stevens says Hayward is maintaining a positive attitude in the wake of his injury, relays Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Their conversation focused mainly on rehab, and Stevens got advice from Frank Vogel, who coached the Pacers when Paul George suffered a broken leg. “[Hayward is] going to be the best guy shooting out of a chair, with his left hand, with his right hand, perfect his form, and let’s have fun,” Stevens added. “Let’s come up with creative ways to attack this thing.” The coach originally talked about a five-month rehab process, but later clarified that there is no timeline and the Celtics don’t expect Hayward to return this season (Twitter link).

Celtics Plan To Fill Roster Spot; Hayward Undergoes Surgery

In the wake of Gordon Hayward‘s horrific injury in Tuesday’s season opener, the Celtics plan to use their roster opening to add another player, relays Chris Forsberg of ESPN.

Boston trimmed its roster to 14 players last week, along with a pair of two-way deals. One of those two-way players, Jabari Bird, was added to the active roster before tonight’s game against the Bucks. Until G League camps open, Bird’s time with the Celtics won’t count against the 45 days he is permitted to be in the NBA.

“I think we will at least be actively looking for that roster spot, just because, obviously, the standpoint of the youth, but also because you lose one of your better shooters and more versatile players,” coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “A guy who can put the ball in the basket for you. We’ll see how that works itself out. We haven’t really gotten into it too much because we have our hands full tonight.”

Boston is more than $12MM over the cap and already used its room exception to sign Aron Baynes, so the team can only offer a minimum-salary deal. If Hayward’s injury is determined to be season-ending, the Celtics can apply for an $8.4MM disabled player exception. That money is only usable for free agents, players on waivers or anyone with a single season left on their contract.

Hayward will undergo surgery tonight, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, to fix a dislocated and fractured left tibia. The team hasn’t set a timetable for his return.

Hayward got a huge ovation from Boston fans when a videotaped message from his hospital bed was played before the start of tonight’s game, Forsberg tweeted“It’s hurting me that I can’t be there,” Hayward told the crowd. “… I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight.” (Twitter link)

Celtics Sign Jabari Bird To Two-Way Contract

SEPTEMBER 5: The Celtics have officially signed Bird to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

AUGUST 11: The Celtics have struck a deal to fill the second two-way contract opening on their roster, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has agreed to sign second-round pick Jabari Bird to a two-way deal. Boston previously signed Kadeem Allen to a two-way contract.

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

Bird, a shooting guard out of Cal, enjoyed his best college season as a senior in 2016/17, averaging 14.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 2.4 3PG with a shooting line of .439/.363/.764. He wasn’t viewed as a likely draft pick, ranking 39th on DraftExpress’ list of 2017’s top seniors. However, the Celtics used their fourth and final 2017 draft pick on him, nabbing him with the No. 56 overall selection.

Boston’s two-way deal with Bird will give the club 18 players on its offseason roster, including 16 on the NBA roster, leaving a couple more openings to fill for training camp, if the team so chooses.

Bird’s deal also ensures that only three 2017 draft picks don’t yet have resolution on their contract situations for 2017/18. As I detailed at the end of July, Ivan Rabb (Grizzlies), Isaiah Hartenstein (Rockets), and Nigel Williams-Goss (Jazz) are the other unsigned second-rounders.

For more details on how two-way contracts work, be sure to check out our FAQ.

Checking In On Unsigned 2017 Draft Picks

One month into the 2017/18 NBA league year, most of this year’s draftees know where they’ll be playing for the upcoming season. As our tracker for draft pick signings shows, we’re only waiting for resolution on a small group of players.

Twenty-nine of 30 first-round picks have signed their first NBA contracts, and the 30th – Sixers big man Anzejs Pasecniks – will remain overseas for at least one more year. Meanwhile, in the second round, about half of this year’s picks have signed NBA contracts, a handful of others have agreed to two-way deals, and some will continue to play international ball.

There’s no rush at this point for teams to finalize plans for the last few unsigned draft picks from this year’s class, but it’s still worth checking in to see where things stand for those players. Here are the 2017 draftees whose statuses for ’17/18 appear to be up in the air:

  • Ivan Rabb (Memphis Grizzlies, No. 35): The Grizzlies signed 45th overall pick Dillon Brooks, but have yet to lock up Rabb, who now finds himself in an interesting spot. Memphis already has 15 players on guaranteed contracts for 2017/18, and that total doesn’t even include RFA JaMychal Green, who seems likely to return. Even though there’s no current opening for Rabb, he was probably too high a draft pick to accept a two-way contract, so perhaps the Grizzlies ultimately intend to trade or waive a player (or two) to make room. Otherwise, it’s not clear what the plan is for Rabb.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein (Houston Rockets, No. 43): International basketball reporter David Pick provided an update on Hartenstein today, tweeting that Houston will likely have him start with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League. So far, no player drafted earlier than No. 51 has signed a two-way contract, and typically only players selected at the very end of the draft accept straight G League contracts. If Hartenstein is willing to go to the G League, it would be a great value move for the Rockets.
  • Nigel Williams-Goss (Utah Jazz, No. 55): Two weeks ago, we heard that Williams-Goss was a candidate for Utah’s second two-way contract opening. The Jazz haven’t made a move to fill that slot since then, so I’d expect Williams-Goss remains the leading candidate.
  • Jabari Bird (Boston Celtics, No. 56): Like Williams-Goss in Utah, Bird appears to be the top candidate for the final two-way contract opening in Boston. Such a move would make a lot of sense. There isn’t enough room on the Celtics’ regular-season roster for Bird, and the four players selected with the picks from 51 through 54 in this year’s draft all got two-way deals — it’s logical that the 55th and 56th picks would too.

Celtics Working On Two-Way Contract With Jabari Bird

The Celtics and second-round pick Jabari Bird are working on a two-way contract, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

The 6’6″ shooting guard out of California reportedly impressed team team officials with his summer league play. He was the 56th player taken in this year’s draft after averaging 14.1 points and 4.7 rebounds as a senior with the Golden Bears.

It appears as though the Celtics will have 16 players in camp with guaranteed contracts, so a two-way deal may be Bird’s best path to a future with the team. Boston has already signed Kadeem Allen to one of its two-way contracts.

Celtics Notes: Pagliuca, Hayward, Bird, Ojeleye

Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca promises the team is ready to become a taxpayer again if that’s what it takes to win a title, relays Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Pagliuca says it’s not a guarantee that the franchise will cross the tax threshold next summer when Isaiah Thomas enters free agency, but vows that potential tax penalties won’t affect the decision on Thomas.

Pagliuca adds that cap management is becoming important again after last summer’s spending spree, which factored into the decision to trade Avery Bradley to the Pistons to make room for Gordon Hayward. “There was a time when teams had lots of cap space with the increase in revenues,” Pagliuca said. “Now we’re entering a period where cap management becomes imperative. Now we’re going back to the future, where people had to work hard for cap space.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • Hayward is denying reports that the controversial delay regarding his choice of the Celtics was related to his article for The Players’ Tribune, writes D.J. Bean of CSNNE. Hayward explained that he was on the phone with his agent, Mark Bartelstein, when the story broke that he was coming to Boston. “At that point in time we decided, look, we have to step away from this,” Hayward said. “I was pretty upset that that had happened. I didn’t feel like I was ready to say, ‘Yes, I want to be a Boston Celtic,’ so I had to take a step back and regroup and I think we talked about it more and more, then finally we put out the article, but I know there was a lot of reports with people saying we were finishing up the article for the Tribune, which is just completely false.”
  • Jabari Bird‘s play during summer league has made him a candidate to receive one of Boston’s two-way contracts, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A 6’6″ shooting guard out of California, Bird was the 56th selection in this year’s draft. He has been given a larger role with some of the Celtics’ top players sidelined and has responded by averaging 13.7 points and shooting 19-of-27 in his last three games.
  • The versatility shown by second-rounder Semi Ojeleye could give him a role in Boston this season, Himmelsbach adds in the same piece. A 6’7″ forward out of SMU, Ojeleye shot 40% from 3-point range in Las Vegas and earned praise for his defense from coach Brad Stevens.

Pre-Draft Workouts: Hart, Smith Jr., Kennard, Adebayo

It’s that time of the summer, days until the NBA draft, when your favorite team is doing its due diligence and working out every prospect and his brother. Here is the latest in pre-draft workout news:

Draft Notes: Josh Jackson, Fultz, Smith Jr., Heat

Kansas forward Josh Jackson paid a visit to Kings today, but didn’t go through a workout, tweets Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Jackson is expected to be one of the first players selected next week and probably won’t be around for Sacramento’s pick at No. 5. There have been rumors that the Kings would like to move up, but a report today said they aren’t willing to give the Sixers the fifth and 10th picks to get No. 3.

There’s more from a full day of draft workouts: