Jaylen Brown

Celtics Notes: Irving, Davis, Morris, Tatum, Brown

Making his usual weekly radio appearance on 98.5’s Toucher and Rich this morning, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge spoke publicly for the first time since Anthony Davis‘ trade request went public. As Keith Smith of CelticsBlog relays, Ainge didn’t address Davis specifically, but answered a few questions that were indirectly related to the Pelicans star.

Ainge said there was no way to circumvent the Rose Rule restriction that prevents the C’s from trading for another designated rookie while Kyrie Irving remains under contract and admitted he has spoken to his own players – including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – about how to deal with trade rumors. Most interestingly, he said that he’d be willing to acquire a star player without assurances that he’d re-sign in Boston.

Of course, as Smith observes, that stance could come with some caveats — if the Celtics pursue Davis, perhaps they’d be reluctant to make their absolute best offer unless AD provides them with assurances that he’d stick around for more than one year.

Ainge was also asked about the speculation that Irving might reconsider his own informal commitment to re-sign with the Celtics.

“I talk to him all the time,” Ainge said of Kyrie, according to Smith. “I think he likes it in Boston. I can’t talk about specifics. That’s taboo. But I’m optimistic.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • A source “very close to the situation” laughed off the rumors suggesting that Irving is strongly weighing his options and considering leaving Boston, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. According to Bulpett’s source, those whispers may be coming from outside voices who have a vested interest in sowing doubt about Irving’s plans.
  • Veteran forward Marcus Morris suggested this week that he’d be fine with the Celtics standing pat at the deadline, since he believes it’s a “special squad” (video link via NBC Sports Boston).
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks (Insider link) share hypothetical Anthony Davis trade scenarios involving seven different trade partners, including the Celtics. Pelton’s suggestion for Boston’s offseason Davis trade package features both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with Aron Baynes, Guerschon Yabusele, and Semi Ojeleye, but doesn’t include any of the team’s first-round picks.
  • For his part, Tatum isn’t concerned about his name popping up in trade rumors involving Davis, as A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston details. “It’s good to be wanted,” Tatum said. “I guess you can say that. But that’s it; I’m not a free agent. I can control what I can control.”

Latest On Anthony Davis

The Pelicans are in a difficult position after the trade request from Anthony Davis, but they still have the power to control when the deal will get done, writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. There are three important dates to consider — the trade deadline on February 7, the draft lottery on May 14 and the start of free agency on July 1 — and New Orleans must determine the best time to move its star.

Woo states that trying to rush a deal by next week only works in favor of the Lakers, along with Davis and his agent, Rich Paul. L.A.’s best offer should still be on the table this summer, and waiting will give the Celtics a chance to become involved. Even if the Pelicans don’t plan to send Davis to Boston, they may be able to gain leverage by using that offer to get more from the Lakers.

The best options may come after the lottery, Woo writes. If the Mavericks, Wizards or another team with established talent lands the top pick, it could be motivated to offer that to New Orleans as part of a package for Davis.

It’s crucial to management, and especially GM Dell Demps, to get maximum value for Davis, Woo adds. Demps’ job was in jeopardy before last year’s playoff run, and the two-year extension he received may not prevent ownership from making a change this summer.
There’s more news to pass along regarding Davis:
  • The Pelicans’ best 0ffer will come from the Celtics, contends David Aldridge of The Athletic. He states that a deal would have to start with Jayson Tatum, who could become a cornerstone player in New Orleans. The Pelicans might also ask for Jaylen Brown, but Aldridge believes the Celtics would prefer to keep one of their young talents and could offer Marcus Smart instead. Boston also has a wealth of draft picks, including a Grizzlies first-rounder that is top-eight protected this year, top six next year and unprotected in 2021, along with the better pick from the Sixers or Kings this year and possibly another first-rounder from the Clippers.
  • The Pelicans may consider shutting Davis down for the season if he’s not traded before next Thursday, suggests Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Davis is sidelined with a volar plate avulsion fracture on his left index finger and is being re-evaluated every 48 to 72 hours. If surgery is necessary, it would be a way for the Pelicans to avoid any risk and be sure that they have a fully healthy asset for the trade market this summer.
  • A team source confirms to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) that the Knicks plan to get involved in the bidding for Davis. Their best offer is expected to come after the lottery when they know where they’ll be drafting.
  • If the Lakers aren’t able to deal for Davis before the deadline, they will only have seven tradable contracts this summer outside of LeBron James, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (insider account). L.A. would have to use some of its projected $36MM in cap space to make the deal work and could include some of its free agents in a sign-and-trade arrangement, but only if they agree to go to New Orleans. Marks examines what several teams can realistically offer, including the Nuggets, whom he calls a “dark horse” in the Davis sweepstakes. Denver has a slew of young players and controllable contracts, along with a connection in GM Tim Connelly, who formerly worked for Demps in New Orleans.
  • Writers from The Athletic break down the chances of acquiring Davis for every team in the league.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics Trades, Mudiay, Fultz, Noah

The Celtics are unlikely to make a big move prior to this year’s trade deadline, NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh reports in a story relayed by NBC Sports Boston’s Darren Hartwell. With Indiana losing Victor Oladipo for the season, the Celtics have less incentive to make a drastic change. They’re hoping Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown bounce back during the second half of the season, then will look to trade for Anthony Davis during the offseason.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Emmanuel Mudiay will be sidelined at least two weeks with a left shoulder strain, the team’s PR department tweets. Mudiay suffered the injury against Houston on Wednesday and the original prognosis was confirmed by an MRI. Mudiay is averaging 14.7 PPG and 3.9 APG.
  • Markelle Fultz traveled with the Sixers on their current road trip but the second-year guard has not been cleared for basketball activity, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. It’s not anticipated that Fultz will be cleared during the trip and thus he’s limited to physical therapy as he works his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome.
  • Joakim Noah takes responsibility for flopping with the Knicks after signing a four-year, $72MM contract, as he told Frank Isola of The Athletic. Noah is playing for the Grizzlies after getting released by New York. “I think these are all life lessons. It was a tough time for me mentally,” he said. “Failing like that on a stage I really wanted to do well on. I take responsibility. It took me a while to digest that.”
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic runs down a wide variety of trade scenarios for the Raptors, though they’re also unlikely to make a big move.

Eastern Notes: Pistons, Morris, Wood, Sixers

The Pistons’ top brass is expected to meet in Los Angeles today to discuss ways to improve the team, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. Owner Tom Gores, coach Dwane Casey, senior adviser Ed Stefanski and vice chairman Arn Tellem will discuss how to revive the playoff hopes of the floundering team and provide star forward Blake Griffin with a better supporting cast. Detroit got off to a 13-7 start but has lost 16 of its last 20 games.  A point guard and a wing player capable of creating offense top the wish list but the team’s cap situation makes it difficult to swing a deal, Ellis continues. The roster is littered with bad contracts and injury-prone players and the team is just under the luxury tax line, Ellis adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Tempers flared between Celtics players Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown during a second-quarter timeout on Thursday but GM Danny Ainge is downplaying the incident. The duo exchanged words and Morris, who apparently told Brown to play harder, shoved the swingman before Marcus Smart separated them, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Ainge told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe the altercation was no big deal. “It’s two good kids that are competitive,” he said. “They both want the same thing. Emotions happen in games, and I’m not worried about it.”
  • Bucks big man Christian Wood is relieved that the team guaranteed his salary for the remainder of the season, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. His $1,512,601 salary became guaranteed on Thursday. He has a $1,645,357 non-guaranteed salary for next season. The 6’10” Wood has appeared in six games with Milwaukee while biding most of his time in the G League. “It’s real nice,” Wood said. “I talked to (GM) Jon (Horst) before the deadline passed and he said my time is going to come, I’ve just got to keep working, keep staying with the program and keep doing everything I’m supposed to do. He thinks I’m a good fit for this team.”
  • The 76ers named Annelie Schmittel as the team’s VP of player development, according to a team press release. She will be responsible for creating, managing and overseeing the holistic development and implementation of programs that support professional and personal growth of players, staff and families. She spent the last three seasons with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.

Atlantic Notes: Carroll, Brown, Rozier, Hezonja

The Nets have been surging in recent weeks, and the team’s hot streak has coincided with strong play from DeMarre Carroll, who is finally gaining comfort after returning from ankle surgery on November 9. As Brian Lewis writes for The New York Post, Carroll has been providing stellar and consistent play off the bench, averaging nearly 17 points and 6 rebounds per game in his last five contests, while knocking down 50% of his 3-pointers.

Carroll’s turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Nets, who are missing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert due to injuries.

Coming into the season, Carroll was expected to play a key role for the Nets as a small-ball power forward. Due to his injury and early struggles this season, he lost that role and has had to work to regain it. Now he is a key cog on the Nets’ bench unit, which is one of the best in the league.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

  • After getting off to a rough start this season, Jaylen Brown has stepped up his play in recent games for the CelticsAs Sherrod Blakely points out for NBC Sports Boston, Brown has finally started to hit shots in recent games and has resembled the player he was last season on a more consistent basis.
  • Speaking of struggling Celtics, Terry Rozier continues to navigate his smaller role now that the team is healthy. As Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald points out, Rozier is struggling with accepting the smaller role for the good of the team versus constricting his career to being a backup point guard.
  • In their recent win over the Lakers, the Knicks received strong contributions from Mario Hezonja. However, as Marc Berman writes for The New York Post, Hezonja and Enes Kanter are two parts of the Knicks’ rotation that have seen their roles decrease significantly in recent weeks as their future with the team is in question.

League Executives Expect Summer Trade For Anthony Davis

Talking to NBA executives at this year’s G League Showcase, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report finds that most expect Anthony Davis will be with the Lakers or Celtics next season.

Although Pelicans officials have repeatedly stated they have no intention to trade Davis, his contract situation may leave them with no choice. He is eligible for a supermax extension this summer that could be worth up to $239.5MM, but is only one season away from his player option if he doesn’t accept that offer.

Davis changed his representation over the summer, signing with LeBron James‘ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, in a move that some believe was made to get him out of New Orleans.

“I’m not worried about James tampering to the media about AD,” a Western Conference GM told Pincus. “It’s that James and Paul are mafioso mob bosses of the NBA that’s the problem.”

Several small-market GMs raised concerns about tampering this week after James said Davis would be “amazing” to have as a teammate. Commissioner Adam Silver refused to take any disciplinary action against James, and the Lakers’ star raised more speculation by having dinner with Davis after their teams played on Friday.

The executives that Pincus spoke to don’t believe Davis will be moved before the February 7 trade deadline, but they do expect something to happen by draft day. The feeling is that Davis will decline the Pelicans’ extension offer and force them to move him for a package that’s stocked with young talent and draft picks.

“It’s going to be up to [Pelicans general manager] Dell [Demps] to decide where Davis plays next,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Paul will get him traded, but it’s going to be up to Demps to get the best deal.”

That could work to the advantage of the Celtics, who, depending on protections, may own the Clippers’, Grizzlies’ and Kings’ picks next summer as well as their own. Boston can’t trade for Davis until Kyrie Irving opts out of his current contract, so the Celtics would need to reach an agreement with New Orleans before the draft that wouldn’t take effect until the moratorium is lifted in early July.

Pincus speculates Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown will be the cornerstones of Boston’s offer, although Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Al Horford are all potential pieces. He sees Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball as the key players in a Lakers deal, along with a few others to match salaries.

A 15% trade kicker in Davis’ contract could give the Lakers the advantage in their pursuit, Pincus adds. The Pelicans would have to pay Davis an additional $5.4MM if he gets traded during the season or $4.1MM if the deal happens over the summer. If Paul wants to get Davis to the Lakers, he could agree to waive the trade kicker only if Davis is sent to L.A.

Pincus also notes that because the Lakers will be under the cap this summer, they will have the freedom to restructure Davis’ contract, giving him $32.7MM for next season and extending the deal through 2021/22 at a total of $70.3MM for the following two years. When Davis hits free agency in 2022 as a 10-year veteran, he would be eligible for a starting salary at about $46MM, giving him a total deal only about $16MM less than his supermax offer.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Smart, Brown, Draft Picks

Basketball has become “fun” again for the Celtics, which Kyrie Irving sees as the main explanation for the team’s recent success, relays Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Boston, which entered the season as the Eastern Conference favorite, has now won seven in a row after a 10-10 start and Irving believes the team just needed to get through a transition period.

“New group. New environment. New things to figure out,” he explained. “Expectations you have for what you want to be and how you want to win. We expected things to come easy. That’s being part of a team environment. Even the best teams had to go through trials of figuring out what they look like every day.”

Big things were expected from the Celtics with both Irving and Gordon Hayward healthy to start the season. However, some of the younger players who helped the team reach the conference finals last season had to adjust to new roles. Coach Brad Stevens appears to have found a winning combination with Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford joining Irving in the starting lineup and Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier as the top reserves.

“Terry and Gordon and Jaylen are starters in this league,” Irving said. “That’s not a prototypical second unit.”

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Brown agrees with that assessment, even as he struggles through a difficult season, writes ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen. For now, he’s trying to adjust to his new bench role. “People are throwing out all these numbers, these stats, and they are saying this, saying that,” Brown said. “I have unwavering faith in my ability, and I believe our coaching staff does, too. If anyone can handle this, I can. I’ve been through a lot in my short life. I’ll be all right.”
  • Even though his shooting remains erratic, the Celtics don’t have any regrets about the four-year, $52MM deal they gave Smart over the summer, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The versatile guard is hitting just .385 from the field and .301 from 3-point range, but his contributions in other areas overshadow his shooting woes. “You know, he’s a bulldog,” Morris said of his teammate. “He’s been doing that since he’s been in the NBA. Even when I was on a different team, he was doing the same thing. He continues to do it. He’s a guy that you love to have on your team.”
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines the Celtics’ stockpile of potential first-rounders for next year and notes that surprising starts by the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers may decrease the expected value of those picks.

Celtics Notes: Storylines, Hayward, Brown, Assets

In a recent article, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wrote about four storylines to watch in anticipation of the Celtics next game against the Knicks tomorrow night: offensive improvement while Kyrie Irving is on the bench, reintegrating Jaylen Brown, the long-term starters, and minutes to go around when everybody is healthy.

The Celtics own a team-best offensive rating of 109.6 when Irving is on the court this season, a figure that would place Boston in the NBA’s top ten. But when Irving sits, that number drops to 95, which would rank far below the Hawks’ league worst rating of 100.5.

Brown has missed the last three games after suffering a back bruise against the Mavericks a couple weeks back. He could start tomorrow night, but the team has won three games in a row with Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris starting, and head coach Brad Stevens may elect to keep that group intact.

Stevens’ challenge in selecting who to start is figuring out how to balance the lineup with the most talent, and thus the most potential, with the lineup that is giving the team the most success right now. Eventually, Boston might work its way back to the Irving-Brown-Jayson TatumGordon HaywardAl Horford lineup, but keeping Smart and Morris on the bench is a risk.

In the Celtics’ last four wins, they’ve been shorthanded, which some may argue shows that some players play better with more minutes. Terry Rozier has reportedly conveyed his displeasure with his playing time already this season, and as mentioned above, Stevens will need to balance playing time between Smart, Morris, Hayward, and Brown as the season plays out.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald writes that Hayward’s struggle to reintegrate himself after last season’s horrific injury is also a result of how much the Celtics have changed since he arrived in the summer of 2017.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Boston, Forsberg relays that Brown is open to coming of the bench in his return from injury. Brown downplayed the significance of becoming a reserve, and said he will embrace any role Stevens has in mind for him.
  • As we relayed yesterday, the value of some of the Celtics trade assets have depreciated a little this season, with the Kings, Clippers, and Grizzlies outperforming expectations and Brown not as impressive as many anticipated.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Hayward, Brown

Kyrie Irving is enjoying another stellar offensive season as the Celtics find their footing. However, one distinct difference has been Irving’s improvement on defense, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston writes.

While the statistics are not eye-popping, there is a visual and discernible difference in Irving’s hustle and performance. As Forsberg notes, Irving entered Friday’s game ranked fifth in loose balls recovered (2.1), seventh in deflections per game (3.1), and eighth in steals (1.9). Irving is also ranked 18th in the NBA in charges drawn.

After Irving made comments earlier this year about him “coasting” on defense in his career, he has made it a point to not have that mentality anymore.

“I think it’s just a true challenge that I came into the season with of wanting to put an emphasis on that end of the floor,” Irving said. “That’s really what it comes down to. I think in my career I’ve really gotten away with just being an offensive talent, being a guy that has just been solid but never being a guy that I would say just consistently brings that effort every single time down the floor. “

Check out more Celtics notes below:

  • At a recent practice, Irving urged teammate Gordon Hayward to be more aggressive on the floor and he responded with a solid shooting performance in Friday’s win. As Harry West of Sporting News writes, Irving — who shares a birthday with Hayward — wants him to release the ‘a**’ in him. “I remember [Irving’s former Duke] coach [Mike Krzyzewski] telling me, you know, Gordon has a little bit of a** in him. And he needs that,” Irving said. “That toughness where he starts turning red and he starts getting into the basketball, getting out in transition and dunking the basketball and start doing those things.”
  • Jaylen Brown was asked how he felt about a possible change in the rotation upon his return from injury and he put the team winning ahead of his role, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston writes. “Possibly, especially if we are winning,” Brown said of the idea that his role could change. “Whatever it is that needs to be done to figure it out. Everybody has talent, everybody has ability, but, obviously, we have to make something work here. We don’t want to be looking down the line and trying to figure out, ‘What if?’ or ‘Woulda, coulda,’ whatever. 
  • As we relayed recently, the Celtics waived Walt Lemon Jr.,. He was on a two-way pact with Boston but did not see NBA action this season.

Atlantic Notes: Fizdale, Leonard, Celtics, Brown

Knicks coach David Fizdale plans to keep his emotions in check today as he returns to Memphis to face the team that fired him after 19 games last season, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Fizdale took the Grizzlies to the playoffs during his first season with the organization, but was discarded last year as the team got off to a rough start highlighted by an early-season injury to Mike Conley and Fizdale’s feud with Marc Gasol.

Fizdale became one of the hottest free agents on the coaching market, interviewing with several teams before accepting the job in New York. He insists he’s not bitter about the experience in Memphis, saying it taught him lessons that made him a better coach.

“Probably the emotional part will be me remembering the good part of it,” he said. “I got a standing ovation in that building from a great fan base, and that’s the moment I’m going to remember, in the playoffs when we fought our butts off against the Spurs, and those guys being able to give me that moment as a young coach, and to share that moment with them. I’ll never forget that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Heat forward James Johnson, who spent three and a half seasons in Toronto, believes Kawhi Leonard will find a lot to like about the city, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Leonard is averaging 24.4 points per game and has propelled the Raptors to a 16-4 start, the best record in the league. “I think guys are more focused on winning now and getting to a team that can get to those Eastern Conference finals or can get to the championship series,” Johnson said. “So I don’t think it’s about place anymore. It’s about building the right team.”
  • The slumping Celtics are having trouble finding the right roles for the younger players who helped them reach the Eastern Conference finals last season, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Terry Rozier has struggled in his return to a reserve role, Jaylen Brown‘s shot has been off all season and Jayson Tatum is settling too often for long two-point shots.
  • X-rays were negative after Brown landed hard on his back late in last night’s game, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald.
  • The Celtics were counting on a draft pick bonanza in June with picks possibly coming from the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers, but based on the current standings all of those would be later than Boston’s selection, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.