Jaylen Brown

Celtics Notes: Smart, Udoka, Stevens, Tatum

New Celtics coach Ime Udoka considers Marcus Smart to be a “foundational piece” for the future, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Udoka made the comments during a radio interview today, indicating that the team will rely heavily on Smart, who’s expected to take over as point guard following the trade of Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City.

“What Marcus brings is invaluable, it’s the heart and soul of the team at times,” Udoka said. “… He has that edge and toughness about him … He’s another foundational piece … What he does for Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) is invaluable, in my eyes” (Twitter link).

Smart will make $14.3MM next season on the final year of his contract. The Celtics may try to work out an extension to keep him from reaching free agency next summer.

There’s more from Boston:

  • In his introductory press conference Monday, Udoka said he’s looking forward to helping the Celtics’ young stars improve, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Udoka revealed that he has met with Smart, Brown and Tatum, and they all expressed a desire to be pushed. “I’m not worried about our group worrying about hard coaching,” Udoka said. “They are asking for that, and it’s something I’m going to bring to the table.”
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens started his coaching search with a long list of names, but conversations with his players pushed him toward Udoka, Forsberg writes in a full story. Boston’s three stars had experience with Udoka as part of Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and they all recommended him. “I’m quick to put my arm around guys but also quick to hold them accountable,” Udoka told reporters. “And so there’s a fine balance there. But that’s all based on relationships and respect and what I do demand from those guys.”
  • Tatum was disappointed to be left off the All-NBA team and not just because of the money it cost him, relays Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. Tatum discussed the decision, which could have added $32.6MM to his contract extension, in an appearance on the Kicks’ “Beyond the Press” podcast. “I wasn’t necessarily upset about losing the money,” he said. “I think I just felt like the way I was playing, everything I did, I thought it should have been a no-brainer. I think I was just more frustrated with that.”

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Smart, Raptors, De Colo, Simmons

New Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was intrigued by the chance to work under Brad Stevens, a president of basketball operations uniquely positioned to understand Udoka’s role as well as anyone, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

The Celtics, in turn, were drawn to Udoka due to his work ethic, his pedigree – including his experience working under Gregg Popovich – and his ability to connect with a young team. According to Himmelsbach, during Udoka’s previous stints as an assistant, he’d often go out for dinner with players to learn more about them.

Udoka’s final interview with the Celtics took place on Sunday, with Stevens, team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and VP of player development Allison Feaster all present. While that group ultimately made the decision to hire Udoka, the C’s also sought input from former president of basketball ops Danny Ainge and multiple players, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Himmelsbach notes.

As Udoka takes the reins in Boston, he’ll be tasked with rebuilding the Celtics’ defensive identity and developing the club’s young talent, Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes in an Insider-only story. Pelton suggests that Udoka may also prioritize increasing the team’s ball movement and putting players in positions to create shots for teammates — Boston’s rate of assisted field goals ranked 27th in the NBA in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Marcus Smart isn’t a traditional point guard, but he’s a “criminally underrated” passer, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who outlines why Smart could be the Celtics‘ starter at the point in 2021/22 with Kemba Walker gone.
  • The Raptors secured the fourth overall pick in a draft that is viewed as having at least four top-tier prospects, but that doesn’t mean they’re content with simply staying put and taking whichever player drops to them, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. General manager Bobby Webster suggested the club will be open to a variety of scenarios with that selection. “All of our options are open,” Webster said. “As much as we would love the pick, we’re going to see what it yields outside of the draft.”
  • Veteran guard Nando De Colo, who technically remains a Raptors restricted free agent despite not having played in the NBA since 2014, will return to Fenerbahce in Turkey for at least one more season, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Toronto has issued De Colo a qualifying offer for seven straight years to retain his RFA rights and will likely do so again this summer.
  • While there’s no guarantee that the Ben Simmons era in Philadelphia will come to an end this offseason, Chris Mannix of SI.com believes that it should, arguing that Simmons and the Sixers would both benefit from a fresh start.

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Fournier, Brown, Tatum

A disappointing season usually leads to changes, and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed that’s what the organization has in mind, relays Tom Westerholm of Boston.com. In an appearance Thursday on the Toucher and Rich radio show, Ainge talked about shaking up the team this summer.

“I think that we will definitely be looking to make some changes in the offseason,” Ainge said. “Obviously can’t go into any of those kind of details. But yeah, there will be changes. How significant? I don’t know yet. We’ll see.”

The Celtics are 35-35 and locked into the seventh spot in the East, but coach Brad Stevens’ job remains safe, as Ainge called him a “fantastic” coach who is “getting better, not worse.” Ainge also indicated that the changes he has in mind won’t involve the team’s best players.

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics’ most important decision this offseason will involve free agent guard Evan Fournier, Westerholm adds in the same story. Fournier was acquired from the Magic at the trade deadline and has been productive after overcoming a case of COVID-19. Boston gave up multiple second-round picks, center Daniel Theis and a valuable trade exception to acquire Fournier, so management is expected to make a strong effort to keep him. The Celtics own his Bird rights and can go over the salary cap to re-sign him, but that could create a huge tax bill for next season. Westerholm suggests Marcus Smart or Kemba Walker might be moved if Fournier stays in Boston.
  • Jaylen Brown talked to teammate Jayson Tatum before deciding to undergo season-ending wrist surgery, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Tatum’s advice was for Brown to make the best decision for his long-term health.
  • In his re-draft grades for 2020, Chad Ford of The NBA’s Big Board gives the Celtics credit for landing Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard in the first round, but says they could have benefited from taking Saddiq Bey, who was still on the board at No. 14.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown Undergoes Wrist Surgery

Celtics wing Jaylen Brown has undergone successful scapholunate reconstruction surgery, the team announced in a press release. Brown went under the knife on Wednesday, according to the Celtics.

Brown, who had already been ruled out for the rest of the 2020/21 season, is expected to resume basketball activities in about three months, the club added in its statement. The C’s intend to provide further updates on Brown’s recovery as appropriate, but it sounds like he should be ready to go for training camp in the fall.

Prior to tearing the scapholunate ligament in his wrist, Brown had his best season as a pro, averaging 24.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game in 58 contests (34.5 MPG). The 24-year-old put up career-best shooting marks of .484/.397/.764 and played strong perimeter defense, earning his first All-Star nod.

While Brown’s injury is a devastated blow to the Celtics’ chance of making a run in the playoffs, the good news for the team is that Brown is locked up for three additional seasons beyond 2020/21 on relatively team-friendly terms (less than the max). He won’t be eligible for free agency until 2024.

Jaylen Brown Has Torn Wrist Ligament, Out For Season

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown is out for the season due to a torn ligament in his left wrist, the team announced (via Twitter).

The diagnosis was made over the weekend. He has a torn scapholunate ligament and is expected to have it surgically repaired later this week.

The injury is a devastating blow to a team that has been a disappointment this season. The Celtics entered the week with a mediocre 35-33 record despite an outstanding season from the fifth-year forward. He’s averaging a career-high 24.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 3.4 APG in the first year of a four-year extension that can be worth up to $115MM.

Brown has been sidelined since May 2. According to the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the injury is not a new one and he’s been dealing with lingering pain (Twitter link).

Boston has dropped two of its last three games with Brown on the shelf. Without him, the Celtics have relied on Evan Fournier and Aaron Nesmith to pick up his minutes.

Boston sits in the seventh spot entering the final week of action and will wind up in the play-in tournament unless it can pass Atlanta, Miami or New York.

Heath Updates: Porzingis, Kleber, J. Brown, R. Williams, Hunter, Carter, Bradley

The Mavericks are in good shape to avoid a play-in game, but they may have to finish the regular season without big men Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Porzingis has already been declared out for today’s game against the Cavaliers, marking the sixth straight game he will miss and the ninth in the last 10 games. He suffered a sprained left ankle on March 22, then returned three games later and had to leave with soreness in his right knee. He tested the knee before Friday’s game, shooting for about 15 minutes.

Kleber has sat out the past three games with pain in his right Achilles. He is officially listed as questionable for today, but coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t expect him to play.

“Not having Kleber or Porzingis puts us in a more precarious situation,” Carlisle said. “But we’ve just got to figure it out. Five games left. Every game is super meaningful. We understand it. We’re just going to stay in the present, stick to the process and keep working.”

Here are some more injury-related updates:

  • Celtics forward Jaylen Brown will miss today’s showdown with the Heat because of a sprained right ankle, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. The team had hoped Brown could be ready, but he will sit out his third straight game. Robert Williams is considered probable for today with turf toe, but coach Brad Stevens said there will be a lot of game-time decisions for him for the rest of the season, Murphy adds (via Twitter).
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter will be a game-time decision at best on Monday, according to Kevin Chouinard of NBA.com (Twitter link). Coach Nate McMillan indicated that a final decision will be made after today’s practice and Monday’s walkthrough. Hunter has missed the past 24 games and has only played twice since January 29.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is dealing with blurry vision and slightly impaired depth perception, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. He will miss tonight’s game with a left eye abrasion (Twitter link).
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas said there’s no timetable for a return by guard Avery Bradley, who is out for personal reasons, relays Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston (Twitter link).

Health Updates: A. Davis, J. Brown, Rockets, Tate

Already playing without primary ball-handlers LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, the Lakers lost another one of their top scorers during Thursday’s loss to the Clippers, when Anthony Davis exited due to back spasms.

As Dave McMenamin of ESPN details, Davis left Thursday’s game in the first quarter and didn’t return. The Lakers’ All-Star big man also tweaked his right ankle, though he said his back injury was the issue that knocked him out of the game.

The Lakers have a crucial game on tap for Friday night in Portland — the two teams are tied in the standings for No. 6 in the West, and have split their two games so far this season. The winner of tonight’s game will earn the end-of-season tiebreaker and will be in great position to avoid the play-in tournament, so L.A. would love to have Davis available.

According to McMenamin, Davis said late on Thursday night that he anticipates being able to suit up against the Blazers in what he called “probably the biggest game” left on the schedule. He’s listed on the latest injury report as probable.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, who missed Wednesday’s game with a right ankle sprain, will also be out on Friday. However, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said during a radio appearance that he thinks Brown will be back for Sunday’s game vs. Miami (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).
  • The Rockets have a whopping 13 players on their injury report for Friday’s contest in Milwaukee, writes Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. Kevin Porter Jr. (ankle) and Avery Bradley (personal) are among nine players who have been ruled out. And, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle points out (via Twitter), the four players not on the injury report have made 10 combined NBA starts.
  • The Rockets did get one piece of good news today, as Feigen tweets that Jae’Sean Tate has cleared the health and safety protocols. Tate registered a false positive for COVID-19, followed by three negative tests. However, he’s still listed as questionable for Friday’s game due to a left knee contusion.

Atlantic Notes: Noel, Brown, Tatum, Fournier, Trent

The Knicks moved closer to securing a guaranteed playoff spot in the East with their win over Houston on Sunday, but it may have come at a cost. Veteran big man Nerlens Noel left the game after suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter and didn’t return.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who notes that Noel was diagnosed with a left ankle sprain, X-rays on that ankle were negative. While that’s good news for the Knicks and their starting center, he’ll undergo further evaluation on Monday to determine the severity of the injury and a potential timeline for his return.

If Noel is forced to miss time, the Knicks – already missing Mitchell Robinson – will have to lean more heavily on Taj Gibson and Norvel Pelle at the center spot.

Here are a few more notes from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics guard Jaylen Brown limped off the court favoring his right leg after colliding with teammate Jayson Tatum late in Sunday’s loss to Portland, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Both players headed to the locker room after the collision, though Tatum said after the game that he felt OK. Brown’s status isn’t yet known.
  • Celtics wing Evan Fournier has been back for six games after dealing with COVID-19 and scored 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting on Sunday. However, he told reporters he’s still feeling the aftereffects of the virus. “I feel like I have a concussion,” Fournier said, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Right now, it’s actually doing a little bit better. But at first, the bright lights were bothering my eyes, my vision was blurry, and everything was going too fast for me. … My depth perception is really bad right now, but I saw a specialist and she gave me some exercises, and hopefully I can get better.”
  • As Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes, Raptors swingman Gary Trent Jr., who has missed the last five games with a leg injury, is just one start (or 57 minutes played) away from meeting the starter criteria, which would increase the value of his qualifying offer and cap hold. While it may just be a coincidence based on which Raptors were available, it’s worth noting that Trent came off the bench in his last two healthy games after starting his first eight with the team. Toronto would gain a little extra cap flexibility this offseason if Trent falls short of meeting the starter criteria.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Durant, Dinwiddie, Green, Pelle

Coming off a nice win over Phoenix on Thursday, the Celtics are set to play the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday, and both teams are a little banged up.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said during a radio appearance on Toucher and Rich on Thursday that Jaylen Brown, who is dealing with shoulder bursitis, is sore, but should be good to go “in the next few days” (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

Meanwhile, Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols) is going through a ramping-up process and could return to game action as soon as this weekend, per Ainge. The Celtics’ president also said that Robert Williams (knee) is “not too far away.”

Nets star Kevin Durant, who has missed two games with a left thigh contusion, is listed as questionable on the club’s latest injury report and could be available to play on Friday vs. the Celtics, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. If not tonight, Durant looks like a good bet to be back on Sunday against Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a partially torn ACL early in the 2020/21 season, continues to say that he has a realistic chance of returning during the postseason, as Diamond Leung of The Athletic tweets. While that seemed unlikely at one point, there’s an increasing feeling among league sources that Dinwiddie could return before Brooklyn’s season is over, Lewis writes for The New York Post.
  • Danny Green‘s inclusion in a potential deal for Kyle Lowry at last month’s trade deadline didn’t make or break those talks, but the Sixers value Green as far more than just an expiring contract and were only willing to attach so many additional assets to him in their offer for Lowry, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a look at what Green brings to Philadelphia.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN has the details on Norvel Pelle‘s new three-year contract with the Knicks, tweeting that Pelle received $500K this season (about double his minimum). The second and third years are non-guaranteed, with a team option on that third year. That option would allow the Knicks to make Pelle a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022 if they so choose.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a handful of Raptors-related notes on Thursday evening.

Hawks Rumors: Smart, Bogdanovic, Collins, Hunter, Ball

The Hawks have expressed interest in Celtics guard Marcus Smart, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smart, who is one of the NBA’s stronger perimeter defenders, would be a nice fit in Atlanta’s backcourt alongside Trae Young, but Boston’s appetite for trading Smart is unclear.

At 21-21, the Celtics have had a disappointing season, but they’re still a playoff team and Smart plays a key role for the club. Boston likely won’t simply trade him for picks or prospects, so any deal that sends him to Atlanta would likely have to include a player like John Collins or Bogdan Bogdanovic, as Jared Weiss and Sam Amick of The Athletic write.

Speaking of Bogdanovic, in addition to drawing interest from the Celtics, he’s being eyed by a few other teams as well. Charania adds the Warriors to the list of players with interest in Bogdanovic, while Weiss and Amick say the Clippers are also on that list.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • League sources with knowledge of the Hawks’ Collins trade discussions tell Weiss and Amick that there’s a “significant gulf” in how much Atlanta values the big man and how much teams are willing to give up for him. The fact that the Hawks only offered in the range of $90MM in extension talks last offseason has created the impression they wouldn’t go any higher than that this summer when Collins reaches restricted free agency, which isn’t the case.
  • According to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, the Hawks’ initial response to the Celtics‘ inquiries on Collins was to try to build a deal around Jaylen Brown, which was a non-starter for Boston.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe estimates that the odds of a Collins trade this week are only about 30%, given how highly the Hawks value him and how badly they want to make the postseason. It would be difficult for the club to find a fair deal without taking a step back in the short term.
  • Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter may return to action as soon as Monday night, sources tell Charania. Hunter has been sidelined since January 29 after undergoing meniscus surgery.
  • Charania confirms that the Hawks are among the teams expected to pursue Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, which was first reported by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer on Sunday.