Jayson Tatum

Marcus Morris Likely Out For Extended Period

Celtics forward Marcus Morris is expected to miss extended time due to a left knee injury, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

Morris played 25 minutes against the Spurs on Friday after missing the previous game against the Mavs but was sidelined for Boston’s back-to-back on Sunday and Monday. Morris’ debut with the Celtics was delayed by eight games due to left knee soreness and the issue has lingered even though coach Brad Stevens has been careful with Morris’ minutes.

Morris has not played more than 28 minutes in any of the 16 games he’s been able to take the court. He’s averaging 12.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG. Last season with Detroit, Morris started 79 games and averaged 14.0 PPG and 4.6 RPG. Stevens had said on Sunday that Morris would be re-evaluated when the team returns home on Tuesday, according to the team’s official Twitter feed.

Morris was acquired from the Pistons this summer in a deal that sent shooting guard Avery Bradley to Detroit, a move that helped to facilitate the signing of free agent forward Gordon Hayward.

With Morris out, rookie Jayson Tatum will continue to play major minutes. Rookie Semi Ojeleye and Euro import Daniel Theis will also see an uptick in playing time.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Embiid, Hardaway Jr.

The Celtics acquired one of the league’s top clutch performers in Kyrie Irving last summer but they also got their hands on another reliable late-game closer. Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes that, just one and a half months into his NBA career, Jayson Tatum is in good company among the NBA’s leaders in fourth-quarter production.

To be more specific, Tatum – the 19-year-old out of Duke – averages 4.4 fourth-quarter points this season, trailing only Irving’s 7.0. More impressively, however, Tatum sits ninth in the entire NBA for points in the last five minutes of a close game, posting the highest field-goal percentage of anybody else in the top 20.

He’s very comfortable. He’s not making a bigger deal than it is,” veteran teammate Al Horford said.”He’s just going out there and playing basketball. He has a lot of confidence. He’ll continue to get better, and he’s been getting better since the first game of the season. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead with him.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Philadelphia basketball scene icon Sonny Hill thinks that Sixers big man Joel Embiid could be the next Wilt Chamberlain, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes. “I said to him, you got a chance to be a young Wilt Chamberlain,” the 81-year-old Hill said. “I’ve never ever told that to anybody before. So what he’s doing right now, I kind of saw that before he even got healthy.” Hill is the founder of Philly’s Sonny Hill League and serves as an executive advisor with the team.
  • Veteran NBA journeyman (and current Suns forward) Jared Dudley, a Boston College alum, spoke highly of the Celtics‘ culture this weekend. “In this league, it’s tough to have an owner that gives the GM time,” he told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “Once you have that — and you have that here — the next thing is the coach. And even when Brad Stevens came in the league — even when the Celtics weren’t good — his reputation was as a players’ coach, a friendly offense where everyone would be able to have the ball. That’s what you want, even if you’re a role player. I’m a role player, and I want to touch the ball to feel like I’m involved.
  • Count Tim Hardaway Jr. among the Knicks‘ growing list of inactive players. Howie Kussoy of the New York Post writes that the two-guard with a previously undisclosed leg injury joined Kristaps Porzingis on the sidelines on Sunday.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Powell, Sixers

Rookie Jayson Tatum is looking even more effective in a free-flowing NBA offense than he did at Duke. Mike Schmidt of ESPN broke down the first-year forward’s impressive showing with the Celtics thus far, curious as to whether or not what he’s shown is sustainable.

While Tatum has always been known to pull off acrobatic plays on offense, his ability to make quicker decisions and shoot reliably from beyond the arc has helped him thrive in the Celtics offense. Further, his improved defense has only added to his NBA stock.

Credit Tatum for not trying to do much in his rookie campaign, perhaps that’s a benefit of landing in the rotation of a winning team fresh off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. There are still areas where he could improve, however, including at and around the rim, where he currently falls in the 33rd percentile.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • When Norman Powell returned from a hip injury, the Raptors tried reinserting him into their second unit. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that the third-year forward has thrived coming off the bench. “I think Norman likes that, he’s kind of the star of the show with that second group,” head Dwane Casey said. “He’s done a good job of adapting and going with both groups (but), with Delon Wright out, he’s a natural fit with that group and he’s done a good job.
  • While the Cavaliers may be the team to beat in the conference for now, the Celtics and Sixers are the future of the East, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. Both teams have impressive lineups as it but boast future assets that can help down the road as well.
  • The Sixers have put themselves in an enviable position financially but eventually the day will come that the team has to start clearing contracts in order to pay their young players who are current under rookie contracts. Derek Bodner of The Athletic took a deep dive into the team’s long-term salary cap projections.

And-Ones: Youth Movement, Asian Influence, Seattle

The current crop of NBA rookies is one of the best that hoops fans have seen in years, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders writes. The scribe cites Ben Simmons and Jayson Tatum as two first-year players who’ve looked poised and dominant in significant roles out of the gates.

It’s not just a top-heavy class either, however, all of Kyle Kuzma, Lauri Markkanen and Donovan Mitchell have impressed over the course of their first months in the NBA.

The youth movement may not be limited to the 2017/18 season though. Marc Spears of The Undefeated recently profiled the 12 best collegiate players who could make an impact at the NBA level as early as next season, going so far as to declare that Michael Porter Jr. should have greater star power than anybody in the 2017 class.

There’s more around the league:

  • As the world economy shifts, more and more prominent Asian businesses and billionaires are looking to buy into the NBA. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune breaks down the trend that formally started when Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor sold a 5% stake in the franchise to Lizhang Jiang.
  • While Tim Leiweke remains confident that he and his Oak View Group represent Seattle’s best chance of regaining an NBA franchise, it’s not necessarily going to happen as soon as some fans would hope. He spoke on the topic at length with Q13’s Bill Wixey.
  • The BIG3 will add retired point guard T.J. Ford to its ranks, an ESPN report says. The guard averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 assists per game over the course of 306 NBA starts in eight seasons.

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 Notes: Smart, Morris, Tatum, Crowder

At one point this offseason, the Celtics were carrying 16 players on guaranteed contracts on their roster, facing a potentially tricky preseason decision on which player to cut or trade. However, their three-for-one deal for Kyrie Irving solved that problem, and cleared a path for the club to maintain some flexibility to open the season. After making five cuts within the last week, the Celtics are set to open the season with just 14 players on their NBA roster.

With Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird also in the mix on two-way contracts, Boston should have more than enough depth to start the season. Keeping that 15th roster spot open will allow the team to save a little money and keep its options open in the event that a potential trade or free agent signing surfaces.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • A week ago, Marcus Smart indicated that the Celtics had yet to engage in talks with his agent about a possible extension. The deadline to make a deal is today, and Danny Ainge recently confirmed to NBC Boston that he and Smart’s agent have begun to discuss numbers for a possible extension (Twitter link via Adam Kaufman).
  • David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link) suggests that Austin Rivers‘ three-year, $35MM contract makes sense as a template for Smart, but Aldridge hears that the Celtics guard is seeking a more lucrative deal. Rookie scale extensions are also required to run at least four years.
  • Marcus Morris is expected to be sidelined for at least the first week of the regular season with right knee soreness, writes Jay King of MassLive.com. While Morris rests and recovers, rookie forward Jayson Tatum may be in line to replace him in the starting lineup.
  • Jae Crowder, who says he’s thankful for the opportunity the Celtics gave him, still gets emotional when he remembers the day he was traded to Cleveland. Crowder was in Houston with his ailing mother, who passed away five minutes after he told her about the deal. Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald has the story and the quotes from Crowder.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Morris, Yabusele, Irving

The Sixers had strong interest in Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum after landing the third pick in this year’s lottery, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Philadelphia sent a large group to Los Angeles to watch Tatum work out, and the Duke freshman’s talents on offense were obvious. “He had sort of a different type of NBA game where a lot of his workout was at that sort of Carmelo [Anthony] isolation, the 18-foot spot where he can turn and face and have a series of moves that we felt like actually could translate to the NBA,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “And then he started picking and popping and shooting NBA threes. But his offensive ability stood out, and the person stood out.”

Tatum had a sense that he was headed to Philadelphia, with Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball projected as the top picks. That was before the Sixers completed a trade to get the number one selection from Boston, a deal that Tatum knows will probably link him with Fultz for as long as they’re both in the NBA. “It’ll be interesting to see how things play out over the years,” Tatum said.

There’s more today out of Boston:

  • Coach Brad Stevens had planned to use Celtics newcomer Marcus Morris in Friday’s game, but Morris asked for more time to prepare, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Morris didn’t practice with the Celtics until Thursday because of an assault trial in Phoenix in which he and his brother were both acquitted. “I did miss training camp and part of the preseason,” Morris said, “so I need to just get a couple more practices up under my belt to get moving a little bit better.”
  • The Celtics have clear instructions for rookie Guerschon Yabusele, who figures to see time as a backup center and power forward, Bulpett writes in the same story. They want him to pattern his game after Al Horford. Yabusele was taken with the 16th pick in the 2016 draft, then spent last season in China before joining Boston’s G League affiliate late in the year. “We know what he brings to the table, so, again, it’s matching him up with the right guys around him,” Stevens said. “But he’s got to be a guy that can kind of be a playmaker a la Al for us, where he gets the ball at the top of the key and can be a passer, he can shoot it, he can drive it.”
  • New Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is happy with Stevens’ decision not to name a team captain, Bulpett adds. Irving said being a captain was a big deal in grade school, but shouldn’t matter in the NBA. “We all have leadership within ourselves,” he said. “We have to police ourselves, at the end of the day, and then make it make sense for our team. And if we remain growth oriented and have that humility to continue to get better and know where we come from and know what we bring to the table, we’ll be fine.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Powell, Russell

The Celtics made a number of headlines with their acquisitions of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving this summer. Now, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England writes, it’s time to focus on who might make up the core of the team’s second unit.

Having traded Avery Bradley in a cap clearing maneuver to sign Hayward, the Celtics will turn to Terry Rozier to serve as a game-changer off the bench. His ability to pick up scoreer on the perimeter will be valued, as will his ability to knock down shots now that Isaiah Thomas is a Cavalier.

Another player who could see a bigger role with the Celtics in light of the Irving trade is Jayson Tatum. The third-overall pick will see extra opportunities than the C’s may have initially expected now that Jae Crowder is out of the picture.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • While he may well end up playing through the final year of his rookie contract and hitting restricted free agency next summer, Raptors guard Norman Powell is also eligible to sign a contract extension before the start of the regular season. Blake Murphy of The Athletic writes that such a deal could look similar to that which Josh Richardson recently signed with the Heat.
  • Just how well D’Angelo Russell responds to his change of scenery in Brooklyn could impact Nets general manager Sean Marks‘ legacy, Brian Lewis of the New York Post suggests.
  • If Michael Beasley was brought in specifically to replace Carmelo Anthony in the Knicks lineup, it’s news to him. The forward is eager to play alongside the 14-year veteran. “Listen, Carmelo’s been like my mentor,” Beasley told Steve Popper of USA Today. “If you watch my game, really watch my game, my jab series, all that, I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor. Like I’ve known Carmelo since I was 13 years old, one of my best friends, one of the best players I’ve ever met. Me and him are from the same area. I can’t wait to play with him.”

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Crowder, Zeller

While the Celtics won’t struggle to replace the statistics that Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder posted, they’ll be hard-pressed to find a replacement for the toughness and temperament they brought to Boston, A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England writes.

Both Thomas and Crowder took their careers to a new level in Boston, blossoming into substantial core pieces for the rejuvenated Celtics. Some of the franchise’s best moments from the past few seasons, Blakeley writes, can be attributed directly to the twosome.

That underdog mentality was and is a major component for any team looking to unseat LeBron James and Cleveland in the East. Now Thomas and Crowder will bring that tough, scrappy frame of mind with them to a Cavaliers squad that’s looking like an underdog itself — at least compared to the champions in Golden State.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Prior to signing Tyler Zeller this week, the Nets had just two players taller than 6’8″ on their roster, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes.
  • The Raptors doubled down on a winning formula this summer but it may be for naught, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. Toronto’s core is intact, but what they could really benefit from is the development of some of their young assets.
  • Count former Celtics great Paul Pierce among those high on Jayson Tatum. The future Hall of Famer told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England that the rookie, with his footwork and step-back, reminds him of himself toward the later stages of his career.

East Notes: Wizards, Brown, Tatum

The Wizards have gone all-in on preserving their core and head coach Scott Brooks understands just how important that can be. Brooks has, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes, seen what happens when a promising young roster falls apart thanks to his time with the Thunder.

We have our three players that we drafted all wanting to stay here and stay long-term,” the Wizards’ bench boss said. “That’s good. That’s good because if you don’t have your best players wanting to stay here, then nobody wants to stay here.

Thanks to Wizards’ owner Ted Leonsis‘ willingness to commit to their young players, Washington was able to match the offer sheet that the Nets signed Otto Porter to this summer and then follow that up with a supermax contract extension for John Wall.

Under their current deals, Wall, Beal and Porter will be under Wizards control for seven total years. Eight, if Porter ultimately exercises his player option for the 2020-21 season.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference:

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