Jayson Tatum

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:

Celtics Notes: Bogut, Irving, J. Brown, Tatum

It has been an eventful week in Boston, with the Celtics having acquired a four-time All-Star on Tuesday, sending Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Kyrie Irving. The NBA world is still buzzing about that deal, and we have a few more Celtics-related notes on the swap to pass along today:

  • The Celtics aren’t in a rush to fill their newly-opened 15th roster spot, but have been in touch with a few free agents this week, including veteran center Andrew Bogut, reports Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.
  • Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast this week, Finals MVP Kevin Durant praised Irving for standing up for himself and deciding it was time for him to move on from what seemed like a good situation in Cleveland. “He showed a lot of courage, man, because it’s hard to take that type of criticism,” said Durant (link via ESPN.com), who has some experience in that field himself.
  • Durant also suggested during that podcast appearance that Irving and the Celtics will be “perfect” for each other, as DJ Bean of CSNNE.com details. “It’s a perfect fit, because he’s a 6-foot-3 Isaiah Thomas, basically,” Durant said. “And Isaiah just thrived in that system, and then he’s got Gordon Hayward and Al Horford that are going to be able to make plays for him, too. It’s going to be pretty sweet. I think it was a great deal.”
  • Revisiting Danny Ainge‘s assertion that the Celtics “have a lot of good players, but need some great ones,” ESPN’s Chris Forsberg makes the case that Ainge’s willingness to roll the dice on Irving signals that the team is making good on that statement and raising the roof on its expectations for 2017/18.
  • Young wings Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum may end up being the biggest winners of the Irving blockbuster, according to Benny Nadeau of Basketball Insiders, who notes that the departures of Avery Bradley and Crowder open the door for those youngsters to take on significant roles in Boston.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Grousbeck, Tatum, Defense

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck is happy to welcome Kyrie Irving to Boston, calling the point guard a “transcendent player,” relays A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. Speaking at an event today in Boston, Grousbeck said the team views the Irving deal as its best path toward another NBA title.

The Celtics, who were the East’s top seed last season at 53-29, have shaken up the roster over the summer, with Irving, Gordon Hayward and rookie Jayson Tatum as the main additions. Grousbeck said the moves were made with an eye on the immediate and long-term future, but he declined to speculate on whether Boston is ready to knock off Cleveland in a playoff series. “I’m not going to make any predictions about that,” he said. “I think we’re in a good position to represent Celtic pride well. We have a strong team, an up and coming team, a young team with more youth on the way. We want to be good for a sustained period of time and it starts now.”

There’s more news tonight out of Boston:

  • Cleveland’s desire to obtain Tatum held up the deal for several weeks, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical. Appearing on NBA TV, he said the trade could have been completed much earlier if Boston was willing to part with its No. 3 pick out of Duke. Charania added that any dispute in Cleveland was more about Irving than LeBron James, and James stayed in the background while owner Dan Gilbert and GM Koby Altman worked on the deal.
  • Tatum is “just as surprised as everyone else” to be playing with his fellow Duke alumnus, Blakely writes in a separate piece. Tatum said he heard rumors that he might be headed to Cleveland in a deal and is relieved to stay in Boston. Blakely confirms that the Cavs asked for Tatum at first, then talked to several Western Conference teams after the Celtics refused. When that didn’t pan out, they revisited negotiations with Boston. Tatum, who vacationed with Irving in the Bahamas this summer, is looking forward to playing alongside his new teammate. “I’m pretty sure it’ll be a lot of fun,” Tatum said. “He’s a tremendous player, a superstar in this league.”
  • The Celtics now have multiple stars who will enable them to compete for a title, according to Nick Ashooh of CSNMidAtlantic. He notes that newcomers Hayward and Marcus Morris ranked higher last year in Defensive Win Shares than former Celtics Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk, which should help Boston improve its team ranking of 15th in points allowed per game.

NBA Rookies View Dennis Smith Jr. As ROY Favorite

For the last decade, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has been surveying several incoming rookies to get their thoughts on their fellow first-year players.  Schuhmann asks the newest NBA players to identify which rookie they expect to have the best career, which was the steal of the 2017 draft, and which is the frontrunner for the 2017/18 Rookie of the Year award, among other questions.

This year, Schuhmann polled 39 rookies, and more than a quarter of those players made Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. their pick for Rookie of the Year favorite. The No. 9 overall pick received 25.7% of the vote, beating out top picks like Lonzo Ball (20%) and Markelle Fultz (17.1%). That may be good news for the Mavs, though as Schuhmann observes, the rookies he has surveyed haven’t accurately predicted the Rookie of the Year winner since 2007/08, when they made Kevin Durant the overwhelming favorite.

Here are a few more items of interest from Schuhmann’s survey:

  • Smith was the landslide winner (43.6%) as the most athletic rookie. But while his fellow rookies believe the Mavericks point guard will have the best first year, Ball and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received the most votes (18.4% apiece) for which rookie will have the best overall career.
  • Donovan Mitchell (18.9%) was the top choice for biggest steal of the draft, after the Jazz nabbed him at No. 13. Some of the second-round picks that the rookies viewed as steals included Jordan Bell (Warriors; No. 38) and Dwayne Bacon (Hornets; No. 40).
  • Luke Kennard (Pistons) and Malik Monk (Hornets) were widely considered the top two outside shooters in the draft. Among their fellow rookies, Kennard (48.6%) easily topped Monk (13.5%) as the pick for the No. 1 shooter of the 2017 class.
  • Suns forward Josh Jackson (26.3%) was narrowly voted the best rookie defender, while Ball (71.8%) was the overwhelming pick for best rookie playmaker.

Kyrie Irving Rumors: Spurs, Celtics, Porzingis

If the Cavaliers had received assurances from LeBron James that he intends to remain with the franchise beyond the 2017/18 season, their approach to a Kyrie Irving trade might be much different, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. While the Cavs certainly haven’t given up hope of James remaining in Cleveland, the franchise wants to use an Irving trade to protect itself against his possible departure — that means focusing on acquiring a young potential star, rather than targeting veteran help for LeBron.

Initially, the Cavs’ desire in an Irving trade was to acquire young players and picks that could help the team down the road and to get pieces that could help the club contend immediately. However, that kind of massive return may not be available for the star point guard, forcing the Cavaliers to choose one path or the other. And with LeBron unwilling to commit, the Cavs are leaning toward prioritizing long-term pieces over short-term help.

As Wojnarowski details, Josh Jackson (Suns), Jayson Tatum (Celtics), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), and even Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) are among the young players the Cavaliers have their eye on in trade talks. In his own piece on the situation in Cleveland, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders agrees that those four teams – Phoenix, Boston, Denver, and New York – are mentioned most frequently as trade partners, and continue to have discussions with the Cavs.

Here’s plenty more on the Irving situation:

  • According to both Wojnarowski and Kyler, teams around the NBA believe that the Cavaliers will ramp up trade talks and get more serious about moving Irving in September, with training camps approaching.
  • The Spurs have interest in Irving, but the fact that the Cavs are prioritizing young potential stars over veteran help means Cleveland doesn’t have much interest in the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, or Danny Green, says Wojnarowski.
  • Although the Cavaliers are intrigued by Tatum, the Celtics have yet to make an official offer for Irving and the two sides haven’t formally discussed this year’s No. 3 overall pick, according to Wojnarowski. Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe adds (via Twitter) that Boston has remained in touch with the Cavs throughout the process.
  • The idea of including Porzingis in an Irving offer is currently a “non-starter” for the Knicks, per Wojnarowski. However, Woj adds there may still be some lingering tension between Porzingis and the franchise, and teams are wondering how emphatic the Knicks’ “no” really is — especially if the Cavaliers would be willing to take on Joakim Noah‘s contract.
  • Wojnarowski reports that the Bucks have shown interest in Irving. However, with Giannis Antetokounmpo obviously untouchable, Milwaukee may not have a young star who makes sense for the Cavs.
  • Although the Clippers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Irving, a league source tells Kyler that L.A. doesn’t appear to have the right combination of assets to appeal to the Cavs — a third team would be necessary, and even that may not be enough to make the Clips a serious contender for Irving.

East Notes: Knicks, The Morrii, Wall

For the first time in over a decade the Knicks appear to be embarking on a genuine rebuild. It’s a changing of the guard, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders writes, that extends beyond the literal fact that Derrick Rose is out and Frank Ntilikina is in.

After years of seeming to prioritize headlines over wins, the Knicks have a young core in place and a respected general manager that may just be up to the task of gradually building a winner.

While the Knicks’ decision to take Ntilikina eighth overall in the June NBA Draft will forever be tied to how well Dennis Smith Jr. (ninth overall) and Malik Monk (12th) fare throughout their careers, the 19-year-old represents the long developmental process inherent with a genuine rebuild.

Joining Ntilikina as anchors of the Knicks’ decent young core are Kristaps Porzingis, Willy Hernangomez and even 2017 free agent acquisition Tim Hardaway Jr., Hamilton writes.

It may be some time before the Knicks end up back in the postseason but the fact that the franchise may, for now at least, be committed to rebuilding authentically as opposed to chasing shortcut solutions is a step in the right direction.

There’s more from the East:

  • Figuring to make the CelticsWizards rivalry slightly more interesting in 2017/18 is the fact that Marcus Morris, brother of Wiz forward Markieff Morris, will suit up for Boston. “I think we’ll still have that rivalry because we don’t like those guys and they don’t like us,” Markieff told Ben Standig of FanRag Sports. “I don’t think that should change with my brother on the team.
  • The Wizards came up short against the Celtics in their second-round playoff series but John Wall isn’t letting the fact that he went cold down the stretch. “Game 7 was not the way we wanted it to end, but I definitely went out swinging,” the guard told Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I didn’t go 0-for-0. I went 0-for-11. I shot the ball and played the game I wanted to play. At least I wasn’t being passive. I was aggressive like I was the whole playoffs. I can deal with losing that way and use that as motivation for this season coming up.
  • Despite going third overall versus Josh Jackson‘s fourth, Jayson Tatum‘s NBA 2K18 rating is one point lower, D.J. Bean of CSN New England writes. Bean reminds readers that the Celtics were unable to secure a pre-draft workout with Jackson, who ultimately ended up with the Suns.


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