Jayson Tatum

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.

East Finals Roundup: LeBron, Tatum, J. Green

While LeBron James‘ upcoming free agency will be the biggest storyline of the NBA offseason, James himself has avoided discussing his future all season long, and the Cavaliers – including owner Dan Gilbert – are following suit. After the Cavs’ Game 7 win over the Celtics on Sunday night, Gilbert told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that the organization is completely locked in on its next series, not on the summer.

“We’re just focused – and it’s the truth, it’s not avoiding the question – we’re literally focused on (the now),” Gilbert said. “It’s just so intense in the playoffs and getting to the Finals and now the Finals, I don’t think – and I know he doesn’t – I don’t think even our guys are talking (about anything other than) what’s in front of them. … So, everybody knows, obviously what we want to happen and we’ll take the Finals first and take it from there.”

While the Cavaliers will head into the Finals as the underdogs, pulling off the upset could have a major impact on the club’s upcoming offseason plans — it would be hard for James to leave Cleveland right after leading the Cavs to another championship.

Here are a few more items worth rounding up from the Eastern Conference Finals:

  • Jayson Tatum couldn’t lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals, but he received plenty of praise from James as his impressive rookie season came to an end, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN. “I just love everything about (Tatum), the way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from,” James said. “I just know he’s built for stardom. He’s built for success. And that’s both on and off the floor.”
  • James was also complimentary of the Cavaliers teammates who are headed to the Finals despite hearing for weeks that they weren’t doing enough to help LeBron. “I know I get a lot of the headlines – win, lose or draw, whatever the case may be – but in order to be successful, it’s a team game,” James told ESPN’s Doris Burke after the Game 7 win (link via Andrew Joseph of USA Today). “That’s why we’re going to another Finals — because my teammates played a hell of a game.”
  • One of those teammates, Jeff Green, spoke after the game about not taking anything for granted after undergoing open-heart surgery in 2012. Jeff Zilgitt and AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today have the story on Green, who was the Cavaliers‘ second-best player in Game 7.
  • Their disappointing Game 7 performances will likely haunt Celtics youngsters Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown for a while, but that may not be the worst thing in the world, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, who writes that this year’s loss can be a learning experience for Rozier and Brown as they continue to develop.

Eastern Finals Notes: Tatum, Horford, James, Love

Cleveland will have to play Game 7 without Kevin Love, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum came away from Friday night’s collision relatively unscathed. Coach Brad Stevens told reporters that doctors checked on Tatum today and said he’s in “great” condition, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. Tatum will continue to be monitored up to tomorrow’s game, but right now the team isn’t worried about his availability.

Tatum was defending Love when they bumped heads in the first quarter and said it took him a while to shake off the effects, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“They asked me if I was dizzy, if I had a headache,” said Tatum, who underwent concussion testing on the sidelines. “I’m fine.”

There’s more on the eve of Game 7:

  • Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, who barely played when the postseason began, has helped turn the series around with his defense on Al Horford, notes Adam Himmeslbach of The Boston Globe. Cleveland is outscoring Boston by 3.2 points per 100 possessions when they are on the court together, but the Celtics have a 19.2 edge when Horford plays without Thompson. Boston’s big man was visibly frustrated after Friday’s game, which included a healthy dose of double teaming. “If you were watching the game, I was getting doubled as soon as I caught the ball,” Horford said to reporters. “Every time, I didn’t really have one-on-one position. So they did a good job of really doubling me and making it hard.”
  • As bad as the Love injury news was for Cavaliers fans, things could have been worse, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Larry Nance Jr. collided with LeBron James during the fourth quarter on a play that reminded McMenamin of an incident that caused Kevin Durant to miss a significant part of last season. “I just felt someone fall into my leg, and my leg kind of went in,” said James, who was limping when he left the arena. “I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg. I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I’ve seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one’s leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game.”
  • Love’s injury means James will likely have to improve on his already-superhuman effort, writes Justin Verrier of The Ringer. Love is averaging 13.9 points and 10.0 rebounds in the postseason, but he hasn’t been especially effective against the Celtics, Verrier notes. He has a minus-7.4 net rating in the series, worst on the team other than Rodney Hood.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its First and Second All-Rookie Teams for the 2017/18 season. Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz – widely viewed as the top two contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received 99 of 100 potential First Team votes.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2017/18, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

  • Ben Simmons, Sixers (200)
  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (200)
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics (199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, Lakers (193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, Bulls (173)

Second Team:

Jackson, who received one First Team vote to go along with 43 Second Team votes, narrowly beat out Bam Adebayo of the Heat for the final spot on the Second Team — Adebayo finished with 44 points.

Outside of Adebayo and the 10 players who earned spots on the All-Rookie teams, 14 other players received votes, with De’Aaron Fox (Kings), OG Anunoby (Raptors), and Jarrett Allen (Nets) leading the way among that group.

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY

Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP

Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man

Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY

Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY

Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Co-Owner Wyc Grousbeck Confident About Celtics’ Future

Celtics co-owner, managing partner, and CEO Wyc Grousbeck appeared today on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston before tonight’s Game 2 between the Celtics and Cavaliers to discuss a bevy of topics, as relayed by Adam Kaufman of WBZ-AM NewsRadio 1030 (click here for links).

Perhaps most interestingly, Grousbeck uncovered the fact that the Cavs were interested in obtaining/would have accepted Jayson Tatum instead of the Nets’ upcoming pick in the 2018 NBA Draft in last summer’s blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. Ultimately, the Celtics preferred to send the pick instead of their prized rookie, which sure appears to have been the right decision as we sit here today.

Faced with the upcoming free agency of Marcus Smart this summer and the potential free agency of Irving, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier next summer, Grousbeck was also asked to discuss the Celtics’ willingness to dip into the luxury tax if necessary. Per Kaufman, Grousbeck said the Celtics are prepared to “pay for performance” and “to do whatever it takes to win again.”

As for Irving’s knee injury that has kept him out of this year’s postseason, Grousbeck said that he has no long-term concerns about Irving’s knee, which parallels the report from about a month ago that Irving was already seen walking around without a noticeable limp just a little over a week after his surgery.

Given Irving’s positive prognosis, the relative youth of the Celtics’ roster and head coach, and the prowess the team has exhibited so far this postseason without Irving, Gordon Hayward, or Daniel Theis, it’s no surprise that Grousbeck feels very confident about his team’s future, even going as far as to say he’d be disappointed if the Celtics aren’t back in the same position they’re in now for the next five years.

Atlantic Notes: Larkin, Tatum, Lin, Eisley

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said the team is operating under the impression that injured guard Shane Larkin will be unavailable for the entire Eastern Conference finals, per ESPN’s Chris Forsberg (Twitter link).

Larkin missed Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Sixers with a left shoulder sprain. He was expected to be sidelined for the foreseeable future. However, Larkin said to NBC Sports that he still hopes to play in the upcoming series.

“I’m not ruling anything out,” Larkin said. “It’s still fresh, it’s still sore. I can’t really do much. It’s frustrating but you have to stay positive. It’s just an unfortunate thing.”

With injuries to Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart, Larkin saw an increased workload in the first round of the postseason and rotational minutes in the second round against the Sixers. The 25-year-old averaged just 14.4 minutes in 54 regular season games, posting 4.3 PPG. With Smart back in the fold, he and Terry Rozier figure to see an increased workload against the Cavs.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • With the drama in San Antonio involving Kawhi Leonard, there have been reports and speculation that if he is traded, the Celtics may be a strong possibility. The team has several young players to offer in a deal and Boston is always seeking upgrades. ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes that the Celtics are unlikely to deal Jayson Tatum straight-up for Leonard unless Boston gets a clean bill of health and long-term commitment from Leonard.
  • Most of the Nets roster got together for a workout in Los Angeles, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. The only players from this year’s team absent from the group workout included Nik Stauskas, Allen Crabbe, and Jahlil Okafor
  • Among current Knicks assistant coaches, Howard Eisley is being “strongly considered” for David Fizdale‘s coaching staff, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley. One source tells Begley it’s even “highly likely” that Eisley is retained. However, no final decision has been made as Grizzlies assistant Keith Smart — who the Knicks recently got permission to interview — and Nick Van Exel remain strong possibilities to join Fizdale.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Kanter, Blatt, Celtics

While much has been made of the Sixers‘ “Process,” the team has also taken a melting-pot approach to building its roster, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, who observes that Philadelphia’s lineup features key contributors from Australia, Croatia, Cameroon, Italy, and Turkey. As Reynolds writes, Brett Brown, who spent nearly two decades living overseas, is an ideal head coach for that sort of diverse locker room.

“It’s all basketball, but the true side of how people coach, speak, say, play the game is different,” Brown said. “And that collection now that I have with everybody is like is a melting pot of all people’s experiences. That equals a team. I mean, I love it. I love the geo-political conversations. I love that diversity on the court, off the court. I enjoy it.

“This global instinct and sort of global feeling that we have in Philadelphia interests me very much,” Brown added. “I embrace it. For me, it’s another layer of why I enjoy coaching this team.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Speaking to Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript, Enes Kanter continues to sound like a man thinking about opting out of his contract. After being reminded that he’s technically a member of the Knicks, Kanter replied, “Until July 1, yes. We’ll talk to teams. We’ll see.” Kanter previously suggested that he’s leaning toward declining his player option, but agent Mark Bartelstein quickly walked those comments back. For what it’s worth, Kanter could sign a new deal with New York if he opts out, and has said multiple times that he’d like to stick with the Knicks.
  • Former Cavaliers head coach David Blatt wants another shot to coach an NBA team, indicating that he wants to redeem himself after feeling that he didn’t “realize my potential” in Cleveland. Marc Berman of The New York Post passes along the quotes from Blatt and explores the possibility of the veteran coach landing the Knicks job.
  • While the odds of the Celtics making a deep postseason run are significantly reduced as long as Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are sidelined, youngsters Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have stepped up and are showing star potential. Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com and ESPN’s Chris Forsberg both examine the impressive development of Tatum and Brown.

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Capela, Conley, Barnes

The Lakers might be the logical landing spot if the Spurs decide not to offer Kawhi Leonard a supermax deal or if he tells them he’ll walk after next season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe speculates. Leonard can opt out of his deal next summer and the Spurs would want to acquire assets rather than wind up with nothing, as the Thunder experienced when Kevin Durant bolted, Washburn continues.  The Lakers have enough assets to make such a deal happen, but the Celtics would likely decline the Spurs’ advances if they were asked to give up Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and a first-rounder for him, Washburn adds.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Clint Capela‘s value to the Rockets hasn’t gone unnoticed and should lead to a lucrative offseason for the impending restricted free agent, as Stefano Fusaro of The Undefeated notes. Houston went 42-3 this season when Capela, Chris Paul and James Harden were all in the lineup, and Paul told Fusaro it’s no coincidence. “Y’all know the record when we all play together, and I’ll tell you it’s not because of me and James,” Paul said. “Clint is really the X factor. He opens up so much for us.”
  • Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley anticipates playing a full season after his injury-marred 2017/18 campaign, the team’s PR department tweets. Conley opted for season-ending heel surgery in late January after appearing in just 12 games. “Thankfully I had the surgery early enough to where I have a full summer of work and getting my body ready for an 82-game season,” Conley told reporters.
  • Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes wants to play for the U.S. national team again, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. Barnes, who had a limited role in the 2016 Olympics, is one of 35 players USA Basketball has named as candidates to play in the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympics. “Everybody would love to play in a World Cup and the Olympics,” Barnes told Sefko. “Those are bucket-list experiences. If I could be included in that group, it would be really special.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Mozgov, Harris

There are a number of reasons why the Celtics didn’t make a dramatic move at the trade deadline, not least because there wasn’t a grandfather offer presented that would prompt them into action. As A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes, another motivating factor was preserving opportunities for young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to play and develop.

We’ve got some big decisions in our franchise going forward with those young guys and and we love them all and they all bring something different to the table and we have a lot of confidence in them but yeah, bringing in other players can jeopardize their growth and development,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.

While the article mentions Marcus Smart as another sub-23 young asset, it was Smart who was most discussed as a possible trade chip ahead of the deadline. Prior to that deadline, the Celtics insisted that they would only consider a significantly haul in exchange for the former lottery pick and obviously didn’t get one that impressed them.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors figure to be active in the buyout market, Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. The scribe also notes, in a second tweet, that general manager Bobby Webster reiterated that the franchise is willing to dip into the luxury tax next season.
  • With just one 20-minute showing under his belt so far this season, there’s no denying that veteran center Timofey Mozgov‘s role is limited. Despite the lack of playing time, however, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes that Mozgov and the Nets haven’t discussed a buyout.
  • The Nets view 26-year-old shooting guard Joe Harris as a potential part of their core, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes. In 54 games this season, Harris has averaged 10.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.