Jayson Tatum

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.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Bolden, Tatum

While the team has not offered up an official date at which Joel Embiid will be cleared to play in back-to-backs, the Sixers center would like to do so by the end of the month, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

Embiid, who was voted in as an All-Star Game starter earlier today, has averaged 23.8 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for the Sixers this season, but has only played in 31 of the team’s 40 contests.

Through the first three months of the regular season, the Sixers have played five sets of back-to-backs and in each game, Embiid has missed at least one match.

I just need not to take days off,” Embiid said. “It’s not on me. It’s on the [Sixers’] medical staff. But hopefully, back-to-backs by the end of this month, I will be allowed to play.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics appear to have landed a gem in rookie Jayson Tatum. Chris Forsberg of ESPN recently profiled the 19-year-old forward, painting a picture of how Tatum’s confidence and poise have served him just as well as his length and athleticism have so far in his young career.
  • A feature by The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman profiles Sixers‘ draft-and-stash prospect Jonah Bolden. The 36th pick in the 2017 draft was named the Adriatic League’s Top Prospect, an award that Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic also earned during their stints there.
  • Despite a breakout year with the Nets, Joe Harris hasn’t concerned himself with the fact that he’ll be a free agent in the summer. “I love playing for [head coach Kenny Atkinson]”, Harris told Sam Blum of The Daily Progress. “I love the teammates that we have and everybody else that’s in the organization. We have a lot of great people, top to bottom. I really don’t think about that stuff a whole lot. I focus on trying to get better here collectively and individually and just enjoying it while I can.

Celtics Notes: One-And-Dones, Hayward, Morris

The Celtics may represent the best example of one-and-done collegiate players thriving at the NBA level, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes, citing the recent success of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as the reasons why.

I’ve been real impressed with our last two guys who came from college, played one year,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They were obviously ready for a lot of the demands of the NBA.”

Of course not every player that comes out of college early can step up for their team out of the gates, Blakely mentions former first overall pick and current Celtics G League affiliate player Anthony Bennett as one particularly notorious example.

There’s more Celtics news this afternoon:

  • Although an image circulated today of Gordon Hayward not wearing an ankle brace, the timeline for his recovery hasn’t changed, Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston says. Per president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, the organization is still of the mindset that Hayward will play next year.
  • Since his return from a knee injury last month, the Celtics have been cautious with Marcus Morris. Now, NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely writes, his minute restriction has been lifted.
  • While he could have made more money by continuing to play in Europe, Celtics rookie Daniel Theis didn’t want to miss his opportunity to play in the NBA. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald spoke with the forward about his decision to come over.

Eastern Rumors: Embiid, Stauskas, Tatum, Bulls

Sixers center Joel Embiid feels personal responsibility that former executive Sam Hinkie lost his job, as he expressed to NBA.com’s David Aldridge during a wide-ranging interview. Embiid believes Hinkie would still be running the Sixers if not for the foot injuries that kept Embiid out of action for two seasons after Hinkie drafted him. “He made sure he put everything in place so I could get healthy. And I got healthy and I got back on the court,” Embiid said. “And I feel like he basically kind of lost his job because of me, because I missed two years. So I feel like I owe him a lot.”

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Shooting guard Nik Stauskas, who was included in the deal that sent Jahlil Okafor to the Nets, is eager for a fresh start with Brooklyn, Nets website writer Tom Dowd relays. Stauskas appeared in 80 games, including 27 starts, with the Sixers last season but only saw action in six games this season after the off-season signing of J.J. Redick. “I’m just happy with the new change of scenery,” Stauskas said. “I feel like I get a chance to press the reset button.”
  • Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy revealed that he rated Celtics forward Jayson Tatum as the top player in the draft but Van Gundy is still surprised by the rookie’s 3-point shooting. Tatum, who played one season at Duke, led the league coming into Monday’s action with his 52.3% success rate from long range. “I thought he was the best prospect in the draft,” Van Gundy said Sunday in his pregame press conference. “He’s got all the tools. Anbody who says they’re not surprised by (his) three-point shooting, based on what he did in college, is lying. If there’s somebody who says I knew he’d knock down 50 percent of his threes even though he made 32 percent of them from the college line, they’re lying.”
  • Center Robin Lopez, power forward Nikola Mirotic and shooting guard Justin Holiday are three Bulls players that Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times views as trade bait. All three are rotation players whose contracts expire after next season, though there’s a team option on the final year of Mirotic’s deal, worth $12.5MM.

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.
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