Jayson Tatum

Celtics Notes: Walker, Smart, Wanamaker, Tatum

Celtics players view the injury that Kemba Walker suffered Friday in Denver as a chance to prove they can overcome adversity, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The team provided an update on Walker’s condition in a tweet this morning, declaring him doubtful for tomorrow’s game with the Kings because of a neck sprain. There’s no word on how long he might be out of action.

Walker was carried off the court after colliding with teammate Semi Ojeleye while chasing a loose ball. He was taken to an area hospital, but was released in time to join the Celtics for their flight back to Boston. Bulpett notes that Walker experienced neck problems while playing in the FIBA World Cup this summer.

“You always miss one of your better guys, but it’s just the circumstance right now,” Marcus Smart said. “He’s injured. But I think it gives us a lot of confidence to understand that we can still compete with anybody when he’s gone. So when he comes back, I mean, we’re just going to be that much better, you know? So that’s what it’s about. I can’t wait ’til he gets back, personally.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Smart is unhappy with the way the Nuggets handled an exchange with a fan during Friday’s game, Bulpett relays in a separate story. Smart claims he was taunted after going out of bounds, and he doesn’t believe security did anything about it. “We’re going to end up protecting ourselves eventually, and it’s not going to be pretty for the fans, and we don’t want that,” he said. “The league doesn’t want that, we don’t want that as players, but at some point you’ve got to stand up and you’ve got to protect yourself as a man.”
  • Brad Wanamaker has shown some encouraging signs that he can fill in for Walker while he’s sidelined, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Wanamaker averaged 11 PPG during the five-game road trip while shooting 51.5% from the field and 50% from 3-point range.
  • Jayson Tatum is probably the NBA’s thriftiest player, according to Kathleen Elkins of CNBC. Tatum, who has a $7.83MM salary this season, puts all his checks from the Celtics into savings and lives on the money he makes from endorsements. “When I picked my agent, I told him I want to do as much off-the-court stuff as I can,” Tatum recently told The Boston Globe. “Right now I’m young, so I try to do everything as much as possible. … Tomorrow is not promised. You’re not promised the next contract. You want to save all the money you can.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Musa, Kerr, Knicks

Joel Embiid‘s numbers are down in the major categories and the Sixers center feels that must change in order for the team to get rolling, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid, who has missed four games during the Sixers’ 8-5 start, is averaging 22.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG. He averaged 27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 1.9 BPG last season.“I need to do more,” Embiid said. “I felt like I haven’t done enough. So that’s what I think I need to do.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The role of Nets second-year shooting guard Dzanan Musa has expanded with Caris LeVert sidelined by a thumb injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. Musa has averaged 9.0 PPG in 21.0 MPG over the last four games. “We need his scoring on that second unit now, with no Caris,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You can’t just have Spencer (Dinwiddie) out there taking every possession.” We’re going to need Musa to play well.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes the FIBA World Cup helped the Celtics get off to a fast start, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown all played for Team USA. “You could tell [Team USA] was a head start for them,” Kerr said. “You could tell over the summer that those guys would click, and they absolutely have.”
  • Small, quick guards have lit up the Knicks lately, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post notes. Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham, Chicago’s Coby White and Cleveland’s Collin Sexton have all enjoyed big games against them, forcing head coach David Fizdale to consider going smaller in his backcourt. “The battle that we are fighting is the speed guard who can shoot, those little guards that can get anywhere on the floor that can shoot the ball from the moon,” Fizdale said. “Those guys have been giving us headaches.”

Celtics Pick Up 2020/21 Options On Tatum, Williams

OCTOBER 30, 9:40pm: As expected, the Celtics have now picked up Williams’ option, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

OCTOBER 14, 5:00pm: RealGM’s official transactions log lists the Celtics as having exercised Tatum’s option, but not Williams’. While I’d still expect Time Lord’s option to be picked up, it hasn’t happened yet. Boston has until October 31 to make its decision.

OCTOBER 14, 2:58pm: The Celtics have exercised their fourth-year option on former No. 3 overall pick Jayson Tatum, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Boston has also picked up its third-year option on 2018 first-rounder Robert Williams, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Both options are for the 2020/21 season, with Tatum’s cap hit ($9,897,120) significantly outweighing Williams’ ($2,029,920). Tatum will now be eligible for a contract extension in 2020 and would be on track for restricted free agency in 2021 if he doesn’t sign a new deal next year. Williams has one more year on his rookie contract in 2021/22 — the C’s will have to make a decision on that option by October 31 next year.

Both Tatum and Williams could take on more responsibilities in 2019/20 after a handful of veterans left the Celtics over the summer. Tatum, in particular, figures to be leaned on more heavily as an offensive play-maker with Kyrie Irving no longer in the mix, as the Celtics hope the 21-year-old can take another leap after an up-and-down performance last season.

Williams, meanwhile, will play a more modest role, but Boston’s frontcourt situation is unsettled now that Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris are playing for new teams. There could be regular minutes available for the former Texas A&M standout going forward.

With the October 31 deadline nearing, we’re tracking all of the 2020/21 rookie scale option decisions from around the NBA right here.

Atlantic Notes: Ntilikina, Miller, Brown, Tatum, Kurucs

The Knicks still haven’t settled on a starting point guard but Frank Ntilikina is “motivated” by the franchise’s decision to pick up his contract option for next season, as he told Marc Berman of the New York Post and other reporters. The Knicks took a cap hit of $6,176,578 to retain Ntilikina through the 2020/21 season. “It’s great here in New York to be part of this situation,” he said. “It’s motivation and a big excitement. It makes me willing to give even more on the court on a daily basis.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Malcolm Miller has made an NBA roster at the start of a season for the first time and he’s breathing a sigh of relief, Blake Murphy of The Athletic relays. The 26-year-old forward won a training camp battle for a spot on the Raptors’ roster. “Like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Like a huge exhale,” Miller said. “Two years of back and forth, but now it’s finally official. I feel like I’ve laid two years of groundwork, so I’m more than ready to attack it at full speed.”
  • Miller’s G League rights were traded to the Northern Arizona Suns along with the 21st pick in the G League draft for guard Jawun Evans, Murphy tweets. However, this won’t affect Miller’s status with the Raptors. They can still assign him to Raptors 905 despite not holding his G League rights because he’s on the 15-man roster.
  • The incentives on Jaylen Brown’s four-year extension include $8MM if he wins the MVP, Defensive Player of the Year award or makes one of three All-NBA teams, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. The Celtics and Brown reached an extension agreement on Monday. Another $4MM in more reachable incentives includes playing 65 or more games, the team winning 49 or more games and reaching the second round of the playoffs. As previously noted, the total guaranteed money in the deal is $103MM, but it could be worth up to $115MM.
  • The Celtics’ decision to give Brown a huge extension sends a clear signal that they’ll do the same for Jayson Tatum next year, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. That will give Boston a dynamic duo who will both be 23 years old or younger and have ample playoff experience, Blakely notes.
  • Nets forward Rodions Kurucs made a brief court appearance on Monday regarding a domestic assault charge, Andrew Denney of the New York Post reports. Kurucs was arrested in September over the June 27 incident in which he allegedly choked his ex-girlfriend. He was ordered back to court Nov. 19.

Celtics Notes: Theis, Strus, Langford, Williams

Daniel Theis is making a strong case to start at center for the Celtics, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports.

Theis, who has only started five of the 129 regular season games he’s played with Boston over the past two seasons, has more experience in Brad Stevens’ system than any other big man on the roster. That could give him an edge over Enes Kanter and Robert Williams. He’s also adept at making defensive switches.

“If you watch closely, that’s a tied-together group on that end of the court,” Stevens said of playing Theis with the other starters. Theis is making $5MM this season but his $5MM salary for 2020/21 is not guaranteed.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Max Strus is a serious candidate to get the 15th and final spot on the opening night roster, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets.  The shooting guard just had his two-way contract converted to a standard two-year deal with a partial guarantee. The guarantee is worth $415K, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, he could still be waived, Murphy adds. The 23-year-old Strus went undrafted after playing his college ball at DePaul.
  • Stevens offers high praise for his first-year players, including Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Tacko Fall, and Carsen Edwards, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets“That’s as good of a group of rookie workers that I’ve ever been around …those guys grind,” he said.
  • The team has picked up the 2020/21 options on Jayson Tatum and Williams. Get all the details here.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Dinwiddie, Brown, Tatum

Sixers center Joel Embiid dropped 20 pounds this summer in order to take the pressure off his balky knee, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports.

“Obviously my knee was bothering me the whole second half of the season and the playoffs,” the Sixers’ star said. “But all I was thinking was what can I do make sure I don’t let my teammates down again or my team. Or the whole city basically. That was to take better of my body.”

Embiid missed 12 games after last season’s All-Star break, mainly due to knee tendinitis. The Sixers will have a load management plan for him, but he expects to play more than the 64 games, Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer tweets.

Embiid added that he has more trust in Sixers GM Elton Brand than predecessor Bryan Colangelo, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets“With the past GM it wasn’t all that,” Embiid said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie will meet with league officials this week to discuss his plan to turn his contract into an investment tool, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The NBA nixed the idea last week but Dinwiddle hopes he can convince the league to reverse its ruling. Dinwiddie wanted to enable investors to essentially buy shares of his three-year, $34.4MM contract.
  • Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown is eligible for a rookie scale extension until opening night but he’s not fretting over negotiations, Nick Goss of NBC Sports Boston writes. “To be honest, I’m not putting too much thought into it,” Brown said. “I’m not losing any sleep over it. I think stuff like that ends up working itself out in the end, or however so. I’m just focused on this season and playing basketball. I think that’s my No. 1 emphasis. Let the chips fall where they may.” He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension.
  • Celtics swingman Jayson Tatum, who played for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, is hopeful of being on the Olympic roster next summer, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets. “I ain’t got nothing else to do,” Tatum said.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Tatum, Simmons, Dinwiddie

According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, discussions between the Nets and veteran forward Lance Thomas have centered around Thomas having a regular season roster spot.

The Nets have 15 players on guaranteed deals and can add an extra player to their roster during the last 20 games of Wilson Chandler‘s 25-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. When that suspension is over, however, the Nets would have to waive Thomas or someone else to get back to 15 players.

Begley adds that Thomas has a good relationship with Kevin Durant from their days together in Oklahoma City, so that will only help Thomas’ chances of staying on with the Nets should he be signed.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens says that Jayson Tatum is ready to go for the opening of camp next Tuesday, telling Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald that Tatum is “fine” after suffering an ankle sprain while playing for the U.S. national team. “He’s ready to go from what I’ve been told… I don’t know if he will do anything 5-on-5 this week, but we anticipate no issues when camp starts next week. At least, that’s the latest that I got.”
  • The Sixers have officially announced several new hires and promotions for the 2019/20 season, including the addition of former NBA big man Roy Hibbert as the team’s new player development specialist, which was reported back in August.
  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons tells Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press that he found his love of the game again this summer. “I kind of got back to who I was and having fun with the game. I felt like the past season I lost that enjoyment side of it but I feel like this summer has been huge for me. Just the work I’ve been putting in, I kinda fell in love with putting that work in again and I’ve been in the gym every day working and the results have been paying off so I’m excited for the season to start.”
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic sat down with Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie to get some more details on how the 26-year-old is turning his contract into a digital investment vehicle.

Team USA, Others Secure Spots In 2020 Olympics

The second round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup has come to an end, with several more countries – including the USA – clinching spots in the 2020 Olympics as a result of their records in this year’s event.

Entering World Cup play, only host nation Japan was assured of a spot in the 12-team field for next year’s Olympics in Tokyo. Seven more teams will ultimately qualify via the World Cup — two from the Americas, two from Europe, one from Africa, one from Asia, and one from Oceania.

While the European spots are still up for grabs, the other five have been claimed. USA and Argentina (Americas) will play in the 2020 Olympics, along with Australia (Oceania), Iran (Asia), and Nigeria (Africa).

Once two more spots have been secured by the last two European teams still standing in the World Cup, there will be four final berths available for Tokyo. Those four teams will be determined in a series of pre-Olympic qualifying tournaments next summer.

Here’s more on the 2019 World Cup:

  • The matchups for the World Cup quarterfinals have been set. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets, Tuesday’s games are Argentina vs. Serbia and Spain vs. Poland, with USA vs. France and Australia vs. the Czech Republic to follow on Wednesday. As the single-elimination portion of the tournament gets underway, Team USA’s probable path to gold could feature showdowns against Serbia in the semifinals and Australia or Spain in the final (Twitter link).
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic has created a chart that helpfully breaks down the Olympic qualifying outlook. Lithuania, Italy, Greece, Brazil, Germany, Canada, and Turkey are among the many countries that have earned spots in the qualifying tournaments and will vie for one of the final four Olympic berths next summer.
  • Despite a win today, reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greeks have been eliminated from World Cup medal contention. Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press has the details on a frustrating tournament for Giannis, who declined to speak to reporters for a second consecutive game.
  • Injured Celtics forward Jayson Tatum returned to practice but was held out of Monday’s game against Brazil. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN details, Tatum – who is recovering from an ankle sprain – hinted that he might be back on the court for Wednesday’s game vs. France.

Jayson Tatum To Be Re-Evaluated On September 9

Team USA officially issued an update on injured Celtics forward Jayson Tatum this morning, confirming in a press release that Tatum suffered a left ankle sprain during the club’s tense win over Turkey on Tuesday, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets.

Tatum has been ruled out for Team USA’s next two games. He’ll miss Thursday’s matchup against Japan and Saturday’s contest against a to-be-determined opponent before being re-evaluated on Monday. If the 21-year-old is deemed ready to return at that point, he could play in Monday’s game, but it’s possible he’ll be sidelined a little longer.

Tatum’s injury occurred when he rolled his left ankle during the final seconds of overtime in USA’s 93-92 victory on Tuesday, but it looked worse than it was — after the game, he was walking under his own power and telling reporters that he already felt better, which is good news for the Celtics.

Team USA’s game against Japan on Thursday will have no impact on their standing in the tournament, since the squad has already qualified for second-round play. However, the club would certainly like to have Tatum back in its lineup for the last two games in the round-of-16, if possible.

USA will be part of a second-round group that also includes Brazil. The winners of tomorrow’s Czech Republic/Turkey and Greece/New Zealand showdowns will fill out the group. The game that Tatum misses on Saturday will be against one of those five teams.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, LeVert, Harris, Bolden

Jayson Tatum rolled his left ankle in the final seconds of Team USA’s nail-biter of a win over Turkey today, but the injury – diagnosed as an ankle sprain – doesn’t appear to be serious. The Celtics forward texted head coach Brad Stevens and told him as much about 20 minutes after suffering the injury, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Tatum later addressed reporters in China, including Joe Vardon of The Athletic and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter links), and said he was already feeling better. The 21-year-old was walking under his own power and didn’t have much of a limp, according to reports, which is great news for the Celtics.

It remains to be seen whether Tatum’s World Cup run is over. We should know more by Wednesday, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if USA Basketball plays it safe with the young forward, sending him back stateside to focus on getting healthy for his upcoming season with the Celtics.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights (Twitter link) passes along the official numbers for Caris LeVert‘s new rookie scale extension, which starts at about $16.2MM in 2020/21. As initially reported, the three-year deal with the Nets is worth exactly $52.5MM and is fully guaranteed, with no options.
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, who put up 11 points and five rebounds today for Team USA, is relishing an opportunity to represent his country at the 2019 World Cup, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter) that Harris should be one of the very best UFA shooting guards on what figures to be a weak NBA free agent market in 2020.
  • Within his latest mailbag for The Athletic, Derek Bodner writes that while the Sixers don’t appear ready to trust Jonah Bolden as their primary backup center, he also doesn’t believe the club views Bolden as trade bait.