Danny Ainge may be running the Jazz but his heart is still in Boston. Utah’s top executive admits he’s still a big Celtics fan, thanks to the longtime ties he has to the organization. “I root hard for the Celtics,” Ainge told Jay King of The Athletic.
He also likes what he sees from Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who went from assistant to interim coach to head coach this season.
“I just always liked Joe’s work ethic, his focus, his intelligence,” Ainge said of the Celtics’ new coach. “I feel like Joe is one of those guys — one way that I’ve always measured greatness is how much a person can learn from mistakes they make. Joe’s going to learn from his mistakes, just like (Utah coach) Will Hardy learns from his mistakes quickly. … The coaches that learn and move on, they become the legendary coaches. And I think both Joe and Will have a chance to be those.”
We have more from the Atlantic Division:
- Speaking of Hardy and Mazzulla, they remain in frequent contact with each other, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. The Jazz recorded a one-point win over Boston on Saturday. “I’d like to think we made each other better on and off the court,” Mazzulla said. “Just his mind, the way he thinks, the way he prepares. Really got to watch him be an associate head coach and how he served (Ime Udoka) and how he served our staff. Just a lot of great things I learned from him.”
- Center Moses Brown attended high school at New York’s Archbishop Malloy. He’s thrilled that the Nets signed him to a 10-day contract, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes. “I’ve been on a lot of teams all over the country, and it’s just cool to be home,” he said. “Every time we would drive throughout Brooklyn, I would watch the Barclays Center’s progress every year (while it was being constructed). That was the new team. I remember, growing up, just liking the colors, the uniforms, everything.”
- The Raptors’ 15-point win over Minnesota included a 19-point outing off the bench from Gary Trent Jr., who is expected to opt out of his $18.56MM contract for next season in order to become a free agent. Trent was a starter for much of the season, but head coach Nick Nurse said that having the veteran wing on the second unit has been a huge boost to the bench. “We need his offensive production,” Nurse told Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “It’s kind of his role on the team, is to keep the offense ticking over when some of the main guys are off the floor.”