Kemba Walker

Smart, Young Invited To Join USA Basketball Camp

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been added to USA Basketball’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup this summer, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Veteran forward Thaddeus Young, who signed with the Bulls in free agency this summer, has also been invited to participate, Charania adds in another tweet.

The move was necessitated by the flurry of defections from the original 20-man roster. Anthony DavisJames HardenBradley BealCJ McCollum and Eric Gordon have already withdrawn from Team USA participation this summer, starting with training camp in Las Vegas in August. Two other players, Damian Lillard and Kevin Love, are also undecided and will announce their decisions in the next few days.

The roster will be trimmed to 12 players for the World Cup in China. Smart, who averaged 8,9 PPG, 4.0 APG and 1.8 SPG last season, would give coach Gregg Popovich a versatile defensive option if he makes the final cut.

Smart joins new teammate and backcourt partner Kemba Walker, who is on the original 20-man roster. That list of 20 invitees to the USA Basketball camp can be found here. Smart signed a four-year deal with Boston last summer.

Young averaged 12.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 81 games with the Pacers last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Celtics Notes: Horford, Green, Roster, Walker

The Celtics feel there was tampering involved in the departure of Al Horford to rival Philadelphia, according to Brian Windhorst. The ESPN analyst said as much on a Hoop Collective Podcast (hat tip to NBC Sports Boston’s Justin Leger).

“What happened with Horford, again from what I’m told, really upset the Celtics,” Windhorst said. “They were thinking they were going to be able to negotiate with him, talk to him about a new contract, and all of a sudden it was like he already knew what his market was and he was out of there.”

The Sixers inked Horford to a four-year deal that can be worth up to $109MM.

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Swingman Javonte Green is expected to sign a two-year deal with the Celtics, with a partial guarantee in the first year and a non-guaranteed second year, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. The news that Green was signing with Boston surfaced on Thursday. Green, who has played overseas since going undrafted in 2015, averaged 10.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 1.8 SPG in 22.6 MPG over five Summer League games at Las Vegas this month.
  • The Celtics will have an open competition for the final roster spot, Himmelsbach reveals in the same tweet. Players with partial guarantees and their two-way contract players will try to earn that spot. Guards Max Strus and reportedly Tremont Waters are their two-way players.
  • Kemba Walker received the max allowed for a free agent from an opposing team but the opportunity to join a contender seeking a point guard tipped the scales to Boston, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. “It really came down to my happiness and how I want to compete night-in and night-out,” Walker said. “It’s a winning organization, and I want to win. That’s what it’s all about. Throughout my basketball career as a pro, I haven’t won consistently, and I want to get a taste of that.”

Celtics Notes: Kemba, Kanter, Fall, Green

As the Celtics introduced offseason additions Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter at a press conference today, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told reporters, including A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link), that landing Walker and Kanter was his “Plan A” heading into the offseason.

While it’s hard to believe that a franchise so frequently linked to Anthony Davis would have considered Walker and Kanter its top priorities, Ainge’s comments make more sense if you assume he’s talking about Boston’s plan on June 30. By that point, the Lakers had already agreed to acquire Davis and the C’s had a good idea that Kyrie Irving and Al Horford wouldn’t be back.

In fact, Ainge said today that the Celtics started to get a sense as early as March or April that Irving may not be back in Boston for the 2019/20 season (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

“I was obviously thinking a move in a different direction at that point, thinking of the different options,” Ainge said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com.

We have much more on the Celtics today, so let’s dive in…

  • Kanter said today that a recruiting call from Walker (via Ainge’s phone) helped convince him to join the Celtics. Kemba was one of the biggest reasons I came here,” Kanter said, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • The Celtics attempted to work out sign-and-trade deals with the Sixers and Nets for Horford and Irving, respectively, but both teams wanted more draft pick compensation than Boston was comfortable with, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Turning those free agent departures into sign-and-trades might have allowed Boston to retain more cap flexibility or pick up an extra asset or two.
  • Having agreed in June to sign Tacko Fall to an Exhibit 10 contract, the Celtics haven’t indicated yet that they intend to alter their plans for the rookie following his impressive Summer League performance. However, his showing in Las Vegas certainly caught the team’s eye. We want to take his development very seriously,” Ainge said of Fall (Twitter link via Himmelsbach). “He’s a high priority for us to develop.”
  • Another Summer League standout, Javonte Green, is drawing significant interest overseas, according to Himmelsbach, who tweets that it’s probably unrealistic to expect the wing to become an affiliate player for the Maine Red Claws.
  • After rescinding Daniel Theis‘ qualifying offer over the weekend, the Celtics still had a tiny bit of cap room to sign a rookie to a contract longer than two years, ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted (via Twitter). However, making their deals with Theis, Kanter, and Brad Wanamaker official today eliminated that cap room.

Mavericks Notes: Kemba, Wright, Green

In the weeks leading up to free agency, the Mavericks were identified as one of the most likely suitors for free agent point guard Kemba Walker. Dallas didn’t end up landing Walker, but in an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio, owner Mark Cuban confirmed that the All-NBA guard was very much on the club’s radar (transcript via Dallas Morning News).

“We were interested in Kemba. That was the one name associated with (us) we were interested (in),” Cuban said. “We didn’t expect Al Horford to opt out. Who knew that would happen? So when (Walker) decided to stay closer to home and go to Boston, well, we had to adjust.”

As Cuban explains, Horford’s opt-out decision, along with Kyrie Irving‘s departure, helped clear the way for the Celtics to open up the cap room necessary to land Walker. Once Kemba was off the board, Dallas shifted its focus to another free point guard.

“When Kemba wasn’t really going to be available at the start of free agency, our first call literally was Delon Wright, because we wanted somebody that could defend next to Luka (Doncic) and most of our guys, particularly our ones (and) twos were walk-it-up guys,” Cuban said. “Delon’s a downhill guy who can defend multiple positions. We’ll work with him some on his shot, but he’s a great finisher, he can get to the rim, he’ll make the play, he helps make his teammates better, and that’s what we were looking for. Because trying to get Luka to guard point guards is not going to work.”

Let’s round up a few more Mavs-related notes, including one or two more on Wright…

  • Discussing the Mavericks’ acquisition of Wright, head coach Rick Carlisle said that he believes the former Raptors and Grizzlies point guard is capable of being a starter, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t know that we’ll have a full-time starting team. But we wouldn’t have made this move if we didn’t think he was a starting-caliber player,” Carlisle said. “But the way to win now is to have starting-caliber players top-to-bottom. We’re trying to get as many as we can.”
  • RealGM’s traded draft pick tracker has been updated to reflect the draft picks traded by the Mavericks to the Grizzlies in the Wright deal. Per RealGM, Memphis acquired Portland’s 2021 second-round pick, plus either Dallas’ or Miami’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is less favorable).
  • In the latest episode of his Inside the Green Room podcast, Danny Green explained that he chose the Lakers over the Mavericks because he feels as if L.A. is closer to contention (link via Dallas Morning News). “As much as I wanted to be (in Dallas), I knew that was going to be a building type of deal there and it was going to take two or three years before they started getting into the contention or to contender category, I felt,” Green said. “It all depended on how KP (Kristaps Porzingis) health-wise was, Luka’s coming up. A lot of things come into factor when it came to that.”

Kemba Walker Signs Four-Year Deal With Celtics

JULY 6: Walker’s new deal with the Celtics is official, according to a tweet from the team. Walker was among the first free agents to commit to his new team when free agency began last Sunday.

JUNE 30, 5:24pm: Walker and the Celtics are formally in agreement on a four-year max deal, tweets Wojnarowski. As we detailed in our story of the Hornets’ agreement with Rozier, Boston is working on adding Kemba via sign-and-trade.

JUNE 30, 2:14pm: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN is reporting that while talks remain exploratory in nature, the Celtics have shown interest in a three-team sign-and-trade with Irving, Walker, and Rozier (to the Hornets). Per Woj, the Celtics are interested in having the MLE at their disposal as opposed to the room exception. Woj also adds that the Nets would likely command a first-round pick from Boston for agreeing to a S&T.

JUNE 29, 3:39pm: Free agent point guard Kemba Walker has conveyed to the Hornets that he intends to sign with the Celtics when the NBA’s new league year begins, multiple sources tell Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

Boston has been viewed as Walker’s likely landing spot in recent days, having emerged as the frontrunner for the All-NBA point guard earlier in the week.

Kemba intends to sign a four-year, maximum-salary contract (worth a projected $141MM), tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. He’ll be in Boston on Sunday night to finalize an agreement with the C’s, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

A three-time All-Star, Walker had perhaps the best year of his NBA carer in 2018/19, establishing a new career-high in PPG (25.6) while also contributing 5.9 APG and 4.4 RPG with a shooting line of .434/.356/.844.

Despite receiving little offensive help in Charlotte, Walker managed to keep the team in the playoff hunt for most of the season, though the Hornets ultimately fell short and finished in the lottery. If Walker had returned to Charlotte, the team would have been up against the luxury tax and would have had a hard time improving its roster around him, so the former UConn star will move on to a potential contender despite the fact that the Hornets could have offered him more money over more years.

Walker will join a Celtics roster that is set to feature Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart, so it will be fascinating to see what he can do in Boston without receiving quite as much attention from opposing defenses. The opportunity to play alongside those Celtics veterans and potentially go deep in the playoffs was a key factor in Walker’s decision, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link).

The C’s are expecting to lose Al Horford and, of course, Kyrie Irving, who has been rumored to be focused on Brooklyn. With Walker heading to Boston to replace Irving, the Hornets are scouring the free agent market for possible point guard targets of their own, according to Wojnarowski, who tweets that Elfrid Payton, T.J. McConnell, Ish Smith, and Emmanuel Mudiay are among the options being considered by Charlotte.

Terry Rozier‘s name has also been linked to the Hornets, though it’s unlikely that he’d be a viable option unless Charlotte and Boston can work out some sort of sign-and-trade arrangement, which is a long shot. By withdrawing Rozier’s qualifying offer and renouncing his cap hold, the Celtics will have enough room to sign Walker outright to a max deal, even with Daniel Theis‘ QO still on their books.

In addition to Boston and Charlotte, the Mavericks and Knicks had also been considered potential contenders for Walker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Horford, Knicks, Hornets

The Heat have engaged the Wizards in trade discussions, a source in contact with one of the teams tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Jackson notes that Miami “loves” Bradley Beal, but acknowledges that Washington has repeatedly indicated it has no plans to move its star shooting guard. Even if the Wizards were willing to discuss Beal, the Heat’s limited assets and difficult cap situation would make it “highly challenging” to put together a realistic deal, Jackson adds.

In other Heat trade news, the proposed deal with the Mavericks that appeared to be nearing completion on Sunday now looks dead. It won’t receive the same scrutiny or mockery that the in-season Dillon Brooks/MarShon Brooks mix-up involving the Wizards, Grizzlies, and Suns did, given everything else that’s going on this week, but the Mavs/Heat deal apparently also fell apart due to a miscommunication — Miami was certain that Goran Dragic was involved, while Dallas thought it was acquiring Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones, as Tim Cato of The Athletic details.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • A source tells Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald that Al Horford‘s decision to sign with the Sixers was partly about money, but also about the opportunity to play alongside a star center. Horford has “always been uncomfortable in a traditional center’s role,” Murphy writes.
  • Multiple league executives questioned why the Knicks used their cap room to sign a collection of non-stars rather than trying to take on bad contracts to add future assets, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.
  • Hornets owner Michael Jordan issued a statement today bidding farewell to Kemba Walker and thanking him for “eight incredible seasons with our franchise” (link via JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors). “He always represented the Hornets, the NBA, and the city of Charlotte with class – both on the court and in the community – and we are disappointed he is leaving,” Jordan said.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Broekhoff, Bradley, G. Green

The Mavericks’ first two moves when free agency begins tomorrow will involve Tobias Harris and Kristaps Porzingis, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. A source tells Townsend the Mavs will make an offer to Harris that’s below the maximum, and they expect the Sixers to top it with a full, five-year max deal. They plan to make their own max offer to Porzingis, a restricted free agent, paying him $158MM over five seasons. That signing won’t be finalized until all the other moves are in place, allowing the team to take advantage of its $30.3MM in cap room.

Thirteen of Dallas’ top 15 free agent targets remain on the board after a day that featured several reported deals, Townsend adds. The only ones crossed off the list are Kemba Walker, who will join the Celtics, and Nikola Mirotic, who has committed to play in Spain. Walker was the Mavericks’ primary target, according to Townsend, and Harris was secondary, while the rest are divided into various “two- and three-player contingencies.”

There’s more tonight from the Southwest Division:

  • Ryan Broekhoff‘s $1.4MM contract is fully guaranteed for next season after the Mavericks let today’s deadline pass without taking any action, Townsend tweets. The 28-year-old shooting guard signed with Dallas last summer and appeared in 42 games as a rookie.
  • Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley has agreed to extend the guarantee date on his contract from July 3 to July 8, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic. The move gives Bradley greater flexibility after the moratorium lifts, notes Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian, who adds that there was no financial compensation for the change (Twitter link).
  • There’s a strong possibility that veteran forward Gerald Green will return to the Rockets for another season, according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic (Twitter link). A Houston native, Green signed with the organization midway through the 2017/18 season, then played this year on a veteran’s minimum contract.

Lowe’s Latest: Walker, Brogdon, Mavs, Rubio, Butler

The Celtics might be the frontrunner for Kemba Walker‘s services but devoting most of their cap space to the All-Star point guard would leave them without any proven frontcourt players and limited ways to acquire them, ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in an in-depth look at free agency. The addition of Walker would force coach Brad Stevens to use either Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward at power forward, Lowe notes. Walker also ran more pick-and-rolls with the Hornets than Kyrie Irving did with the Celtics, yet Irving was sometimes accused of being a ball hog, Lowe adds.

Here are some other interesting tidbits from Lowe’s column:

  • Bucks restricted free agent Malcolm Brogdon will lose a suitor if the Celtics ink Walker. The Suns, Bulls, Mavericks and Pacers could potentially extend Brogdon an offer sheet but some teams are concerned about his foot issues.
  • The Mavericks are not looking to sign any high-level free agents.
  • The Pacers are looking to make a run at point guard Ricky Rubio. They are also likely to let power forward Thaddeus Young walk and go with a frontcourt of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
  • The Heat could get involved in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes via a sign-and-trade.
  • The Nets have no interest in doing a sign-and-trade with the Timberwolves involving restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell if it means taking back Jeff Teague or Andrew Wiggins.

Knicks, Terry Rozier Have Mutual Interest

The Knicks and Terry Rozier have mutual interest in a short-term deal, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Sources tell Berman that Rozier would be open to a one- or two-year contract.

New York’s interest has increased since the reports of the CelticsKemba Walker connection surfaced. If Walker commits to Boston, the New England franchise would likely have to renounce Rozier, making him an unrestricted free agent. Steve Mills and the Knicks’ front office wouldn’t want to tie up cap space for several days while they wait to see if the Celtics match a Rozier offer sheet, so their interest would likely hinge on him becoming unrestricted, as Berman details.

[RELATED: Celtics emerge as frontrunner for Kemba Walker]

“After Kyrie and Kemba, I think Rozier is next up,’’ a source close to the situation tells Berman. “I think he’d be good with Kevin Knox and R.J. [Barrett].”

The Celtics have yet to present a qualifying offer to Rozier. If they get a sense that a top free agent point guard is coming to Boston, they may allow him to be an unrestricted free agent, either by withdrawing the QO early in free agency or not offering it to begin with.

A short-term deal between Rozier and the Knicks would allow the point guard to try to improve his stock and position himself for a max deal in the future, Berman writes. For the Knicks, it would reduce the risk associated with handing big money to unproven commodity.

Rozier’s role in Boston was primarily off the bench and one scout told Berman that Rozier didn’t handle that role well, consistently pushing for more minutes. Another source told Berman that Rozier’s underwhelming season was due to toxic locker room chemistry.

If the Knicks were to sign Rozier, they’d plan on making him their starter at the point guard position. The team remains in the hunt for Durant and if they land the former MVP, he’d likely have the opportunity to have input on other signings, including a Rozier addition.

Celtics Emerge As Frontrunner For Kemba Walker

8:58am: The Celtics have made Walker their No. 1 priority and are expected to offer him a four-year, maximum-salary deal when free agency opens on Sunday, Wojnarowski writes in his full story at ESPN.com.

It appears increasingly likely that Kemba will accept that deal, according to Woj, who says that Hornets owner Michael Jordan is “no longer determined to extend far enough financially” to bring back the All-NBA point guard.

8:06am: There are “sizable gaps” in contract negotiations so far between Kemba Walker and the Hornets, resulting in a stalemate between the two sides, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania, the lack of progress toward a deal with the Hornets so far has opened a pathway for teams like the Celtics, Mavericks, and Knicks to have a shot at Walker. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that Boston has emerged as the frontrunner to the 29-year-old, echoing a Wednesday report.

As we’ve detailed previously, Walker became eligible for a super-max contract by earning a spot on the All-NBA Third Team this spring. That means that the Hornets could offer him up to as much as $221MM over five years. Rival suitors can’t offer more than about $141MM for four years, creating a significant window for Charlotte to outbid their competition without technically maxing out the All-Star guard.

While Walker has said that the Hornets remain his first priority and has indicated he’s open to accepting less than the super-max to return to Charlotte, the club doesn’t have the same strong foundation that teams like the Celtics and Mavs do.

If they re-sign Walker, the Hornets would be up against the tax line and would have trouble adding complementary pieces around him. In Boston, he could team up with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward, while Dallas would give him the chance to join Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The Knicks are more of a blank slate, but have the cap flexibility to potentially add a second star to join Walker.

The Celtics can create enough salary for Walker’s maximum salary ($32.7MM) if they renounce Terry Rozier. The Mavs are at about $29MM in projected room and could get to a max slot by waiving and stretching Courtney Lee. The Knicks have enough space for two max deals.