Kyrie Irving

Injury Updates: Hayward, Irving, Smith Jr., Harris

Celtics‘ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge believes he gave the wrong impression this week when he said Gordon Hayward suffered a setback in his rehab, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Looking back, Ainge believes “setback” was too strong a term and created inaccurate headlines about Hayward’s progress.

“What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness,” the Celtics’ top decision-maker explained. “It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn’t ready for it at that point. That’s all it was. So I think ‘setback’ is the wrong way to put it. I mis-phrased that. I’m not sure what the right word is, but he wasn’t ready for that. So we waited a couple of weeks before we started that again, and since we started that again it’s been great and he’s progressed along on the AlterG. That’s all. It wasn’t like he had an accident or anything like that.”

Despite Ainge’s clarification, the Celtics haven’t changed their opinion that Hayward won’t return to the court this season, which has their stance since he broke his ankle on opening night. Ainge said Hayward hasn’t done any “running or even jogging or real jumping” on the practice court and there’s not enough of the season left to make a comeback realistic.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Celtics continue to be cautious with Kyrie Irving, who has been limited by a sore left knee, Bulpett adds in the same story. Irving was held out of tonight’s game, and coach Brad Stevens said the star guard won’t play again until he feels 100 percent. Teammate Jaylen Brown remains in concussion protocol, but the Celtics plan to bring him on upcoming West Coast trip.
  • Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is wearing a walking boot after turning his left ankle in Saturday’s game, but he’s confident about playing again this season, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the team “dodged a bullet” because Smith’s injury wasn’t more serious, but he has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game.
  • An MRI conducted Friday on Nuggets‘ leading scorer Gary Harris showed he suffered a “sprain/strain” after landing awkwardly on his right leg, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Coach Michael Malone said Saturday that Harris could miss three or four games, but the team hopes to have him back before the end of its seven-game road trip.

Injury Notes: Leonard, Hayward, Irving, Exum

The Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio continues to be a baffling one. Asked today if Leonard has increased his three-on-three work or been upgraded to five-on-five play, Spurs point guard Tony Parker replied, “I have no idea. He isn’t practicing with us,” per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Parker also wondered aloud if Leonard might be nearing a point of no return for this season.

“We have what 14, games left? So it’s getting closer and closer that at some point it makes no sense (to bring him back),” Parker said of his Spurs teammate. “He didn’t play for like two or three months. He didn’t play for eight months, technically.”

While we wait to see if Leonard can make him back for the final few weeks of the 2017/18 season, let’s round up a few more injury notes and updates from across the NBA….

  • Appearing today on Toucher & Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that Gordon Hayward is back on track in his recovery from ankle surgery after suffering a setback recently. “He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago. We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought,” Ainge said, per ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. “But, other than that, his work ethic and his determination have been amazing. … I don’t want to get people’s hopes up. He still is not back on the basketball court and we have a month left in the regular season. He’s got a ways to go but we’re excited about his progress and his determination.”
  • During that same radio appearance, Ainge said that Kyrie Irving may need to undergo a surgical procedure on his knee at some point. However, the Celtics president made that surgery sound anything but urgent, writes Forsberg. “He has a surgery that may need to happen,” Ainge said of Irving. “But maybe not this summer, maybe the following summer or maybe the summer after that. I think that he could probably do it any time he wanted, but I’m not sure that it’s needed at this moment.”
  • After missing the first 68 games of the season with a shoulder injury, point guard Dante Exum will be available on Thursday night, the Jazz announced (via Twitter). Exum likely won’t play a major role for Utah, but with Raul Neto sidelined due to a fractured wrist, the former No. 5 overall pick should get a chance to see some action.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Irving, Brown, Rozier, Theis

The Celtics continue to hold their breath as they wait for Marcus Smart to receive a second opinion on his right thumb injury. Postponed due to a snowstorm, Smart’s appointment to get his injury reassessed is now set for Thursday, per Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald.

As Murphy details, there’s a belief that Smart tore a ligament in his thumb — if it’s a full tear, surgery would likely be required, with the recovery potentially taking three or four months. If it’s only a partial tear, Smart may try to play through the injury. Appearing today on the Zolak & Bertrand radio show in Boston, head coach Brad Stevens downplayed the idea of a quick return for Smart, though he acknowledged there’s a variety of potential outcomes, as ESPN’s Chris Forsberg writes.

“He told me today that he’s going to take a couple of days, see what it feels like early next week, get all of the different doctors’ opinions [then] sit down early next week and weigh his options,” Stevens said. “There could be a slight chance that he’s back sooner rather than later, but I’d say that it’s not going to be any time too soon. And there’s a chance that he would not be back [this season].”

Given how much better the Celtics play defensively with Smart in the lineup, the diagnosis will be a critical one. As the club waits for more details on Smart’s thumb, let’s round up a few more C’s notes…

  • Joking that he might have to sign himself to a 10-day contract to help plug the holes in the Celtics’ lineup, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he thinks Kyrie Irving is “going to be fine,” writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, a league source tells Himmelsbach that it “doesn’t look good” for Smart.
  • Stevens said today that Irving underwent an MRI on his sore knee and “everything looked great” (Twitter link via Murphy). There’s even a chance he’ll play on Friday, according to the team (Twitter link). The club also announced today that Jaylen Brown is “clearly better,” but won’t travel with the C’s on this weekend’s road trip.
  • Ainge tells Himmelsbach that the slew of injuries to Celtics regulars will give the healthy players a chance to shine: “I’ve seen many times where players that were not thought very highly of get an opportunity and make a name for themselves. So over these next couple weeks, there will be some guys that have those opportunities. We’ve seen players throughout the years that have responded, so this is a chance for some of our players to step up and see how much they can contribute to winning.”
  • Terry Rozier is one of the Celtics who figures to play a starring role with Irving, Smart, and others on the shelf. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg takes an in-depth look at the man known as “Scary Terry.”
  • Daniel Theis is scheduled to have surgery on his torn meniscus on Thursday, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Stevens confirmed today that Theis will be out for the rest of the season, tweets Himmelsbach.

Marcus Smart To Miss Time With Thumb Injury

Having confirmed a torn meniscus diagnosis for Daniel Theis, the Celtics appear to have received some more bad injury news on Monday. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Marcus Smart suffered a torn tendon in his right thumb. Charania reports that Smart, who is getting a second opinion on the injury, will be ruled out indefinitely for the time being.

Charania’s report comes on the heels of a tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who suggested that the injury was still being called a sprain but was “under scrutiny” from Boston’s medical staff — a team spokesperson confirmed as much (Twitter link via Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald).

Wojnarowski said it was unclear whether Smart would be able to play through the injury, as he did on Sunday after initially sustaining it. Based on Charania’s report and the club’s announcement, it sounds like that won’t be possible.

Smart previously missed 11 games leading up to the All-Star break due to a hand laceration, and the Celtics struggled on defense without him. The team has shown an admirable ability to overcome injuries so far this season, but the roster depth will be tested now more than ever, with Smart, Theis, Jaylen Brown, and – of course – Gordon Hayward all out of action.

If those four players are all expected to remain on the shelf for at least the next weeks, the Celtics could apply for a hardship exception, which would allow the team to add a 16th player to its NBA roster. Still, head coach Brad Stevens said today after the announcement on Theis that he didn’t expect the C’s to sign anyone (Twitter link via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe).

The Celtics did get one piece of decent injury news today, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that Kyrie Irving‘s knee soreness isn’t believed to be more serious than tendonitis. Irving won’t need to miss significant time, and is considered day-to-day, says Woj.

Injury Updates: Irving, Theis, Matthews, Ingram

After leaving Sunday’s game against Indiana with knee soreness, Celtics star Kyrie Irving suggested that an extended rest period could follow, writes ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. Irving sat out last Monday’s game vs. Chicago due to knee pain, but it sounds like he’ll miss more than one game this time around.

“I think [rest] will probably be the best thing, just instead of kind of hoping it gets better over the two or three days that it usually does,” Irving said. “It’s aching a little bit more than I wanted it to now, so I’m taking the necessary time.”

Irving’s knee injury is a cause for concern, but probably not a reason to panic, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. The Celtics now trail Toronto by four games in the loss column (3.5 overall), but remain ahead of the No. 3 Pacers by a full seven games. In other words, they’re all but locked into the No. 2 spot in the East, so they can likely afford to rest Irving and some other ailing players down the stretch without fear of compromising their seeding.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • The Celtics, already missing Irving and Jaylen Brown, will also see big man Daniel Theis – a key part of the club’s frontcourt rotation – undergo an MRI on his left knee on Monday, Blakely writes for NBC Sports Boston.
  • A right knee injury may sideline Mavericks swingman Wesley Matthews for at least the next handful of games. According to Dwain Price of, head coach Rick Carlisle said Matthews won’t travel with the club on its upcoming four-game road trip, though Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News suggests Matthews could join the team on the trip if a Monday MRI comes back clean.
  • Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, on the shelf with a left groin strain, will miss at least a couple more games before being re-evaluated on Thursday, says Ohm Youngmisuk of
  • With Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, and Cedi Osman all unavailable on Sunday, the Cavaliers fell in Los Angeles to the Lakers. After the game, LeBron James said those injuries are his biggest concern at the moment, adding that it’s hard to judge the roster when it’s so banged up. “We have pretty much five guys out of our top nine or top 10 of our rotation not playing because of injuries,” James said, per Dave McMenamin of “It’s next man up, but sometimes you just fall short.”

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Hayward, Miles, Raptors

Markelle Fultz‘s status remains something of a mystery, with the Sixers only revealing vague details about how close 2017’s first overall pick is to returning to the court. With Philadelphia in the midst of a playoff push, the team may simply wait until next season to try to reintegrate Fultz.

Still, as Jessica Camerato of writes, head coach Brett Brown said this week that the Sixers haven’t set a cutoff date for the point guard to either return or sit out the remainder of the season.

“It’s all internal discussions we’re going through right now and just trying to accurately assess his situation,” Brown said before the Sixers took the court on Tuesday. “And we’re discussing that as we speak.”

At this point, Fultz seems more likely than not to be shut down for the season. That would give the Sixers a full offseason – including Summer League and training camp – to prepare the youngster for a regular role.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Brad Stevens definitively stated recently that Gordon Hayward won’t be back on the court this year for the Celtics, despite a series of recovery videos that has fueled speculation about his return. Now, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has weighed in with a similar sentiment. “I don’t believe that Gordon thinks he’s going to play. I don’t think so, no,” Ainge said during an appearance on Toucher & Rich in Boston. “I think that Gordon just wants to show everyone when he comes back next year … all the work that he put in to get back to who he was when he got here. [And attempt to become an] even better player than he was when he got hurt.”
  • Speaking of Hayward’s ankle, Kyrie Irving spoke about how that season-ending injury has impacted his first year with the Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston has the details and the quotes from Irving.
  • In an excellent piece for The Toronto Sun, Ryan Wolstat takes an in-depth look at C.J. Miles, who says he joined the Raptors last July because he viewed the club as a perfect fit for his priorities. “My first takes on any situation are: Will I be able to play well, will I fit there, what are they trying to do, are they trying to win? How is the organization? Other guys that played there, did they like it?” Miles said. “That’s what I’m looking at. And it checked off every box.”
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri said last spring that the club required a “culture reset.” The team’s success this season can be attributed in strong part to that reset, writes Curtis Withers of The Canadian Press.
  • Earlier today, we rounded up a few Knicks and Nets notes.

Atlantic Rumors: Miller, Sixers, Dinwiddie, Irving

The small forward spot continues to be a nagging problem for the Raptors, as Michael Grange of SportsNet details. Two-way player Malcolm Miller got a chance to start on Sunday with OG Anunoby sidelined by a sprained ankle, though he only played 14 minutes. Norman Powell has struggled for most of the season, Grange adds. “That position is probably going to be fluid,” coach Dwane Casey told Grange and other media members. “We’ll keep looking at different people. It’s a situation where we’ve got to get a lot of people ready and this is an opportunity to do that.”

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The owner of the Sixers’ Wells Fargo Center will pump $250MM into the building for renovations, Bob Fernandez of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Comcast Spectacor will make those upgrades over the next three summers, with about 21,500 seats being replaced without affecting any Sixers games. The company chose that plan over tearing it down and building a new facility on the same lot, Fernandez adds.
  • Nets forward DeMarre Carroll has challenged point guard Spencer Dinwiddie to figure out how to coexist with D’Angelo Russell, he revealed to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Dinwiddie hasn’t come close to matching the numbers he put up with Russell sidelined by a knee injury and Carroll is trying to shake Dinwiddie out of his funk. “What toes are you going to step on if you’re helping the team?” Carroll told Lewis. “That Spence was helping our team win a lot of games, so it’s not stepping on toes. … That’s why all of y’all have grown to love Spence, because of the way he’s been playing, attacking the goal, playing with a chip on his shoulder. He’s just got to get back to that Spence, playing like he’s got a chip on his shoulder.”
  • Kyrie Irving has emerged as a stable, consistent leader since he was traded to the Celtics, A. Sherrod Blakely of opines. Irving has embraced the concept of doing whatever coach Brad Stevens asks of him even if it adversely affects his statistics, Blakely concludes.

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Smart, Irving, Baynes

Plans have been delayed for Celtics forward Gordon Hayward to start joining the team on road trips, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. The Celtics want Hayward, who suffered a brutal ankle injury on opening night, to do more conditioning and strength work on an anti-gravity treadmill before clearing him to travel.

“It doesn’t look like it’s any time in the next couple of weeks,” coach Brad Stevens said. “We talked the other day. He’s gonna do another alter-G process or progress starting on Sunday where he goes from 60 percent of his body weight all the way to 100, and then once he gets to 100 — once he can do stuff where he’s running or jumping, then it makes sense to bring him on the road.”

Hayward has said he hasn’t given up hope of playing again before the season ends. However, Stevens reiterated that the plan has always been to bring Hayward on the road for camaraderie and emotional support, rather than as an on-court contributor.

There’s more today out of Boston:

  • Marcus Smart feels fortunate that he didn’t put himself out for the rest of the season when he punched a picture frame last month, relays Chris Forsberg of ESPN. Smart was sidelined for 11 games with lacerations on his right hand, but doctors told him a piece of glass barely missed shredding two tendons near the pinky on his shooting hand. A little further over and Smart probably would have needed season-ending surgery. “So, [the doctors said],’You should go play the lotto or something because you missed your tendons,'” Smart said. “They don’t understand it. They don’t really see how. So I thank God for that every day. It could have been worse.”
  • Even though he asked to be traded, Kyrie Irving had a lot of adjustments to make when he was sent from Cleveland to Boston over the offseason. “Been a lot of newness, honestly,” he said in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “It’s an adjustment in itself. Being with a totally different group of guys, trying to bridge that gap with our group and trying to be my best self with our group. It’s been awesome. Trying at times, but well worth it.” 
  • Center Aron Baynes is sitting out another game tonight with a sprained left elbow, the Celtics tweeted. He will undergo an MRI on Sunday to determine the extent of the damage, relays Jay King of MassLive“He’s still sore,” Stevens told reporters. “But he’ll see our team docs and do the MRI thing tomorrow.”

Cavs Notes: James, Hill, Communication, Roster

LeBron James will hit free agency after the season and his next move has been – and will be – one of the biggest stories in basketball. Based on past and recent comments, Howard Beck of Bleacher Report examines the possibilities surrounding James’ third stint in free agency.

Most of Beck’s story focuses on James’ motives as he looks for his next NBA contract. With three championships to his credit, it’s possible LeBron will not choose his next solely based on his best chance to win a title. Other factors will be in play, such as James’ desire to play with his close friends — and fellow impending free agents — Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Dwyane Wade; lasting long enough to possibly play with or against his son; and establishing a media presence in a larger market. One major factor this summer will also be James’ strained relationship with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, Beck writes.

“Dan Gilbert’s not going to do what it takes to keep him,” one source speculatively said to Beck. “Not a chance in hell he’s going to give him a no-trade clause, or let him dictate contract terms.”

James has publicly said that any reports of his intentions this summer are false unless they come directly from him.

Check out other Cavaliers news below:

  • Veteran George Hill was one of several players the Cavaliers acquired at the trade deadline as the team restructured the roster. Hill is happy to be back with a contending team that is in pursuit of a title, Chris Fedor of writes. “It’s a blessing,” Hill said. “I was in a tough situation. I thanked them for all they did, but I think my time there was done. To get another opportunity, not just to come and play but to possibly play for a championship is something that I’ve had early in my career going against him in Miami with the three-headed monster and the cat spoiling my summer. Now I get a chance to be a part of something special and get an opportunity to go to the Finals.”
  • With a huge chunk of the roster consisting of new talent, the Cavaliers are aware it will take time to integrate the new talent with the current crop, Fedor writes in a separate story.
  • After internal talks between front office personnel about a possible Kyrie Irving trade were relayed to Irving, it sealed his desire to be traded. For the future, the Cavaliers want to tighten up their communication channels to that private talks are not leaked, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Marks, Irving, Ntilikina

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie added to his breakout season Saturday by winning the Skills Challenge, but it’s going to be a while before he can cash in on his success. Dinwiddie is making the league minimum of $1,524,305 this season with a team option for next season at the minimum of $1,656,092.

As detailed recently by Danny Leroux of Real GM, the three-year contract Dinwiddie signed in December of 2016 limits Brooklyn’s options. It can’t be renegotiated and extended under the latest CBA because it’s shorter than four years, and the Nets don’t want to decline the option and risk losing Dinwiddie in free agency. It would be possible to extend the deal without a renegotiation, which would get him to about $45MM over four seasons, but Dinwiddie may be able to do far better by waiting another year for free agency.

Brooklyn can offer Dinwiddie a larger extension on the second anniversary of his signing date, as the Sixers did with Robert Covington, but that wouldn’t change his salary for next season. It would also cut into the Nets’ cap ahead of 2019 free agency, when the team is hoping to be a major player.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Even though they’ll be one of the few teams with significant cap room, the Nets won’t feel compelled to make a splash in free agency this summer, GM Sean Marks tells Brooklyn isn’t committed to a repeat of last July when it made a $100MM offer to Otto Porter, only to see it matched by the Wizards. “So what’s next,” Marks asked. “It’s not ‘We didn’t get Otto Porter so let’s go spend a lot of money in this direction, in that direction,’ knowing these are the non-negotiables that we’ve put out there on why we’re signing guys, why we’re not signing guys, stick to that plan.”
  • Knicks fans may find some hope in comments that Celtics guard Kyrie Irving relayed Saturday about Kristaps Porzingis, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post“I told him I would love to play with a big like you, man, when we played them in the beginning of the season when he came to Boston,’’ Irving said. “He’s so versatile. So I wish him nothing but the best and hope he comes back even stronger.” Irving will be a free agent in the summer of 2019, which is the next time the Knicks will have a healthy amount of cap space. Porzingis is expected to be fully healed from ACL surgery by then and could give Irving, who grew up in West Orange, N.J., a reason to consider coming to New York.
  • Knicks rookie Frank Ntilikina will spend most of the offseason in France and doesn’t plan to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, Berman reports in a separate story. The front office hasn’t discussed the offseason with Ntilikina and may send a developmental coach to France if that happens.