Malcolm Brogdon

NBA GMs High On Cavs’ Offseason Moves, Bucks’ Title Chances

The Cavaliers‘ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell made their offseason the most successful of any NBA team, according to the league’s general managers. In his annual survey of the NBA’s top basketball decision-makers, John Schuhmann of NBA.com writes that 41% of the GM respondents picked Cleveland as having made the best offseason moves, while 59% chose the addition of Mitchell as the move that will have the biggest impact.

The Timberwolves and Jazz were on opposite ends of one of the summer’s other blockbuster trades, but the two clubs tied for second (along with the Sixers) in the GM vote for which teams made the best overall offseason moves. Minnesota’s trade for Rudy Gobert was the second-leading vote-getter for the offseason’s most impactful single acquisition, earning 31% of the vote.

The team viewed by the majority of GMs as the title favorite for 2023 didn’t earn any votes for having the best offseason. According to Schuhmann, 43% of the poll respondents picked the Bucks to win next year’s Finals, with GMs apparently betting on continuity in Milwaukee. The Warriors (25%), Clippers (21%), and Celtics (11%) also received votes.

Here are a few more interesting results from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • NBA general managers expect the Clippers – who will have Kawhi Leonard back – to be the most improved team in 2022/23. L.A. received 41% of the vote, with the Cavaliers and Pelicans at 17% apiece.
  • The Celtics‘ trade for Malcolm Brogdon earned the most votes (28%) for the summer’s most underrated acquisition. The Sixers‘ signing of P.J. Tucker and the Clippers‘ addition of John Wall were the runners-up, with 14% each.
  • Asked which team has the most promising young core, NBA GMs overwhelmingly chose the Cavaliers (41%) and Grizzlies (38%). The Pistons (10%) were the only other club to get multiple votes.
  • NBA GMs view Magic forward Paolo Banchero as the best bet to win Rookie of the Year (79%) and also chose him as the 2022 draftee most likely to be the best player in five years (31%), narrowly edging Thunder big man Chet Holmgren (28%). As for the steal of the draft, GMs were split between Pistons big man Jalen Duren and Rockets forward Tari Eason (14% apiece), among many others.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was picked as the favorite to win MVP, earning 48% of the vote from NBA GMs. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks came in second with 34%.

Celtics Notes: Griffin, Smart, Small Ball, Hauser

Blake Griffin, who officially signed with the Celtics on Monday, was pleasantly surprised by how the team greeted him upon his arrival, Darren Hartwell of Yahoo Sports relays.

“I’ve talked to pretty much everybody,” Griffin said. “I was talking to some guys (Sunday). … I’m actually very — not surprised, but the amount of maturity and welcomingness (that the Celtics’ players showed) … it’s a different atmosphere than I was sort of used to, in a good way. They were very welcoming: everybody, one through 15. Practice today was focused, very encouraging, helpful. I think you kind of take that for granted because it’s not always the case everywhere you go.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Marcus Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, hopes Boston is the only team he plays for, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. “That’d be special, especially playing for a franchise that’s known for greatness,” Smart said. “So it’s something I’ve been thinking about and it’ll continue to be something I think about. It’s a great thing to think about. You see those banners when you walk into the Garden. You feel the history and the past. You feel the blood, sweat, and tears that the people in front of you left, and you want to be part of that.”
  • Though they looked a little sloppy at times, the Celtics had an eye-opening start to the preseason, routing the Hornets by 41 points. One of the interesting twists from interim coach Joe Mazzulla, as Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes, was a small-ball lineup he used in the second quarter with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at the power positions and guards Malcolm Brogdon, Smart and Derrick White rounding out the unit.
  • An informal poll conducted by Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston during Media Day revealed Sam Hauser as the player who could have the most surprising impact this season. Hauser, who re-signed with the club on a three-year deal, appeared in 26 games off the bench last season. “Sam, in open gym, didn’t seem like he ever misses,” White said. “He didn’t miss much last year. And so just getting that year under his belt, being more assertive, and more sure of himself.”

Celtics Notes: Mazzulla, Udoka, Smart, Tatum, Brown, Horford, Brogdon

Joe Mazzulla has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight as the Celtics’ interim coach after Ime Udoka was suspended this season for violating team policy. Guard Marcus Smart believes Mazzulla, who has been a Celtics assistant since 2019, can handle the job, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com writes.

“It would’ve been different if we had somebody new that we didn’t know and were trying to build that connection with,” Smart said. “Joe has been here. He knows the scheme, he knows the players, so it makes it a little bit more easier to adjust to a guy that’s been here and knows you.”

We have more on the Celtics as they prepare for another run at the championship:

  • Smart admits the players were blindsided by Udoka’s suspension right before camp started, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. “Nobody really knows anything,” Smart said. “We’re just in the wind, like everybody else. The last couple of days have been confusing.” Jayson Tatum says he doesn’t know all the details that led to the suspension, Mannix adds in another tweet. “Apparently there are a lot of things they can’t speak about. I’m kind of in the same boat,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s hard for me to answer if things were handled in the right way or they weren’t.”
  • Jaylen Brown also expressed confusion over why Udoka was handed such a severe penalty by the organization, Weiss adds in a separate tweet. “I wish we had more details,” he said. “From what we know, it’s hard to make a decision based on whether it’s consensual or not in the workplace, which we know has happened before in the workplace. It looks like there is more to it than what meets the eye.”
  • Generally, the players are frustrated they don’t have more information on Udoka’s situation, though legally the team may have to withhold certain information, Mannix notes (Twitter link).
  • Brown tried to downplay questions regarding the Kevin Durant trade rumors over the summer, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Brown was the most prominent player mentioned among the discussions Boston had with Brooklyn. “I think it’s been the same since I’ve been here. It wasn’t surprising or not surprising, to make me feel some type of way,” he said. “It just is what it is. I talked to my teammates and the organization about it and now it’s just time to play basketball.”
  • Al Horford missed 13 regular season games last season as the Celtics chose to ease the workload on the now 36-year-old big man. Horford said he prepared this offseason to handle an increased workload and play back-to-backs this season, according to Weiss (Twitter link).
  • Malcolm Brogdon was presented with a few different trade options by the Pacers and told them he wanted to be dealt to Boston “because I want to win,” Bontemps tweets.

Celtics Notes: Brogdon, Smart, Durant, White

New Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon is comfortable with the idea of playing a sixth man role for his new team as Marcus Smart retains the starting point guard job. As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe writes, Brogdon is also confident that the two guards will complement one another well when they share the floor.

“I think we have different strengths,” Brogdon said. “He’s an All-Defensive player and Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s incredible in that facet, but I also think he contributes offensively. You’ve seen his game grow and seen him be able to knock down shots and create for his teammates.

“And we both can play on and off the ball. That’s the beauty of us. We’re smart, we have high IQs, and we’re unselfish, so I think it’s going to work well.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Although they were once viewed as a serious suitor for Kevin Durant, the Celtics never came “remotely close” to actually acquiring the former MVP, according to Himmelsbach, who heard from league sources that the Nets never pushed particularly hard to trade Durant.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic considers possible trade options the Celtics could explore with Danilo Gallinari expected to miss most or all of the 2022/23 season, suggesting that Derrick White could potentially become a trade chip if Brogdon is healthy and effective. However, Weiss notes that Gallinari was more of a luxury than a necessity, meaning the team won’t feel urgency to go out and acquire a replacement.
  • In his latest mailbag, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston discusses Sam Hauser‘s role, the battle for back-end roster spots, and expectations for Payton Pritchard, among other Celtics-related topics.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, Free Agents, Brogdon, G. Williams

The Celtics are expected to apply for a disabled player exception in the wake of Danilo Gallinari‘s ACL tear, a source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A report Friday indicates that Gallinari hasn’t given up hope of playing toward the end of the upcoming season, but it appears to be a long shot given his age and the severity of the injury.

If the request is approved, Boston’s DPE would be about $3.2MM, which is half of Gallinari’s salary for 2022/23. The team would be able use that amount to sign a free agent, claim a player off waivers or acquire a player through trade, though Himmelsbach views that last option as unlikely because the Celtics already have two trade exceptions that are worth more.

Boston signed Gallinari in July to provide veteran help off the bench and another three-point shooting threat. His contract includes a $6.8MM player option for next season that he seems almost certain to exercise in light of the injury.

There’s more from Boston:

  • With Gallinari likely unavailable for the entire season, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe looks at some options that are still available on the free agent market. He points to Carmelo Anthony, who might welcome the chance to end his career on a title contender, along with DeMarcus Cousins, Jeremy Lamb, Dwight Howard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Washburn notes that Kevin Durant‘s trade demand worked to the Celtics’ advantage because it froze the free agent market for several weeks, leaving a wealth of veteran players available in September.
  • Malcolm Brogdon may used as the primary backup wing to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. Brogdon, who was acquired from the Pacers in July, has the size to handle the role at 6’5″ and is probably the team’s best defensive option at that position. Robb notes that it would also provide more backcourt minutes for Derrick White and Payton Pritchard.
  • Grant Williams will likely ask for a starting salary in the mid-teens in his extension negotiations, Robb adds in the same piece. Robb doesn’t believe president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will meet that price, even though Williams becomes more important with Gallinari sidelined.

Atlantic Notes: Brogdon, Nets, Raptors, Niang

Speaking to Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com, new Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said the franchise’s history is one important reason why he was excited to be traded from Indiana to Boston this offseason.

“I mean, they’re the most winning organization in the league, and I think they’re more hungry to win than anybody,” Brogdon said. “You can see that with the move they made for me and (Danilo) Gallinari. They want to improve. They want to win a championship. It’s all about Banner 18 for ’em. Now that’s all it’s about for me as well, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Brogdon also talked to Davies about Gallinari’s injury, the role he thinks he can play in Boston, and his involvement with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program. The conversation is worth checking out in full for Celtics fans.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

International Notes: Brown, Basketball Without Borders, World Cup

Former NBA wing Anthony Brown has agreed to terms on a deal with Russian club Unics Kazan, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. A former EuroLeague club, Unics Kazan now competes in the VTB United League.

After being selected with the No. 34 pick by the Lakers in 2015 out of Stanford, Brown bounced the NBA and G League for several seasons. He suited up for the Lakers and their NBAGL affiliate, at the time called the Los Angeles D-Fenders (now the South Bay Lakers), the Magic and their affiliate team the Erie BayHawks/Lakeland Magic, the Timberwolves and their NBAGL club the Iowa Wolves, and the Pelicans. In 41 total NBA games, the 29-year-old has averaged 3.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG across 18.6 MPG.

Brown first headed overseas in 2018, and has since suited up for teams in Serbia, France, Spain, Turkey and Israel. While playing for Maccabi Rishon LeZion in Israel Super League competition last season, the 6’7″ swingman posted averages of 16.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.4 APG and 1.0 SPG, with a shooting line of .465/.396/.821.

Here are more international basketball odds and ends:

  • Several NBA players and coaches will head overseas to take part in a Basketball Without Borders camp set for Cairo, Egypt, per a league press release. The event will run from this Sunday, August 28, through next Wednesday, August 31. Sixty-four of the best boys and girls hailing from 26 African nations, aged 18 and under, will travel to the camp. Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, Magic center Mohamed Bamba, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon and forward Grant Williams, and retired Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo will be among the camp’s coaches, with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, Pelicans head coach Willie Green, Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch, Bucks associate head coach Charles Lee, and Hornets athletic trainer Quinton Sawyer also participating. The camp’s roster of directors will be pretty star-studded as well, led by Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Cavaliers GM Mike Gansey, and Clippers scout Lance Blanks.
  • With almost exactly one year to go before the 2023 FIBA World Cup tips off, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press checks in on USA Basketball as the organization ramps up its preparation for the event. The first games in next year’s competition are scheduled to be played on August 25, 2023. Fielding a lineup that features G League and international-caliber American players, Team USA currently has a 6-1 record in the World Cup qualifiers. Next year, Steve Kerr will coach Team USA, featuring a likely-star studded roster. This year, that task falls to former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen. “We’re learning a lot because the NBA game has changed over the last seven or eight years, too,” Sean Ford, the U.S. men’s national team director, said. “There’s much more shotmaking. It’s just unbelievable, incredible the amount of 3-point shots that are taken, the freedom of movement, the flow of the game. But the international game has stayed the physical way.” 
  • Former Thunder swingman Terrance Ferguson has made the jump to overseas play, signing on with Polish team GTK Gliwice. Get full details here.

Brad Stevens Met With Jaylen Brown, Likes Roster

While the news of Kevin Durant withdrawing his demand to be traded broke on Tuesday, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens already had a candid discussion with Jaylen Brown regarding trade chatter, as Christopher Price of the Boston Globe relays.

Speaking on radio station WEEI, Stevens said that he met with Brown — the most prominent player that any Durant suitor was reportedly willing to part with — in Los Angeles last week.

“Jaylen’s been through this from the standpoint of listening and the noise has been around him for a long time,” Stevens said. “I think one of the things you have to be able to do is ignore the noise and know what’s important. Also, [to] be able to reach out and have candid and transparent communications with the people involved. We’ve had those, and been very open from the get-go as all of this has been going on for any of our guys.”

Stevens indicated that the Celtics front office hasn’t been engaged in trade discussions for awhile, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets.

Stevens believes that the acquisition of point guard Malcolm Brogdon from Indiana has already upgraded the team’s chances for another deep playoff run.

Since the Brogdon trade, we’ve felt really good about our team,” he said. “We felt really good about building around these guys that we’ve been building around, trying to accentuate our best players. We’re excited to move forward with our team, and that’s really been our focus for a while.”

Extension talks with Brown are also on the agenda. Stevens says he’d like to lock up Brown beyond his current contract, which runs through the 2023/24 season, Forsberg adds in another tweet.

“He is a huge core piece of what we’re doing and has been for six years now,” Stevens said. “We’re excited to hopefully put our best foot forward to have him here for a long time.”

The Celtics wing is eligible for a three-year extension this offseason. However, it’s probably in his best interests to wait until next offseason or until free agency to maximize his earnings and to try to qualify for a designated veteran extension.

Wizards Notes: Gibson, Brogdon, Hachimura, Kispert

The Wizards are coming off a disappointing season, but Taj Gibson believes his new team has the talent to contend for a playoff spot, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gibson’s assessment of the roster is one of the reasons he made the decision to join the Wizards after being waived by the Knicks.

“I’ve seen they have a young and talented team,” Gibson said. “It’s a sleeper team and I just want to be a part of something special. The NBA is full of ups and downs, but I wanted to go to a place where I can just put my veteran mentorship and whatever I can to add to the team.”

The 37-year-old projects to be the third-string center behind Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford. His role may expand if there are injuries or Porzingis sees some time at power forward, but Gibson has proven he can be productive in limited minutes.

“They have so many talented guys,” he said of the Wizards.  “I’m just a fan of all of them. I’m just lucky enough to be able to say I can go into the gym and get better with these guys, build a bond with these guys. That’s my whole goal.”

There’s more from Washington:

  • Malcolm Brogdon was ultimately traded to the Celtics, but he said on a recent edition of The Woj Pod that he expected to be dealt to the Wizards on draft night (hat tip to Bijan Todd of NBC Washington). “I thought it was going to be Washington,” Brogdon told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I heard the Pacers loved the idea of having that 10th pick and having two picks in the lottery and I knew Washington needed a good veteran point guard to pair with Brad Beal. I knew I fit his timeline and knew that everything fit.” The Wizards were heavily linked in trade rumors to Brogdon, who has ties to the D.C. area after playing college basketball at Virginia.
  • The Wizards used Summer League to focus on talent from their G League team, per Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Seven players on the Las Vegas roster spent time with the Capital City Go-Go last season. “We want to become the Miamis, the Golden States, the Oklahoma Citys — the teams that bring these guys in at the G League level and then they see a pathway to the NBA,” Go-Go general manager Amber Nichols said. “You’ve got to cultivate them in your own system, in your own house.” 
  • Gonzaga coach Mark Few believes his former players Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert have a bright future ahead after overcoming difficulties last season, Hughes adds in a separate story.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Sixers, Thomas

Fresh off his first Finals appearance, Celtics guard Marcus Smart is excited for the on-court fit of the newly-acquired Malcolm Brogdon and recent free agency signing Danilo Gallinari, per Jay King of The Athletic.

“I love it,” Smart told Kang. “You’ve got two veteran guys who can feed off each other, who can rotate and help this team in multiple ways. I think it’s going to fit perfect. Not one of us will have all the pressure of running the team. We’re doing this together… Of course, we all know what Malcolm brings to the table, we know what Gallo brings. And it’s just exciting to add those guys.”

According to King, team president Brad Stevens, Smart’s head coach with Boston from 2014-21, talked to Smart about both new Celtics and about the team’s evolution during their shared tenures with the franchise.

Though Smart served as Boston’s starting point guard throughout the club’s 2022 playoff run, he’s not a traditional pass-first ball-handler. The scoring and passing touch of the 6’5″ Brogdon, who can play either guard spot and defend at a high level when healthy, could make him an excellent complement to Smart in Boston’s backcourt rotation.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • As the Jazz field conversations with rival front offices for All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, the Sixers may actually reap some ancillary rewards, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. Should the Jazz continue to offload their older players, Neubeck notes that proven veteran Utah guards like Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley and Jordan Clarkson could be solid fits for Philadelphia as the team continues to build out its depth.
  • Second-year Nets shooting guard Cam Thomas is prioritizing on his own Summer League development and not Brooklyn’s potential upcoming personnel turnover, specifically regarding the futures of All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape“Anybody can get traded,” Thomas, the No. 27 pick out of LSU in 2021, acknowledged. “So, I try to stay away from them as much as I can, and just keep working on what the coach wants me to work on, even though that might change depending on who we have. I just want to keep working on what I’ve been working on, honestly.” Through four games in Las Vegas thus far, Thomas’s hard work has been paying off. He’s averaging 28.0 PPG, 3.8 APG, 1.8 RPG and 0.8 SPG.
  • In case you missed it, we previously relayed the contract details for new Knicks Jalen Brunson, Mitchell Robinson, and Isaiah Hartenstein.