Marcus Smart

Celtics Notes: Davis, Hayward, Draft, Adams

The Celtics should be regarded as favorites to trade for Pelicans star Anthony Davis, an NBA insider tells Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter link). According to the source, Jayson Tatum tops the Pelicans’ wish list, and new head of basketball operations David Griffin likes Marcus Smart as well. Robert WilliamsSemi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele could help fill out the deal, along with at least this year’s first-round pick, which falls at No. 14.

Earlier this week, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (appearing on The Sedano Show podcast) suggested the Lakers could still be in the running for Davis if they are willing to offer the same package they did at the trade deadline. McMenamin says several people he talked to in the Pelicans’ organization would love to have Brandon Ingram and wanted to take the Lakers’ proposal at the time. GM Dell Demps, who turned down the offer, has since been fired.

The Celtics’ prospects for Davis will depend on whether Griffin believes Ingram has a brighter future than Tatum and if he might be more intrigued by R.J. Barrett, which would bring the Knicks into play with their No. 3 pick, writes John Karalis of MassLive.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • President of basketball operations Danny Ainge is confident that Gordon Hayward will return to an All-Star level next season, relays Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Hayward was inconsistent this year as he worked his way back from a devastating ankle injury, but Ainge believes another offseason to recover will help. “I’m really excited for Gordon’s upcoming season,” Ainge said. “He’s working hard right now in the gym. He’s here every day with five or six coaches and bodies out there working extremely hard. He’s put a lot of time in. I’m anticipating great things from Gordon this next year.”
  • In a separate story, Forsberg looks at a few point guards the Celtics could target in the draft if they don’t expect to re-sign free agents Kyrie Irving or Terry Rozier. Forsberg states that Boston could try to trade up for North Carolina’s Coby White or stay at No. 14 and target Virginia’s Ty Jerome, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Mississippi’s Terence Davis, Tennessee’s Jordan Bone or Brewster Academy’s Jalen Lecque. The Celtics also own picks No. 20 and 22 in the first round.
  • Connecticut guard Jalen Adams worked out for the Celtics yesterday, tweets Chris Grenham of NESN.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2018/19 season, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert once again coming in as the leading vote-getter.

Gobert, a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, was listed on 99 of 100 ballots, with 97 of those ballots giving him a First Team vote, for a total of 196 points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). The All-Defensive nod ensures that the big man receives a $500K bonus, which had been considered likely since he was named to an All-Defensive team last season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Gobert was closely followed by fellow Defensive Player of the Year candidates Paul George (Thunder) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), who received 195 and 193 total points, respectively.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2018/19 All-Rookie Teams]

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday secured a $100K bonus by earning a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team, notes Marks (via Twitter). Like Davis, he was an All-Defensive player last season as well, so that bonus had been considered likely — his cap hits for this year or next won’t be impacted by him earning it.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

Raptors guard Danny Green actually totaled 66 points, including 19 First Team votes, while Clippers guard Patrick Beverley had 48 points (14 First Team votes). However, All-Defensive teams are determined by position, so they didn’t make the cut because they ranked fifth and sixth in voting among guards.

Pacers center Myles Turner (39 points), Rockets forward P.J. Tucker (38), Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (24), and Spurs guard Derrick White (15) were the other leading vote-getters.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Would Kyrie Irving truly consider joining forces with LeBron James again? According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, it’s a real possibility (hat tip to Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype). Windhorst believes a reunion could be in the works, especially if the Lakers hire Jason Kidd as their head coach. Irving has even talked about it, according to Windhorst.

“That door, which was deadbolted, has been un-deadbolted and has now been cracked open,” Windhorst said. “… It might even be opening more by the day. And I say that just because I think it’s on Kyrie’s radar, it’s on Kyrie’s board. He has had discussions with people about playing for the Lakers.”

We have more on Irving, who becomes an unrestricted free agent once he declines his $21.3MM player option:

  • Irving’s poor performance against Milwaukee in the conference semifinals should concern the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post opines. The Knicks will try to sign two top-level free agents but if they don’t get Kevin Durant or trade for Anthony Davis, Irving might be a poor fit because he’s only proven he can be the No. 2 star on a championship-caliber team, Berman continues. There is genuine debate within the front office whether they’d be better off chasing Hornets All-Star guard Kemba Walker instead of Irving, Berman adds.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart defended Irving against critics who believe Irving’s leadership skills led to poor chemistry in the locker room, according to an ESPN report. Smart feels Irving was thrust into a difficult situation. “Probably a few amount of people in this world know what Kyrie goes through. It was hard for him as well,” Smart said. “He was forced into a situation where it was business over the friendships. … This is Kyrie Irving we’re talking about it, and he’s worried about coming in and disrupting us. We took him in with full arms. We tried to understand. But like I said, we never really understood because we’re not in his shoes.”
  • It seems almost inevitable that Irving will sign elsewhere this summer, David Aldridge of The Athletic writes. When Boston’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded for Irving two years ago, it was a safe bet that he’d emerge as a mature and credible leader of a title-contending team, Aldridge continues. Irving came up well short of the mark, as he was AWOL emotionally much of this season, Aldridge adds.

Marcus Smart Available To Play Monday

Celtics combo guard Marcus Smart is available to play in Game 4 of the conference semifinal series against Milwaukee on Monday, the team’s PR department tweets.

Smart hasn’t played since April 7th due to a left oblique tear. His return provides a boost to the rotation with his versatility and ability to defend multiple positions. Boston needs all the help it can get against the high-scoring Bucks, who have racked up 123 points in each of the past two games to take a 2-1 series lead.

Smart had been listed as questionable after practicing on Saturday without any issues.

Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown have received the bulk of the backcourt minutes during the postseason, with Terry Rozier backing up Irving and Gordon Hayward swinging to the shooting guard spot at times.

Smart averaged 8.9 PPG, 4.0 APG and a career-high 1.8 SPG during the regular season. During Boston’s postseason run a year ago, Smart posted averages of 9.8/5.3/1.7 in those same categories.

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Siakam, Embiid, Smart

The Raptors were never close to a trade that would have shipped Kyle Lowry out of Toronto at this year’s deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Lowry’s name was mentioned in discussions with the Grizzlies that might have brought Mike Conley in return. The Raptors wound up dealing for Marc Gasol, but chose to hang on to their point guard.

Charania’s report is part of a story that focuses on a February meeting between Lowry and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to clear the air about their relationship. Lowry made no effort to hide his disappointment after his long-time friend DeMar DeRozan was sent to San Antonio last summer in the deal that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto.

“You dwell on things that you don’t need to dwell on, and it makes things worse,” Lowry said. “You have a conversation, you figure things out, you talk about it, and you move on. Shake your hands, and you go about your business. It worked out for the both of us, worked out for everybody.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam plans to be ready for Game 5 after playing 28 minutes yesterday, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Siakam, who was a game-time decision, has been dealing with a right calf contusion and said it was very sore in pre-game warmups. He added it may have affected his lateral movement, but he will continue to monitor and treat the injury and is confident he will available Tuesday night.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid was up all of Saturday night with an illness and had to get an IV at 6 a.m. before yesterday’s game, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Embiid managed just 11 points after a 33-point effort in Game 3. “I got a text from him at 6:20 a.m. this morning telling me he didn’t really sleep all night, he really never felt this poorly and, ‘I wasn’t sure, Coach, if I’m going to play.’ That’s how my day started,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News examines how the possible return of injured Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon could affect their playoff series.

Marcus Smart Upgraded To Questionable For Game 4

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been upgraded to questionable for Game 4 against Milwaukee this Monday, the team announced on its Twitter feed today.

Smart, who has missed all of Boston’s seven playoff games to date, has been rehabbing from a left oblique tear since early April. He told reporters that he’s hopeful to make his return in Game 4 and responded well to 3-on-3 contact on Saturday, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Feeling good today,” Smart said after Boston’s practice. “Today was a good day. I was able to participate with the team. … The boxes are being checked.

“We’re taking it one day at a time, but we’re definitely in the right position, right time, progressive phase to where I’m getting really close to coming back here.”

The Celtics have missed Smart’s defensive intensity and energy, going down 2-1 in the series and losing home court advantage after Friday’s defeat. Should Smart not play on Monday, he could still return when the Celtics travel to Milwaukee for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

Smart became a permanent starter in November and was a key cog for the Celtics during the regular season, averaging 8.9 points, four assists and a career-best 1.8 steals per game.  He appeared in 80 contests on the year before suffering the injury, which was also a career-high.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, McHale, Nets, Knicks

Marcus Smart is expected to join his Celtics teammates for practice tomorrow, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. It will be Smart’s first on-court action since suffering an oblique tear last month.

Although Smart will be a full participant, the session won’t include contact as coach Brad Stevens plans to give the team a break ahead of Monday’s Game 4 against the Bucks.

“I’m going to talk to our training staff [on Saturday], and then, [Sunday], all indication is he will go through our practice,” Stevens said. “I’m writing up our practice plan now, and I don’t have any live drills on it, so if he does [contact work], it’ll probably be before or after practice, if that’s his next step.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former teammate Kevin McHale reached out to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge after he suffered a mild heart attack this week, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. McHale, who has previous front office experience with the Timberwolves, can relate to the pressure of running a team. “It’s a stressful job, but I would say Danny has probably got the best perspective of anyone in the league on that job and what’s going on,” McHale said. “… I think having Austin [his son is the Celtics’ director of player personnel] working there with him, I can just tell how much he enjoys it and how well they work together.”
  • Gianluca Pascucci, who serves as director of global scouting for the Nets, is being considered for an executive position with AC Milano in Italy, but the organization may try to hold on to him, tweets NetsDaily. Pascucci could be a candidate for assistant GM in Brooklyn if Trajan Langdon leaves. Langdon was considered for front office positions with the Timberwolves and Pelicans and is rumored to be a candidate with the Wizards.
  • Las Vegas oddsmakers are expecting a huge summer for the Knicks, writes David Purdum of ESPN. The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas has given New York 16-1 odds to win next season’s title, trailing just the Bucks, Celtics and Sixers in the East. Jeff Sherman, who oversees the Superbook’s NBA odds, told Purdum they are based on the Knicks being the favorites to land Kevin Durant in free agency. He adds that New York would be about a 300-1 shot without Durant.

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Butler, Russell, Smart

Kawhi Leonard‘s performance in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals was exactly was the Raptors were hoping for when they acquired him, writes Michael Lee of the Athletic, but the Sixers need Jimmy Butler to step up in the same way. The matchup of recently traded forwards could go a long way toward deciding their playoff series. Leonard was brilliant in Game 1, scoring 45 points and pushing his career record against Philadelphia to 14-0.

Lee notes that there are many similarities between Leonard and Butler, who were both drafted outside the lottery, became stars through hard work and forced themselves out of unhappy situations. However, Leonard was clearly the better player on Saturday as Butler hit just 4 of 12 shots and scored 10 points.

“He’s just evolving,” said Sixers forward Jonathon Simmons, who played alongside Leonard in San Antonio. “He wants to be in the conversations with the best of them. That’s what he works for.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers will need more production from Joel Embiid to have a chance in the series, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Despite being among the league’s best centers, Embiid has a history of struggling against Marc Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year in Memphis. Embiid made just one shot Saturday while Gasol was guarding him and finished 5 of 18 from the field.
  • The Nets can create enough cap room this summer to reshape their roster, but they’ll have to determine how many of their own free agents they want to keep, observes Tom Dowd of The most significant decision will involve point guard D’Angelo Russell, who will be a restricted free agent after a breakthrough season. Brooklyn can match any offer that Russell receives, but the front office will have to prioritize how much to pay another guard with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie already in place. “He’s obviously one of our more talented players,” GM Sean Marks said of Russell. “You said we’ll have decisions. D’Angelo is going to have decisions, too. That is a little bit of the nature of this business.” 
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed today that Marcus Smart is unlikely to be available for the conference semifinals, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Smart, who suffered a torn oblique three weeks ago, is doing core work, but his return still appears far off. “I don’t see any way that he’s available until whenever his timeline hits that we thought initially — four to six (weeks),” Stevens said. “And I said at the start, the four seems awfully aggressive.”

Injury Updates: Brogdon, Smart, Kanter, Scott, Anunoby

The Celtics and Bucks will each be without key guards when their second round series gets underway on Sunday, according to reports.

For the Bucks, Malcolm Brogdon has been ruled out for the first two games of the series, with the team planning on re-assessing him before Game 3, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Brogdon, who put up a 50/40/90 shooting line for Milwaukee this season, has been sidelined since March 15 due to a foot injury.

On the other side, Celtics guard Marcus Smart, who remains on the shelf due to a torn oblique, won’t play this weekend, per president of basketball operations Danny Ainge (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston). In fact, Ainge said the defensive specialist will be a long shot to return next weekend too. When he first suffered the injury on April 7, Smart was given a recovery timeline of 4-6 weeks, so he remains at risk of missing the entire second round.

Here are a few more injury updates for the teams that have advanced to the second round:

  • The status of Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter, who reportedly suffered a separated shoulder against Oklahoma City, remains uncertain, says Anne M. Peterson of The Associated Press. Although he participated in practice today, Kanter said afterward that he was in pain, adding that he’s taking his recovery day by day.
  • Asked whether he’s planning for Mike Scott to be available in Game 1 vs. the Raptors, Sixers head coach Brett Brown said he’s not, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter link). Scott, who is battling a right heel bruise and plantar fasciitis, is an important part of a thin Philadelphia bench, so he’ll be missed if he can’t go.
  • The Raptors will also be without a rotation player to start their series against the Sixers, as OG Anunoby remains out of action after undergoing an emergency appendectomy two weeks ago, tweets ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Having ruled out Anunoby indefinitely, the Raptors have given no hints about when the second-year forward might be able to return.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Davis, Hayward, Smart

A difficult regular season hasn’t affected the Celtics‘ commitment to Kyrie Irving, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Irving promised Boston fans in October that he would re-sign with the the team, but his resolve seemed to waiver as losses piled up during the season. He also made a series of public comments about how difficult it is to be a veteran leader on a young team.

Despite the ups and downs of the season, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the organization hasn’t given any thought to letting Irving leave and turning the offense over to Terry Rozier. Ainge also believes the postseason will give Irving a fresh start.

“I don’t think free agency is wearing on him,” Ainge said. “I think that not being able to live up to expectations as a team is wearing on him more than that. But I feel like he’s in a good place. And ending the season and starting the playoffs I feel like his mind is in a fresher place than it was a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to great things with Kyrie.”

Beyond his talents, another motivation for the Celtics to keep Irving is his friendship with  the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis. Boston is hoping to trade for Davis this summer and would have a better chance of signing him to a long-term deal if Irving is still around.

There’s more Celtics news this morning:

  • Gordon Hayward finished strong after a trying season that saw him struggle to rebuild his game in the wake of last year’s severe ankle injury, notes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Over the last seven games, Hayward has averaged 16.9 PPG while shooting 62% from the field. Teammates and management have been impressed by the way he has handled the challenges. “From the first day of training camp, he’s played the right way,” Ainge said. “Through all of his adversity, he has, and I mean, that’s leadership. That’s great leadership showing, and people notice that. It doesn’t do that much good to talk about it, but Gordon, by his example, has shown great leadership.”
  • Celtics fans shouldn’t expect to see Marcus Smart for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Smart is projected to miss 4 to 6 weeks with a torn left oblique, but coach Brad Stevens calls that timeline “aggressive,” based on what he has heard from team doctors.
  • With six players either headed toward free agency or having the ability to opt out of their contracts, the Celtics know this could be their last shot at a title with their current roster, observes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.