Marcus Smart

Celtics Notes: Walker, Smart, Stevens

Kemba Walker has gotten a chance to bond with some of his new Celtics teammates at Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com relays.

“I’m the new guy; they already know each other,” Walker said. “They are just kind of reeling me in and getting me acclimated to how things go. With four of us here now, it gives us an opportunity to play with each other and learn each other’s tendencies.”

Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown are all attending the camp. Coach Brad Stevens also made an appearance. Boston had some chemistry concerns last season, but the team is excited about turning to a new chapter.

“It can only be positive for us because it’s chemistry added,” Brown said about the four players’ experience at Team USA’s camp. “I just want to hoop. I don’t want any politics. We’re artists and this season is a new canvas.”

Here’s more from Boston:

  • Walker is a lock to make Team USA’s roster and Tatum has a strong chance to make the squad as well, Windhorst adds in the same piece. Smart and Brown each making the team is not as much of a sure thing. “We’re all grateful to be here,” Tatum said. “Hopefully, all four of us make it; that would be amazing. Me and [Brown] play one-on-one all the time, and we’ve always tried to push each other and it’s been that way since day one. Ultimately, we have the same goal with our teams and here.”
  • Smart has missed several days of practice with a left calf injury and he’ll be re-evaluated next week, as the AP’s Tim Reynolds tweets. “Right now, for me, I’m trying to grow as a player… taking those precautions,” said Smart (via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports). “Last year, or two or three years ago, I probably would have still been out there trying to fight through it. It’s nothing serious so we just want to make sure it doesn’t turn into anything serious.”
  • Stevens said the Celtics have moved past their issues from last season, as Forsberg passes along in a separate piece. “We turned that page a long time ago. That’s what you should do after a season. I think, whether you had success or it wasn’t as good as you want, you learn from it and move on,” Stevens said.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Burke, O’Quinn, Smart, Fizdale

Despite the loss of J.J. Redick, the Sixers have plenty of perimeter shooters on their current roster, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic details. Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Mike Scott, Al Horford, James Ennis, Trey Burke and Raul Neto loom as long-range threats but mainly in catch-and-shoot situations. That means Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons need to create and open up space for their perimeter players.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Point guards Trey Burke and Raul Neto could be useful members of the Sixers’ rotation but big man Kyle O’Quinn will have regain the form he showed earlier in his career with the Knicks to make a meaningful contribution, Mike O’Connor of The Athletic writes. O’Connor breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of the incoming reserve trio and how they’ll fit in.
  • Marcus Smart admits the Celtics were a dysfunctional team last season, he said on ESPN’s The Jump this week. Many players were uncomfortable with their roles, according to Smart. “It’s hard for anybody to have to look themselves in mirror and sacrifice something,” Smart said.
  • The fact that the Knicks didn’t re-sign any of their nine free agents reflects poorly on coach David Fizdale, the New York Post’s Marc Berman opines. The teams sold player development over the team’s win-loss record last season, yet didn’t consider any of those players worthy of another contract, Berman notes.

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.

Harris Withdraws From Team USA This Summer

Add Tobias Harris‘ name to the growing list of USA Basketball players pulling out of consideration for this year’s FIBA World Cup. Harris, who re-signed with the Sixers for five years and $180MM this summer, has decided to focus on the upcoming NBA season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon have also withdrawn from Team USA participation this summer, starting with training camp in Las Vegas early next month. Two other players, Damian Lillard and Kevin Love, are also undecided and will announce their decisions in the next few days, Joe Vardon of The Athletic reports.

Team USA will bring 12 players to the FIBA tournament. Among the players under consideration to replace the stars who have withdrawn, according to Vardon, include Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, D’Angelo Russell, Mike ConleyJosh Richardson, Thaddeus Young and Julius Randle. Select Team members could also be considered for the final 12-man roster, including Trae Young, Vardon adds. Top pick Zion Williamson has withdrawn from the Select Team this summer.

The original list of 20 invitees to the USA Basketball camp can be found here.

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Mazzulla, Smart

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is back to work after suffering a second heart attack, and while he’s apparently no worse for the wear, the experience seems to have reawakened him to how precious life can be and how lucky he is, writes Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

“You just move on,” says Ainge. “I just had some chest pains and went to the hospital and, you know, had a heart attack and had a stent put in… it’s just… it’s just a wake-up call… I’m at the stage in my life where I’m attending way too many funerals, so I’m just happy to be here and excited for our upcoming season. I love my job. I love the people I work with. I love the players. They keep me young. They’re a lot of fun to be around, as you can see by the four guys we just drafted.”

Ainge says he wasn’t scared when the incident happened, but he now realizes that he needs to treat himself better moving forward.

“I’m scared enough to the point where I want to eat better and I want to be healthier, and I’m listening to my doctors a little more diligently and taking better care of myself. So, yeah, I wouldn’t say that I was unhealthy, but I would say that I didn’t do what I needed to be doing, and I should have shown from having an episode 10 years ago. So, you know, you get really motivated for six months and then you sort of feel great again. I feel great now. I feel as healthy as I’ve felt.”

Ainge also spoke on the topic of whether the stress of being the head of an NBA team’s basketball operations department factored into his health issues.

“You wonder how much of it is work and stress and those things but, you know, everybody has to manage challenges, health challenges and stress challenges. I would say that there are stressful days, but the job overall is not high stress, in my opinion. There are stressful moments, (but) coaching is much harder. I’ve done that job. But my job is more to keep people in a good frame of mind, keep people positive through the adversity of a season. And just my nature, I’m more positive and see the bright side in things, and I think that eliminates a lot of stress.”

There’s more news out of Boston tonight:

  • Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Celtics are hiring Fairmont (WV) State coach Joe Mazzulla as an assistant coach. Mazzulla, who made a strong impression with the Celtics G League staff a few years back, played for new Cavs’ head coach John Beilein at West Virginia.
  • Despite the fact that the Celtics are likely losing both point guard Kyrie Irving and big man Al Horford to free agency, incumbent guard Marcus Smart is optimistic about the team’s prospects for the 2019/20 season, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Hey, the thing is, the Raptors just won the championship, right? But they’ve got to start back over from the beginning just like we do… so everybody’s starting over, regardless if they have the same team or not, they’ve all got to start from the beginning. That’s how we take it. We take it as we come in, and we have an opportunity to do something special, and we get another chance to do it.”
  • In another story for ESPN, Bontemps adds that with free agency right around the corner, Ainge finds himself with holes at point guard and center and with a roster that features 11 players who are 25 or younger, just one season after being a team that seemed destined to compete for championships right away.

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.