Marcus Smart

Eastern Notes: Smart, Winslow, Heat, Jordan

As part of his new autobiography, “I’ll Show You”, former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose praised Celtics guard Marcus Smart, lauding the tenacity, aggression and intensity he brings to the court every night with Boston.

Smart, who’s coming off a stint with Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, is expected to be one of the Celtics’ key leaders on the defensive end this season.

“I always said I’m a hooper, and hoopers can do anything, I feel,” Rose wrote in the autobiography, according to Taylor Snow of “It don’t matter. Like, Marcus Smart is a hooper. Analytics, you would say no way you want him. But when you go out there and watch the game, you say, ‘Of course I want him on my team.’ Makes shots, period. That’s a guy I love playing with.”

Smart is coming off a season where he averaged 8.9 points, four assists and 1.8 steals in 27.5 minutes per game, shooting a career-high 42% from the floor and 36% from 3-point range in 80 contests. His scrappy play has helped him earn the respects of fellow players around the league, with the 25-year-old set to enter his sixth NBA season this fall.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

Celtics Notes: Hayward, Smart, Walker, Ainge

Gordon Hayward is working harder than ever to get back to playing like an All-Star, Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison tells Jay King of The Athletic. Morrison is among the staff members working this summer with Hayward, who has spent most of the offseason in Boston rather than his home in San Diego.

After signing with the Celtics as a free agent in 2017, Hayward saw his first season wiped out by a broken ankle on opening night. His 2018/19 season was filled with frustration as he tried to overcome the lingering effects of that injury. Now he’s determined to return to the top of his game.

“I think this year he’s just eager to get back out there and play well and play to where he thinks he’s capable,” Morrison said. “So he was very motivated to put the extra time in, put the extra intensity into his workouts. For me as a coach, that was kind of music to my ears.”

One area of emphasis for Hayward was to improve his ball-handling, even before the team knew that Kyrie Irving was signing elsewhere. Although Kemba Walker was added to take over lead guard duties, back-up Terry Rozier also departed, meaning that Hayward may sometimes run the offense with the second team.

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Marcus Smart has been ruled out of Team USA’s final two World Cup games, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smart had X-rays this week that came back negative on an injured left knuckle, but pain in his hand as well as the quad/calf area contributed to the decision. The Americans are out of medal contention after losing to France earlier today.
  • The Celtics who are playing alongside Walker in China rave about his humility and willingness to fit in, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. That draws an obvious comparison to Irving, who wasn’t known for either of those traits during his two years in Boston. “I’m saying this about Kemba,” Jaylen Brown insisted. “I’m not saying this about everybody else. … I’m looking forward to this year. I’m not thinking about last year. Last year was what it was. Spend your time in the past, you’re blinded by it and you’re missing your future. I’m not painting that picture at all.”
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines whether president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will be more active on the trade market now that he’s not entering a season with a team that’s among the favorites to win the title.

Atlantic Notes: Stevens, Feaster, Donaldson, Ainge

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens will have a new-look roster to work with this season, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, and while replacing All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving with fellow All-Star Kemba Walker will be the easy part, replacing defensive stalwarts Al Horford and Aron Baynes should prove a bit more challenging.

Another question is who starts — Gordon Hayward or Jaylen Brown? Do both of them start, with Marcus Smart back on the bench? According to Stevens, it really doesn’t matter, as long as the lineups mesh together.

“We’re obviously going to have to figure out lineups that work best together,” Stevens said. “Everybody is going to make a big deal over who starts, but we all know who the five guys are that are going to play the very most on our team, and everybody can probably write that down right now, and then it’s a matter of who fits best. They’re not all in the same position, but we’ve got to figure out who’s going to play the big spot and with which groups.”

Enes Kanter figures to get most minutes at center starting out, but young big Robert Williams could push for more playing time as the season progresses. The Celtics will also rely on Daniel Theis and Vincent Poirier for frontcourt depth.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the Celtics have hired Allison Feaster as director of player development. Feaster is a former WNBA player and Harvard graduate who also worked in the G League.
  • Raptors data analyst Brittni Donaldson has been promoted to an assistant coach on the staff of head coach Nick Nurse, per a tweet from Stadium (Twitter link).
  • In a piece for NBC Sports Boston, Blakely writes that Danny Ainge is concerned with Stevens happiness this season, saying “My biggest concern through all of this was, I want my coach to be happy who he’s coaching and that’s the hardest job. I’ve been at this business a long time. It’s…you gotta have fun. You really have to have joy. That doesn’t mean every minute is going to be happy. Everybody is going to face adversity and challenges and trials through the course of a season. But, it still has to be fun.”

Thanasis Antetokounmpo Draws Team USA’s Ire

The FIBA World Cup was bound to create some awkward moments among NBA players. One of those occurred at the end of Team USA’s 69-53 victory over Greece on Saturday, as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst details.

Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the older brother of reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, drew Team USA’s ire when he fouled Harrison Barnes from behind late in the game as Barnes went up for a dunk. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Giannis had to be separated afterward after exchanging words as Brown pointed toward Thanasis, according to Windhorst.

Bucks teammates Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are on Team USA’s roster.

The teams didn’t hold a postgame handshake in order to avoid another confrontation. Team USA was upset that Thanasis, who signed a two-year contract with Milwaukee in July, didn’t immediately apologize to Barnes, who was uninjured.

“The [lack of apology] escalated it,” Marcus Smart said to Windhorst and other media members. “At that moment, you’ve got to take it for what it is. Regardless of whether you feel like it was wrong or right, it was wrong.”

Giannis scored 15 points but sat out the fourth quarter. Greek officials said he was rested as the team tries to qualify for the quarterfinals on Monday. He was too upset to talk to the media afterward, according to an Associated Press report.

Team USA advanced to the quarterfinals with the victory.

World Cup Notes: Round Two, Smart, Canada, Australia

The second round is set in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, as Greece and the Czech Republic advanced to the round of 16 today, eliminating New Zealand and Turkey, respectively.

Eight teams remain undefeated after three games: Argentina and Poland (Group I), Serbia and Spain (Group J), USA and Brazil (Group K), and France and Australia (Group H).

Team USA’s second-round schedule is now set too, as Gregg Popovich‘s group will face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Greeks on Saturday morning. Monday will bring a matchup against Brazil, whose roster features current NBA players like Cristiano Felicio and Bruno Caboclo along with familiar faces such as Leandro Barbosa and Anderson Varejao.

Here’s more on the World Cup:

  • A second Celtics player is dealing with a minor injury, as Marcus Smart missed Thursday’s game against Japan due to a left quad strain, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. USA Basketball had already secured its spot in the second round and Smart is listed as day-to-day, so it sounds like the club was probably just playing it safe with the veteran guard. Smart’s teammate Jayson Tatum is currently dealing with a sprained ankle.
  • Although Team Canada picked up a win today over Senegal, the program had a disappointing run in the World Cup after expectations had grown, writes Michael Grange of As Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press writes, head coach Nick Nurse thought more Canadian NBA players would be on the World Cup roster, and intends to play a bigger recruiting role going forward.
  • As a result of being the last team from the Oceania region still standing in the World Cup, Australia has clinched its spot in the 2020 Olympics, as Sportando observes (via Twitter). The Boomers become the second country to claim a spot in the 12-team Olympic field, joining host nation Japan. Six more programs will secure Olympic berths in the World Cup.

World Cup Notes: Walker, Team USA, Star Power, Celtics

While fans have certainly (and understandably) reacted harshly to Team USA losing its exhibition game 98-94 to Australia, players and staffers alike haven’t been overreacting to the upset.

They say Team USA doesn’t lose, I get it, they haven’t lost in a very long time, which I understand, but it happens,” Kemba Walker said, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “Teams lose. We are just going to take this loss and build from it, that’s all we can do is continue to try our best to get better.

“The real thing doesn’t start until China, so we’ve got one more game. We’re going to head to Sydney and focus on Canada and from that point out the real thing starts. That’s all we are worried about, just continuing to get better, continuing to learn each other.”

Australia stunned Team USA behind Patty Mills 30 points, Joe Ingles 15 points and Andrew Bogut‘s 16 points off the bench. The team sported a starting five of Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Ingles, Jock Landale and Aron Baynes.

Walker led the way for the United States, finishing with 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting in the losing effort. The Australians broke a 78-game winning streak for Team USA, their first ever victory against the Americans.

Here are some other notes from the FIBA World Cup today:

  • This year’s World Cup will have dominance in an international sense, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. The depleted Team USA could be tasked with playing the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece), Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and other NBA stars throughout the tournament.
  • Competing in the World Cup is a preseason bonus for Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, with each player set to enter the fall together on the Celtics, as published in an article by the Associated Press. “It’s pretty cool,” Brown said. “It’s a blessing, of course. I take it very seriously to be able to represent not only your family and Boston but the country. We take it serious, and we come to play basketball.”
  • Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated examines why members of Team USA have chips on their shoulders, embracing the disrespectful message from fans around the world. The absences of several players who withdrew from the team has led many to believe the Americans could be upset by another team in the tournament. “We are embracing it as much as we can,” Walker said. “It’s adding fuel to the fire. A lot of us, it’s where we come from. We come from being underdogs, most of us. We’re hungry.”

Atlantic Notes: Miller, Prokhorov, Celtics, Scott

The Knicks have hired Mike Miller as an assistant on David Fizdale’s staff after he served as their G League coach since the 2015/16 season, according to a team press release. Miller, not to be confused with the longtime NBA player, compiled a 108-92 record with the Westchester Knicks. Derrick Alston, who served as an assistant to Miller, has been promoted to head coach of the G league team, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Mikhail Prokhorov, who recently sold his interest in the Nets, inquired about other NBA franchises — including the Knicks — before he was approved as the majority owner of the Brooklyn franchise. His top basketball adviser, Sergei Kushchenko, revealed that to TASS in a story relayed by ”We were looking over various options at that time,” Kushchenko said. “Among them were the New York Knicks, who asked for a bizarre sum, the Phoenix Suns and the New Jersey Nets. We decided to focus on the New Jersey Nets since it was a completely different market then in addition to the prospect of the new arena’s construction along with a full-fledged business framework.” Prokhorov was also scared away by the Knicks’ debt load, according to NetsDaily.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens will have a dilemma if he wants to get all of his best players on the court during crunch time, Matt John of Basketball Insiders notes. The team’s top five include Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, which would leave them without a true power forward or center in those situations.
  • Sixers forward Mike Scott said some advice from Clippers coach Doc Rivers helped him after he was dealt to Philadelphia last season, Kevin Murphy of The Athletic writes. Scott emerged as a key reserve after he was included in the Tobias Harris blockbuster and earned a two-year, $9.8MM contract in free agency. “I feel I didn’t play well in L.A., and I think for the most part it was on me,” Scott said. “I was still trying to figure it out. When I got here, I said, ‘[The heck with it], I am going to ball-out and try to do what Doc says.’ Do the little things and see what happens.”

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Brown, Fall, Chemistry, Smart

Former Celtics center Aron Baynes believes Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are poised to reach star status, ESPN’s Niall Seewang reports. Baynes, who was traded to the Suns during the offseason, is particularly enamored with Tatum’s skill set.

“He’s so talented – even from the first day I played with him when he was a rookie in his first preseason, you could see how talented he was offensively and he also wants to work on the defensive end which isn’t common in the NBA – some guys live on that offensive talent but he wants to develop his all-round game,” Baynes said. He added about the young duo, “Those guys are still in their rookie contracts and they’re looking to prove themselves over the next couple of years and they definitely have all the tools to do it.”

We have more on the Celtics:

  • Tacko Fall’s agent is confident his client will get claimed off waivers if the Celtics don’t retain him, he told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. Fall was signed an Exhibit 10 contract and there’s no guarantee he’d make the 15-man roster. Both two-way slots are also currently filled. “If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed,” the agent, Justin Haynes, said of the 7’6” Fall. “I think somebody will take a shot on him because he’s done enough to show he can find a place in the NBA. I’m really hopeful that it’s Boston. I hope they find a way, and they do have a vision for him.”
  • Co-owner Steve Pagliuca already sees signs that the team’s chemistry will be better this upcoming season, according to Nicole Yang of the Boston Globe. A dysfunctional locker room was one of the big reasons the team underachieved last season. “There’s just really a positive attitude from everybody this year,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of hard-working players that really want to achieve. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
  • The team hasn’t had a captain since Rajon Rondo in 2014 and A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston believes that should change. Marcus Smart has the respect among his teammates and leadership skills that would make him an ideal fit for that role, as Blakely details.

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Neto, Burke, Richardson

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been cleared to return to action with Team USA, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Post. Smart has been sidelined for more than a week with a calf injury, and getting him back will help offset the unexpected loss of De’Aaron Fox, who withdrew from the team today.

Smart expressed confidence that he was close to playing again in an interview with Jared Greenberg of NBA TV during Friday’s exhibition game with Spain (video link). “Like I said, the calf is feeling amazing,” Smart said. “And, right now, we’re just taking it slow and making sure I’m a hundred percent and (then) get back out there.”

Smart appears to be in great position to earn a roster spot after the departures of Fox and fellow point guard Kyle Lowry in the past week. Team USA has 13 players left on its training camp roster, with just one cut to make before the FIBA World Cup begins.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics should honor Smart by making him the team captain this fall, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Smart’s leadership has been evident for a long time, Blakely observes, adding that the organization has an opportunity to recognize him in an official way. Boston hasn’t had a captain since Rajon Rondo in 2014, and Blakely contends that Smart, who is the longest-tenured Celtic and still has three years left on his contract, is a natural choice.
  • Derek Bodner of The Athletic examines the expected battle for backup point guard minutes between Sixers newcomers Raul Neto and Trey Burke. Both veterans signed minimum salary contracts this summer and both will try to fill the void created when T.J. McConnell left for the Pacers. Bodner notes that Burke has received more playing time than Neto over his career, but he has also been on worse teams that offered greater opportunity. He adds that Neto prefers to read the defense on any given play, while Burke tends to seek his own shots.
  • Malachi Richardson, who saw infrequent playing time for the Raptors last season, has signed with Hapoel Holon in Israel, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Richardson appeared in 22 games for Toronto before being traded at the deadline to the Sixers, who waived him.

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 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.