Marcus Smart

Free Agency Rumors: DeRozan, Smart, Dragic, Tucker

It appears that several teams remain interested in adding veteran free agent Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan, but are trying to gauge his market. Jordan Schultz of ESPN reports (Twitter link) that the Clippers would like to sign DeRozan, as would the Spurs if the price is right.

Schultz notes that there are other clubs interested in DeRozan, but – assuming he’s is not offered an overwhelming deal – the former four-time All-Star will take his time in determining a destination.

Here are more free agency rumors from around the NBA world:

  • With Lonzo Ball now headed to the Bulls in a sign-and-trade deal as a restricted free agent, another team that had been floated as a potential destination, the Celtics, will most likely not attempt to move on from guard Marcus Smart, tweets Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. Murphy adds (Twitter link) that Smart is hoping to earn a four-year, $80MM contract extension from Boston.
  • Veteran guard Goran Dragic , who is expected to be sent from the Heat to the Raptors in an upcoming sign-and-trade for veteran free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, is hoping to be rerouted to the Mavericks, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link). The details of a sign-and-trade agreement between Miami and Toronto have not yet been fully reported.
  • Now that the news has broken that newly-minted NBA champion P.J. Tucker will be joining the Heat rather than return to the Bucks in free agency, Sam Amick of The Athletic notes a big part of the reason was Milwaukee’s exorbitant projected tax bill if Tucker had returned. The Bucks appear hopeful to replace Tucker’s versatile defensive contributions by agreeing to a deal with former Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye.

Mannix’s Latest: Smart, Ball, Blazers, Simmons, Oladipo, Z. Collins

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is extension-eligible this offseason, but president of basketball operations Brad Stevens – who has coached Smart for the last several seasons – has been frustrated by his “unpredictable play,” sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com.

Two people familiar with the Celtics’ thinking tell Mannix that Smart appears more likely to be traded than extended before the start of the 2021/22 season. When Boston shopped Smart last season, the team sought multiple first-round picks, but one Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Mannix suggests the guard’s value is more along the lines of one first-rounder and possibly a rotational player.

Here’s more from Mannix:

  • Although re-signing Lonzo Ball doesn’t seem to be the Pelicans‘ top priority in free agency, several rival executives expect New Orleans to match any offer Ball receives if the club strikes out on its top free agent point guard targets, writes Mannix. That would allow the Pels to avoid losing Ball for nothing and would create the option of trading him down the road.
  • The Trail Blazers haven’t given any indications at this point that they intend to deal Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, according to Mannix, who says forward Nicolas Batum is among the free agents on Portland’s radar.
  • The Sixers‘ asking price for Ben Simmons remains high. “Forget a Harden haul,” one exec in contact with the 76ers said to Mannix. “They want what Boston got for KG and Pierce.”
  • Mannix adds the Mavericks to the list of teams that are expected to show interest in point guard Dennis Schröder.
  • Teams are “increasingly wary” of Victor Oladipo‘s long-term health and multiple executives believe the two-time All-Star may go unsigned for a few months while he gets healthy following his latest quad tendon surgery, says Mannix.
  • Mannix believes the Thunder could be in the mix for Zach Collins, observing that the big man is the kind of low-risk/high-reward player that Sam Presti loves.

Celtics Rumors: Richardson Trade, Fournier, Thompson, Parker

The Celtics may have been quiet on draft night, but they’re making noise now. After agreeing to trade Tristan Thompson for the Hawks’ Kris Dunn and Bruno Fernando and sending Moses Brown to the Mavericks for Josh Richardson, the Celtics have given themselves some extra flexibility from both a financial and roster perspective, writes The Athletic’s Jared Weiss.

Evan Fournier‘s market seems to be in the range of $12-$20MM per year, according to Weiss, who points out that dealing for Richardson affords the Celtics the option of walking away if the bidding war gets too rich for them. It sounds like that’s a very realistic possibility, as Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald hears from a source that Boston is unwilling to meet Fournier’s asking price of $80MM over four years.

“It’s not looking good,” Murphy’s source said of the Celtics’ negotiations with Fournier.

Meanwhile, there’s no guarantee that the Celtics will hang onto Dunn, according to Weiss, who says the former lottery pick  could be flipped again. Weiss suggests that two viable options for dealing Dunn could be to the Cavaliers – along with one of the Celtics’ young players – in a deal for Larry Nance Jr., or to the Pelicans – with Marcus Smart – in a Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade.

We have more rumors on the Celtics:

  • According to Weiss, while Thompson was beloved by teammates, he butted heads with the coaching staff and the organization throughout the year and was widely expected to be moved this offseason.
  • In the same piece, Weiss cites The Athletic’s Danny Leroux, who explains that the Celtics now project to be about $4.36MM below the tax line if Jabari Parker (who has a non-guaranteed contract) is waived.
  • The Celtics wanted to send more guaranteed money to the Mavericks in the Josh Richardson deal, but Dallas initially didn’t want to take any money back, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Moses Brown was the compromise found, given the low guarantee on his deal ($500K).
  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets that the Celtics’ front office, especially Brad Stevens, has long been a fan of Richardson, who will be looking to get back on track in Boston after a down year in Dallas.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Smart, Knicks, O’Neil

The Nets have come to a crossroads with Spencer Dinwiddie, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post, and now they’ll have a decision to make. Fortunately, they have options.

One option would be to re-sign the 28-year-old guard, but between their depth at the position and Dinwiddie’s vocalized desire for either a big payday or a return to his home of Southern California, that may not be in the cards. Dinwiddie has been very open about the process.

If Brooklyn wants to use my Bird Rights and sign me, I’d be thankful to be back and be able to go and try to win,” he said. “And if not, then as an unrestricted free agent you can kinda choose where you wanna go. It’s an interesting situation to be in.”

If the Nets don’t re-sign him, there are two choices: let him walk, potentially across the bridge to the Knicks, who have the cap space to sign him, or try to sign-and-trade him to a destination of his choice, though it’s unlikely such a move would bring back equal value, Lewis writes.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg examines whether the Celtics should extend Marcus Smart this summer, in the wake of head coach Ime Udoka‘s comments referring to Smart as a “foundational piece.” Smart is the only starting-caliber guard currently on the Celtics’ roster, and is eligible for a four-year extension worth up to a maximum of $77.2MM.
  • The Knicks have struggled for years to match their ambitions in superstar-hunting with their ability to attract such talent. That may be changing, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I think having [head coach Tom] Thibodeau there will help the Knicks a great deal in free agency,’’ former Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “He has a great reputation connecting with players and, of course, winning.”
  • Scott O’Neil, CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the Sixers, has stepped down from his position after eight years, the team announced on Wednesday. “I would like to thank (Sixers owners) Josh Harris and David Blitzer for inspiring, engaging and empowering me to bring together the most talented executive team in sports and entertainment,” O’Neil said. “Josh and David are extraordinary leaders, partners and friends.” O’Neil is also selling his silent limited partnership, reports Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Udoka, Stevens, Tatum

New Celtics coach Ime Udoka considers Marcus Smart to be a “foundational piece” for the future, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Udoka made the comments during a radio interview today, indicating that the team will rely heavily on Smart, who’s expected to take over as point guard following the trade of Kemba Walker to Oklahoma City.

“What Marcus brings is invaluable, it’s the heart and soul of the team at times,” Udoka said. “… He has that edge and toughness about him … He’s another foundational piece … What he does for Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) is invaluable, in my eyes” (Twitter link).

Smart will make $14.3MM next season on the final year of his contract. The Celtics may try to work out an extension to keep him from reaching free agency next summer.

There’s more from Boston:

  • In his introductory press conference Monday, Udoka said he’s looking forward to helping the Celtics’ young stars improve, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Udoka revealed that he has met with Smart, Brown and Tatum, and they all expressed a desire to be pushed. “I’m not worried about our group worrying about hard coaching,” Udoka said. “They are asking for that, and it’s something I’m going to bring to the table.”
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens started his coaching search with a long list of names, but conversations with his players pushed him toward Udoka, Forsberg writes in a full story. Boston’s three stars had experience with Udoka as part of Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and they all recommended him. “I’m quick to put my arm around guys but also quick to hold them accountable,” Udoka told reporters. “And so there’s a fine balance there. But that’s all based on relationships and respect and what I do demand from those guys.”
  • Tatum was disappointed to be left off the All-NBA team and not just because of the money it cost him, relays Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. Tatum discussed the decision, which could have added $32.6MM to his contract extension, in an appearance on the Kicks’ “Beyond the Press” podcast. “I wasn’t necessarily upset about losing the money,” he said. “I think I just felt like the way I was playing, everything I did, I thought it should have been a no-brainer. I think I was just more frustrated with that.”

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Smart, Raptors, De Colo, Simmons

New Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was intrigued by the chance to work under Brad Stevens, a president of basketball operations uniquely positioned to understand Udoka’s role as well as anyone, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

The Celtics, in turn, were drawn to Udoka due to his work ethic, his pedigree – including his experience working under Gregg Popovich – and his ability to connect with a young team. According to Himmelsbach, during Udoka’s previous stints as an assistant, he’d often go out for dinner with players to learn more about them.

Udoka’s final interview with the Celtics took place on Sunday, with Stevens, team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and VP of player development Allison Feaster all present. While that group ultimately made the decision to hire Udoka, the C’s also sought input from former president of basketball ops Danny Ainge and multiple players, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Himmelsbach notes.

As Udoka takes the reins in Boston, he’ll be tasked with rebuilding the Celtics’ defensive identity and developing the club’s young talent, Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes in an Insider-only story. Pelton suggests that Udoka may also prioritize increasing the team’s ball movement and putting players in positions to create shots for teammates — Boston’s rate of assisted field goals ranked 27th in the NBA in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Marcus Smart isn’t a traditional point guard, but he’s a “criminally underrated” passer, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who outlines why Smart could be the Celtics‘ starter at the point in 2021/22 with Kemba Walker gone.
  • The Raptors secured the fourth overall pick in a draft that is viewed as having at least four top-tier prospects, but that doesn’t mean they’re content with simply staying put and taking whichever player drops to them, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. General manager Bobby Webster suggested the club will be open to a variety of scenarios with that selection. “All of our options are open,” Webster said. “As much as we would love the pick, we’re going to see what it yields outside of the draft.”
  • Veteran guard Nando De Colo, who technically remains a Raptors restricted free agent despite not having played in the NBA since 2014, will return to Fenerbahce in Turkey for at least one more season, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Toronto has issued De Colo a qualifying offer for seven straight years to retain his RFA rights and will likely do so again this summer.
  • While there’s no guarantee that the Ben Simmons era in Philadelphia will come to an end this offseason, Chris Mannix of SI.com believes that it should, arguing that Simmons and the Sixers would both benefit from a fresh start.

Celtics Notes: Walker, Stevens, Fournier, Williams, Smart, Griffin

Kemba Walker, who was traded to the Thunder on Friday, had a “tension-filled” season with former coach and now president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Multiple team sources tell Weiss there was dysfunction in the Celtics‘ locker room and Stevens was seen as being tougher with Walker than other players. Weiss adds that after Gordon Hayward left to sign with the Hornets, he told Stevens that he needed to take a more forceful stance with players for the team to be successful.

Stevens became harder on several players, including Walker, whom he frequently criticized for errors on defense. Walker and Stevens often argued, sources add, but they maintained a working relationship and respect for each other.

According to multiple sources, Walker, who signed with Boston two years ago in free agency, became angry about the team’s disappointing season and boos directed at him by Celtics fans. He began talking privately about moving to another team and was willing to accept a trade.

There’s more on the Celtics, all from Weiss:

  • Trading Walker was a first step toward keeping free agent guard Evan Fournier and young center Robert Williams, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer. The Celtics hope to bring back Fournier on a long-term deal while creating only a modest tax bill. The trade will also make it easier to add a maximum-salary slot for 2022 free agency, as Horford’s contract has just a $14MM guarantee in its final season.
  • Multiple sources told Weiss that several players were hoping for a coaching change, believing Stevens didn’t hold some of his star players accountable. There was also frustration with the coach’s “college offense” and complaints that players would get stuck in isolation. There seems to be a preference in the locker room for a Black coach with NBA playing experience, and Chauncey Billups, Ime Udoka and Darvin Ham are among the candidates being given second interviews.
  • Marcus Smart stands to inherit the starting point guard role and will hope to re-establish a culture of accountability on defense that he built along with Al Horford, who returns to the team in the Walker trade. Teammates often ignored Smart after Horford left, according to Weiss’ sources, which led to his confrontation with Jaylen Brown after Game 2 of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals.
  • After Blake Griffin‘s buyout with the Pistons, he asked a Celtics player about joining the team and was told there was too much dysfunction.

Celtics Notes: Udoka, Ham, Billups, Walker, Fournier, Williams, Smart

Assistant coaches Ime Udoka (Nets), Darvin Ham (Bucks) and Chauncey Billups (Clippers) are expected to get interviewed a second time by the Celtics’ brass for the head coaching job vacated by new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. While that trio is viewed as serious candidates for the job, others are still under consideration.

Udoka has received endorsements from Celtics players who were members of the U.S. national team in the 2019 World Cup tournament, according to Wojnarowski. Ham has interviewed for several head-coaching jobs in the past two years, while Billups has drawn interest from the Trail Blazers, Wizards, Magic and Pelicans for their current openings.

We have more Celtics news:

  • By shedding Kemba Walker‘s salary in a trade with the Thunder on Friday, the Celtics believe they’ll have a better chance of re-signing free agent Evan Fournier, Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald tweets. The trade also increases the possibility of signing another free agent to the full mid-level exception, Murphy adds.
  • Walker’s 15% trade kicker was nullified due to his large salary, Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus tweets. Walker’s $34,379,100 salary this season, coupled with him being a nine-year veteran until August 2, exceeded the $32,742,000 maximum. He couldn’t earn anything above that, so the trade bonus was voided. If Walker had been traded once the new league year began in August, he could’ve received a portion of that bonus.
  • Robert Williams and Marcus Smart are two other prominent players who could be on the move, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Boston’s roster is overloaded with centers and Williams could be used to bring in a backcourt piece. Smart has an expiring $14.4MM contract next season and is eligible for an extension that could go as high as $17.MM in the first year. If Smart believes he could get more on the free agent market next year, the team may consider moving him now and getting assets in return.

Celtics Rumors: Kemba, Fournier, Coaching Search, Ainge, Stevens, More

As he transitions from the sidelines to the front office, new Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens will have some immediate decisions to make on the roster this offseason as he considers how to improve a group that finished seventh in the East in 2020/21.

Trading Kemba Walker is one path the Celtics figure to consider this summer, but the point guard still has two years and nearly $74MM left on his contract and his value is down after an injury-plagued season. While Walker is viewed as a player capable of having a strong comeback season, he’s not considered a positive asset at this point, given his injury history and contract situation, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps and Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

“They’ve been trying to move Kemba Walker for a year now and no one is touching that,” one NBA executive told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “Their best bet would be to move (Marcus) Smart, but I don’t know what his market is. They could trade (Jaylen) Brown to try to fill a different position, but that would be a bad move.”

Evan Fournier‘s unrestricted free agency is another issue looming over the Celtics. One league executive who spoke to Scotto estimated that the veteran wing will be seeking a deal worth $15-20MM annually, though another predicted a cool market for Fournier.

“The issue will be what teams with room are going to target him?” that exec asked. “San Antonio might, but if not, who else will give him north of $10 million? If Fournier can be kept at a price around the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, I think Boston would re-sign him.”

Here are several more Celtics rumors and updates on an eventful day in Boston:

  • The Celtics’ head coaching search will likely start with internal candidates before they move outside the organization, sources tell Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link). Current assistant Jerome Allen is one in-house candidate likely to get an interview, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Mannix (via Twitter) adds Nets assistant Ime Udoka to the list of probable external candidates for the Celtics’ head coaching job, while Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) says Chauncey Billups will likely receive consideration as well.
  • Asked today whether he intends to retire or seek another job, Danny Ainge was noncommittal, telling reporters that he’s not sure what his future holds and he’s focused for now on getting his successor Stevens up to speed (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic hears that in-season comments by Ainge and team owner Wyc Grousbeck about the Celtics’ shortcomings may have contributed to the club’s chemistry issues. Ainge said in February that he didn’t view the roster as championship-caliber and echoed that point multiple times later in the season.
  • One prominent member of the Celtics organization wanted to fire Stevens as the team’s head coach during the 2020/21 season, but Ainge and others in the organization were against that idea, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv.
  • Speaking to reporters following the Celtics’ elimination from the postseason, Jayson Tatum said he doesn’t feel the need to get involved in the front office’s personnel decisions, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link).
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston takes a look at five key roster-related questions facing the Celtics this offseason.

Injury Updates: Lakers, Nets, Hornets, Pelicans, Mavs, C’s

The NBA’s injury report is of particular interest this week in the regular season’s final days, as we wait to see which players may or may not be available for teams fighting for playoff positioning.

A pair of big-market superstars, LeBron James and James Harden, are said to be targeting Wednesday returns for the Lakers and Nets, respectively. James has been listed as questionable by the Lakers, while Harden is probable for Brooklyn.

Each of those teams also has another star player whose status for Wednesday’s games is up in the air. Lakers big man Anthony Davis is questionable due to left adductor tightness, while Kyrie Irving is questionable due to the facial contusion he suffered on Tuesday.

The Nets hold the No. 2 seed in the East and the Lakers are hosting a Houston team that is 5-43 since February 4, so neither club should feel a ton of urgency to push its stars back into action if they’re not quite ready.

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

  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges, out since May 2 due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has a chance to return this weekend, head coach James Borrego said today. However, Borrego’s responses to questions about Gordon Hayward‘s foot injury made it sound as if Hayward may not be ready for the play-in tournament, says Rod Boone of SI.com (Twitter links). Hayward hasn’t played since April 2.
  • The Pelicans need a win tonight in Dallas to remain in the hunt for a play-in spot, but they’ll be missing a number of key players, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams all remain out, and Lonzo Ball (right thumb) will join them on the sidelines.
  • Mavericks guard J.J. Redick, who left Tuesday’s game with right heel soreness, will also miss Wednesday’s game vs. New Orleans, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Celtics, who appear likely to finish the regular season at No. 7 in the East, will be without Kemba Walker (left knee) and Marcus Smart (right calf) on Wednesday in Cleveland, notes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. Jaylen Brown has already been ruled out for the season, and Robert Williams remains on the shelf as well.