Marcus Smart

Atlantic Notes: Milton, Raptors, Williams, Smart

The recent performance of Sixers reserve guard Shake Milton has convinced head coach Doc Rivers that Milton deserves regular rotation minutes even when the team’s starting backcourt of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey returns to the floor, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“We’re deep,” Rivers said of his backcourt. “There’s always a competition going on, a competition for minutes… and Shake has proven that he should play. Hopefully that continues, you know? Can he play this role with shorter minutes? That’s what happens. “Guys get a lot of minutes and they can play. They get shorter minutes and sometimes they can’t. But he will be able to. Shake is just another guard. We know we can use him, so that’s really good.”

In his recent eight-game stint as a fill-in starter, the 26-year-old guard out of SMU has averaged 21.3 PPG on a .547/.455/.964 slash line. He is also notching 6.0 APG and 5.3 RPG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors rebounded from a lackluster Friday loss to the Nets with a 121-108 Saturday victory over the Magic thanks in large part to a postgame team meeting in Brooklyn, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. The Brooklyn game was the second consecutive time the Raptors allowed an opponent to score 40 or more points on at least 70% shooing in the first quarter. “Nobody really likes to be harping, yelling, cussing or fussing around here so I think some things just go unsaid [sometimes],” Toronto starting point guard Fred VanVleet told Lewenberg. “And there are times when you need to say it out loud, let people know what our standards are around here and just tighten the ship a little bit. We’re not going to win all the games, we know that, but there’s certain ways that you want to [play] every night and those two games were just unacceptable.”
  • Celtics starting center Robert Williams III is inching toward a return from his offseason knee surgery. Jared Weiss of The Athletic recently took an in-depth look at the All-Defensive Teamer’s rehabilitation. “He’s getting his legs back under him,” reserve big man Noah Vonleh said. “He’s running the floor hard. He’s a presence at the rim… I’m pretty sure you’ve seen in previous years what he’s capable of, and he’s just getting back accustomed to that. So he should be ready whenever the medical staff clears him.”
  • Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart will be sidelined this evening against the Nets due to a left hip contusion, incurred in Friday night’s 120-116 overtime loss to the Heat, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

Celtics Notes: Horford, G. Williams, Smart, Udoka

Al Horford gave the Celtics a “hometown discount” by signing a two-year extension this week valued at $20MM, an Eastern Conference executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. The executive believes Horford could have received more money if he had waited for free agency, but at age 36 he wasn’t interested in leaving Boston for a rebuilding team.

“The teams with money next year are mostly young teams,” the executive said. “So maybe Horford was looking at the landscape and saw who had cap space and wound up saying, ‘I do not want to go to Houston, man.’ It is a win for both sides, really, but if he wanted to chase money, he could have gotten more.”

Horford’s team-friendly deal puts the Celtics in a better position to re-sign Grant Williams, Deveney adds. Horford is making $26.5MM this season and Williams is at $4.3MM in the final year of his rookie contract. Boston wants to keep their combined salaries in the same range, so the team could theoretically offer Williams a new deal starting at about $20MM per season. However, sources have told Deveney that the Celtics might be reluctant to match an offer for the restricted free agent that’s in the $18-20MM range.

“I don’t know that they would go into $20MM a year for Grant Williams,” the executive added. “I don’t know that anyone else would, either. But they have some cushion. If it winds up being $15MM a year for Grant, they can match that and still be in a position where they’re not adding to that (tax) burden.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Horford is the latest in a series of players that president of basketball operations Brad Stevens has signed to extensions before their contracts expired, notes Souichi Terada of MassLive. Stevens said Horford’s versatility and leadership have been instrumental as the Celtics have compiled the league’s best record. “Al is such an important part of our team,” Stevens said. “He’s a high-level player who enhances everyone around him on both ends of the court. His work ethic, commitment to his body and craft, and his unselfishness set a daily example on how to win big in the NBA.”
  • Marcus Smart is listed as questionable for Sunday with a left hip contusion, Terada adds in a separate story. Derrick White will likely replace Smart in the starting lineup if he has to miss the game, according to Terada, while Malcolm Brogdon and Payton Pritchard would see increased minutes.
  • Actress Nia Long has criticized the Celtics for the way they handled the suspension of coach Ime Udoka, her longtime partner, per Kevin Slane of The Boston Globe. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Long said the team made details of the incident more public than they needed to be, which caused embarrassment for their 11-year-old son.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smart, Heat Injuries, Knicks

Ben Simmons will miss his sixth game this season on Wednesday due to a sore left knee. Nets point guard Kyrie Irving said Simmons’ absences impact the club in many ways, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

“When he’s not out there we don’t have our point forward, our point guard, being able to initiate easy opportunities, push the ball in transition; so we’ll definitely miss him in the lineup,” Irving said. “Hopefully he comes back [soon], but if he’s dealing with it we just want him to get as healthy as possible and we’ll figure it out.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • In Joe Mazzulla, Celtics guard Marcus Smart feels he has a head coach that fully trusts him, he told Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “I think once Coach put his trust in me, we’ve seen how it’s allowed me to blossom and this team to blossom,” Smart said. “So just having a coach that can believe in you and allow you to run the team like he needs you to, that means everything. And then on top of that him being a point guard, that’s just an extra bonus, because he understands the pressure that I have to go through as the point guard in making everybody else happy and sacrificing your own for the team.”
  • The Heat released their injury report for Wednesday’s game and there’s no less than a dozen names on the list heading into their showdown with the Celtics, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Jimmy Butler, Victor Oladipo and Omer Yurtseven are listed as out, while Nikola Jovic, Dewayne Dedmon, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Tyler Herro, Haywood Highsmith and Duncan Robinson received the questionable tag. Two other players are probable.
  • The most realistic path to improvement for the Knicks is still the trade route, Ian Begley of SNY TV opines. They’ll continue to seek out top talent and have a surplus of draft picks and some young players to offer teams. Stuck in mediocrity, the only question is whether they’ll make a big move before the trade deadline or wait until the offseason.

Marcus Smart Expects To Miss Games Due To Ankle Pain

Marcus Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, anticipates he’ll need to sit out a number of games this season because of persistent right ankle pain, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets.

The Celtics guard is in the starting lineup against the Bulls on Monday but believes he’ll have to take an occasional game off the remainder of the season to minimize swelling in the ankle. Smart underwent an MRI and said it revealed a “really bad bone bruise” but no structural issues.

Smart has dealt with numerous injuries since playing 80 games during the 2018/19 season. He appeared in 60 games during the COVID-shortened 2019/20 campaign, then was limited to 48 appearances in 2020/21 due to thumb and calf ailments.

He made it through 71 regular-season games last season but suffered a quad contusion during the playoffs. Smart, who is averaging 11.4 points and 7.1 assists, has missed two games so far this season.

Injury Updates: Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Raptors, Heat, Hayward, More

The Magic will be getting some reinforcements for Friday’s game in Chicago, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Veteran guard Gary Harris has been cleared to make his regular season debut following offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Price reports. Additionally, starting center Wendell Carter Jr. will be back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to a strained right plantar fascia.

Orlando’s opponents also got some good injury-related news on Friday. As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes, Bulls guard Coby White (left quad contusion) and forward Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) both said at Friday’s shootaround that they’ll be able to play against the Magic. White has missed the last eight games as a result of his injury; Williams sprained his ankle on Wednesday, but it appears the injury won’t cost him any games.

Here are several more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon will be available on Friday vs. New Orleans after missing four games with a hamstring injury. However, the team announced that Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation) will miss a second straight game (Twitter link).
  • The already shorthanded Raptors will be missing Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher on Saturday vs. Atlanta due to non-COVID illnesses, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets that Dalano Banton‘s ankle sprain isn’t as serious as initially feared and Pascal Siakam (adductor strain) has resumed on-court activity. Another update on Siakam is expected in a week or so, Koreen adds.
  • Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee soreness) has been ruled out for Friday’s game against Washington and it’s possible that Bam Adebayo (knee contusion) won’t be available either, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo is currently listed as questionable.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been on the shelf since November 2 due to a left shoulder contusion, has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Friday’s game vs. Cleveland, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Pacers sharpshooter Chris Duarte isn’t expected to be available during the team’s upcoming four-game home stand, but could return from his ankle sprain at some point in the subsequent seven-game road trip, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That trip begins on November 27 and runs through December 7.
  • Sixers guard Jaden Springer, currently assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, will miss at least one week due to a right quadriceps strain, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

Health Updates: Cavs, Doncic, Zion, Connaughton, Banchero, Celtics

As expected, Cavaliers wing Dylan Windler has received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in his injured right ankle, the team confirmed today in a press release.

According to the Cavaliers, Windler will miss approximately four-to-six weeks while recovering, with the ankle stabilized in a walking cast for the time being. Health issues have limited the former first-round pick to just 81 total appearances since he entered the NBA in 2019.

Meanwhile, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen has officially been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. However, it sounds like Allen’s left ankle soreness, which sidelined him on Sunday, is no longer the primary issue — he’s listed on the official injury report as having a non-COVID illness.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic will miss a game for the first time this season on Wednesday, with the club opting to give him a rest night vs. Houston (Twitter link). Doncic is averaging a career-high 37.2 minutes per game and played 40 minutes in the first half of the team’s back-to-back set on Tuesday, so this decision had been expected, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.
  • Pelicans forward Zion Williamson will miss a second consecutive game on Wednesday due to a right foot contusion, the team announced. Head coach Willie Green‘s comments on Tuesday suggested that it isn’t a serious injury, so perhaps Williamson will be able to return on Friday vs. Boston.
  • It appears Bucks wing Pat Connaughton will likely make his regular season debut on Wednesday vs. Cleveland. Connaughton, who has been on the shelf due to a right calf strain, has been upgraded to probable, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.
  • Magic rookie forward Paolo Banchero will miss a fourth straight game on Wendesday vs. Minnesota due to a left ankle sprain, according to the team (via Twitter).
  • The Celtics will be without two key members of their backcourt on Wednesday vs. Atlanta, having ruled out both Malcolm Brogdon (right hamstring tightness) and Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation), the team announced (via Twitter).

Celtics Notes: Smart, Udoka, Mazzulla, R. Williams, G. Williams

Celtics guard Marcus Smart remains frustrated that he and his teammates don’t know the whole story about why head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire 2022/23 season, and he was surprised to learn on Tuesday that Udoka might be headed to the Nets, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Smart said that he had been given the impression that Udoka would be back with the Celtics next season.

I guess it was deemed that whatever happened was enough for him not to be the coach here, but I guess not enough for him (not) to be a coach anywhere else, obviously,” Smart told Himmelsbach. “… (Udoka’s) name got slandered and slaughtered and it was, ‘He’ll probably never coach again.’ And a couple of months later now he’s possibly going to be the coach of one of our biggest rivals? It’s tough. It makes no sense. But we can’t control that. We have to control what we can and I love the team here. I love the coaching staff. I love Joe (Mazzulla).”

Smart acknowledged that he recognizes why Celtics management can’t necessarily be fully open about the circumstances of Udoka’s suspension, but said that doesn’t make the situation any easier or any less confusing.

“It really doesn’t matter what we say (to the front office),” Smart said. “We can voice our opinion, but I’m sure it’s going to be, ‘Yeah, we hear you.’ And that’s it. I’m sure they know how certain people feel. But it is tough, because there’s only so much that they can say. It’s a tough spot for everybody. It just sucks all around.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics’ brass is “fully invested” in Mazzulla and is happy with the work he has done as the head coach since replacing Udoka, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. That’s a key reason why the team seems comfortable moving on from Udoka.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic considers what’s next for the Celtics and Udoka if the team lets him leave for Brooklyn. As Weiss notes, the C’s would be able to get Udoka’s contract off their books and would no longer have to worry about what to do when his suspension ends, but the team would probably have to prepare some turnover on its coaching staff, especially if Mazzulla wants to bring in some of his own assistants.
  • The Celtics had the NBA’s top defense a year ago, but only rank 22nd so far this season. While that number should improve, Boston’s ceiling on defense is limited until Robert Williams returns, writes Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “Without Rob Williams, they’re a very good team, but they’re in that second tier,” a source told Bulpett. “With Rob Williams, they’re a top defense and a championship level team. That’s what he does for them.”
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams sat down with Shams Charania of Stadium (video link) to discuss several topics, including not signing a rookie scale extension before the regular season began.

Atlantic Notes: Brogdon, Boucher, Porter Jr., Curry, Irving, Smart

The Raptors and Celtics both expressed an interest in trading for Malcolm Brogdon this summer but he told the Pacers he’d prefer Boston, Brogdon said during a SiriusXM NBA Radio appearance, as Brian Robb of MassLive.com relays.

“We knew there was Boston, we knew Toronto we knew (the Wizards),” Brogdon said of his trade options. “(The Wizards) fell off after the draft since they were thinking about trading that 10th pick for me. Toronto and Boston popped up. We had a choice to pursue — there wasn’t an offer on the table yet from either of them but the Pacers came to me and said we could pursue either of them and which one would I rather pursue?”

It’s unclear what sort of offer the Raptors might’ve made for Brogdon, since they don’t have obvious salary-matching pieces they’d want to part with. However, it was ultimately a moot point, since the guard encouraged the Pacers to pursue a deal with Boston.

“I thought this team was farther along,” Brogdon said of the Celtics. “They have a superstar in Jayson Tatum and probably another superstar in Jaylen Brown as well. I thought it would be a great fit for me because I wanted to win right now.”

Brogdon is projected as Boston’s sixth man entering the regular season.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher will be out “a couple of weeks” due to a hamstring injury, according to coach Nick Nurse, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Forward Otto Porter Jr. hasn’t been on the court in recent weeks due to a similar injury and will likely miss some time.
  • Seth Curry, who had left ankle surgery in May, apparently won’t be ready for the season opener. Nets coach Steve Nash said Curry still has some hurdles to clear but has been getting some individual work in, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets.
  • Nets guard Kyrie Irving admits he has some regrets about the way last season played out, he told Friedell in a Q&A session. “I think we all think about times we could have made better decisions, and times we wish we could have done things differently and I feel the same way at times throughout my life. … I legitimately just want to play the long game and not put too much pressure on myself or the people that I’m around,” he said.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart suffered a minor groin injury when he slipped on a wet spot in the preseason finale against Toronto on Friday, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. “I feel like I’m all right. But the adrenaline is still going right now,” Smart said. “Hopefully, in the morning I feel all right.”

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 Players Know Few Details About Ime Udoka’s Situation

The Celtics have been guarded about releasing information on the actions that led to the suspension of head coach Ime Udoka, and the players haven’t been told much either. After interim coach Joe Mazzulla handled his first preseason game Sunday, Marcus Smart told Steve Bullpet of Heavy that the team hasn’t been informed about what actually happened.

“That’s the thing, we don’t know anything,” Smart said. “So I don’t know what they can and can’t talk about or what the legal reasons are. That’s not my business, and I don’t want it to be. They made a decision. Whatever they feel, they have every right. That’s why you have your lawyers and things like that. So whatever they can say, they’ll say.

“But it’s just tough, because we don’t know what they can say because of that reason. So it’s tough on both sides. But we’re here to play basketball. We’ll let those guys figure it out, and we’ll go from there.”

Udoka will sit out the entire 2022/23 season as punishment for having an affair with a staff member. At a press conference last month, team owner Wyc Grousbeck said a law firm that investigated the matter discovered “a volume of violations” that Udoka allegedly committed. He also suggested that Udoka will face “a significant financial penalty,” but didn’t offer any specifics on the case.

A report last week from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated that the law firm found Udoka used “crude language” toward a female subordinate before their affair began. It cited “the power dynamic” as an important factor in the suspension, but provided little other information.

Former NBA player Matt Barnes seems to be among the most informed sources on the case, recently retracting his defense of Udoka and telling an interviewer that Udoka will be lucky to ever coach in the NBA again. Bulpett states that Smart shrugged and laughed when asked if it’s frustrating that a media member might know more about the details than he does.

“I mean, it’s just what it is,” Smart said. “It’s not weird to me, you know? Somebody that’s not close to the situation in terms of being on the team, I guess it’d probably be a little bit easier for him to get more information than us. So I’m not surprised. It’s how these things can go. So we just have to wait and let it run its course and let everyone do their job and wait until they can tell us what they can tell us.”

After Sunday’s debut, a 134-93 win over the Hornets, Mazzulla said he was “grateful” for the opportunity to coach the Celtics and thought the team responded well to its first preseason test, writes Steve Hewitt of The Boston Herald. Players were supportive of their new coach as they face the task of trying to win the East again without Udoka on the sidelines.

“I thought he was terrific. I thought he was great. I thought he was composed,” Malcolm Brogdon said of Mazzulla. “I thought he had some excellent out of timeout plays. I thought he did an excellent job. It’s going to continue to get tougher for him, continue to get tougher for us as we get to the regular season and teams start really scouting us we play high-level competition, but I think me and all my teammates have the utmost confidence in him to be ready for that and keep us motivated and continue to prepare us the right way.”