Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart Fined $50K For Shoving Joel Embiid

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been fined $50K for forcefully shoving Joel Embiid in the team’s game against the Sixers on Wednesday, the NBA announced today.

The incident occurred at the 7:06 mark in the third quarter, with Smart colliding into a hard screen from Embiid and crashing to the floor. Smart retaliated by pushing Embiid onto the hardwood, receiving a Flagrant 2 foul which resulted in an ejection from the contest.

Smart’s fine was also based on his repeated acts of unsportsmanlike conduct during past games, the NBA said in its release. He was fined $25K for an altercation with Cavs guard J.R. Smith in October and $35K for charging at Hawks guard DeAndre’ Bembry in January.

Smart finished with three points and four assists in 19 minutes of action on Wednesday, with his early exit hurting Boston’s chances of pulling out the victory and clinching a playoff berth. Philadelphia ultimately came away with the victory, led by Embiid’s 37 points and career-high 22 rebounds.

The Celtics have games lined up against the Hornets (31-39), Spurs (42-30), Cavaliers (19-53), Pacers (44-28) and Nets (37-36) to close out the month of March.

Smart: Celtics “Just Not Together” During Losses

The Celtics lost their third straight game on Tuesday, falling in embarrassing fashion to the Raptors in Toronto. While the final score was 118-95, the game wasn’t even really that close — at one point, Boston trailed by 31 points.

As the Celtics struggle to determine why they’ve failed to deliver on lofty preseason expectations so far this season, veteran guard Marcus Smart offered one explanation, writes Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com. In Smart’s view, the C’s are “just not together” during their increasingly common slumps.

“What are the main ingredients to those collapses? Not being together,” Smart said. “And that’s it. We’re just not together. Plain and simple. That’s it. Because if we were together, that wouldn’t happen. We’re all talking and linking up, but like I said, it’s something we’re going through, and it’s something we’re going to have to continue to work at and figure it out.”

Meanwhile, head coach Brad Stevens shared his own thoughts on what’s causing the Celtics’ on-court struggles.

“We were taking a lot of shortcuts, and that hurt us,” Stevens said following Tuesday’s loss, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

Asked about Smart’s and Stevens’ assessments of the Celtics’ slide, Kyrie Irving didn’t offer much to reporters on Tuesday night. Addressing Smart’s opinion that the C’s aren’t playing “together,” Irving replied, “That’s Marcus’ opinion. I respect it.” When a reporter asked whether Kyrie agreed that the Celtics were taking shortcuts and inquired about what the team might do to fix the issue, the All-Star point guard said, “I don’t know, it’s up to Brad.”

While Hoops Rumors typically doesn’t focus too much on game-to-game results, the ongoing dysfunction in Boston could potentially have a huge impact on the coming offseason. Irving – who was seen talking to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge in the locker room after Tuesday’s game, per Himmelsbach – will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, and no longer appears fully committed to his preseason vow that he’d re-sign with the Celtics.

If the Celtics don’t get things sorted out by the playoffs and are eliminated in the first or second round, that could help swing Kyrie’s decision. In turn, if Irving leaves, Boston would probably be far less inclined to go all-in for Anthony Davis on the trade market. In other words, the Celtics’ play over the next couple months will be worth watching closely, since it could significantly affect the NBA landscape going forward.

Latest On Anthony Davis

Some members of the Pelicans organization want to get the Anthony Davis trade done today to eliminate the public relations distraction, but those feelings don’t go all the way to the top, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). The NFL’s Saints remain the priority for owner Gayle Benson and VP Mickey Loomis, who aren’t bothered by the Davis situation.

There’s more news about the top name on the trade market:

  • The Lakers’ last offer to the Pelicans involved Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart and a pair of first-round picks, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. He suggests the Celtics are prepared to offer Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford (assuming he opts in) and possibly three first-round picks this summer.
  • Davis will pressure the Pelicans to start playing him if he’s not dealt before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). “Every game,” a source said. Davis has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but recently received medical clearance.
  • Gambadoro expects Davis to be in the lineup for tomorrow’s game against Minnesota (Twitter link).

Latest On Anthony Davis

The Pelicans are in a difficult position after the trade request from Anthony Davis, but they still have the power to control when the deal will get done, writes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. There are three important dates to consider — the trade deadline on February 7, the draft lottery on May 14 and the start of free agency on July 1 — and New Orleans must determine the best time to move its star.

Woo states that trying to rush a deal by next week only works in favor of the Lakers, along with Davis and his agent, Rich Paul. L.A.’s best offer should still be on the table this summer, and waiting will give the Celtics a chance to become involved. Even if the Pelicans don’t plan to send Davis to Boston, they may be able to gain leverage by using that offer to get more from the Lakers.

The best options may come after the lottery, Woo writes. If the Mavericks, Wizards or another team with established talent lands the top pick, it could be motivated to offer that to New Orleans as part of a package for Davis.

It’s crucial to management, and especially GM Dell Demps, to get maximum value for Davis, Woo adds. Demps’ job was in jeopardy before last year’s playoff run, and the two-year extension he received may not prevent ownership from making a change this summer.
There’s more news to pass along regarding Davis:
  • The Pelicans’ best 0ffer will come from the Celtics, contends David Aldridge of The Athletic. He states that a deal would have to start with Jayson Tatum, who could become a cornerstone player in New Orleans. The Pelicans might also ask for Jaylen Brown, but Aldridge believes the Celtics would prefer to keep one of their young talents and could offer Marcus Smart instead. Boston also has a wealth of draft picks, including a Grizzlies first-rounder that is top-eight protected this year, top six next year and unprotected in 2021, along with the better pick from the Sixers or Kings this year and possibly another first-rounder from the Clippers.
  • The Pelicans may consider shutting Davis down for the season if he’s not traded before next Thursday, suggests Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Davis is sidelined with a volar plate avulsion fracture on his left index finger and is being re-evaluated every 48 to 72 hours. If surgery is necessary, it would be a way for the Pelicans to avoid any risk and be sure that they have a fully healthy asset for the trade market this summer.
  • A team source confirms to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) that the Knicks plan to get involved in the bidding for Davis. Their best offer is expected to come after the lottery when they know where they’ll be drafting.
  • If the Lakers aren’t able to deal for Davis before the deadline, they will only have seven tradable contracts this summer outside of LeBron James, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (insider account). L.A. would have to use some of its projected $36MM in cap space to make the deal work and could include some of its free agents in a sign-and-trade arrangement, but only if they agree to go to New Orleans. Marks examines what several teams can realistically offer, including the Nuggets, whom he calls a “dark horse” in the Davis sweepstakes. Denver has a slew of young players and controllable contracts, along with a connection in GM Tim Connelly, who formerly worked for Demps in New Orleans.
  • Writers from The Athletic break down the chances of acquiring Davis for every team in the league.

Celtics Notes: Grizzlies’ Pick, Irving, Trade Deadline, Smart

If the Grizzlies commit to rebuilding, the Celtics could wind up with a valuable trade asset, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The Celtics are owed a future first-round pick from Memphis that will have declining protections over the next three seasons.

The selection, which was acquired in a three-team deal in 2015 that also involved the Pelicans, is top-eight protected this season, top-six protected in 2020 and completely unprotected in 2021. Memphis got off to a 12-5 start this year, but is just 7-23 since November 21 and has fallen to sixth in our latest Reverse Standings.

A report out of Memphis this week indicates that the organization is listening to trade offers involving veteran stars Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. If the Grizzlies launch a youth movement, the Celtics could end up with an asset similar to the 2018 Nets pick that they sent to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving deal. It could give Boston an edge in the pursuit of Anthony Davis or any other elite player who might become available.

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Several of Irving’s former teammates in Cleveland talked to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com about whether he might go back on his verbal commitment to re-sign with the Celtics this summer and if he might consider teaming up with LeBron James again as a Laker. “Anything is possible,” said Tristan Thompson. “One day he could wake up and think about it. Just the possibility for y’all to think about it. There’s a method to the madness.” However, a league sources tells Vardon that an L.A. reunion is unlikely because Irving hasn’t changed in his desire to be “the man” wherever he plays.
  • Jay King of The Athletic examines the Celtics’ options at the trade deadline and how they could be impacted by free agency. Marcus Morris will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, Al Horford and Aron Baynes both have player options and Terry Rozier and Daniel Theis will be restricted. King states that management may check into offers for Rozier and Theis, but believes they will keep both as insurance in case someone gets hurt during the playoffs.
  • King also considers whether the Celtics might try to get underneath the luxury tax this season, considering the sizable payments looming in the future. With the team projected to be about $3MM over the tax line, that would mean sending out Rozier’s contract in a salary dump, which King doesn’t expect to happen.
  • Marcus Smart was fined $35K for charging after the Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry in an altercation in Saturday’s game, the league office announced.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Smart, Baynes, Irving

As the 2019 trade deadline approaches, more and more reports are surfacing regarding which teams are looking to make additions to their roster ahead of this season’s stretch run. Ken Berger of Bleacher Report recently wrote about the Bradley Beal sweepstakes, in which it is revealed that the Raptors may be looking to add an elite shooting guard this season.

The Raptors have been one of the best teams – if not the best team – in the league so far this season and certainly have the ingredients on their roster for a run to the NBA Finals. However, the team’s shooting has slipped in recent weeks as they are down to 34.3% shooting on 3-pointers, good for 24th in the league (they rank 11th in attempts per game).

While it may be hard for the Raptors to enter the Beal sweepstakes (especially if the Wizards aren’t focused on moving him), it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Toronto does make a move to add another shooter to its rotation for the remainder of the season.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Atlantic Notes: Hollis-Jefferson, Embiid, Smart, Burke

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffered another groin injury on Saturday, but the severity of the issue isn’t worse than his strained right adductor from this past summer, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes.

Hollis-Jefferson sustained the injury as the team played Milwaukee, with the 23-year-old heading to the locker room for examination and being ruled out of the game early.

“Yeah,” he said, “I felt a little strange feeling on a crossover going baseline. It just felt weird to me so I just wanted to be cautious and talk to our training staff, see what was going on.”

Hollis-Jefferson missed the entire preseason following his adductor injury on Aug. 4, making his debut nearly 12 weeks after the injury on Oct. 24. News of his Saturday’s injury not being worse than the problem in August comes as a relief for Brooklyn, a team already playing without talented wing Caris LeVert.

Hollis-Jefferson has started in 19 of 34 games this season, averaging 9.9 points per contest while playing his usual stellar defense. He’ll undergo further examination on Sunday with hopes of making a return in the near future.

“You know where your groin is, so I knew it was my groin,” Hollis-Jefferson said, according to Lewis. “But I’m no doctor, so I didn’t know “Oh, it’s this severe” or whatever the case may be. I knew it was my groin. A little sore. But we’ll go see [Sunday], check and see how it feels, how everything is.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division today:

  • Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid is quietly building a case for Defensive Player of the Year this season, Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com writes. Philadelphia sports an impressive 101.9 defensive rating when Embiid is on the court, turning into a different team when he’s protecting the rim. “I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again, he is the Defensive Player of the Year,” coach Brett Brown said. “When I look at our metrics, his impact on this team is overwhelming.”
  • Before the Celtics‘ game against the Rockets last week, coaches from both teams praised Marcus Smart for the intensity he brings on defense. Smart notched 11 points, three assists and a steal in the game, defending players such as James Harden and Eric Gordon“Just his ability to stick his nose into everything and stamina, strength, and then being willing to do all the dirty work,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of Smart, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “He’s one of the better defenders in the league. He’s like P.J. [Tucker] for us. They do what’s needed. And some people have noses for the ball, situations they can think they’re way out of defensively. He does that.”
  • Knicks guard Trey Burke has regained his love for basketball while playing in New York, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News writes. Burke started his career with the Jazz, a tumultuous time period he still reflects on today. “I’ve had to figure the league out,” Burke said. “I think individually it helped me kind of look myself in the mirror and re-evaluate what I needed to get better at and the areas I needed to grow in.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Siakam, Trier

A pair of closed-door meetings have helped the Celtics snap a funk that cost them three straight games earlier this week. Since re-committing to communicating effectively, the club has won big against the Hornets and again against the Sixers on Christmas Day.

A. Sherrod Blakeley of NBC Sports Boston wrote about the process that resulted in the Celtics deciding they needed to do a better job of keeping on the same page as one another.

We’re just looking to help one another out, pick each other up. When we’re playing like that, we’re a tough team to beat,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said.

The Celtics currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 20-13 record.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

League Executives Expect Summer Trade For Anthony Davis

Talking to NBA executives at this year’s G League Showcase, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report finds that most expect Anthony Davis will be with the Lakers or Celtics next season.

Although Pelicans officials have repeatedly stated they have no intention to trade Davis, his contract situation may leave them with no choice. He is eligible for a supermax extension this summer that could be worth up to $239.5MM, but is only one season away from his player option if he doesn’t accept that offer.

Davis changed his representation over the summer, signing with LeBron James‘ agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, in a move that some believe was made to get him out of New Orleans.

“I’m not worried about James tampering to the media about AD,” a Western Conference GM told Pincus. “It’s that James and Paul are mafioso mob bosses of the NBA that’s the problem.”

Several small-market GMs raised concerns about tampering this week after James said Davis would be “amazing” to have as a teammate. Commissioner Adam Silver refused to take any disciplinary action against James, and the Lakers’ star raised more speculation by having dinner with Davis after their teams played on Friday.

The executives that Pincus spoke to don’t believe Davis will be moved before the February 7 trade deadline, but they do expect something to happen by draft day. The feeling is that Davis will decline the Pelicans’ extension offer and force them to move him for a package that’s stocked with young talent and draft picks.

“It’s going to be up to [Pelicans general manager] Dell [Demps] to decide where Davis plays next,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Paul will get him traded, but it’s going to be up to Demps to get the best deal.”

That could work to the advantage of the Celtics, who, depending on protections, may own the Clippers’, Grizzlies’ and Kings’ picks next summer as well as their own. Boston can’t trade for Davis until Kyrie Irving opts out of his current contract, so the Celtics would need to reach an agreement with New Orleans before the draft that wouldn’t take effect until the moratorium is lifted in early July.

Pincus speculates Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown will be the cornerstones of Boston’s offer, although Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Al Horford are all potential pieces. He sees Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball as the key players in a Lakers deal, along with a few others to match salaries.

A 15% trade kicker in Davis’ contract could give the Lakers the advantage in their pursuit, Pincus adds. The Pelicans would have to pay Davis an additional $5.4MM if he gets traded during the season or $4.1MM if the deal happens over the summer. If Paul wants to get Davis to the Lakers, he could agree to waive the trade kicker only if Davis is sent to L.A.

Pincus also notes that because the Lakers will be under the cap this summer, they will have the freedom to restructure Davis’ contract, giving him $32.7MM for next season and extending the deal through 2021/22 at a total of $70.3MM for the following two years. When Davis hits free agency in 2022 as a 10-year veteran, he would be eligible for a starting salary at about $46MM, giving him a total deal only about $16MM less than his supermax offer.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Smart, Brown, Draft Picks

Basketball has become “fun” again for the Celtics, which Kyrie Irving sees as the main explanation for the team’s recent success, relays Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Boston, which entered the season as the Eastern Conference favorite, has now won seven in a row after a 10-10 start and Irving believes the team just needed to get through a transition period.

“New group. New environment. New things to figure out,” he explained. “Expectations you have for what you want to be and how you want to win. We expected things to come easy. That’s being part of a team environment. Even the best teams had to go through trials of figuring out what they look like every day.”

Big things were expected from the Celtics with both Irving and Gordon Hayward healthy to start the season. However, some of the younger players who helped the team reach the conference finals last season had to adjust to new roles. Coach Brad Stevens appears to have found a winning combination with Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford joining Irving in the starting lineup and Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier as the top reserves.

“Terry and Gordon and Jaylen are starters in this league,” Irving said. “That’s not a prototypical second unit.”

There’s more today from Boston:

  • Brown agrees with that assessment, even as he struggles through a difficult season, writes ESPN’s Jackie MacMullen. For now, he’s trying to adjust to his new bench role. “People are throwing out all these numbers, these stats, and they are saying this, saying that,” Brown said. “I have unwavering faith in my ability, and I believe our coaching staff does, too. If anyone can handle this, I can. I’ve been through a lot in my short life. I’ll be all right.”
  • Even though his shooting remains erratic, the Celtics don’t have any regrets about the four-year, $52MM deal they gave Smart over the summer, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The versatile guard is hitting just .385 from the field and .301 from 3-point range, but his contributions in other areas overshadow his shooting woes. “You know, he’s a bulldog,” Morris said of his teammate. “He’s been doing that since he’s been in the NBA. Even when I was on a different team, he was doing the same thing. He continues to do it. He’s a guy that you love to have on your team.”
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines the Celtics’ stockpile of potential first-rounders for next year and notes that surprising starts by the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers may decrease the expected value of those picks.