Jaylen Brown

Celtics Notes: Brown, Tatum, Walsh, Mazzulla

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown brings star power to tonight’s Slam Dunk Contest, which has featured mostly fringe players for the past decade, writes Souichi Terada of MassLive. Brown is hoping to restore some prestige to one of the signature events of All-Star Weekend, and he believes the time is right to make a statement.

“I’m in my athletic prime right now,” he told reporters. “I feel good. When it comes to dunking, I think it’s an art form. I think when it comes to dunking on somebody, I think I’m one of the best to ever do it. I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s an extension the art form of dunking.”

Unlike his competitors — Jaime Jaquez of the Heat, Jacob Toppin of the Knicks and defending champion Mac McClung of the G League — Brown is one of the NBA’s elite players, and Terada points out that he’s the first All-Star to take part in the dunk contest since 2017. Terada notes that Brown has been talking frequently about the “art form” of dunking and has hinted that teammate Jayson Tatum may participate in one of the dunks he has planned.

“I think the art of dunking is dope — and it always has been,” Brown said. “From the early days to now. It sucks to see the abandonment of the dunk contest. I think it’s an art form. For me, it’s about the show, it’s about the lead-up, the build-up. I think the people will appreciate some of the stuff I’ll do tonight, once it gets slowed down. Once you see the replay.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Speaking at All-Star media day, Tatum lobbied for a change to the league’s technical foul process, Terada adds in a separate story. “If you get a tech for overreacting to a call and you were right,” Tatum said. “If they go back and look, the coaches do the challenge and they overturn the call, that tech should be rescinded. You should get your money back. If you get a tech for overreacting to a call that was deemed incorrect or whatever, you should get your money back.”
  • Rookie forward Jordan Walsh saw the first meaningful minutes of his NBA career when he checked into Wednesday’s game late in the first quarter, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Robb observes that Walsh has been spending more time with the Celtics lately after playing primarily in the G League early in the season. “Since Christmas, he came on the West Coast trip with us, and we made a conscious effort to just have an understanding of defense is how you make it in this league as a young player,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “What you do in the G League from a statistical standpoint is important, but it’s more important about your daily approach – your professionalism and your defense, and I think he’s just really, really grown in that area.”
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic examined Mazzulla’s progress as a head coach after he picked up his 100th career win Wednesday night.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Porzingis, Heat Rivalry, Springer

Tensions between the Celtics and Heat flared up again Sunday afternoon, highlighted by an exchange between Jaylen Brown and Duncan Robinson, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. With 7:54 remaining, Robinson was whistled for a foul when he and Brown got tangled up on an inbounds play. As Brown tried to free himself, he pulled down on Robinson’s left arm and twisted his body, tossing Robinson to the ground.

Robinson grabbed at his left shoulder and began talking to Brown, who was called for a flagrant 1 foul following a video review of the play. They had to be separated after another exchange of words before Robinson went to the foul line.

“I just thought it was a dirty play, to be honest with you,” Robinson said. “That’s how people miss entire seasons with those types of plays. You’ve seen it before and throughout the history of the NBA. Guys suffer really bad injuries from instances exactly like that.”

Brown defended his actions, saying he wasn’t trying to hurt Robinson. He also accused the Heat — Boston’s opponent in the last two Eastern Conference Finals — of having a reputation for getting away with fouls and “mucking up the game.”

‘I think he knew exactly what he was trying to do, trying to get tangled up because he didn’t want to play defense,” Brown said. “They called the foul but he was still trying to hang on so I was trying to get my arm free.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • Kristaps Porzingis had another injury scare on Sunday, Himmelsbach adds, suffering a back contusion on a collision with Bam Adebayo midway through the third quarter. Porzingis was able to return later in the game and doesn’t believe it’s anything to be concerned about. “My back is fine,” he said. “I got a little bump from Bam on the rebound and it was just kind of like nothing serious. Went to the back, made sure it was good and warmed up again.”
  • Porzingis views Brown’s exchange with Robinson as positive for the team, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Celtics have been accused of lacking toughness with Marcus Smart and Grant Williams no longer on the roster, and Porzingis enjoyed seeing Brown stand up to the Heat. “When they got into it again, I kind of liked it, it got the whole crowd into it, it was a good atmosphere,” he said. “I love it. I think we have to take those emotional moments in a good way, make us fired up, controlled. We have to stay controlled because that’s their game. They need us to react to something.”
  • Newly acquired Jaden Springer is brushing off comments from Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey suggesting that a second-round pick has more value to the franchise than Springer does, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive. Springer isn’t bothered by last week’s trade, saying he’s focused on finding a role with the Celtics. “Coming to a team like this, you can’t go wrong,” Springer said. “Especially probably the best team in the league. A bunch of great guys. Great organization. So far, I’m loving it here.”

And-Ones: Buyout Market, Summer League, Dunk Contest, Cap Room, Risacher

A pair of veteran point guards have already been plucked off the buyout market, with Spencer Dinwiddie officially signing with the Lakers on Saturday and Kyle Lowry lining up a deal with the Sixers. What other notable players could hit the buyout market in the coming days and weeks?

John Hollinger of The Athletic explores that topic in depth, identifying Delon Wright, Troy Brown, Marcus Morris, and Cedi Osman as several of the most intriguing options while acknowledging that some of those players likely won’t be waived.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA has confirmed the dates for the 2024 Las Vegas Summer League, announcing that it will take place from July 12-22 (Twitter link). That’s a few days later than the event typically begins and ends.
  • Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, who signed the largest contract in league history last summer, is the most accomplished player to participate in the NBA’s dunk contest in several years. He hopes to set an example for other stars, per Souichi Terada of MassLive.com (Twitter link). “I wish more top players (and) athletes decided to compete in the dunk contest,” Brown said. “I grew up watching that, and that’s what I love. Hopefully that comes around.”
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes a look at where each team’s cap situation stands heading into the 2024 offseason, identifying the Pistons, Magic, Sixers, Jazz, Raptors, and Thunder as the teams with the ability to generate the most cap room.
  • Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN.com (Insider link) have updated their list of 2024’s top prospects, moving French wing Zaccharie Risacher into the No. 1 spot for the first time. Risacher is the fourth different player to sit atop ESPN’s ’24 big board since the start of the college season in November, signaling that there’s no clear-cut top prospect in this year’s draft class.

And-Ones: Lamb, Trade Candidates, Buyout Market, Pre-Agency, Dunk Contest

Former Warriors forward Anthony Lamb suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while playing for the New Zealand Breakers, Olgun Uluc of ESPN tweets.

The non-contact leg injury occurred at the end of the first quarter of his team’s game against the Perth Wildcats on Sunday afternoon. An MRI confirmed the initial diagnosis.

Lamb appeared in 62 regular season games with Golden State last season, averaging 6.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.3 minutes per game.

We have more from the around the basketball world:

  • Which players are most likely to be on the move at the trade deadline? The Athletic’s John Hollinger reveals his list of players who could be swapping uniforms, breaking it down by expiring contracts, salary-matching contracts and luxury tax-shedding moves.
  • Following the trade deadline, attention will be turned to buyout candidates. Keith Smith previews that market in a Spotrac post, evaluating the possibility of Kyle Lowry, Joe Harris, Gordon Hayward, Davis Bertans and numerous others going that route.
  • What is “pre-agency?” A growing trend in the league, where players who could enter the free agent market get traded to a team interested in retaining them beyond the end of the season. The Athletic’s Danny Leroux notes that OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam fit that category, as the Knicks and Pacers, respectively, have positioned themselves to keep those starters after trades with Toronto.
  • It was reported on Monday that Jaylen Brown was seriously considering a spot in the All-Star dunk contest. Now it’s confirmed. The Celtics star will join Heat forward Jaime Jaquez, G League guard Mac McClung and Knicks forward Jacob Toppin in the annual event, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. McClung is the defending champion.

And-Ones: Brown, 3-Point Contest, Glass Floor, Bjelica

The All-Star dunk contest has lost its star power in recent years. That could change this month. The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown is strongly considering accepting an invitation to participate, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Charania said Brown has been “mulling over the possibility for several weeks.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • A star-laden cast is lining up for the All-Star weekend’s 3-point contest. Tyrese Haliburton, Damian Lillard, Malik Beasley, Jalen Brunson and Lauri Markkanen have agreed to participate, Charania tweets. The same goes for Tyrese Maxey, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT tweets. Donovan Mitchell has also added his name to the list, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The entire All-Star Saturday night lineup will be played on a full video LED court that will be installed at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The skills competition, 3-point contest, slam dunk competition and shooting matchup between Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu will take place on the glass floor on Feb. 17. The All-Star Game on Feb. 18 will remain on a wooden court.
  • Former NBA player Nemanja Bjelica was allegedly threatened to be stabbed with scissors, Eurohoops.net relays. Nikola Petkovic, a former soccer player, confronted Bjelica in a children’s playroom in Belgrade, according to multiple Serbian outlets, and threatened Bjelica and his famly. Petkovic was arrested and detained for 48 hours. Bjelica, a member of the Warriors’ 2022 championship team, hasn’t played this season.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Brunson, McBride, Simmons

The Celtics fell at home to the undermanned Lakers on Thursday, resulting in some of Boston’s starters being benched in the midst of a bad stretch in the second half. According to MassLive.com’s Brian Robb, center Kristaps Porzingis had no issues with the decision.

We deserved it,” Porzingis said. “Of course we were pissed off. We’re pissed off at ourselves and I completely understood. I never want to come out of the game, but I completely understood we had to change something.

All-Star guard Jaylen Brown, who was also benched in the second half, shared similar sentiments after Boston fell to an L.A. team that was playing without LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

I haven’t been in that position too often, so it kind of is what it is,” Brown said. “We weren’t playing our best, I wasn’t playing my best, so nothing I can really say there. Every time I step on the court, I try to add to winning. Tonight, I tried to make sure I was being unselfish, hitting the guys in stride, sharing the ball. But I was a little lackadaisical, it wasn’t my best game. But I’ll put it behind me and get ready for the next one.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks All-Star guard Jalen Brunson accepted an invitation to participate in the Three-Point Contest during All-Star Weekend, according to TNT and Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes (Twitter link). Brunson has a shot to be the first Knicks player to ever win the event.
  • The Knicks have leaned on Miles McBride more since trading away Immanuel Quickley, and he’s rewarding their faith in him with improved offensive play. Since Dec. 30, McBride is averaging 8.5 points while shooting 46.6% from three — a vast improvement over the 28.2% clip he connected at during the first two years of his career. “Honestly, it’s all about my belief. I feel like I was taking the same shots, and now I’m just getting a little bit more of an opportunity,” McBride said, per The New York Post’s Peter Botte. “The organization and the coaching staff continued to believe in me, and it was just about me consistently working on my shot. I put in the work and it’s showing.
  • Ben Simmons returned for the Nets on Monday, recording 10 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in his first game since early November. However, he was ruled out the following game against Phoenix on Wednesday with a knee contusion. He’s expected to play on Saturday against the Sixers and is listed as probable on the injury report, according to SNY’s Ian Begley (Twitter link). C.J. Holmes of New York Daily News tweets Simmons was a partial participant at practice on Friday and was set to receive treatments that night and Saturday morning.

2024 NBA All-Star Reserves Revealed

The 2024 NBA All-Star reserves were announced on Thursday night, according to a release from the NBA (Twitter links). Below is a rundown of the 14 players set to join the previously announced starters in the All-Star Game set in Indianapolis on Feb. 18. All-Star reserves are selected by the league’s head coaches.

Eastern Conference Reserves:

Maxey, Brunson and Banchero are first-time All-Stars. Brunson was a strong contender for a starting guard spot in the Eastern Conference, a spot that ultimately went to Bucks guard Damian Lillard. Mitchell (five), Brown (three), Adebayo (three), and Randle (three) are all multi-time selections.

As observed by ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), Randle earns a $1.3MM bonus by making the All-Star Game. Though with the Knicks forward set to miss extended time, it’s likely the NBA will name an injury replacement player. Injury replacements are named by commissioner Adam Silver.

If Brown plays in 65 games by the end of the year, he’ll receive a $1.7MM bonus for his All-Star nod, according to Marks, who adds that Celtics guard Jrue Holiday had a $348K All-Star bonus that is now deemed unlikely.

Hawks guard Trae Young, Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, Boston’s Holiday, Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis, Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, Magic forward Franz Wagner, Bulls guard Coby White, Pacers center Myles Turner and Heat forward Jimmy Butler are among players who had cases to make the game but didn’t.

Western Conference Reserves:

Every player among the Western Conference’s reserves is now a multi-time All-Star. This is Curry’s 10th All-Star appearance, leading the group. George and Davis will be making their ninth appearances. Booker (four), Edwards (tw0), Towns (four) and Leonard (six) round out the list.

Having not been selected to the All-Star Game, Kings forward Domantas Sabonis will miss out on a $1.3MM bonus, according to Marks (Twitter link). Sabonis would regain that bonus if he’s named as an injury replacement, but none of the 12 Western All-Stars appear in danger of missing the game at this point.

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis, Rockets center Alperen Sengun, Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, Wolves center Rudy Gobert, Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama, New Orleans forwards Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, Clippers guard James Harden and Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen are among those who missed the cut in the West.

Team USA Announces 41-Player Pool For 2024 Olympics

USA Basketball has officially announced a pool of 41 players who are in the mix for the 12 spots on the 2024 Olympic men’s basketball team.

While the pool is subject to change, Team USA’s 12-man roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics will, in all likelihood, be made up of players from this group.

The list figures to shrink as the summer nears due to players suffering injuries or opting not to participate for other reasons, but at some point prior to the July event the U.S. decision-makers will have to choose a final roster from the remaining candidates.

Here’s the full list of 41 players, 28 of whom have represented Team USA in a previous World Cup or Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  3. Paolo Banchero (Magic)
  4. Desmond Bane (Grizzlies)
  5. Scottie Barnes (Raptors)
  6. Devin Booker (Suns)
  7. Mikal Bridges (Nets)
  8. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  9. Jalen Brunson (Knicks)
  10. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  11. Alex Caruso (Bulls)
  12. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  13. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Suns)
  15. Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves)
  16. Joel Embiid (Sixers)
  17. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  18. Paul George (Clippers)
  19. Aaron Gordon (Nuggets)
  20. Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers)
  21. James Harden (Clippers)
  22. Josh Hart (Knicks)
  23. Tyler Herro (Heat)
  24. Jrue Holiday (Celtics)
  25. Chet Holmgren (Thunder)
  26. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  27. Kyrie Irving (Mavericks)
  28. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies)
  29. LeBron James (Lakers)
  30. Cameron Johnson (Nets)
  31. Walker Kessler (Jazz)
  32. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  33. Damian Lillard (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers)
  35. Chris Paul (Warriors)
  36. Bobby Portis (Bucks)
  37. Austin Reaves (Lakers)
  38. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Derrick White (Celtics)
  41. Trae Young (Hawks)

Adebayo, Booker, Durant, Holiday, Lillard, and Tatum were part of the Olympic team that won gold in Tokyo in 2021. Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, JaVale McGee, and Khris Middleton were also on that roster, but aren’t part of the preliminary pool this time around. It’s possible some of them turned down invitations.

“The United States boasts unbelievable basketball talent and I am thrilled that many of the game’s superstars have expressed interest in representing our country at the 2024 Olympic Summer Games,” national team managing director Grant Hill said in a statement. “It is a privilege to select the team that will help us toward the goal of once again standing atop the Olympic podium. This challenging process will unfold over the next several months as we eagerly anticipate the start of national team activity.”

USA Basketball also announced today that Team USA will face Team Canada in Las Vegas on July 10 in an exhibition game. It sounds like that contest will take place during the NBA’s 2024 Summer League.

Celtics Notes: Brown, Trade Candidates, Tatum, Porzingis

Celtics wing Jaylen Brown and head coach Joe Mazzulla weren’t happy about the reversal of a foul call in the closing seconds of Monday’s 133-131 loss to Indiana. As Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe details, with the scored tied at 131 and three seconds to play, Buddy Hield was initially whistled for a foul on Brown’s shot attempt (video link), but the call was overturned after the Pacers challenged it.

While Mazzulla was clearly irritated, he didn’t have much to say in his postgame presser, according to Himmelsbach, who notes that the Celtics coach repeatedly referred to waiting until Tuesday afternoon to see what the league has to say in its Last Two Minute report. Mazzulla also mentioned that Hield admitted to him that he thought he fouled Brown.

“I mean, I told Joe what I told Joe,” Hield said. “But they have three refs out there and they had the replay center, and that’s what replay is for, I guess. I was thinking I might have hit (Brown) a little bit, but they have three refs out there and they have cameras and they slow down the angles of it. I felt like it was not excessive contact. I know I touched the ball, I maybe nicked Brown in the head a little bit. I’m not too sure.”

Brown was more vocal in expressing his frustration and was upset in particular because he was told by referee James Williams that the replay hadn’t shown Hield hitting him in the head. The Celtics star said he thought the call should be the subject of an investigation.

“That’s what pissed me off, because I know I got hit in the head,” Brown said. “And you see on the replay, it’s pretty obvious I got hit in the head. Then you look me in my eye and tell me that I didn’t. I think that needs to be investigated. Cost my team a game and of course I’m pissed about it.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Although the 2023/24 salaries for Luke Kornet, Dalano Banton, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Lamar Stevens will now be fully guaranteed, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll finish the season in Boston, a source tells Brian Robb of MassLive.com. Robb suggests it’s possible that one or more of those players could be used for salary-matching purposes in a trade. It’s also worth noting that attaching a future second-round pick or some cash to one (or more) of them would allow the team to reduce its projected luxury tax bill.
  • After signing a super-max extension over the summer, Jaylen Brown entered this season looking to improve his play on defense and said he wanted each member of Boston’s starting five to earn All-Defensive votes. As Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston details, Brown has delivered on his personal goal so far, with advanced statistics suggesting he has been one of the NBA’s better defensive players in the first half of 2023/24.
  • Celtics star Jayson Tatum missed Monday’s loss due to what the team called left ankle sprain injury management. Tatum also sat out games on December 20 and 29 as a result of that left ankle issue, so it appears that the club is just being cautious with his workload. Kristaps Porzingis, meanwhile, was back in action on Monday after leaving Saturday’s contest early due to an eye issue.

Injury Notes: Brown, Doncic, Payton, Vincent, Nance, Heat

Celtics wing Jaylen Brown has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against Detroit due to a lower back contusion, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Brown sustained the injury on Monday against the Lakers after being accidentally kneed in the back by LeBron James. Both players were down in pain for a few minutes, but were able to return later in the contest.

Brown, who signed a five-year, super-max extension in the offseason, is averaging 22.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG and 1.1 SPG on .478/.335/.734 shooting in 28 games (33.8 MPG) this season for Boston.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • The Mavericks will be without Luka Doncic for Thursday’s game in Minnesota, as first reported by Marc Stein (via Twitter). Doncic is dealing with left quad soreness. As Stein notes, it’s the second game of a back-to-back for Dallas, which lost to Cleveland on Wednesday.
  • Warriors swingman Gary Payton II practiced on Wednesday, according to Jon Schultz of The San Francisco Chronicle. “He had a lot of energy today,” Trayce Jackson-Davis said of Payton. “Had a great practice, and we need them out there. Obviously our guard depth is a little shallow right now, and just having another defensive two-way guard on the floor is going to help us a lot.” However, Payton has been ruled out of Thursday’s contest vs. Miami, per the league’s official injury report. It will be the 13th consecutive absence for Payton, who has been battling a right calf strain.
  • Lakers guard Gabe Vincent underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Wednesday and will be reevaluated in about eight weeks, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Jarred Vanderbilt is one of the players who will receive more minutes with Vincent out, Turner adds. “It obviously hurt. He’s a big component of what we do,” Vanderbilt said of Vincent. “Great player, great system player. So, obviously health comes first. So, we want him to get healthy. For us, it’s the next-man-up mentality. Continue to play the right way and have some guys step up in his absence.”
  • Pelicans big man Larry Nance Jr. has missed the past month after aggravating a rib fracture, but he’ll be active tonight against Utah, he told Christian Clark of NOLA.com and other media members (Twitter link). Nance has been limited to 14 games thus far in 2023/24.
  • The Heat have dealt with numerous injuries once again this season and will be shorthanded during Thursday’s contest in Golden State, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Jimmy Butler (left calf strain), Kyle Lowry (soreness), Caleb Martin (right ankle sprain) are all out, Josh Richardson (back discomfort) is doubtful, and Orlando Robinson is away from the team after being assigned to the G League.