Jrue Holiday

Atlantic Notes: Hetzel, Nets, Maxey, Thibodeau, Celtics

The Nets are hiring veteran assistant coach Steve Hetzel to be part of Jordi Fernandez‘s new staff in Brooklyn, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Hetzel was an assistant coach in Portland for the past three seasons under Chauncey Billups. Prior to his stint with the Blazers, he worked on Steve Clifford‘s staffs in both Charlotte (2014-18) and Orlando (2018-21).

Perhaps most notably, Hetzel was the head coach of the Canton Charge in the G League during the 2013/14 season. Fernandez was an assistant on his staff that year before taking over as the Charge’s head coach for the next two seasons after that.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Sixers have listed guard Tyrese Maxey as questionable to play in Game 2 on Monday due to an illness that forced him to miss this morning’s shootaround, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • In an anonymous player poll conducted by The Athletic, 47% of the respondents named Tom Thibodeau as the head coach they’d least want to play for. However, Thibodeau’s Knicks players were prepared to go to bat for him, as Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. “Nobody’s in our locker room and everybody that talks is on the outside of our locker room. They don’t know what goes on,” Donte DiVincenzo said. “Thibs is a great leader. He’s a great head coach and he’s done an amazing job this year not only dealing with injuries in and out of the lineup but also getting the best out of every single player on our team. I’m having a career year. Different guys on the team are having career years.”
  • The Celtics have made at least the Eastern Conference Finals in five of the last seven postseason but haven’t won a title during that time. Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston explores how last year’s additions of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday give the team a new dimension and raise its ceiling entering the 2024 playoffs.
  • Porzingis passed a key test in Game 1 on Sunday vs. Miami, writes Brian Robb of MassLive.com, scoring 18 points and finishing as a +17 in his 34 minutes. Porzingis – who had only played in 10 playoff games, including none since 2021 – lacks the extensive postseason experience of his fellow Celtics starters, but he showed on Sunday that he’s up to the challenge with the stakes raised, says Robb.

Jazz’s Ainge Going “Big Game Hunting” This Summer

The Jazz failed to make the playoffs for the second straight season. CEO Danny Ainge will look for difference-makers this offseason to change their fortunes, according to Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune.

“We’re ready to go big game hunting,” Ainge told reporters on Tuesday, adding that the Jazz will ideally trade for an All-Star level player in the prime of his career.

We’re not really interested in dinosaurs,” he said. “We’re interested in like, good six or seven years guys, those are good players. I’m not saying that we wouldn’t go get some veteran players for a short-term fix while we take buy us some time. But that’s not as likely.”

Naturally, acquiring one of those players is easier said than done. There aren’t many of them and they’re rarely available in trade discussions. However, Ainge said he almost landed that type of player last offseason.

“We felt like we were close (on a trade) once in this process that would have changed the dynamic of our team immediately,” Ainge said. “But that hasn’t happened.”

Larsen speculates that player was Jrue Holiday before he was dealt to Boston.

What Ainge doesn’t want is to go into training camp with a roster relying heavily on rookies and second-year players, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Utah currently has three of the top 32 picks in this year’s draft. The Jazz had three first-round picks last June.

“If we start all over, then we’re three years, possibly four years from being anywhere. We feel like we’re closer than that, and we have a chance. We’re going all in this summer,” Ainge said. “When I say ‘all in,’ that doesn’t mean that we’re going to throw all our chips in, like championship or bust. I’m saying our mindset is that we’re doing everything only to try to win. That’s our only objective … and if we don’t land anything, we don’t make any deals, we don’t land anything, then our direction could change.”

Kawhi Leonard Completes Team USA’s Star-Studded Roster For Olympics

Team USA has completed its selection of an All-Star laden 12-player roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic report (Twitter link). Kawhi Leonard was chosen for the final roster spot, USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt tweets.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday the 11 other selections for the roster. Team USA received a firm commitment from Leonard on Tuesday, Wojnarowski tweets.

Unlike USA Basketball’s FIBA World Cup roster last summer, which lacked size and interior strength, the Olympic roster is filled with quality bigs. Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo and Anthony Davis will be joined at the power positions by LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

The wings will be manned by Jayson Tatum, Leonard, Devin Booker and Anthony Edwards. Jrue Holiday, Tyrese Haliburton and Stephen Curry round out the backcourt.

Haliburton and Edwards are the only players from the FIBA World Cup roster to make Team USA’s Olympic roster.

Team USA has won the gold medal in each of the last four Summer Olympics.

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Hield, Holiday, Quickley

Third-year Nets shooting guard Cam Thomas is hoping to show the league at large that he is capable of being a two-way force in the NBA, reports C.J. Holmes of The New York Daily News.

“My numbers are up there with some of the best of them, honestly,” Thomas told Holmes. “Mine are just overlooked because not that many people know me, I’m not the most vocal, talking and all that stuff. But if you just look at my numbers, my numbers are up there with some of the best of them… I think I just go under the radar a little bit because I’m not really on social media as much.”

Across 66 bouts this season (51 starts), the 6’4″ wing out of LSU posted a career-high 22.5 points per game on .442/.364/.856 shooting, along with 3.2 RPG, 2.9 APG and 0.7 SPG.

“I feel like I have so much more room to grow,” Thomas said. “I just want people to see that I have the potential to do that instead of just trying to keep me low.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers shooting guard Buddy Hield is nearing his first-ever playoffs, writes Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Philadelphia still needs to advance beyond the play-in tournament to officially make the playoffs, however. As Smith notes, Hield is currently the active player with the most games played who has yet to appear in the playoffs. His 631 regular season contests represent the fourth-most ever for a player without a single playoff appearance.
  • Further details have emerged regarding Celtics combo guard Jrue Holiday‘s lucrative new contract extension, Smith tweets. It’s a fully-guaranteed, four-year, $134.4MM deal, which will not include any bonuses or incentives. The two-time All-Star will earn $30MM in his first season under this new contract (2024/25), and $37.2MM in his last (2027/28).
  • Newly-acquired Raptors guard Immanuel Quickley will be a restricted free agent this summer and is comfortable with the idea of sticking with his new team going forward. “Obviously the team and my agent have to handle everything but I love being here in Toronto,” Quickley said, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). “Since the day I got here they’ve done nothing but show me love.”

Team USA Locks In 11 Of 12 Olympic Roster Spots

The Team USA men’s basketball program has determined 11 of its 12 roster spots for this year’s Paris Olympics, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Woj suggests that the final roster opening could remain open for a while. Sources inform Wojnarowski that Hall of Famer Grant Hill, Team USA’s managing director, is waiting for a July training camp and some Las Vegas exhibition games before finalizing that 12th spot.

10 of the 11 players were honored as All-Stars this season, while the 11th was a key two-way force on the 2021 gold medal-winning team, which is officially considered the 2020 Olympic team.

Here are Team USA’s 11 players:

So far, three NBA teams – the Lakers, Celtics, and Suns – will feature multiple U.S. Olympians.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, serving again as the leader of Team USA this summer, will have just one current familiar face in All-Star point guard Curry, who will be making his Olympic debut. Among the other players listed, four others will be making their debuts with the program on this stage: reigning league MVP Embiid and young All-Star guards Edwards and Haliburton.

As Woj notes, 35-year-old Durant is one of just two players to have won three gold medals in Olympic history, along with future Hall of Fame forward Carmelo Anthony. James is playing in his first Olympics since 2012. James and Anthony were also members of Team USA the last time it didn’t win gold at the tournament, in 2004.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Sixers, Holiday, Celtics, Raptors

While some star players may play reduced roles in the final days of the regular season to ensure they’re fresh for the postseason, Sixers center Joel Embiid is looking to go in the opposite direction. After logging nearly 36 minutes on Tuesday in his fourth game back following a knee procedure, Embiid suggested he’d welcome a big workload again on Friday and Sunday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required).

“Playing as many minutes as possible,” Embiid said when asked what he needs to do to get ready for the playoffs. “.. The next one, I hope the game’s not close, but if it is, to go over that 35-minute mark. Try and get to 40 and then the last game of the season, same thing.”

While the 76ers won’t want to push their franchise player too hard so soon after his return, they’re still battling for positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race and have a chance to claim a top-six spot with victories in their final two games. Embiid is also still working on getting his conditioning back to its pre-injury level and may get a chance this weekend to build chemistry with a relatively healthy Sixers roster.

“We haven’t played with the full crew yet,” Nicolas Batum said on Tuesday, according to Pompey. “I think the next game will be finally the one. We will have Tyrese (Maxey) and KL (Kyle Lowry) back. We got Joel. We just miss RoCo (Robert Covington). … I think we are more focused on (players returning than seeding). We are focused on how we can be the best team past (Sunday).”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • In a mailbag for The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required), Pompey addresses several Sixers-related topics, indicating that he doesn’t expect Tobias Harris to be moved to the bench and confirming that Paul George is expected to be the team’s top free agent target this offseason.
  • Jrue Holiday will turn 34 this June, so he knows that the four-year, $135MM extension he signed with the Celtics this week could be his last NBA contract, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Holiday said it was a “pretty easy” decision to sign that deal and to remain in Boston. “I think mutually we just came to an agreement and felt like this was what was best for not only me, but for the team and, just hope it works,” Holiday said. “I want to be here. I want to win multiple rings. I’ve heard people say that here plenty of times, so I’m ready for that.”
  • Holiday’s extension ensures that the Celtics‘ top six players will be under contract for next season and reduces the team’s projected 2025 tax bill, but it raises some questions about the club’s long-term cap situation, according to Brian Robb of MassLive.com, who explores the possibility of an eventual extension for Derrick White and considers how long Boston can keep its core intact.
  • Who’s to blame for a miserable Raptors season? Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca explores that question, ultimately suggesting that Toronto’s front office probably deserves more criticism than it has received for the current state of the team.

Celtics Sign Jrue Holiday To Four-Year Extension

April 11: Holiday’s extension is now official, the Celtics announced in a press release.

In addition to being one of the more accomplished players in the league, Jrue is an elite teammate and competitor,” said president of basketball operations Brad Stevens. “He is simply a person who raises everyone’s level around him. He combines an unselfishness to do whatever is best for the team with an edge to take on any challenge at any time. We are grateful that Jrue is a Celtic.

April 10: The Celtics are signing Jrue Holiday to a four-year, $135MM contract extension, agent Jason Glushon tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski.

A source tells Adam Himmselsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) that the final season (2027/28) of Holiday’s new deal is a player option.

As Wojnarowski writes, Holiday is declining his $37.3MM player option for 2024/25 in order to sign a long-term deal with Boston that will save the team “several million dollars” toward next season’s salary cap.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links), Holiday’s extension will pay him $30.1MM next season, reducing the Celtics’ projected luxury tax bill by over $35MM. There’s also a scenario in which Boston could get under the second tax apron next season if the club trims payroll this summer, Marks adds.

The old Collective Bargaining Agreement did not permit players to decline an option and replace it with a lower salary via an extension, making Holiday the first player to utilize the change in the new CBA, notes cap expert Yossi Gozlan (via Twitter).

Holiday, who was traded from Milwaukee to Portland in late September before being re-routed to Boston on October 1, is a two-time All-Star and five-time All-Defensive team member. The Celtics were limited to offering Holiday a two-year extension until April 1, when the six-month post-trade restriction lifted.

Chris Mannix of SI.com hears (via Twitter) the Celtics and Holiday “have been thrilled” with their partnership, and Boston knew it would take a lucrative long-term deal in order to retain the veteran guard and have him avoid free agency.

Interestingly, Holiday’s new extension is essentially an exact replica of the four-year, $135MM extension he signed three years ago with Milwaukee, per Wojnarowski. Holiday, 33, becomes the fourth player in league history to sign a guaranteed $100MM+ contract at 33 years old or older, joining LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Al Horford.

Since he’s often a fourth or fifth option on offense for Boston, Holiday’s scoring (12.5 PPG) and assists (4.9 APG) are down this season. However, he’s averaging a career-high 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting a career-best 43.1% from deep in 68 games (32.9 MPG).

The Celtics are currently 62-17, holding by far the best record in the NBA. They’re 14 games ahead of the East’s No. 2 seed, Milwaukee, and lead the top Western teams by seven games.

Celtics Notes: Brown, 15th Roster Spot, Holiday

After missing Monday’s game due to what was referred to on the injury report as a left hand sprain, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown returned from the injury and showed no ill effects in Wednesday’s blowout win over Oklahoma City, scoring 23 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists.

Speaking after that game to reporters, including Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), Brown described the ailment as a strained ligament in his left hand, but stressed that he’s not concerned about it and intends to play through it.

Brown didn’t end up suiting up on Friday vs. Sacramento, but it sounds like he would have played if the game had been more meaningful for a Celtics team that has already clinched the NBA’s best regular season record. According to Jay King of The Athletic (Twitter link), head coach Joe Mazzulla said Brown made it through Wednesday’s contest with no issues and his absence on Friday was about “managing the rest of the season.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • With eight more days for the Celtics to fill the final opening on their 15-man standard roster, Brian Robb of MassLive.com expects the club to opt for a younger player who could get a longer look this summer. Barring a change of heart from Blake Griffin, whom Celtics players recruited earlier this season, Robb doesn’t expect an experienced veteran to claim that spot, since the 15th man won’t be used in the postseason. Promoting two-way player Neemias Queta remains a possibility, Robb adds.
  • Jrue Holiday appeared in his 66th game of the season on Friday, locking in a contract bonus worth $354,960, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. That bonus was considered likely because Holiday played at least 66 games last season, so it won’t have an impact on Holiday’s cap hit or the Celtics’ tax bill. However, as Marks adds (via Twitter), Boston will save a bit of tax money on two of Holiday’s bonuses (worth a total of $702,960) that had been considered likely entering the season and won’t be earned, since he didn’t earn an All-Star berth and will average fewer than 7.3 assists per game.
  • In a feature for Yahoo Sports, Jake Fischer takes a look at how Holiday has fit in seamlessly with the Celtics this season, shooting a career-high 43.0% on three-point attempts while sacrificing individual statistics in other categories. As Fischer notes, Holiday’s contract extension restrictions lifted on April 1, so he’s now free to negotiate a long-term deal with Boston. If the two sides don’t work out a multiyear agreement, Holiday will have to make a decision in June on a 2024/25 player option worth over $37MM in base salary, plus incentives.

Zion, Holiday, Jackson Meet 65-Game Criteria For Award Eligibility

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson met the criteria for end-of-season award eligibility on Wednesday by appearing in his 65th game of the season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

It’s a career high for Williamson, who appeared in 61 games in his second NBA season in 2020/21 but had otherwise never played more than 29 times in a season. The former No. 1 overall pick has built a legitimate case for All-NBA consideration this season, averaging 22.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 31.3 minutes per contest, with a .581 FG%.

The bad news for Williamson and the Pelicans is that he didn’t play the final seven-plus minutes of Wednesday’s loss to Orlando due to a finger injury on his left hand. As Andrew Lopez of ESPN details, Zion had his left middle finger taped up after the game, but declined to speculate on the severity of the injury when he spoke to reporters.

“I don’t want to say anything that’s not right, to be honest,” he said. “But yeah, I tweaked it a little bit. I’ll have more information on it [Thursday] morning and I’m going to get it looked at and go from there.”

Appearing in 65+ games and potentially earning an All-NBA spot this season wouldn’t have any real impact on Williamson’s contract situation, though as Marks outlines in a YouTube video, the 23-year-old is on a unique deal and his games played in future seasons will help determine how much of his salary is guaranteed or non-guaranteed going forward.

Williamson was one of three notable players to reach the 65-game threshold for award consideration on Wednesday, according to Marks, who points out (via Twitter) that Celtics guard Jrue Holiday and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. also got there. It was technically Jackson’s 66th outing of the season, but he played fewer than 15 minutes in one of those contests, so it didn’t count toward the 65-game minimum.

Neither Holiday nor Jackson is a legitimate candidate for an All-NBA spot or for any other major award except for All-Defense. Holiday has made the All-Defensive First Team three times, including last season, and has also earned a pair of Second Team nods, while Jackson is the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year and has made the First Team in each of the past two seasons.

There’s essentially no chance that Jackson will repeat as Defensive Player of the Year for the lottery-bound Grizzlies, but it’s worth noting that if he did – or if he wins the DPOY award next season – he would become eligible for a super-max extension in July 2025.

Celtics Notes: Holiday, Brown, White, Tatum

A harrowing family experience in 2016 helped Jrue Holiday keep things in perspective when he got the surprise news that he had been traded from Milwaukee to Portland last summer, writes Mirin Fader of The Ringer. Eight years ago, Holiday’s wife, Lauren, was diagnosed with a brain tumor while she was pregnant with their first child. Holiday took a leave from the NBA to care for Lauren, and she was able to deliver the baby and later have the tumor safely removed.

Holiday said dealing with that type of life-and-death situation gave him a calmness to accept any basketball fate. He embraced the change, even though his family was settled in Milwaukee and he expected his long-term future to be there after helping the Bucks win the 2021 championship.

“I think it helped me prepare for [the trade],” he said. “Life does hit you in different types of ways at different times, and maybe just subconsciously you learn this lesson. … I know some people get down on life … but I think for me, and I don’t know why—maybe it is because of the support of my family, maybe it is because of my faith — but it’s always turned out to be something that I grew from and made me so much stronger.”

Holiday didn’t have to figure out his future in Portland, as the Trail Blazers dealt him to the Celtics five days later. He welcomed the chance to join another veteran team with title hopes, but he knew he had to figure out the best way to fit in.

“Every team is a puzzle,” Holiday said. “And I’m a part of that puzzle. … So whatever the team needs from me: Some nights it might be scoring, some nights it might be shooting corner threes or being a decoy. It might be setting screens or rebounding. I think that just comes with the type of talent and character that we have on this team.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Jaylen Brown is a legitimate candidate for All-Defensive honors, although he might get overlooked because the Celtics have so many high-level defenders, observes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports. Forsberg notes that Brown reminded voters of his defensive prowess on Saturday when he held Zion Williamson to 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers as the primary defender on the Pelicans star.
  • The $500K bonus that Derrick White earned by reaching 185 made three-pointers will affect Boston’s cap figure this season and in 2024/25, according to Brian Robb of MassLive. With tax penalties included, Robb estimates that White’s bonus will cost the team more than $1.5MM this year, although he adds that ownership shouldn’t mind paying extra for White’s breakout performance. White has the same bonus in his contract for next season and it’s now considered likely, so his cap hit will be raised to about $20.6MM.
  • Celtics players weren’t happy with the way they finished the regular season last year and they’re determined not to repeat that mistake, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I think last year we were like so antsy to get back to the Finals that we had a few bad losses in the last few weeks of the season,” Jayson Tatum said. “We went to six games in that first-round [series against the Hawks]. We may have took some things for granted. This year we’ve done a really good job of not skipping steps and respecting every day, every game, just trying to get better, as cliché as that sounds.”