Sam Hauser

Atlantic Notes: Maxey, Embiid, Harden, Raptors, Hauser

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey is coming to terms with his new reserve role, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Maxey was demoted to a bench role in favor of the more defensively oriented De’Anthony Melton.

“Sometimes you have to be the bigger person,” Maxey noted “I feel like it was kind of trending that way. But I’m a professional at the end of the day.”

The 22-year-old is still having a solid scoring season for Philadelphia, averaging 20.8 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 0.9 SPG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers’ All-Star tandem of Joel Embiid and James Harden are finally clicking midway through their first full season together, Pompey posits in another article. “He’s so dominant and versatile to where I’m sure he’s never played with a play-maker like me,” Harden said of the Philadelphia center. “So it’s just constant communication to where he hasn’t probably rolled this much before and I haven’t had a big that pops like that.”
  • After an erratic six games at home, the current core players for the Raptors face some big-picture questions, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. At 20-24, Toronto heads toward the February 9 trade deadline with an uncertain future. Smith notes that the team’s front office brain trust of Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster may make some significant changes to the club’s roster if the Raptors can’t start winning. The Raptors boast several movable players on reasonable deals.
  • Celtics reserve forward Sam Hauser has been mired in a major shooting slump for the last month. Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wonders if team president Brad Stevens may opt to make a trade to replace Hauser’s lagging output for a Boston team with title hopes. Over the past 23 games, Hauser has seen his minutes slashed to 12.2 MPG and his shooting splits have nosedived to .348/.284/.250.

Atlantic Notes: M. Robinson, Knicks, Trent, Hauser

Responding early on Wednesday morning to a fan who asked him about the possibility of working with Amar’e Stoudemire on his post moves, Knicks center Mitchell Robinson replied, “The way we play is not set up for me to do any moves.”

As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes, Robinson’s tweet could have been read as a simple statement of fact about the Knicks’ system, or it could have been interpreted as a “subliminal complaint” about his role, since the big man has occasionally griped about his lack of involvement on offense in the past.

Robinson answered that question during and after Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee. He scored 15 points and racked up 20 boards, including 11 on the offensive glass, then told reporters in his postgame media session that he has no complaints about his role, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post.

“If I was unhappy, I wouldn’t have (done) what I came out here and did today and last game,” Robinson said. “I would’ve just chilled out and just (said), ‘Oh well.'”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • There is “heightened scrutiny” on the Knicks‘ game-by-game performance internally at MSG, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. There has been some speculation that head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s seat could get hotter if the team doesn’t show signs of taking a step forward, but Begley says “the entire organization is under the microscope” in the wake of an up-and-down 10-12 start.
  • With a potentially huge payday looming during the 2023 offseason, it’s a big year for Raptors wing Gary Trent Jr., who put in extra work in an effort to break out of a recent slump, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca details. Challenged by head coach Nick Nurse to be more disruptive on defense, Trent has 11 steals in his last four games and poured in a season-high 35 points on 12-of-20 shooting off the bench on Wednesday in New Orleans.
  • Celtics sharpshooter Sam Hauser is enjoying a breakout season in Boston, notes Chris Mannix of SI.com. While Hauser’s traditional stats – including 7.5 PPG on .514/.479/.778 shooting – are solid, it’s his advanced stats that really jump off the page. The former undrafted free agent leads the Eastern Conference in offensive rating (124.1) and net rating (+19.1) through his first 22 games. Boston re-signed Hauser to a three-year, minimum-salary contract over the summer, locking him into a team-friendly deal through 2024/25.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Bassey, Hauser, Robinson

Sixers All-NBA center Joel Embiid is playing through multiple injuries as he strives to keep his 6-7 club afloat without injured co-star James Harden, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Embiid is dealing with a tweaked ankle and an injured right shoulder, the latter of which is so restrictive that the big man says he occasionally struggles to lift his arm.

“And when I go block shots, I really feel it,” Embiid said. “I don’t know what’s going on. But it’s whatever.”

Despite the various ailments, Embiid is still having a big on-court impact. Through his nine healthy games this year, the seven-footer is averaging 29.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.7 APG and 1.2 BPG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Spurs two-way player Charles Bassey has impressed with San Antonio thus far, so much so that Pompey wonders in another piece if the Sixers erred in letting him go. He is averaging 6.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 2.0 BPG as a reserve in just 15.5 MPG. “He knows his role,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “He rebounds, blocks shots, runs the floor, and he does it with a lot of energy. He and [starting center Jakob Poeltl] have been a good pair in that regard.” Pompey notes that the 6’11” Bassey has the size to be more of a “true center” than the team’s current backups behind Embiid — 6’9″ Paul Reed and 6’7″ Montrezl Harrell are more combo power forward/centers.
  • Celtics reserve forward Sam Hauser has been given a larger role in his second year with Boston, and has responded well, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “He’s a guy that can create separation, and so usually guys who can shoot the ball are also really good screeners,” head coach Joe Mazzulla said. “So I think putting him in the action is another guy that they have to worry about, along with Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] and whether it’s [Marcus] Smart or Al [Horford], so when you have him involved, it just adds another layer to how they’re going to guard.”
  • Knicks starting center Mitchell Robinson continues to make progress from his right knee sprain. New York head coach Tom Thibodeau said on Saturday that Robinson’s availability has been upgraded to day-to-day, per Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Robinson has played a somewhat reduced role with New York this season, averaging a career-low 19.3 MPG during his eight healthy games with the club. In those minutes, the seven-footer out of Western Kentucky is posting averages of 5.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. Reserves Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein have stepped up in his absence.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Williams, Hauser, Randle, Toppin

The Sixers are striving to balance their need to win now with their focus on keeping All-NBA center Joel Embiid, currently dealing with an illness, healthy deeper into the season, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.

Embiid most recently tried to play on Friday against the Knicks, but ultimately left the floor about 15 minutes ahead of tip-off. The club lost to New York and fell to 4-6 on the season.

“Watching him in shootaround, I thought he was really struggling,” head coach Doc Rivers said of Embiid. “Showed up, went out on the floor, got shots, and just felt bad… Obviously, we want to win the game, and putting him on the floor would obviously help us. But we got to also think of the long game as well, and so I thought it was the right decision not to play him.” 

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Robert Williams III, ruled out for eight-to-12 weeks while he recovers from left knee surgery, is inching closer to a return for Boston, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “It feels great just getting back on the court, to be honest, man,” Williams said. “I need them just like they need me.” Last year for Boston, Williams was looking like a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate before being waylaid by his knee.
  • Celtics star wing Jaylen Brown applauded the on-court development of sharpshooting reserve forward Sam Hauser, writes Jay King of The Athletic. Hauser has proven himself to be a key floor-spacing option. In lineups where All-Star forward Jayson Tatum is surrounded by reserve shooters Hauser, Malcolm Brogdon and Grant Williams, Boston’s offense has scored 131.9 points per 100 possessions, writes King. “Sam is lights out,” Brown said. “You can’t leave him. We’re looking for him. Once he hit a couple, we’re looking for him, and Sam is always ready. He works hard, and he’s developing a nice role for himself in this league.” Through nine games for Boston so far, Hauser is averaging 6.4 PPG on .571/.548/.500 shooting splits in 13.1 MPG.
  • Though the Knicks‘ attempt to pair power forwards Julius Randle and Obi Toppin in select minutes during a recent loss to the Celtics didn’t work out particularly well, the duo remains optimistic that it can be effective, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I think we played good,” Toppin opined. “We’ve just got to come back with a lot more energy and a lot more fight next game.” Randle also spoke positively about the grouping: “I love it. Play fast, spacing on the floor, obviously, on the offensive end. Being able to switch. The biggest thing is with that group is we just have to rebound. I think that’s the one thing, even when he’s not out there, it’s not a 4 and 5. I think we clean up our rebounding and we’ll be fine.”

Celtics Notes: Griffin, J. Jackson, Hauser, Kabengele

Blake Griffin had to shake off some rust in his debut with the Celtics Friday night, but he showed several ways that he can help the team, writes Brian Robb of MassLive. After some early turnovers and missed shots, Griffin sparked a comeback that erased a 15-point deficit in a win over the Hornets. He finished with seven points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes and displayed an unselfishness that could make him an important part of Boston’s offense.

Griffin, 33, saw his role with the Nets diminish as last season wore on, and he spent nearly the entire offseason as a free agent before signing with the Celtics on Monday. He appeared to take a subtle swipe at his former team after the game while talking about coming to Boston, Robb adds.

“I think the intensity and maturity level of this group is off the charts,” Griffin said. “Every day when we get to work it’s intense. It’s not that we’re going forever but these guys are locked in and no one has to tell us to be locked in. It’s refreshing.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Justin Jackson‘s bid to earn a roster spot got off to a rocky start, but a second-half scoring explosion Friday improved his chances, Robb adds in a separate story. Jackson poured in 16 points in 23 minutes and hit four of eight shots from three-point range. Robb expects the Celtics to start the season with a full 15-man roster because of injuries to Robert Williams and Danilo Gallinari, and he sees Jake Layman and Brodric Thomas as Jackson’s main competition for the final spot.
  • Sam Hauser has been a pleasant surprise since the start of training camp, Robb states in a mailbag column. The second-year forward has emerged as a reliable long-distance shooter who can contribute on defense as well. Robb believes Hauser might be able to provide what the Celtics were hoping for when they signed Gallinari.
  • Mfiondu Kabengele has been getting a lot of personalized instruction from Jaylen Brown since joining the Celtics on a two-way contract, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Kabengele played briefly for the Clippers and Cavaliers after being selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, and he’s determined to learn as much as possible to help him stay in the league. “I’m not the same person I was in my rookie year, or even last year when I was in the G League,” he said. “A lot of times, I would come into games and practices and think, ‘All right, I have a skill set.’ It was a little bit of arrogance I had. It wasn’t laziness, but I had a good sense of what I needed, then every time I fail and go through these things, I’m like, ‘Why are things not working?’ Then I did some self-reflection.”

Celtics Notes: G. Williams, Udoka, Christian, Hauser

After Larry Nance Jr. agreed to a two-year, $21MM extension with New Orleans, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype talked to four NBA executives who expect Celtics forward Grant Williams to command in the range of $12-13MM per year on his own long-term deal.

However, speaking to Scotto on the HoopsHype podcast, Jared Weiss of The Athletic suggested that he wouldn’t accept less than $15MM annually on a rookie scale extension if he were Williams.

As Weiss observes, the fourth-year forward projects to have a significant role in the Celtics’ rotation with Danilo Gallinari likely out for the season, and – unlike Nance – Williams is still just 23 years old and has plenty of time to continue improving.

According to Scotto, Williams has dropped from about 280 pounds to 265, and seems poised to have a big year. If that’s the case, he could potentially exceed $15MM per year as a restricted free agent next summer should he forgo an extension before this year’s October 17 deadline.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • On that same HoopsHype podcast, Scotto said he spoke to four executives about the Ime Udoka situation, and all four expressed skepticism that Udoka will ever coach the Celtics again.
  • As the Celtics consider adding another assistant to fortify interim coach Joe Mazzulla‘s staff, one candidate to keep an eye on is Jarrell Christian, who coached the Maine Celtics last season, says Scotto. Christian has since been named Maine’s general manager, but that typically hasn’t been a full-time position, Weiss notes, with various members of the Celtics’ scouting department filling that role in past seasons.
  • Even after a nightmarish September in Boston, John Hollinger of The Athletic is bullish on the Celtics’ chances of being one of the NBA’s best teams, projecting them to win 55 games and claim the No. 1 seed in the East. However, Hollinger believes the C’s will probably need a “peak” version of Robert Williams to make it back to the NBA Finals.
  • While Jayson Tatum and Sam Hauser may have a good-natured difference of opinions over which player is the better three-point shooter, Tatum praised his fellow forward and stressed Hauser’s importance after Wednesday’s game. “I tell him all the time: If people left me that wide open and all I had to do was catch-and-shoot, I would make a lot more shots as well. So I tell Sam he should send me a thank you card for being on the floor together,” Tatum joked after Hauser made 8-of-13 threes in his first two preseason appearances. “Sam is obviously a great shooter and his game has come a long way. I’m happy for him. I’m happy he’s getting these opportunities, and he’s obviously making the most out of it. We’re going to need him.”

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 Notes: Smart, G. Williams, Roster Spots

Marcus Smart agrees with the theory that a shallow rotation left the Celtics exhausted by the time they reached the NBA Finals, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Smart, who admitted that he still rewatches the Finals to see what he could have done differently, said the team exacerbated the problem by getting off to a slow start and not playing to its potential until January.

“I think depth was one of the big things that hurt us,” he said. “You had me, Jayson (Tatum), Jaylen (Brown) and our starters playing, clawing (up the standings) and we did it to ourselves.”

Smart likes the offseason additions the Celtics made, though Danilo Gallinari may be lost for the season with a torn ACL. Smart heard his name mentioned in Kevin Durant trade rumors this summer, but he’s thankful that he wasn’t moved and that the core of the team has remained intact.

“For someone who’s always talked about in trade talks, I didn’t really pay too much mind to that. Until it actually happens, I don’t believe it,” Smart said. “We can sit here and say this person said this, but we don’t even know who said it. It’s like a telephone game. By the time it gets back to you, you don’t know what changed and who said what. Until it actually happens, I try to pay trade rumors no mind.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • In an interview with Bobby Manning of CLNS Media, Smart revealed that he’s still feeling the effects of injuries from last season’s playoffs. He suffered a sprained right foot in the Eastern semifinals and a sprained right ankle in the conference finals. He also had to miss Game 2 of the Bucks series after aggravating a right thigh injury. “My ankle is feeling better, it’s still healing, so I’m dealing with that,” Smart said. “Just giving it as much rest as I can, but definitely back on the court. I’m definitely back into the action. It feels like yesterday we just started playing, we haven’t really missed a beat, but I’m definitely doing everything I can to be ready for next season and to go deeper. I’m pretty close (to 100%), obviously it’s September, you don’t want to be in June, July, May shape right now so I’m trying not to go too crazy, but I’m really close and I’ve been doing this going into my ninth season.”
  • Grant Williams‘ hopes for a contract extension will be impacted by the three-year, $33MM deal that Maxi Kleber got from the Mavericks, per Brian Robb of MassLive. Robb believes Williams would be better off taking what he can get in an extension rather than dealing with the unpredictability of restricted free agency.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines the battle for roster spots at Celtics training camp and views Sam Hauser, Luke KornetMfiondu Kabengele, JD Davison and Jake Layman as having the best shot at making the team.

Celtics Notes: Anthony, Free Agents, Vonleh, Madar

The Celtics aren’t expected to sign free agent Carmelo Anthony as a replacement for the injured Danilo Gallinari, Brian Robb of MassLive writes in a mailbag column. The possibility of Anthony heading to Boston has been rumored over the past week, but multiple league sources tell Robb that Anthony isn’t considered a priority for the team.

The Celtics’ roster isn’t fully set heading into training camp, and a free agent or two could eventually be added. However, Robb hears that Boston wants to give players who are already under contract the first chance to replace Gallinari, including Sam Hauser and some big men who are hoping to make the team.

He suggests that Anthony may become an option later in the season if he’s still available and the Celtics need to add scoring off their bench. Robb also dismisses the prospect of veterans such as Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge being brought into camp.

Anthony remains unsigned roughly two weeks before camps open, even though he was fairly productive for the Lakers last season. The 38-year-old forward averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 69 games while shooting 44.1% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Noah Vonleh could be one of the options to replace Gallinari, but he’ll have to show that his defense has improved to earn a roster spot, Robb adds in the same piece. Vonleh agreed to a one-year training camp contract in August after playing overseas last season. Robb states that Vonleh is a below-average shot blocker and concerns about his defense are the main reason he played for seven teams in seven years.
  • Draft-and-stash player Yam Madar has been impressive for Israel during the EuroBasket tournament, Robb notes in a separate story. The 21-year-old point guard was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and played for KK Partizan last season. He passed on Summer League to concentrate on his commitment to the Israeli team. Robb calls Madar’s future with the Celtics “murky” considering they drafted JD Davison this year.
  • As the rebuilding Jazz continue to shake up their roster, a deal with the Celtics could become an option, Robb adds in another piece. He examines the potential fit in Boston for several Utah players.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, G. Williams, Hauser, Trade Exceptions

NBA players who sustain ACL tears often take a full calendar year to return to action, but Celtics forward Danilo Gallinari isn’t giving up on playing in 2022/23 after learning of his diagnosis, according to Tim Bontemps and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. A source tells Wojnarowski that Gallinari is determined to try to play before before the end of the season.

“This has been a tough week for me as I have learned the extent of my injury,” Gallinari wrote today in a statement on Twitter. “This game means everything to me and not being able to be on the court with my Celtics teammates hurts. I plan to give everything I can to the Celtics organization and my teammates as we hunt for a title.”

Even if the Celtics make another deep playoff run and play into May or June, Gallinari would need to make it back onto the court approximately eight or nine months after tearing his ACL in order to contribute in the postseason. That’s a tall order for any player, let alone a 34-year-old who tore the same ACL in 2013.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Gallinari is expected to undergo surgery on his left knee after the swelling goes down, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. According to Himmelsbach, Grant Williams will likely play an increased role with Gallinari out, while Sam Hauser will have a chance to earn a spot in the regular rotation.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic takes a look at what’s next for the Celtics with Gallinari sidelined, noting that Boston still has a pair of trade exceptions worth $6.9MM and $5.9MM that could be useful if the team wants to try to add some reliable veteran depth via trade.
  • In another article for The Athletic, Weiss examines how the Cavaliers’ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell affects the Celtics’ place in the Eastern Conference hierarchy and considers whether Collin Sexton‘s new four-year, $72MM deal will be a reference point when Boston discusses a potential rookie scale extension with Grant Williams.