The Celtics are concerned about facing Sixers center Joel Embiid in a potential playoff series, and the trade market may not offer the help they need, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Embiid posted 38 points and 13 rebounds in Thursday’s win over Boston, giving Philadelphia a 2-0 record against its arch rivals. Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis combined for 36 points and 14 rebounds, but the Celtics might prefer one center who matches up better with Embiid and some of the other front line talent in the Eastern Conference.
Forsberg notes that the Celtics’ options are limited because they don’t have any substantial contracts to trade outside of their core players. That eliminates an option like Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams, who has a $25.8MM salary. The Celtics might have to send Gordon Hayward to the Thunder in return, which Forsberg says they won’t consider.
A more realistic possibility that Forsberg identifies is the Knicks‘ Taj Gibson, who is making $9MM this year and has a non-guaranteed contract for next season. Gibson has fared well against Embiid in limited minutes and played alongside Kanter when they were both with the Thunder.
There’s more today from Boston:
- Jayson Tatum believes Kyrie Irving has been made an unfair scapegoat for last year’s disappointing season. Brown defended his former teammate this week in an interview with ESPN’s Maria Taylor (video link). “No, it’s not Kyrie’s fault. There was 15 guys on that team and coaches and front office,” Tatum said. “Everybody played a part in that. I feel like he gets a lot of blame undeservingly. He’s a great person. We still have a great relationship. He helped me out a lot, on and off the court, my first two years, that I’m thankful for. But no, he shouldn’t get all the blame, any of the blame.”
- Coach Brad Stevens thinks the league is on the right track by experimenting with its schedule and considering an in-season tournament, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. He admits it’s hard to deliver “your best product” 82 times a season. “I do appreciate the NBA looks at things and says, ‘We’re not just going to stay status quo because it’s status quo,’” Stevens said. “We have to continue to look at what’s best for the game, what’s best for the players, all the people in the travel party, all that stuff. So I appreciate the leadership in the league.”
- The Grizzlies have moved into eighth place in our Reverse Standings with three wins in their past four games, Forsberg tweets. The first-round pick that they owe the Celtics is top-six protected for 2020, then unprotected after that.