Terry Rozier

Celtics Notes: Smart, Luxury Tax, Irving, Hayward

Marcus Smart essentially ended up with the same contract as the one the Celtics offered him via an extension last fall, sources tell Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The combo guard inked a four-year deal worth $52MM on Thursday.

That contract technically has a base value of $50MM, but annual $500K bonuses will bring the total value to $52MM, notes Fred Katz of MassLive.com (Twitter link). Those incentives aren’t linked to playoff success or individual accolades, but rather to body-fat and weigh-in requirements, according to Katz. They’re considered likely to be earned, which means they’ll count toward Smart’s annual cap hits.

With Smart under contract, the Celtics are now about $3.9MM over the luxury-tax line, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. Boston could cut costs slightly by waiving Abdel Nader‘s partially guaranteed contract, which could also open up a roster spot for two-way free agent Jabari Bird, as Nahmad observes. Trading Marcus Morris‘ $5.38MM salary at some point could allow the C’s to avoid the tax, but there’s no indication the team is considering that for now.

Here’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics may have first reached a four-year, $52MM agreement with Smart on Tuesday — a source tells Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) that GM Danny Ainge changed his mind after initially making an offer at that price. In the ensuing 48 hours, Ainge changed his mind again and the deal was finalized, says Schultz.
  • Three player agents tell Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that they expect Kyrie Irving to opt out and leave the Celtics next summer. However, sources close to Irving tell Bulpett that the point guard is happy with Boston and has been talking about his future with the franchise beyond the 2018/19 season.
  • In an Insider-only piece, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton explores what Smart’s new deal means for Irving and Terry Rozier, speculating that the Celtics may eventually have to decide between Smart and Rozier.
  • Re-signing Smart was worth the cost for the Celtics, according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who gives the club a B grade for the move.
  • During a media appearance on Thursday, Gordon Hayward expressed confidence that he’ll be back at full speed by August, suggesting he’ll “see how [his] ankle reacts to that,” per Jacob Wolf of ESPN.com. Hayward also said he likes the Celtics’ chances to make a run at a title in 2018/19.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

New York Notes: Randle, Stauskas, Knicks, Turner

The Nets are among the teams interested in signing Lakers forward Julius Randle to an offer sheet, according to an article on NetsDaily. Brooklyn would like to reunite D’Angelo Russell with Randle, who is a close friend and one of the few Lakers who showed support for Russell when Magic Johnson publicly questioned his leadership abilities. They also share the same agent in Aaron Mintz.

A few things will have to break the Nets’ way for them to have a shot at Randle. The Lakers will have to land both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, limiting what they would be willing to spend on their restricted free agent, and the Mavericks, who are also known to covet Randle, would have to use most of their cap room to sign DeAndre Jordan.

Even if those dominoes fall into place, the Nets still have to trim some salary to come up with an offer sheet that starts in the $12MM to $15MM range. The article states that sweeteners such as up-front money and trade bonuses could be included to make it more difficult for the Lakers to match. To create cap room, the author adds, the Nets would have to get Dwight Howard to accept a buyout in the next few days and trade either Jeremy Lin or DeMarre Carroll.

There’s more today out of New York:

  • Even though the Nets decided against a qualifying offer for Nik Stauskas, that doesn’t mean he’ll be in a different uniform next season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn views Stauskas as a lower-cost alternative if Joe Harris leaves in free agency, where he is expected to get a deal three to four times higher than his $1.5MM salary for 2017/18. Mark Bartelstein, who serves as the agent for both players, isn’t sure the decision will come down to one or the other. “We’ll see how things play out over the next two days,” he said. “We’ll be keeping the lines of communication open for the next few days. I know the Nets like Nik a lot. We’ll see how the roster shapes up.”
  • Pacers center Myles Turner could be the Knicks‘ top free agent target next summer, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Turner will be a restricted free agent if he doesn’t sign an extension with Indiana this summer. His family lives in New York, and he and Kristaps Porzingis are friends. Begley lists Terry Rozier and Malcolm Brogdon as other names to watch in 2019.
  • James Dolan has denied rumors that he is thinking about putting the Knicks up for sale, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Madison Square Garden Company released a statement Friday night saying, “There are no plans to sell the Knicks or the Rangers.”

Celtics Rumors: Bamba, Ownership, Morris, Monroe

For the first time since 2015, the Celtics won’t have a top-five pick in the draft this year. However, it sounds like they may still have their eye on a top-five prospect.

According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, sources say that Boston has expressed interest in Texas big man Mohamed Bamba, including interviewing him at the draft combine in Chicago earlier this month. The Celtics’ first-round pick is at No. 27, and Bamba is expected to come off the board within the first six or seven picks on draft night, so in order to have a shot at the young center, the C’s would need to move way up.

While a trade doesn’t seem particularly likely, Deveney has previously reported that the Grizzlies are open to making a move with the No. 4 pick, and suggests today that the Mavericks may be willing to discuss the No. 5 selection. Additionally, Boston has no shortage of potential trade chips. The team could own up to four first-round picks in 2019, including the Kings’ selection (if it doesn’t end up first overall). Plus, given the Celtics’ backcourt and wing depth, players like Terry Rozier or Jaylen Brown could become trade candidates for the right return.

The Celtics made a big draft trade last year when they sent the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia, but going from No. 27 into the top five would be an even more drastic move. As we wait to see if Boston seriously explores that possibility, let’s round up a few more Celtics notes…

  • While Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck didn’t want to discuss specific dollar figures, he told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that ownership will have no qualms about spending to keep Boston’s roster together and pursue championships. “We put winning ahead of everything else,” Grousbeck said. “Every now and then you’ve got to make room and play the kids and get a Gordon Hayward in free agency, and other times you just try to keep a core together and build onto it. And we’re in the latter stage right now in trying to keep this group together and build onto it as best we can.”
  • More from Grousbeck, via Bulpett: “We can’t keep everybody if we’re going to keep adding (because of roster size limitations), but everybody who’s watched this team for 15 years knows what we’re about. … We live for banners. We live for rings. That’s what we live for.”
  • In a look at the Celtics’ potential roster and rotation for 2018/19, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe notes that Marcus Morris seems aware that a healthy lineup could create a minutes crunch for the team. “There’s going to be a lot of players next year, so I’m not 100% sure where I fit totally yet,” Morris said. “It’s just something I’m still kind of wary about.”
  • Within that same story, Himmelsbach says it’s “quite unlikely” that the Celtics will have interest in re-signing Greg Monroe this summer.

East Finals Roundup: LeBron, Tatum, J. Green

While LeBron James‘ upcoming free agency will be the biggest storyline of the NBA offseason, James himself has avoided discussing his future all season long, and the Cavaliers – including owner Dan Gilbert – are following suit. After the Cavs’ Game 7 win over the Celtics on Sunday night, Gilbert told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin that the organization is completely locked in on its next series, not on the summer.

“We’re just focused – and it’s the truth, it’s not avoiding the question – we’re literally focused on (the now),” Gilbert said. “It’s just so intense in the playoffs and getting to the Finals and now the Finals, I don’t think – and I know he doesn’t – I don’t think even our guys are talking (about anything other than) what’s in front of them. … So, everybody knows, obviously what we want to happen and we’ll take the Finals first and take it from there.”

While the Cavaliers will head into the Finals as the underdogs, pulling off the upset could have a major impact on the club’s upcoming offseason plans — it would be hard for James to leave Cleveland right after leading the Cavs to another championship.

Here are a few more items worth rounding up from the Eastern Conference Finals:

  • Jayson Tatum couldn’t lead the Celtics to the NBA Finals, but he received plenty of praise from James as his impressive rookie season came to an end, per Chris Forsberg of ESPN. “I just love everything about (Tatum), the way he plays the game, his demeanor, where he comes from,” James said. “I just know he’s built for stardom. He’s built for success. And that’s both on and off the floor.”
  • James was also complimentary of the Cavaliers teammates who are headed to the Finals despite hearing for weeks that they weren’t doing enough to help LeBron. “I know I get a lot of the headlines – win, lose or draw, whatever the case may be – but in order to be successful, it’s a team game,” James told ESPN’s Doris Burke after the Game 7 win (link via Andrew Joseph of USA Today). “That’s why we’re going to another Finals — because my teammates played a hell of a game.”
  • One of those teammates, Jeff Green, spoke after the game about not taking anything for granted after undergoing open-heart surgery in 2012. Jeff Zilgitt and AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today have the story on Green, who was the Cavaliers‘ second-best player in Game 7.
  • Their disappointing Game 7 performances will likely haunt Celtics youngsters Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown for a while, but that may not be the worst thing in the world, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, who writes that this year’s loss can be a learning experience for Rozier and Brown as they continue to develop.

Co-Owner Wyc Grousbeck Confident About Celtics’ Future

Celtics co-owner, managing partner, and CEO Wyc Grousbeck appeared today on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston before tonight’s Game 2 between the Celtics and Cavaliers to discuss a bevy of topics, as relayed by Adam Kaufman of WBZ-AM NewsRadio 1030 (click here for links).

Perhaps most interestingly, Grousbeck uncovered the fact that the Cavs were interested in obtaining/would have accepted Jayson Tatum instead of the Nets’ upcoming pick in the 2018 NBA Draft in last summer’s blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics. Ultimately, the Celtics preferred to send the pick instead of their prized rookie, which sure appears to have been the right decision as we sit here today.

Faced with the upcoming free agency of Marcus Smart this summer and the potential free agency of Irving, Al Horford, and Terry Rozier next summer, Grousbeck was also asked to discuss the Celtics’ willingness to dip into the luxury tax if necessary. Per Kaufman, Grousbeck said the Celtics are prepared to “pay for performance” and “to do whatever it takes to win again.”

As for Irving’s knee injury that has kept him out of this year’s postseason, Grousbeck said that he has no long-term concerns about Irving’s knee, which parallels the report from about a month ago that Irving was already seen walking around without a noticeable limp just a little over a week after his surgery.

Given Irving’s positive prognosis, the relative youth of the Celtics’ roster and head coach, and the prowess the team has exhibited so far this postseason without Irving, Gordon Hayward, or Daniel Theis, it’s no surprise that Grousbeck feels very confident about his team’s future, even going as far as to say he’d be disappointed if the Celtics aren’t back in the same position they’re in now for the next five years.

Community Shootaround: Boston’s Point Guard Depth

While the absence of ex-Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving may detract from some drama in the Eastern Conference Finals, it didn’t slow the Celtics down en route to a convincing victory over his former team in Game 1 of the series on Sunday.

As a matter of fact, the Celtics have thrived despite the Irving injury all postseason thanks in no small part to the contributions of two other point guards on the roster.

In a starter’s workload this postseason, which includes 37.3 minutes per game, third-year guard Terry Rozier has averaged 18.2 points and 5.5 assists per game. The 24-year-old may not star alongside Nick Kroll in an upcoming feature film this June* like Irving will but he’s looked every bit as capable at the helm, piloting the C’s through two playoff series already.

Another major component at play this postseason, a third asset that rounds out Boston’s elite point guard depth chart, is Marcus Smart. While Smart’s playing style has always been unique, the 10.3 points and 4.4 assists per game that he brings along with his toughness and other intangibles, have made him invaluable.

Regardless of how the Celtics fare this postseason, they’ll happily welcome Irving, a bonafide star, back into the starter’s role next season. That, unsurprisingly, could put a squeeze on the rest of the players at the position. Sure, Smart’s role as a reserve combo guard allows him to slot in alongside Irving, but Rozier saw just 24.4 minutes of nightly action in the regular season prior to the opportunity created by Irving.

Our question for you this evening is which of the two guards you’d value more heading into the 2018 offseason?

Should the C’s make bringing restricted free agent Smart back this summer a top priority or could they get by with Rozier and another third-string guard? Alternatively, should Danny Ainge potentially look to deal Rozier instead given that there’s more of an overlap between him and Irving than there is between Smart and Irving?

Is there room for all three long-term?

Consider Boston’s success this postseason proof that a surplus of point guard talent is a pleasant conundrum to have. Weigh in with how you think the situation will develop below.

*Hi film studio, all commissions happily accepted.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Rozier, Ainge, Youth, Brown

There was a point this year when it seemed that injuries and an off-the-court family issue could end Marcus Smarts season. However, he’s back now and helping the Celtics as they try to get past the Sixers and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg writes that Smart’s ability to help Boston in multiple facets of the game has been a help to their case.

“I think it all starts with his competitiveness,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “He has the ability to make plays that nobody else makes. Like, whether it’s ripping the ball out of somebody’s hands, or the [offensive rebound] he made against [Joel] Embiid where he laid it in and got fouled [in Game 1]. We have a number of clips over the years of him rebounding over the top in traffic where no guard can get that ball. He brings a contagious element to our team that you can try all you want to quantify it, but other than winning and losing, you can’t quantify it.”

Smart’s defense on Ben Simmons in Game 1 is specifically highlighted as one of the ways Smart helped Boston. Forsberg’s story also covers Smart’s mother battling cancer and how she still supports him back home in Texas.

Check out more Celtics notes below:

  • In a separate story, Forsberg writes that the Celtics’ youngsters have been playing like veterans, which has enabled the team to play well in the face of multiple injuries.
  • Entering the offseason, Terry Rozier envisioned himself as the Celtics’ starting point guard leading the team to the playoffs. However, the acquisition of Kyrie Irving put that vision on hold. Then, Irving went under the knife and Rozier found himself leading the Celtics through the postseason, Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report details.
  • The Celtics’ roster has withstood massive injuries to Gordon Hayward, Irving, Smart, and others. Taylor C. Snow of NBA.com writes that president and general manager, Danny Ainge, deserves the credit for the Celtics’ depth and resilience.
  • Jaylen Brown, who seemed doubtful for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a right hamstring strain, was upgraded to probable on Thursday, the Celtics announced. Brown did not start Game 2, but did play in the game.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers Culture, Rozier, Wright

Love or hate The Process, it produced a Sixers team that is every bit an Eastern Conference contender. Beyond the roster loaded with talent, however, is a strong culture, one that ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz points out is far more developed and nuanced than we all assumed while they were losing historically.

All of that was a time of learning, a time of progression, a time of really seeing the type of person you can become when you endure hard time,” said Sixers forward Robert Covington. “That journey made us who we are. The 18-win season, the 10-win season. All that, it built us up for this moment.

A mainstay for the team during those lean years is a tradition of having players give presentations about topics that resonate with them on a monthly basis. The result? A series of PowerPoint speeches over which Sixers staffers and stars have been connecting.

Arnovitz breaks down the motivation behind the Sixers’ discussions, which range from Covington’s lecture on snakes to Dario Saric‘s lesson on the Balkan conflict that shaped his childhood. If you dive into one #LongRead today, make it this one.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Consider David Lee a supporter of the notion that the Knicks should hire Mark Jackson. Lee played in New York and later for Jackson in Golden State. “Mark understands the difference in New York basketball. He’s from there,” Lee told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “He understands the politics, the fans, things involved unique to the Knicks. That’s an advantage he has.
  • A pair of Atlantic Division point guards have developed slowly over time. Now, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wonders if Delon Wright and Terry Rozier could eventually leave the Raptors and Celtics for a chance to play a bigger role on another squad. Both players will be eligible for extensions this offseason, and Toronto and Boston may not have the cap flexibility to invest in them for the long term.
  • The Nets have seen a trend of development in players that they’ve had for two or more seasons. Tom Dowd of the team’s official website writes that all eyes will be on D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe and Jarrett Allen to see if they’ll show similar improvements when they reach their second year under the tutelage of head coach Kenny Atkinson.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Hornacek, Rozier, Smart

Markelle Fultz has made progress in fixing his shot, but the Sixers are uncertain if he will play again this season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fultz is looking better in pre-game shootarounds and his release point is almost back to where it was in college and summer league. However, conditioning is a concern for a player who hasn’t appeared in a game since October.

“He understands where the team is at, and he understands where the NBA is pretty tough in March and the race to the playoffs is real,” coach Brett Brown said. “I think whenever the decision comes out, we will act accordingly. I can tell you personally, I do look forward to coaching him.”

Fultz hasn’t been a full participant at practice since he was first injured and has done his work mainly in three-on-three scrimmages with teammates. Brown expects the decision to be made soon, and Fultz will have input on whether he plays or not.

  • Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has been going along with the rebuilding plan in New York, even though it has resulted in a won-loss record that might cost him his job, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Hornacek hasn’t talked to anyone in the front office about his future with the team, but he knows that conversation will happen soon. “At the end of the season I’m sure we’ll sit down with [president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry] and figure out what we’re doing,” he said. “As a coach you’d like to know if you’re going to be here next year. But our job right now is take the guys that we have on this team and try to get them better.”
  • Celtics guard Terry Rozier is hoping Marcus Smart can return in the playoffs and promises to help convince him to stay in Boston this summer, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Smart is expected to miss about six weeks after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb and could return for a second-round series. He will be a restricted free agent this summer. “If I’m part of the plan in recruiting Marcus to stay here, then that’s what I’m going to have to do,” Rozier said.
  • In a St. Patrick’s Day column, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston examines the ways that good luck that has touched the Celtics in recent years. Examples include the emergence of Rozier, the availability of Kyrie Irving and the Hornets’ refusal to accept a parcel of draft picks in exchange for their ninth selection in 2015 when team president Danny Ainge wanted to draft Justise Winslow.

Celtics Notes: Smart, Irving, Brown, Rozier, Theis

The Celtics continue to hold their breath as they wait for Marcus Smart to receive a second opinion on his right thumb injury. Postponed due to a snowstorm, Smart’s appointment to get his injury reassessed is now set for Thursday, per Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald.

As Murphy details, there’s a belief that Smart tore a ligament in his thumb — if it’s a full tear, surgery would likely be required, with the recovery potentially taking three or four months. If it’s only a partial tear, Smart may try to play through the injury. Appearing today on the Zolak & Bertrand radio show in Boston, head coach Brad Stevens downplayed the idea of a quick return for Smart, though he acknowledged there’s a variety of potential outcomes, as ESPN’s Chris Forsberg writes.

“He told me today that he’s going to take a couple of days, see what it feels like early next week, get all of the different doctors’ opinions [then] sit down early next week and weigh his options,” Stevens said. “There could be a slight chance that he’s back sooner rather than later, but I’d say that it’s not going to be any time too soon. And there’s a chance that he would not be back [this season].”

Given how much better the Celtics play defensively with Smart in the lineup, the diagnosis will be a critical one. As the club waits for more details on Smart’s thumb, let’s round up a few more C’s notes…

  • Joking that he might have to sign himself to a 10-day contract to help plug the holes in the Celtics’ lineup, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he thinks Kyrie Irving is “going to be fine,” writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, a league source tells Himmelsbach that it “doesn’t look good” for Smart.
  • Stevens said today that Irving underwent an MRI on his sore knee and “everything looked great” (Twitter link via Murphy). There’s even a chance he’ll play on Friday, according to the team (Twitter link). The club also announced today that Jaylen Brown is “clearly better,” but won’t travel with the C’s on this weekend’s road trip.
  • Ainge tells Himmelsbach that the slew of injuries to Celtics regulars will give the healthy players a chance to shine: “I’ve seen many times where players that were not thought very highly of get an opportunity and make a name for themselves. So over these next couple weeks, there will be some guys that have those opportunities. We’ve seen players throughout the years that have responded, so this is a chance for some of our players to step up and see how much they can contribute to winning.”
  • Terry Rozier is one of the Celtics who figures to play a starring role with Irving, Smart, and others on the shelf. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg takes an in-depth look at the man known as “Scary Terry.”
  • Daniel Theis is scheduled to have surgery on his torn meniscus on Thursday, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Stevens confirmed today that Theis will be out for the rest of the season, tweets Himmelsbach.