Tristan Thompson

Atlantic Notes: Thompson, Fournier, Johnson, Shamet, Hill

After missing nearly a month due to a positive COVID-19 test, Celtics big man Tristan Thompson returned earlier this week, a welcome sight for a Boston team struggling to play consistently. However, Thompson detailed a difficult battle with the virus while he was away from the team.

“That s–t’s no joke,” Thompson told reporters, including Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link). “That was a battle. I had all the symptoms except losing my taste and smell, so at least I could enjoy my food.”

Thompson, 30, has appeared in 38 games (31 starts) in his first season with the Celtics, averaging 7.9 PPG and 8.3 RPG. While his production is down, Boston is happy to have some size back in the frontcourt, especially given Thompson’s postseason experience. In the meantime, Thompson is looking forward to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“…I’m definitely going to get the vaccine as soon as I can get it,” Thompson said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link).

Check out more news and notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens announced that trade deadline acquisition Evan Fournier will not travel with the team during its upcoming road trip, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Fournier has appeared in four games for the Celtics since being shipped to Boston, averaging 11.5 PPG off the bench, but is currently sidelined due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
  • Alize Johnson‘s second 10-day pact with the Nets is ending this Sunday and it remains to be seen what the team does with him. Johnson said he wants to keep showing the club “that I belong and I wanna be here,” per NetsDaily. Brian Lewis of the New York Post breaks down the Nets’ upcoming decision on whether or not to keep Johnson.
  • After missing a series of games due to an ankle injury, Landry Shamet is expected to return for the Nets on Saturday, Lewis writes in a separate story. Brooklyn has dealt with a series of injuries but are slowly seeing players return, including Kevin Durant after a two-month absence.
  • While it remains unclear when it will happen, Sixers guard George Hill, whom the team acquired at the trade deadline, expects to return this season, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Twitter link). “No one knows the timetable yet,” Hill said. “But I will be back this season for sure. I will be back before playoffs for sure.”

Atlantic Notes: Quickley, Bembry, Johnson, Reed

Immanuel Quickley had an impressive start to his rookie season with the Knicks. The 6’3″ guard, who was the 25th overall pick out of Kentucky, scored at least 19 points in 11 of his first 36 NBA games. However, over the last few weeks, Quickley has hit a wall and fallen into a shooting slump. The Knicks have also dropped four of their previous five games. 

With Quickley struggling, Marc Berman of the New York Post wonders whether the rookie has a future as a starting NBA point guard or if he’ll end up as a bench scorer. Berman elicits opinions from multiple scouts in his look at Quickley’s future role.

“He played above his pay grade the first few months,’” said former Sixers scout Michael VandeGarde, who now runs a scouting service. “He’s coming back down to earth. It happens a lot with kids for short periods when they play so well early. Only time will tell what he really is.’”

More from the Atlantic Division: 

  • Veteran guard DeAndre’ Bembry signed a two-year deal with the Raptors before the season, and while the signing went under the radar, he has been vital to his new team. As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes, Bembry is capable of guarding at least three positions on defense and has shown enough on offense to earn himself regular playing time.
  • Celtics big man Tristan Thompson appears ready to make his return after a lengthy absence due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Thompson last played on March 14.
  • While he doesn’t receive as much attention as his star teammates, Alize Johnson who’s currently on his second 10-day contract in Brooklyn, is providing the Nets with strong production. “There are some nights where it might not look like he’s showing up on the stat sheet, but he does all the little stuff all the time. And then when we need him to come up for us offensively, he typically does,” Nets guard Joe Harris said of Johnson, per Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post.
  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic profiled Sixers rookie Paul Reed, taking a look at the NBA G League MVP known as “Bball Paul.” While Reed may not see a ton of playing time the rest of the way, he’s “now very much part of the Sixers’ team fabric,” Hofmann writes.

Celtics’ Evan Fournier In Health And Safety Protocols

The Celtics were hoping Evan Fournier would make his debut with the team tonight, but he is listed on the injury report as being in the league’s health and safety protocols, writes Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Privacy regulations prevent the Celtics and the NBA from releasing any more information on Fournier, who was acquired from the Magic at Thursday’s trade deadline. Coach Brad Stevens told reporters Friday that Fournier was in Boston to take his physical.

There’s no way to know how long Fournier will be required to stay in the protocols, but players who are undergoing contact tracing typically return within seven days if they continue to test negative for COVID-19. Terada points out that the Celtics only have 27 games remaining and would face a limited time to get Fournier accustomed to his new teammates if he’s out for an extended period.

Boston is also listing Romeo Langford and Tristan Thompson out due to health and safety protocols, Terada adds. Langford has been in the protocols since the All-Star break, but there’s hope he can return next week. Thompson has missed the past seven games, and there’s no timetable for him to come back.

Celtics Notes: Kornet, Smart, Fournier, R. Williams, More

After completing a three-team trade with Chicago and Washington that sent Moritz Wagner and Luke Kornet to Boston, the Celtics are expected to waive a player to pursue a veteran big man on the buyout market, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, who says Kornet would likely be the odd man out.

However, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears that there are no immediate plans to drop Kornet. As Himmelsbach explains, since Daniel Theis is now a Bull and Tristan Thompson remains sidelined due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Celtics may need some extra depth at the five in the short term.

Himmelsbach’s report makes sense — whether Kornet remains on the roster for another day, another week, or the rest of the season, the Celtics will owe him the same amount of money, so the logical move would be to hang onto him until the team lines up a deal with a free agent center.

Of course, there’s no guarantee anything will materialize on the buyout market, but the Celtics intend to weigh all the options, as Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said today (Twitter link via Keith Smith of RealGM).

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Within his Athletic story linked above, Weiss suggests that Thursday’s series of moves provide further evidence that Celtics ownership is reluctant to green-light a “long-term deep dive” into luxury tax territory.
  • Ainge assured Marcus Smart that the team wasn’t shopping him and that his name only came up in trade rumors prior to the deadline because he was being brought up by teams interested in him, a source tells Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link). Smart was rumored to be part of the club’s trade talks with Orlando, but ultimately stayed put.
  • Having previously stated that he preferred not to use the Celtics’ massive trade exception on a player with an expiring contract, Ainge explained on Friday to reporters that he felt comfortable committing a significant chunk of that TPE toward Evan Fournier because he’s hopeful the veteran wing will remain in Boston beyond this season (Twitter links via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston). Ainge also said part of the reason he wanted to land an impact scorer like Fournier was that he sensed internal discouragement and wanted the players and coaches to “feel hope” (Twitter link via Forsberg).
  • The trade of Theis will free up a bigger role for Robert Williams going forward, according to Ainge, who said the third-year big man has been the club’s best defensive center this season (Twitter links via Smith).
  • Ainge said that Wagner and Kornet could join the Celtics as soon as today, while Fournier could report to the team in Oklahoma City this weekend. Additionally, the hope is that Thompson and Romeo Langford will be available at some point next week (Twitter links via Forsberg).

Celtics Rumors: Gordon, Nesmith, Smart, Langford, More

The Celtics and Nuggets continue to lead the Aaron Gordon sweepstakes, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, who reports that the Magic forward would welcome the opportunity to play for either team, or for the Trail Blazers.

While one Wednesday report suggested that Denver had taken the lead as the frontrunner to land Gordon, the Celtics continue to pursue the veteran forward, with John Collins and Harrison Barnes looking to be increasingly less likely targets, Weiss writes.

Weiss suggests that the Timberwolves appear to be falling back in the race to land Gordon, but all indications are that the Magic will continue talks right up until the deadline.

According to Weiss, the Celtics’ desire package for Gordon would be Aaron Nesmith and a first-round pick, giving Orlando the opportunity to create a sizeable traded player exception. However, the team will likely need to up that offer, either by including another first-rounder or by expanding the trade to include Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier.

Here’s more from Weiss on the Celtics:

  • While Romeo Langford was mentioned on Wednesday along with Nesmith as a candidate to be an outgoing piece in a Gordon trade, Weiss says the former Hoosiers guard doesn’t have much value due to his injury history and the fact that he was already a “polarizing” prospect entering the 2019 draft. As such, it doesn’t make much sense for the Celtics to sell low on him. Nesmith has more trade value, as Weiss notes.
  • Grant Williams and Semi Ojeleye haven’t been included in any trade packages that have “advanced to a serious stage,” sources tell Weiss.
  • One league source speculated to Weiss that there’s a chance the Celtics could do something more complex involving Gordon, like sending Smart to Orlando and trading draft capital to New Orleans for Lonzo Ball. However, that sounds like a longer shot.
  • Tristan Thompson has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate, and there’s been some frustration that his on-court impact has been modest, per Weiss. However, Thompson is close with Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, and even if there’s been some frustration with his production, it hasn’t become “animosity” by any means.

Atlantic Notes: Thompson, Griffin, Knicks

Celtics center Tristan Thompson will miss Tuesday’s game against Utah after being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. A number of Boston players, including stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, have sat out games this season for the same reason. Thompson played against Houston on Sunday, contributing eight points and 13 rebounds. He’s averaging 7.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Blake Griffin is “healthy enough to play,” according to coach Steve Nash, but the Nets aren’t in any hurry to get the former All-Star forward back in action, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Griffin’s debut with the club has been delayed as they focus on ensuring his surgically-repaired knee holds up. “We’re just trying to work on some of his physical deficiencies, to improve and help the knee, and also ramp up his activity so he can have a safer return to play,” Nash said. “So, we’ll just keep monitoring it, keep building, and we’ll have him back at some point here.”
  • Griffin’s desire for a ring is why he chose the Nets in free agency after getting bought out by Detroit and clearing waivers, he told ESPN’s Malika Andrews (hat tip to NetsDaily.com). “That’s my main goal: to win a championship,” he said. “After being in the playoffs and missing the playoffs through a certain period of time, that hunger stays alive and it grows. And that’s where I’m at. I know myself and I know what I can do, so, I’m just ready to get out there.”
  • The Knicks have the most current salary-cap space at $15.7MM as the trade deadline nears. What should they do with it? ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Kelvin Pelton take a closer look at what types of moves they could make before the deadline and during the offseason.

Haynes’ Latest: Davis, Nurkic, Thompson, Raptors, McGee

The Lakers announced on Friday that Anthony Davis would miss at least the next two weeks as he continues to recover from his right calf strain and tendinosis. However, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Davis is unlikely to return immediately after the end of that two-week timeline.

Sources tell Haynes that the Lakers’ star forward/center is expected to be out for the next three weeks, and potentially longer than that. Even if Los Angeles slips a little more in the standings without Davis in its lineup, the team wants to be cautious in its handling of one of its two superstars, Haynes writes.

Including the game in which Davis went down, the Lakers have lost seven of their last 11, but they’re still comfortably holding a playoff spot in the West — they’re the No. 3 seed, at 25-13.

Here’s more from Haynes:

  • Injured Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (wrist) plans on making his return in about two weeks, sources tell Yahoo Sports. CJ McCollum (foot) said over the weekend that he’s aiming to return this week, so Portland could get two key starters back in its lineup before the end of the month.
  • According to Haynes, Celtics center Tristan Thompson is a candidate to be moved prior to next Thursday’s trade deadline, with the Raptors among his possible landing spots. The Toronto native has long been linked to his hometown team, and while nothing has ever come of those rumors, a union would make more sense now that the Raptors are in the market for an upgrade at center.
  • Cavaliers center JaVale McGee – who has drawn interest from contenders, including the Nets – isn’t entertaining a buyout, so if he changes teams, it will be via trade, says Haynes. While Brooklyn may prefer his teammate Andre Drummond, McGee’s modest $4.2MM salary will make him easier to move in a deal.
  • We passed along a few more items from Haynes earlier today, including notes on DeMar DeRozan, John Wall, and Hassan Whiteside.

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Garland, Thompson, Porter

The controversial Kyrie Irving trade in 2017 gave the Cavaliers a path toward rebuilding quickly after LeBron James left, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The centerpiece of that deal was an unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn that was used to draft Collin Sexton. Now in his third season, Sexton has developed into a prolific scorer, averaging 26.8 points per game and shooting 46.8% from 3-point range.

“He comes in every night with the mindset that you can’t stop him,” said backcourt partner Darius Garland. “And that’s what he shows the league, that’s what he shows the world and everybody that’s watching this basketball game. He’s getting wherever he wants. Getting teammates involved. I mean, a lot of people don’t do that.”

Cleveland used the other assets it acquired from the Celtics in that deal to gain valuable pieces, Fedor notes. Isaiah Thomas was sent to the Lakers in a deal for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. The Cavs flipped Jae Crowder in a trade for George Hill and Rodney Hood, and Hill was sent to the Bucks in a deal that brought back John Henson and a future first-rounder. Henson was used to acquire Andre Drummond from the Pistons, while the pick was part of the price for Jarrett Allen.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • While he’s with the Celtics now, Tristan Thompson continues to send messages of encouragement to Garland, Fedor adds in a separate story. Thompson adopted a mentorship role to Garland last year and helped him get through a difficult rookie season. “TT is like a big brother to me. He texts me before like almost every game.” Garland said. “He took me under his wing. TT has made his name in this league. He’s won a championship in this league. He knows what to do and how to get there. … Just hearing from him and having another guy I can talk to instead of my dad or some of my own teammates and coaches, it’s really cool having him there for me.”
  • Although his time in Cleveland was troubled, Kevin Porter Jr. posted a social media message thanking the Cavaliers after being traded to Houston Friday night, Fedor relays in another piece“Cleveland, thank you for giving me a chance to change not only my life but my family’s as well, and believing in me,” Porter wrote. “To the beloved city, the fans, my brothers I gained, the coaching staff and the entire organization, I appreciate you and won’t ever take the relationships we have for granted.”
  • Early-season injuries to their best shooters forced the Cavs to rely on defense, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. That approach of “playing ugly” has become their calling card and has been reinforced by the trade that brought Allen and Taurean Prince from Brooklyn.

Robert Williams Tests Positive For COVID-19; Two Other Celtics Out For Contact Tracing

Robert Williams has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), who hears from a source that the Celtics big man has been asymptomatic since testing positive.

Williams is the only Celtics player to have tested positive, per Himmelsbach, and will be required to quarantine until he returns multiple negative tests and is medically cleared. However, two other Boston big men will be required to self-isolate for the next week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that Tristan Thompson and Grant Williams face a minimum quarantine period of seven days.

Carsen Edwards, who was initially listed as questionable for Friday’s game vs. Washington due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, won’t be required to quarantine for contact tracing purposes and will be available, Charania notes.

While Edwards’ availability will help a little, the Celtics will still find themselves extremely shorthanded in the frontcourt in the short term. The team figures to lean heavily on Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye, with two-way player Tacko Fall potentially entering the mix as well. Brad Stevens also figures to use more small-ball lineups, with wings like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown playing the four.

Four Celtics Questionable Due To Health And Safety Protocols

Because of the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, Celtics players Grant Williams, Robert Williams, Tristan Thompson and Carsen Edwards have been listed as “questionable” for Boston’s bout against the Wizards tomorrow, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (via Twitter).

At present, the Celtics and the NBA have yet to provide further details on the nature of the players’ potential lack of availability.

Bontemps speculates that these four Celtics could be part of the league contact tracing program, in which case they would have been exposed to someone who later tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Alternately, one or more of these players could also have recorded a positive or inconclusive coronavirus test result.

Thompson has thus far been the club’s starting power forward in an ultra-big front court alongside incumbent center Daniel Theis. Reserve center Robert Williams (16.4 MPG) and backup power forward Grant Williams (19.1 MPG) have represented integral parts of Boston’s big man rotation thus far. Head coach Brad Stevens may have to get creative with his roster, employing forward Jayson Tatum more at the power forward slot and leaning more on 6’6″ power forward Semi Ojeleye.

5’11” shooting guard Edwards has been a less-critical component of the Celtics’ backcourt rotation, averaging just 7.3 MPG in four of nine contests. That said, with starting point guard Kemba Walker still inactive, backup Jeff Teague day-to-day, and reserve wings Romeo Langford and Javonte Green also absent, the Celtics need all the bodies they can get.