The chemistry problems that plagued the Celtics last season don’t appear to be a concern now that Kemba Walker has replaced Kyrie Irving in the Boston backcourt, writes Sekou Smith of NBA.com. Walker is getting to know three of his new teammates — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — while preparing for the FIBA World Cup, and it sounds like they’re off to a great start.
“They’re just some really good young dudes and I just enjoy being around them,” Walker said. “And the age difference is really crazy to me. J.T. is like 21 and J.B. is 22 and Marcus is 25. And I’m 29 and feeling like, wow, this is cool. It sounds crazy. I remember when I was 21 in this league. I was a rookie and just trying to figure it all out. And these guys are young vets already. Like I said, it’s crazy.”
Age difference was a recurring theme in Boston last season as Irving frequently criticized his younger teammates and talked to the press about how tough it is to be a leader. Walker has raved about the work ethic that Tatum, Brown and Smart are showing and how quickly they’ve adapted to the international game.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Carmelo Anthony‘s presence in summer workouts with Nets players doesn’t mean Brooklyn plans to sign him, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “Nothing to it,” a source close to Anthony said. “There’s several guys (playing) that aren’t Nets, but friends and other NBA players.” Team officials and Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose, refused to comment.
- Terry Rozier, who signed with the Hornets last month, tells Lewis in a separate story that there are no hard feelings between him and Irving after their tumultuous time with the Celtics. “A lot of people don’t know how great of a person he is,” Rozier said. “A lot of people think I hate Kyrie. And a lot of people think that me and Kyrie not cool, but we text, and I text him right before free agency.”
- Knicks GM Scott Perry had been pursuing Elfrid Payton for a long time before signing him in July, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Perry, who acquired Payton for the Magic in a draft-night trade in 2014, attempted to bring him to New York at the 2018 trade deadline. “I’m very aware of Scott’s interest,’’ said Payton’s father, Elfrid Payton Sr. “He’s showed confidence in him and always kept track of him when he left. He’s always someone who really believed in him. Somebody invested in you like that and knows you, that’s a big thing.”