Archive for the ‘ Boston Celtics Blog ’ Category

Even when an NBA player gains some experience and isn’t awe-struck by anyone he’s up against, it’ll always be special for the player to work out with their sports idol. Here’s NESN.com reporting on talented young Celtic Jayson Tatum and a photo Tatum posted in late July:

Jayson Tatum has spent his offseason improving his game and his body, with a little help from his childhood idol.

The Boston Celtics rookie forward posted photos of himself working out with Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, who Tatum has said was his favorite player growing up.

Tatum’s unique scoring ability and silky mid-range jump shot has drawn comparisons to Bryant dating all the way back to his days at Chaminade College Preparatory School in St. Louis. But there’s no doubt the Black Mamba had a few pointers for the Duke product as he prepares to embark on his sophomore NBA season.

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The Boston Celtics have signed guard Walt Lemon Jr. to a two-way deal.

Lemon Jr., 25, made his NBA debut on Feb. 23 of last season after signing a pair of 10-day contracts with the New Orleans Pelicans. He averaged 3.4 points (43.8% FG) and 7.0 minutes in five games played. The Chicago, IL native spent the majority of his season competing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League, where he produced 22.4 points (49.4% FG, 31.3% 3-PT, 76.8% FT), 4.7 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 2.03 steals and 36.6 minutes in 40 games (all starts).

A four-year product of Bradley University from 2010-11 to 2013-14, Lemon Jr. has also competed professionally for multiple teams in Europe.

Celtics sign Jabari Bird

Bird is back in Boston!

Alright, fine, it’s a different Bird.

The Boston Celtics today signed guard Jabari Bird, who spent his rookie season with the Celtics on a two-way deal in 2017-18

The 6-foot-6, 198-pound guard averaged 3.0 points (57.7% FG, 42.9% 3-PT), 1.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists and 8.8 minutes in 13 games (one start) that season. He scored a career-high 15 points and shot 7-of-10 from the field against Chicago on April 6.

Selected in the second round (56th overall) by Boston in the 2017 NBA Draft, Bird, 24, also produced 19.3 points (51.7% FG, 32.5% 3-PT), 5.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.35 steals in 20 games (all starts) for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G League.

In four games played with the Celtics during the 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer League, Bird recorded team highs in points (16.8 ppg) and rebounds (6.0 rpg), while shooting a team-best 57.0% from the field.

The Boston Celtics have traded forward Abdel Nader and cash considerations to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for guard Rodney Purvis.

Nader (6-6, 220) appeared in 48 games (one start) for Boston and averaged 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.9 minutes per game. Drafted 58th overall by the Celtics in the 2016 NBA draft, the Iowa State product was named the 2016-17 NBA G League Rookie of the Year, after playing in 40 games (all starts) with the Maine Red Claws and averaging 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 33.5 minutes per game.

Purvis, acquired last week by Oklahoma City, played in 16 games (two starts) last season with the Orlando Magic and averaged 6.0 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 18.1 minutes per game.

Celtics re-sign Marcus Smart

The Celtics re-signed guard Marcus Smart today.

According to the Boston Herald, “the Celtics appeared to be bidding against themselves as they renewed serious negotiations and agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with Marcus Smart Thursday. But they were willing to pass on a potentially bargain year of Smart at the qualifying offer of $6,053,719 to lock him up for multiple years and avoid an far more uncertain dance next summer when he could be an unrestricted free agent.”

Smart, 24, produced 10.2 points in 2017-18 to go along with a career-high 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 29.9 minutes over 54 games played (11 starts). He played a key role in Boston’s league-leading defense, which allowed just 99.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the court (3rd among guards who appeared in half of their team’s games).

Smart also ranked in the top-25 in defensive deflections per game, and the top-10 in charges drawn per game among players who appeared in half of their team’s games in 2017-18.

“Keeping Marcus in a Celtics uniform was a top priority, and we’re excited to have accomplished that,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “His intensity is unmatched, and the level of toughness that he brings to the team throughout the course of the entire season is second to none.”

“This is where I want to be, and I’m ready to put a green jersey back on and get to work,” said Smart. “I’m determined to help my teammates bring another championship to the best fans in the world.”

Smart missed the final 15 games of the regular season due to injury, before returning in Game 5 of the First Round of the NBA Playoffs against Milwaukee. He averaged 9.8 points, 5.3 assists and 1.73 steals in 15 postseason games, including a 19-point performance (6-13 FG, 4-10 3-PT) in Boston’s victory over Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 3.

A four-year NBA veteran and the team’s longest tenured Celtic, Smart has averaged 9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.48 steals and 28.7 minutes over 261 career games (83 starts).

Celtics re-sign Aron Baynes

The Celtics appreciate Aron Baynes’ hustle. Maybe even his hairstyle. And yesterday, the Celtics re-signed the center to a reported two-year, $11 million contract.

Baynes, 31, started in 67 of his 81 games played during his first season with the Celtics in 2017-18, averaging 6.0 points (47.1% FG, 75.6% FT) and 5.4 rebounds in 18.3 minutes. He anchored the Celtics league-leading defense, which allowed just 97.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the court (3rd best among players who played in half of their team’s games).

“Aron was a big part of our success this past year and we’re thrilled to have him back,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “He’s a great teammate and an anchor to our defense. The energy and passion that he brings to the table are contagious.”

The Australian native capped off last season with a career-high 26-point (12-23 FG), 14-rebound performance against Brooklyn on April 11, making him the first Celtics center to produce 25+ points and 14+ rebounds in a single game since Kevin Garnett (12/3/08).

Baynes played in all 19 of Boston’s postseason games in 2018 (12 starts), averaging 6.0 points (50.6 FG, 72.2% FT) and 6.2 rebounds in 20.5 minutes. He also shot a team-best 11-for-23 from beyond the arc (47.8% 3-PT) throughout the NBA Playoffs.

A six-year NBA veteran, Baynes has averaged 5.4 points (50.2% FG, 80.2% FT), 4.4 rebounds and 15.0 minutes in 376 career games (91 starts) with San Antonio, Detroit and Boston.

Celtics sign rookie Robert Williams

The Boston Celtics yesterday signed center/forward Robert Williams to his rookie contract.

Williams, 20, comes to Boston after having been selected 27th overall with the team’s lone draft pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He averaged 11.1 points on 59.1% shooting and 8.7 rebounds in 61 games (40 starts) over two collegiate seasons at Texas A&M University.

As a sophomore in 2017-18, Williams (6-10, 241 lbs.) led the Southeastern Conference in rebounding with 9.2 boards per game. He was also named Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year after producing a conference-best 78 blocked shots, the second-most by any player in school history.

The Shreveport, LA native burst onto the collegiate scene as a freshman in 2016-17, averaging 11.9 points (55.8% FG), 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in his first season with the Aggies. He earned Second Team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman Team honors, in addition to being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Williams will wear No. 44 for the Celtics.

Celtics sign Brad Wanamaker

The Boston Celtics yesterday signed guard Brad Wanamaker.

Wanamaker (6-4, 209 lbs.) officially joins the Celtics after spending the last seven years competing professionally in Europe. The Philadelphia, PA native played in 69 games (45 starts) with Fenerbahce Ulker of the Euroleague in 2017-18, averaging 11.5 points (45.6% FG, 35.0% 3-PT, 83.3% FT), 2.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.14 steals in 24.0 minutes.

Wanamaker excelled during a 2018 postseason run that ended with Fenerbahce’s third straight BSL title. He averaged 16.2 points on 76.3% shooting (9-16 3-PT) and 4.2 assists throughout the championship-clinching series against Tofas en route to being named the Turkish League Finals Most Valuable Player.

Named Second Team All-Euroleague as recently as 2016-17, Wanamaker produced 16.7 points (44.8% FG, 38.6% 3-PT, 86.4% FT) and 4.7 assists in 34 games (33 starts) during his lone season with Darussafaka Basketbol Istanbul.

In joining the Celtics, Wanamaker reunites with second-year forward Daniel Theis, who previously served as his teammate with Brose Baskets Bamberg for two seasons from 2014-15 to 2015-16. Both Wanamaker and Theis were named German Beko BBL All-Star starters during the second year of their pairing in 2015-16, with Wanamaker eventually ending the season as the league’s Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year.

A four-year product at the University of Pittsburgh from 2007-08 to 2010-11, Wanamaker averaged 7.9 points on 43.7% shooting in his collegiate career with the Panthers.

Wanamaker will wear No. 9 with Boston.

The Celtics were clearly one of the best teams in the NBA this past season, and despite falling short, came close to eliminating LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. They did this in the regular season without the services of Gordon Hayward, and then then played excellent basketball in the postseason without Kyrie Irving. Hayward missed the entire season, but says he should be good to go for the start of 2018-19. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward detailed the reasons for his May surgery to remove hardware from his ankle and said he plans to be full-go for the start of the 2018-19 season in a post to his personal blog on Monday.

In an entry entitled, “Won’t Be Long Now,” Hayward detailed how lingering pain in his surgically-repaired left ankle spurred a decision to have the follow-up surgery but stressed how he plans to be playing full-court, 5-on-5 basketball again by the end of July.

“[The follow-up surgery was] not something we were expecting to be a part of this recovery process but I’m happy to report that I’ll be back out there resuming rehab soon, with my sights set firmly on being back to my usual self for the start of next season,” wrote Hayward, who admitted the procedure was deemed “very rare” by his doctors.

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Here’s what Boston.com has to say about the idea of the Boston Celtics trying to trade for Kawhi Leonard. Note that they aren’t actually attempting to acquire Leonard just yet. This is merely a discussion of a possibility:

Nope. Great player. Top 10 player. Not interested under these circumstances.

For starters, there are too many lingering questions. Did he quit on the Spurs? If so, why? And how do you reconcile that if you’re trading for him? San Antonio is supposed to be one of the most desirable situations in the league. What the heck happened there? Who is in his ear? And how did his injury play into it? Could he have played at the end of the season? Or was he seriously hurt? Is he completely over the quad injury, or does is this going to be an ongoing concern?

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Abdel Nader undergoes wrist surgery

Last Friday, June 8, Boston Celtics guard/forward Abdel Nader underwent a right wrist arthroscopy and ulnar osteotomy. The purpose of the surgery was to correct lingering issues stemming from a fracture he suffered way back in high school.

Nader should be able to return to basketball activities in around 2-3 months. The team thinks he’ll be at full strength for the start of training camp.

In the 2017-18 regular season, Nader played in 48 games and averaged 3.0 points in 10.9 minutes per outing.

In the 2018 playoffs, he played in 11 games, and averaged 1.1 points in 3.0 minutes per outing.

The 6-6, 230-pound Nader is 24 years old and was drafted 58th overall in the 2016 draft. He played college basketball at Iowa State.

The Celtics are oh-so-close to being an NBA Finals team. It almost happened this year, and absolutely could happen in 2019 if they play their cards right. Celtics moves in free agency this summer, even minor-looking moves, could make all the difference. A steal here, an offensive rebound there, a few role players stepping up, and the glory of the Finals is possible. Here’s the Boston Globe reporting on the 2018 Celtics free agency picture:

The Celtics have three unrestricted free agents in Shane Larkin, Greg Monroe and Aron Baynes. Larkin likely will procure a multiyear offer from another club as a backup point guard, substantially more than the $1.5 million he earned this season.

Monroe likely is gone. He was such a defensive liability and a poor finisher at the rim that Stevens couldn’t play him extensively during the playoffs…

The Celtics need to keep Baynes but they don’t own his Bird Rights, meaning bringing him back would occupy salary cap space and the Celtics likely won’t be able to compete with other offers from teams with cap space. Baynes proved he could be a starting center on a contending team, was durable despite getting into series of ghastly collisions this season, and was a decent midrange and improving 3-point shooter…

Marcus Smart is a restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics have the right to match any offer and they will allow Smart to fish out those offer sheets and determine whether they should match. Smart’s market value is difficult to determine because he’s an erratic offensive player who makes plays at critical moments.

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Celtics forward Gordon Hayward today underwent successful surgery to remove the plate and screws that were implanted following the broken fibula he suffered on October 17. Hayward’s ankle and fibula are both structurally sound, and the removal of the plate and screws was necessary as they were causing irritation to his peroneal tendons. He is scheduled to return to basketball activities in six to eight weeks, and is expected to be at full strength for the start of training camp.

Additionally, Celtics center Aron Baynesbunderwent successful nasal septoplasty surgery for a nasal fracture he suffered during Game 6 of Boston’s Eastern Conference Finals series against Cleveland. Baynes is expected to return to basketball activities in two to four weeks.

Like many Celtics, Marcus Smart struggled in yesterday’s Game 7 Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Cavs. But overall, Smart has been a key contributor on an excellent Boston squad. He hopes to stick around. Will it work out? Free agency is a complicated thing. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

In an ideal world, Marcus Smart expects a small scale version of Isaiah Thomas’ mythical Brinks truck to arrive when he becomes a restricted free agent this summer.

His comments to ESPN following the Celtics’ Game 7 loss to Cleveland revealed a player who believes he’s worth upwards of $12 million per year this summer. In a market that is once again expected to find most teams in a constricted state, the Celtics guard’s hopes may not match what he ultimately earns.

But based on his exit interview Monday with Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens, Smart said he feels good about his future as a Celtic.

“Danny emphasizes all the time how much he loves me as a player and emphasized how much they want me here. I want to be here, so that’s the plan right now,” said Smart. “I’ve been here four years. Boston’s all I know. The atmosphere that the city just gives off to you is remarkable. It’s ecstatic and it’s a good feeling. You want to feel that way.

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And we’re back to this. LeBron James in a key playoff situation surrounded mostly by role players, while a key star or two are injured. In this case it’s one player, Kevin Love. Of course, the Celtics played this season without Gordon Hayward, and are now without Kyrie Irving. They’ve gotten extremely good play from guard Terry Rozier in Irving’s place, though. And Game 7 is in Boston. So, advantage Celtics. Except, the Cavs have LeBron. But the Celtics right now have looked like the better team. Especially when playing at home. So, advantage Celtics, still, right? But… LeBron… Anyway, enjoy the game, and here’s the Boston Herald reporting on K-Love:

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol Saturday and declared out for Sunday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

The 8:30 p.m. game at TD Garden will determine the East’s representative in the NBA Finals, which open May 31 at the home of the West champion. The Rockets lead the defending champion Warriors 3-2 going into Saturday’s Game 6…

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said Love was flying with the team to Boston Saturday afternoon.

Love banged heads with Jayson Tatum with 6:58 left in the second quarter and went to the locker room to be evaluated.

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The headline isn’t a surprise — of course a player is going to generally say good or great things about his team’s fans — but it’s still fun to read the exact wording they use to do it. The Celtics are undefeated so far at home in these playoffs. Here’s Jaylen Brown discussing the home crowd, via NESN.com:

Jaylen Brown has said before that playing at home can be like having the best sixth man in the league, and the Celtics swingman doubled down Wednesday night after Boston defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals to take a 3-2 series lead.

“The energy level, we feed off the crowd,” Brown told reporters in Boston. “The crowd is like the best sixth man in the league, is what the tale says. So when we’re out there, we can definitely feel the energy the Garden is giving us. And we use it to do what we gotta do.”

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The Celtics lead the Cavs 2-1 in their Eastern Conference Finals series. Game 4 is tonight in Cleveland. Here’s Boston.com with a Celtics roster update:

Celtics backup point guard Shane Larkin took part in a lengthy individual workout with assistant coach Jay Larranaga after Sunday’s practice, his first since spraining his left shoulder in Boston’s May 7 loss to the 76ers in the conference semifinals. On Monday, Larkin said he made it through the session with minimal soreness. Although he remains sidelined in this conference final against the Cavaliers with no return date set, he believes he is “pretty close’’ to getting back on the court.

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Jaylen Brown annoyed by Game 3 effort

The Celtics played two great games vs the Cavaliers in their Eastern Conference Finals series. Then came Game 3. Here’s Boston.com reporting:

Celtics forward Jaylen Brown was unimpressed with his team’s — and his own — effort against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the conference finals.

“I thought it was embarrassing,” the 21-year-old said during a light practice at Quicken Loans Arena Sunday. “The way we came out, the way I played.”

Brown — who scored 13 and 14 points in the opening quarters of Games 1 and 2, respectively — finished with just 10 points in Game 3. The Cavaliers constituted a pointed effort to limit him, particularly during the first quarter.

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Must-win Game 3 for Cavs tonight

The Cavs, down 2-0 to the Celtics in their second round playoff series, face a must-win game in Cleveland tonight.

Well, mostly must-win.

Historically, it’s pretty must-win. But historically, few players like LeBron James have ever existed.

Boston has looked to us like the clearly superior basketball team in the first two games. However, they’ve regularly been better at home.

The Cavs in these playoffs have of course been led by LeBron (33.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 9.2 apg, 54% FG this postseason). But second-in-command Kevin Love (15.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg) is shooting just 40.2% in these playoffs. Kyle Korver at 10.2 ppg has been their third leading scorer, but next up is JR Smith who has hit at just a 37% FG clip.

And defensively, the entire team needs to step up.

But can they? The Cavs looked excellent in the final month of the regular season, but playoff intensity is other-level, and to be taken seriously as a team, they can’t just rely on LeBron.

Tonight’s Celtics at Cavs Game 3 is at 8:30pm ET on ESPN TV.

LeBron James arrives early for Game 2

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals is tonight in Boston. The Celtics dominated the Cavaliers in Game 1, in somewhat alarming fashion — at least for Cavs fans. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal with the latest on LeBron James:

There have been times in the past when LeBron James was the first to arrive at shootaround, ready to work on his game virtually alone.

In 2017-18, the most frequent early arrivals have been J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade, before he was traded on Feb. 8, along with rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic.

But on Tuesday, James was on the court by himself, with only assistant coach Phil Handy and another staffer, working up a sweat at least half an hour before the rest of the Cavaliers walked in to TD Garden.

James might have had a goal in mind as he prepared for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

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