Archive for the ‘ Boston Celtics Blog ’ Category

There was no real reason to expect Kyrie Irving to leave the Celtics as a free agent next summer. He’s got a great role. An excellent team. A young squad that should keep getting better. And right now, the team has just as clear a path to the NBA Finals as his LeBron James-led Cavs squad did.

Kyrie wanting out of Cleveland was a surprise, too. But there’s no reason to expect the same in regard to Boston. And now he’s said so himself, not in those exact words, but close enough. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

The annual Celtics season ticketholder fan fest is a generally fun affair, notable mainly for skills contests among the players.

But Kyrie Irving made Thursday night’s event something that will be spoken of for years. While the All-Star guard has been hinting strongly since he returned to town for training camp that he will be remaining with the club when he opts out of his contract next summer, he went a loud step further during a panel discussion on the parquet floor.

Rising from his chair, microphone in hand, Irving told the crowd, “If you’ll have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.”

Evidently, it wasn’t such a spur of the moment remark. Irving told team officials he planned on making the statement tonight, though he saved it for the larger crowd after an earlier media session backstage.

The Celtics are must-watch these days, because they’re an excellent team, fun to watch, and also to see how they work Gordon Hayward into the mix.

The 2018-19 NBA preseason began Friday, with a Hornets victory over the Celtics. Some quotes on the game:

Charlotte Observer: “Jeremy Lamb says his dream growing up was to be an NBA starter. That didn’t look plausible based on most of his pro career to date, but he sure made a case in the Charlotte Hornets’ first exhibition. Lamb, starting at shooting guard, hit three of his five 3-pointers, finishing with 15 points and looking generally impressive in the Hornets’ 104-97 victory over the Boston Celtics at the Smith Center on North Carolina’s campus.”

The Observer on Celtics guard Kyrie Irving: “The Celtics’ point guard looked sharp in his first game back since a knee procedure in March that ended his season.”

Boston Herald: “Gordon Hayward’s first game in roughly a year had predictable rust, and the equally expected self-critique by the Celtics forward when it was all over. But forget about the warts and the Celtics’ 104-97 loss to Charlotte in their exhibition season opener in the Dean Smith Center. He was playing again. “It definitely was (a small victory),” Hayward said after scoring 10 points in 22 front-loaded minutes. “I’ve been through a lot this last year. Just to be out there in front of the fans and playing with my teammates – there were moments last year when I definitely was not able to do that. Definitely a win.”

Marcus Smart out for Celtics tonight

Preseason is a warmup period. Many stars play sparingly. Plenty of players suffer very minor bumps and bruises and wind up sitting out more than probably necessary, just to be on the safe side. But personal tragedy, which Marcus Smart recently suffered, as his mother recently passed away, can of course happen at any time. Here’s the Boston Globe:

The Celtics will begin their preseason without guard Marcus Smart, who did not make the trip with his teammates to North Carolina and will miss Friday’s opener because of what the team called personal reasons.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Smart is expected back with the team Saturday or for Sunday’s game against Charlotte and that Smart is physically healthy. Smart, 24, is still grieving following the death of his mother, Camellia, on Sept. 16 and admitted moving on from her passing has been difficult.

Preseason begins tonight, with the Celtics facing the Hornets.

Kyrie Irving focusing on staying healthy

Yes, every pro athlete tries to stay healthy. That’s probably your first reaction to the headline. But it’s not that simple, obviously. NBA players are paid to give their all. And in the playoffs, more than that. Sure, players take it slightly “easier” in the regular season than the postseason, but nothing about playing pro basketball is easy. And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s the Boston Herald reporting on Kyrie Irving:

There’s a lot of miles in those 26-year-old legs, and as such the Celtics guard is tweaking his pre-game routine – most mundane, but all geared to readiness.

“It’s figuring out what works best for you,” said Irving. “My routine has been pretty much the same for eight straight years, but now it’s time to do things to better suit my body.”

Health has always been a major consideration for Irving. He’s never played a full NBA season, with only three times when Irving played 70 or more regular season games. His high-usage mark was a 75-game season in 2014-15.

Last season’s travails limited him to 60 games, so now’s the time to make adjustments.

The Celtics are the clear East favorite entering the 2018-19 season, and Irving remains a big key to their success.

NBA preseason action begins tonight with Celtics vs Hornets as the lone matchup. The Celtics remain built around Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, with support from Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes and Terry Rozier. The Hornets are built around Kemba Walker, aging new addition Tony Parker, Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, and a big supporting cast, some of which will have to emerge as leaders for the Hornets to go anywhere. Here’s the Boston Herald with some notes on key Celtics items to watch:

Having gotten to see Gordon Hayward for all of five minutes and 15 seconds last season before he suffered an horrific lower leg injury, it will be interesting to see how he’s moving in the first game with brighter lights and referees and a crowd…

Kyrie Irving’s season-ending surgery wasn’t as traumatic in nature as Hayward’s injury. And, by all accounts, he’s been just fine physically in camp and in the pickup games that preceded it. What we’re interested in more is how he runs the show…

In that it won’t be a regular game rotation, it will be hard to get a handle on how Stevens will use his bigs. But if Al Horford is going to play mainly at center, we’ll be curious to see how Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis are able to find their respective grooves…

Even with being such a high draft pick (third overall), Jayson Tatum still had a better than expected rookie season. Now he’s had time to catch his breath and put in offseason work that included time with Kobe Bryant. His mates all say he’s demonstrably better, and even with the limited looks that come in the preseason, we’re looking forward to seeing it.

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Danny Ainge discusses Kyrie Irving

Entering the 2018-19 season (preseason starts Friday!) the Celtics are the clear East favorites to reach the NBA Finals. But, the games must still be played. Nothing is automatic. A big thing for Boston is getting a healthy Kyrie Irving back in action, alongside of course Gordon Hayward, who missed roughly 99.9% of last season and is now good to go. Here’s Danny Ainge discussing Irving, as reported by the Boston Herald:

As for what he’s looking forward to most with Irving back from his knee maintenance issues that necessitated a second surgery when an infection was found, Ainge said, “I think just having Kyrie’s leadership around the whole year, having him be on the court. He did a lot of good things, like texting the players. He was the biggest cheerleader for Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) and Terry (Rozier) and Marcus (Smart/Morris) and all those guys last year when he wasn’t playing.

“But just having him on the court at the end of games is the thing I’m looking most forward to and having a guy that can beat switches and make shots and make lots of plays. He’s a very special player.”

Ainge is getting no additional pleasure from the fact Irving is talking more about his future in Boston beyond this season in recent interviews. This after being fairly coy about his plans after he does as expected and opts out of his deal next summer to sign a more lucrative and lengthy contract.

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Klay Thompson impressed by Celtics

Every once in a while, an NBA player on a good team will actually name other good teams when asked. Not always. But here’s Boston.com reporting what Warriors SG Klay Thompson had to say:

The Celtics aren’t the only ones who like the team they’ve built in Boston.

Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson is a fan, too.

“I like the team out East in Boston,” Thompson told ESPN during Warriors media day on Monday. “They’ve got a very nice young team. One through five, man, they’ve got a team that kind of mirrors ours, as far as their length, guys who can shoot and play defense, and an unselfish way about things. So, I think that they are going to be a team to reckon with.”

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Here’s the Boston Herald with the latest on new Celtics guard Jabari Bird, who is in a serious legal situation right now:

The Celtics aren’t trifling with diplomatic niceties and cagey legalese in their handling of the litany of charges being brought against reserve guard Jabari Bird.

“Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident,” the team said in a statement released yesterday. “The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird.”

This should not be read as a judgment against Bird, a 24-year-old California native who appeared in 13 games with the Celtics last season and this past July signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the team. The courts, after all, will rule on innocence or guilt. Bird was arraigned in Brighton District Court yesterday following a weekend arrest in which he was charged with domestic assault, strangulation and kidnapping stemming from an alleged incident involving a 20-year-old woman.

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Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has decided that in his spare time during the NBA season he’s going to learn about business at Harvard. A problem is, players really have very little spare time during the season. Watching film, reading scouting reports, etc. is really their best use of time when not standing on a basketball court. We’re surprised he’s doing this now, instead of, say, taking a summer class somewhere. Anyway, here’s Boston.com reporting:

On Monday, Celtics guard Kyrie Irving was at Harvard University for the kick-off of “Crossover Into Business,” a semester-long program at Harvard Business School taught by HBS professor Anita Elberse. According to its description, the program is designed to help pro athletes better prepare themselves for “business activities during and after their active sports careers.” Irving and the other participants will each be matched with a pair of HBS’s MBA student mentors who will “develop their business acumen and empower them to make better business decisions.”

In an interview with Boston.com in June, Irving expressed interest in potentially pursuing other passions and noted he was aware of the opportunities at Harvard.

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The Celtics were an excellent squad last season, came close to reaching the NBA Finals, and should have a healthy Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving this season. They kept all their key players, which is huge. Here’s NESN.com reporting what center Aron Baynes said on this topic:

Baynes indicated during a charity appearance Wednesday that the lack of roster turnover this summer could play an important role for the Celtics.

“Last year at this time we were learning peoples’ names; this year we can get into the finer points of the systems that we’re learning,” Baynes said, via Celtics.com. “We’ve still got a bit to learn and a way to go in incorporating the healthy guys back into it, but it’s definitely exciting that we’re starting at this base level compared to where we were last season.”

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Celtics guard Jabari Bird arrested

Here’s Boston.com with an update on new Celtics backup guard Jabari Bird, who probably will receive very few minutes this coming season, but right now has something far bigger to worry about:

Celtics shooting guard Jabari Bird is under arrest and facing charges for an alleged domestic violence incident that took place Friday night in Brighton.

According to the Boston Police Department (BPD), Bird is “currently being guarded” at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. A BPD spokesman said in a statement Saturday morning that the victim involved in the incident was transported to a separate hospital for “treatment of injuries sustained.” Complaints will be sought against Bird for assault and battery 209A, strangulation, and kidnapping.

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Jayson Tatum is one of the key reasons why the Celtics should be a top team for years to come. He also is clearly worthy of continuing his role as a starter, yet could very well come off the bench in 2018-19. Here’s Boston.com touching on the situation:

Will Celtics bring Jayson Tatum off bench?

Currently in Los Angeles, Tatum will continue working out before training camp begins in September. He said he is not concerned about forthcoming decisions regarding playing time, expressing the utmost faith in Stevens to do what’s right for the team. He also trusts his teammates to handle the situation in stride.

“Everybody has a job to do,” he said. “Our job is to be the best versions of ourselves and come together for a bigger goal, which is winning a championship. Brad’s job is to manage playing time and manage all sorts of stuff. That’s why he’s the coach. We got a bunch of selfless guys on the team that just want to win. We’ll figure it out.”

Tatum said it does not matter to him whether he starts or comes off the bench.

“I understand how deep our team is,” he said. “I just care about winning and doing what I can while I’m on the floor.”

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Every player has to predict positive things about their team going into a new season. It goes with the territory and is only natural. But in the case of the Boston Celtics, there is every reason to genuinely believe that they’re a squad quite capable of representing the Eastern conference in the 2019 NBA Finals. Here’s ESPN.com reporting on what Celtics guard Terry Rozier speaking on his team:

Terry Rozier predicts big things for Celtics in 2018-19

Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier doesn’t want to make any grand predictions about what his team will accomplish during the 2018-19 season, but he’s quite bullish on their potential to be a title contender.

“We can be special. Truly special,” Rozier said Saturday during a break from his youth basketball camp in suburban Boston. “I think you know that. I think everybody knows that. Obviously, we [are] good on paper, we just gotta get it together and make sure everybody comes in and has that same mindset. But I feel like it’s going to be a special group.” …

“We look good on paper. The same team back from last year adding two main guys, two main pieces, with a lot of the guys we added from this draft and re-signed,” Rozier said. “It’s special. It’s special. Like I said, I don’t want to talk too much about [what the team can accomplish], but it’s going to be special.”

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The Boston Celtics today signed guard PJ Dozier to a two-way contract.

Dozier, 21, is set to compete on his second two-way contract in as many NBA seasons, having previously held a two-way position with Oklahoma City in 2017-18. He made his NBA debut with the Thunder on Feb. 8, 2018 at the Lakers, one of two contests he saw action in.

In 43 games played (38 starts) with the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League last season, Dozier (6-7, 201 lbs.) produced 12.9 points (46.5% FG, 34.0% 3-PT), 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals in 28.4 minutes. The University of South Carolina product scored at least 20 points on five occasions, including a season-high 26 points (10-19 FG) on Jan. 28 against the South Bay Lakers.

Dozier participated in five games on Oklahoma City’s 2018 NBA Las Vegas Summer team in July, averaging 11.0 points on 52.0% shooting and 1.40 steals in 23.0 minutes.

A native of Columbia, SC, Dozier capped off his two-year collegiate career on a high note in 2017 after contributing to the Gamecocks’ first-ever NCAA Tournament Final Four appearance. He averaged 15.6 points (50.8% FG), 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists in five tournament games and was selected to the NCAA Tournament All-Region team.

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.

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