Celtics Rumors

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted “y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

Kemba Walker Aims To Win Playoff Series With Celtics

Kemba Walker left the only franchise he ever knew during the offseason, signing a four-year deal with the Celtics. After years of finishing in the lottery or competing for a low playoff seed in Charlotte, he’s enjoying his time in Boston, as Jared Weiss of The Athletic details.

“I think I’ve definitely earned respect from my peers and people around the league,” the four-time All-Star says. “But for me personally, I just really haven’t — I’ve only been to the playoffs two times in eight years. I played well in the playoffs, but I never got out the first round. So I haven’t really done much, you know? Definitely still have some ways to go.”

Walker believes that Kyrie Irving would have gotten the All-Star start if the Brooklyn point guard hadn’t gotten hurt.

“He’s playing well,man, he just wasn’t healthy,” Walker said graciously.

Irving had taken the starting spot over Walker in past years. Walker was seen as a player who was just putting up stats, someone who wasn’t able to carry a team to great heights.

“Obviously, last year was my first (All-Star) start,” Walker says. “I mean, the game was in Charlotte. I think that’s probably why I really got the start. I was averaging about 26 and a half (points per game) at the time. This year, like 21, something like that or whatever. But now I’m more so being recognized for being on a winning team, not more so recognized for my stats, you know?”

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Buyout Market, Hayward, KG

Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Celtics, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers raved about Jayson Tatum, suggesting that the young forward is already “one of the better players in the league,” adding that it will be “amazing” to see where he ends up after a few more years of development, per Darren Hartewell of NBC Sports Boston.

Although Rivers joked before the game that he didn’t need to see “any more growth” out of Tatum on Thursday, the 21-year-old gave the Clippers fits, turning in arguably the best performance of his career in a double-overtime win. He went off for a game-high 39 points on 14-of-23 shooting and made a handful of plays on both ends of the floor that helped clinch the win.

“He was incredible,” Kemba Walker said of his All-Star teammate, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “He made every right play. He made every big shot. He was the best player on the court tonight.”

Tatum won’t be among the starters in Sunday’s All-Star game like Walker will, but the former No. 3 overall pick has emerged as the Celtics’ best all-around player this season, Forsberg argues. Tatum’s ascent is well-timed, as he’ll be extension-eligible for the first time during the 2020 offseason. Barring a major slump or injury in the second half, it’s hard to see how his next contract won’t be worth the maximum salary.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Appearing this week on radio show Toucher & Rich, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said there’s nothing on the buyout market that interests the team for the time being, per Forsberg (Twitter link). That includes free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas — Ainge praised the former Celtic, but suggested the fit may not be right with Boston’s current roster, as Forsberg relays.
  • Whether or not Gordon Hayward picks up his 2020/21 player option this spring, the Celtics are “very interested” in retaining the veteran forward long-term, a league source confirmed to Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal. Hayward isn’t necessarily a lock to exercise his $34MM option, since he could command a larger overall payday on a longer-term contract.
  • The Celtics announced on Thursday that they intend to retire Kevin Garnett‘s No. 5 jersey at some point next season, as Taylor Snow details at Celtics.com.

Kemba Walker Had Hoped To Reunite With Marvin Williams

Celtics guard Kemba Walker, who was teammates with Marvin Williams for five seasons in Charlotte, said he spent several weeks trying to convince the veteran forward to join him in Boston when he was eventually bought out by the Hornets, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. After Williams joined the rival Bucks instead, Walker called up his longtime teammate to congratulate him on his new deal.

He said that he wished he could have gotten to Boston with me, but I’m just happy for him,” the Celtics’ All-Star point guard said, per Himmelsbach. “That’s my guy, man. That’s one of my favorite teammates I’ve ever been around. That’s my vet. I was upset that we didn’t get the chance to get him, but I’m happy for him. He deserves it. He’s been in the league for a very long time. He works hard. He deserves to be on a winning team.”

The Celtics figure to keep a close eye on the buyout market in the coming weeks, though they’ll have to waive a player from their 15-man roster if they want to bring anyone in.

Forbes Releases 2020 NBA Franchise Valuations

The Knicks have had a miserable 12 months, finishing the 2018/19 season with a league-worst 17 wins, missing out on their top free agent targets, and then firing head coach David Fizdale and president of basketball operations Steve Mills during the 2019/20 season.

None of that seems to have had a noticeable impact on the team’s market value though. Once again, the franchise is considered the most valuable of any of the NBA’s 30 clubs, according to a report from Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes. The Lakers and Warriors aren’t far behind, having both surpassed the $4 billion mark for the first time this year.

For the first time, all 30 NBA teams have a perceived worth of $1.3 billion or more, per Forbes’ annual report. Every team’s value increased by at least 6% since Forbes put out their 2019 valuations last February, with a handful of franchises jumping by 20% or more.

The NBA-wide average of $2.12 billion per team in 2020 is also a new record — that league-wide average surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time. NBA franchise values are up almost sixfold over the last decade, according to Badenhausen.

Here’s the full list of NBA franchise valuations, per Forbes:

  1. New York Knicks: $4.6 billion
  2. Los Angeles Lakers: $4.4 billion
  3. Golden State Warriors: $4.3 billion
  4. Chicago Bulls: $3.2 billion
  5. Boston Celtics: $3.1 billion
  6. Los Angeles Clippers: $2.6 billion
  7. Brooklyn Nets: $2.5 billion
  8. Houston Rockets: $2.475 billion
  9. Dallas Mavericks: $2.4 billion
  10. Toronto Raptors: $2.1 billion
  11. Philadelphia 76ers: $2 billion
  12. Miami Heat: $1.95 billion
  13. Portland Trail Blazers: $1.85 billion
  14. San Antonio Spurs: $1.8 billion
  15. Sacramento Kings: $1.775 billion
  16. Washington Wizards: $1.75 billion
  17. Phoenix Suns: $1.625 billion
  18. Denver Nuggets: $1.6 billion
  19. Milwaukee Bucks: $1.58 billion
  20. Oklahoma City Thunder: $1.575 billion
  21. Utah Jazz: $1.55 billion
  22. Indiana Pacers: $1.525 billion
  23. Atlanta Hawks: $1.52 billion
  24. Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.51 billion
  25. Charlotte Hornets: $1.5 billion
  26. Detroit Pistons: $1.45 billion
  27. Orlando Magic: $1.43 billion
  28. Minnesota Timberwolves: $1.375 billion
  29. New Orleans Pelicans: $1.35 billion
  30. Memphis Grizzlies: $1.3 billion

The Raptors are among this year’s big “winners,” with their value rising 25%, from $1.675 billion a year ago to $2.1 billion this year following their first NBA championship. The Clippers also had a noteworthy bump, moving from ninth place on Forbes’ list to sixth after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer.

Although every franchise’s value increased, the Nets had the smallest jump, just 6%. The Magic‘s modest 8% increase resulted in the team slipping from 23rd on last year’s list to 27th this year.

It’s worth noting that when a franchise has been sold in recent years, the price often exceeds Forbes’ valuation, so these figures are just estimates.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/7/20

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Wizards assigned forward Admiral Schofield to the Capital City Go-Go for a practice and then recalled him and center Anzejs Pasecniks, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter links). Both were available for the team’s home game against Dallas on Friday.
  • The Kings assigned center Eric Mika to their affiliate in Stockton, according to the G League transactions log. The former BYU standout has appeared in just one NBA game this season.
  • The Spurs assigned big man Chimezie Metu and swingman Keldon Johnson to their Austin affiliate, according to G League log. Metu, a second-year power forward, has appeared in 15 games with San Antonio this season while Johnson’s, a first-round pick last June, has appeared in four NBA games.
  • The Celtics assigned rookie guard Carsen Edwards to the Maine Red Claws, according to the G League log. The point guard has played 31 games with Boston this season.
  • The Suns assigned Jalen Lecque to their North Arizona affiliate, according to the G League log. The rookie point man has seen action in three NBA games.
  • The Warriors recalled forward Alen Smailagić from their Santa Cruz affiliate, according to a team press release. The rookie forward has appeared in nine games for Golden State, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 10.3 MPG.

Robert Williams Could Be Back By March 1

The Celtics did not trade for a center but they’ll get another back in action soon. Robert Williams could return by the end of the month, according to Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a radio interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub that Williams, who hasn’t played since December 6 due to a hip injury, should be ready in a few weeks. “Robert Williams is progressing,” Ainge said. “He was out working on the court (Thursday). He’s starting his transition back into all the live action, and we anticipate him being back with us somewhere in the neighborhood of March 1.” Williams was averaging 3.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 1.1 BPG in 19 games prior to his injury.

  • Ainge sat the Celtics stood pat because he couldn’t find a deal that made sense, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston reports. Ainge didn’t want to pay a premium price for a second-unit addition. “I hear people talking about why we didn’t do a deal. A lot of times people want us to get the first- or second-best player on another team,” Ainge said. “Those players are expensive and, if we brought them here, they would be the seventh-, eighth-, or ninth-best player on our team.”

Celtics Made Strong Offer For Davis Bertans

The Celtics made several strong offers to the Wizards for Davis Bertans, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. However, general manager Tommy Sheppard & Co. weren’t convinced to make a deal.

As we previously reported, the Wizards intend to keep Bertans long-term. Washington would like to re-sign the stretch four, who they believe will add spacing to the John WallBradley Beal duo on the court.

There were reports that the Wizards wanted two first-round picks if they were to part with Bertans, who will be a free agent after the season. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) hears that two first-round picks may not have even been enough to pry the forward from Washington. Boston was uninterested in paying that price tag anyway, the scribe adds.

Bertans has spoken openly about how he likes the Wizards’ organization. The feeling is mutual and it would be shocking if he plays anywhere other than Washington next season.

Trade Deadline Notes: Bucks, Raptors, C’s, Heat, Thunder, More

The 2:00pm CT trade deadline has now passed, but word of last-minute deals can sometimes trickle in after the buzzer. That won’t be the case for the Raptors and Bucks though, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who reports (via Twitter) that the Eastern Conference’s top two teams didn’t make a move today.

Here are more deadline updates:

  • It was a fairly quiet deadline for many of the top Eastern teams. The Celtics didn’t make a trade either, per Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link). And the Pacers also stood pat, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • The Heat were active earlier in the day, finalizing a trade to acquire Andre Iguodala. However, the team didn’t expand that deal to include Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald confirms (via Twitter). As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald explains (via Twitter), the Heat’s extension talks with Gallinari were more of a hang-up than the trade talks with the Thunder, given Miami’s desire to keep its cap clear for 2021.
  • The Thunder, having held onto Gallinari, didn’t make any deadline deals, tweets Wojnarowski.
  • The Jazz stood pat today as well, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. So did the Spurs, says Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).