Celtics Rumors

Celtics, Raptors To Rest Hayward, Leonard

As we noted this morning, the Lakers plan to be cautious with LeBron James‘ minutes this season. Evidently following suit, the Celtics have announced that Gordon Hayward (link) will sit out tonight’s games against the Knicks. Additionally, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that the Raptors will rest Kawhi Leonard against the Wizards.

Per the Celtics, Hayward is out due to “left ankle recovery.” Of course, Hayward infamously broke his left ankle/leg in last season’s season opener in Cleveland. He missed the entire 2017/18 season and has experienced some obstacles and difficulties in returning from that devastating injury. Moreover, head coach Brad Stevens already indicated a minutes restriction may occur early on this season and tonight’s game is a back-to back.

As for Leonard, the Raptors are also playing a back-to-back tonight, having defeated Hayward’s Celtics last night, 113-101. His absence is being attributed to rest, but he also experienced a quadriceps injury last season, limiting him to nine games during the 2017/18 season, so it will be interesting to see how Toronto handles his minutes moving forward. Neither player is expected to miss extended time.

2018 Offseason In Review: Boston Celtics

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2018 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2018/19 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Boston Celtics.

Signings:

  • Standard contracts:
    • Marcus Smart: Four years, $52MM. Includes likely incentives. Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Aron Baynes: Two years, $10.65MM. Second-year player option. Re-signed using Non-Bird rights.
    • Jabari Bird: Two years, minimum salary. Second year non-guaranteed. Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Brad Wanamaker: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Two-way contracts:
  • Non-guaranteed camp contracts:

Trades:

Draft picks:

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $126.75MM in salary.
  • Projected tax bill of $5.79MM.
  • Full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.34MM) still available.

Check out the Boston Celtics’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

During the 2016 and 2017 offseasons, no NBA team added more All-Stars to its roster than the Celtics, who signed Al Horford and Gordon Hayward before trading for Kyrie Irving. For good measure, the club used a pair of third overall picks to draft Jaylen Brown in 2016 and Jayson Tatum in 2017.

However, the Celtics never really got to see that five-man core in action during the 2017/18 season. Hayward went down with a gruesome season-ending ankle injury during the club’s first game of the year, and Irving’s season ended early due to knee issues.

For the Celtics then, the 2018 offseason wasn’t about going out and getting another All-Star — it was about making sure that their current ones got back to full health to see what the entire group looks like on the court.

Boston’s front office was hardly dormant during the summer of 2018. Restricted free agent negotiations with Marcus Smart were tough, Aron Baynes needed to be re-signed, and the team made a few other tweaks around the edges of its roster before also securing a verbal commitment from Irving, a 2019 free-agent-to-be.

However, the Celtics enter the 2018/19 as the Eastern Conference favorites not because of which players they added over the offseason, but rather because of which players they’re bringing back. With Hayward and Irving healthy and Tatum and Brown continuing to develop, this roster has far more upside than last year’s group, even without any significant changes.

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Marcus Morris Prepared For Uncertainty With Minutes

  • Marcus Morris is prepared for the uncertainty that comes with earning minutes on the Celtics, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Morris could be asked to play major minutes on some nights, and significantly less minutes on other nights. “The only thing I can do is go out there and be effective with the minutes I’m given and that’s my whole motto during the season,” he said.

Sixers Turned Down Suns’ Trade Offer For McConnell

The Suns, who were on the lookout for a point guard for much of the offseason, approached the Sixers in recent weeks to inquire on T.J. McConnell, league sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. According to Pompey, Phoenix was willing to part with a second-round pick for McConnell, but the 76ers passed on that offer.

Philadelphia’s decision to turn down a second-round pick for McConnell comes as no surprise. The 26-year-old has developed into a regular part of the Sixers’ rotation, providing backup minutes at point guard and serving as one of the club’s only reliable ball-handlers. With the 76ers still unsure about what they’ll get from Markelle Fultz this season, it would take a strong offer to pry away McConnell, who is earning just $1.6MM.

It’s also worth noting that the Sixers probably don’t need to add any more second-rounders to their overflowing stash of draft picks. In addition to holding all its own selections, Philadelphia has also acquired two extra second-round picks for 2019, two more for 2020, and three for 2021. The team has even added the Pistons’ 2023 second-rounder for good measure.

The Suns have been linked to several point guard trade targets since sending Brandon Knight to the Rockets over the summer. Cory Joseph, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Patrick Beverley are among the veteran point guards the team has reportedly looked into, but Phoenix is said to be reluctant to part with a first-round pick in any deal.

Terry Rozier‘s name is another one that has been frequently connected to the Suns, and John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 tweeted this week that the club would have “loved” to acquire the Celtics point guard. According to Gambadoro, both Ryan McDonough and new interim GM James Jones attempted to make a deal for Rozier, but he’s “very unlikely” to be traded.

Extension Roundup: Rozier, Portis, Jones, Russell

 Celtics point guard Terry Rozier turned down a rookie scale extension offer prior to Monday’s deadline and will become a restricted free agent next summer, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston reports. Boston offered Rozier approximately $12MM annually, according to Blakely, but chose to take his chances in free agency. Talks were cordial and the two parties will revisit each other when Rozier hits the market, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.
“I’m in a great situation,” Rozier told Blakely. “My team (representatives) felt it wasn’t good for me to sign an extension right now. It opens my options a little bit, but I’m focused on what’s happening right now.”
Rozier is expected to have multiple suitors even as a restricted free agent, since Kyrie Irving recently announced that he plans to re-sign with the Celtics next summer, Blakely notes. Rozier broke out last season, particularly after Irving went down with a knee injury. He was especially potent in the playoffs, averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 5.7 APG.
We have more extension decisions:
  • The Timberwolves and point guard Tyus Jones did not reach a rookie scale extension agreement. Jones will be a restricted free agent, and that’s been the expectation all along, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Minnesota would have to make a $3,573,205 qualifying offer before free agency next summer, otherwise Jones would be unrestricted. Jones saw action in all 82 regular-season games last season, including 11 starts, and averaged 5.1 PPG and 2.8 APG in 17.9 MPG.
  • The Bulls and forward Bobby Portis couldn’t come to an extension agreement before Monday’s deadline, Wojnarowski tweets. Agent Mark Bartelstein and Chicago GM Gar Forman had lengthy negotiations as the deadline approached, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets, but couldn’t close the financial gap. “We had very positive talks,” Bartelstein told Johnson. “These are hard extensions to get done.” (Twitter link). Portis will be a restricted free agent if Chicago gives him a $3,611,813 qualifying offer. He averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 73 regular season games after returning from his eight-game team suspension following his well-publicized dust-up with former teammate Nikola Mirotic.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not receive extensions, Michael Scotto of The Athetic tweets. Neither player was aware of Monday’s deadline, according to Scotto, suggesting that the Nets never made a serious pitch to lock them up before free agency. The Nets would have extend a $9,160,706 qualifying offer to Russell to make him a restricted free agent. Hollis-Jefferson’s qualifying offer would be $3,594,369.

Hayward's Minutes Likely To Be Limited Early In Season

Just one year following his gruesome ankle injury that sidelined him the entire 2017/18 season, Gordon Hayward made his return to the court this preseason with the Celtics. He appeared in three contests, working to regain his footing and talent that helped him become a top small forward in the league before the injury.

The Celtics refuse to rush the process of his return, allowing Hayward to control his pace and progression as Tuesday’s season opener against Philadelphia nears.

“I think Gordon will probably be a little limited early from a minutes standpoint,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “Not in any big way, but we’ll probably have to manage that just because he’s been out for so long.”

Despite the possible limitation, Hayward is expected to play in back-to-backs this season, Stevens added. The same goes for teammate Kyrie Irving, who underwent knee surgery in April. With a healthy Hayward and Irving, the Celtics are expected to be at the forefront of contention in the East.

Celtics Waive Marcus Georges-Hunt

The Celtics have waived Marcus Georges-Hunt, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. The 24-year-old guard signed with the team at the start of October.

Georges-Hunt played 42 games with the Timberwolves last season, but saw just 5.3 minutes per night. His only other NBA experience was five games with the Magic after coming to Orlando late in the 2016/17 season. He originally signed with the Celtics in 2016, but was waived before the start of the season.

Georges-Hunt is likely headed to Boston’s G League affiliate in Maine and may rejoin the Celtics once they resolve the situation with Jabari Bird, according to Keith P. Smith of CelticsBlog. Bird is on a leave of absence while his assault case goes through the legal system.

Smith points out that if Bird is suspended, he would remain on the roster for at least five games. After that, Boston could put him on the suspended list and recall Georges-Hunt to fill the roster opening.

Bird signed a two-year contract for the league minimum this summer with a guarantee for the first season. If the NBA rules that he has violated its domestic violence policy, his contract could be voided and the Celtics would have no further financial obligation. If Boston waives Bird before the league makes a decision, his contract will remain on the cap and will continue to affect the luxury tax. The Celtics plan to keep Bird on the inactive list until his case is resolved.

No Extension Expected For Celtics, Terry Rozier

The Celtics can keep backup point guard Terry Rozier off the 2019 restricted free agent market by locking him up to a contract extension before Monday’s deadline, but that’s not expected to happen. Multiple sources tell Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that the two sides won’t agree to an extension in the coming days.

“There’s not going to be any extension,” one source said to Himmelsbach. “It wouldn’t make any sense for Terry to do that.”

One source tells Himmelsbach that Rozier is determined to become a starting point guard in the NBA and figures to seek the “minutes and money” of a starter in 2019. Himmelsbach suggests Rozier’s asking price could be in the neighborhood of $20MM per year.

[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Terry Rozier’s Future]

That could be problematic for the Celtics. They recently received a verbal commitment from Kyrie Irving, who said he’ll re-sign with the team when he reaches free agency next summer. Boston already committed approximately $13MM annually to Marcus Smart on a four-year deal earlier this year, so huge new contracts for both Irving and Rozier are probably unpalatable.

Assuming the Celtics and Rozier don’t unexpectedly reach a compromise at the 11th hour, the 24-year-old will enter the season as one of the leaders of the second unit, with the team knowing it can count on him to step into a larger role if Irving and/or Smart battle injuries again. The former Louisville standout averaged an impressive 16.5 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 5.3 RPG in 19 postseason contests (all starts) in the spring.

Next summer, the C’s will have the right of first refusal on Rozier as a restricted free agent, so they could try to re-sign him outright and would have the option to match any offer sheet he signs with another team. While a $20MM-per-year offer seems awfully ambitious, the NBA’s salary cap is projected to increase by another $8MM for 2019/20, and there should be no shortage of teams with significant cap space, so Rozier should have several suitors.

And-Ones: Team USA, McAdoo, Bennett, Drafts

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Pacers coach Nate McMillan and Villanova coach Jay Wright have been named assistant coaches of the 2019-20 USA Basketball Men’s National Team, USA Basketball announced in a press release. The three assistants will join Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to round out the coaching staff of the Olympic team.

“Led by coach Popovich, we have assembled an incredible coaching staff for the USA National Team, and we are excited to have Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright join the team as assistant coaches,” said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball Men’s National Team. “It’s special that each coach has prior USA Basketball experience as either a player or coach, and each coach has compiled a successful and impressive resume. I’m very confident that the USA Basketball National Team is in excellent hands the next two years.”

Popovich, Kerr, McMillan and Wright share decades of combined coaching and playing experience, with each coach highly respected by their peers and by players across the NBA.

“I am honored and fortunate to have such gifted coaches share this USA Basketball responsibility with me,” Popovich said. “Steve Kerr, Nate McMillan and Jay Wright are not just knowledgeable, dedicated individuals, but they exhibit the creativity, tenacity and respect for the game needed to compete in the international arena.

“I look forward to joining them as USA Basketball attempts to extend the stellar success they’ve enjoyed over the past 12 years.”

The USA National Team has won 76 straight games, including three straight gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016. The impressive coaching staff – followed by an expected All-Star team of talent in 2020 – puts Team USA in a good position to win a fourth straight gold medal.

There’s more news around the basketball world:

  • The Maine Red Claws completed a trade today in the G League, sending the returning player rights of Anthony Bennett to the Agua Caliente Clippers in exchange for the returning player rights to James McAdoo and a 2018 third-round pick in the upcoming G League Draft. The Maine Red Claws are the G League affiliate of the NBA’s Celtics, while the Agua Caliente Clippers are the Clippers‘ affiliate.
  • ESPN.com writers Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz published a detailed story on young prospects, focusing on players from the 2019 recruiting class who could become draft-eligible in 2020. Class of 2019 center James Wiseman remains an intriguing talent, with the 7-footer still considering offers from a handful of schools.
  • We discussed several more basketball odds and ends in our last And-Ones roundup, including an update on the NBA’s new international plans for the 2019 preseason.

Kyrie Irving Says Cavs Trade Request Was "Best Thing" He's Done

  • Discussing his decision to ask the Cavaliers for a trade, Kyrie Irving called it the “best thing” he’s done. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report has that quote and much more in an in-depth feature on the Celtics‘ starting point guard.