Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: Fox leads new cast of characters in Sacramento

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30 teams in 30 days: Fox leads new cast of characters in Sacramento

It’s a new season with a lot of new characters on a Sacramento Kings roster that looks radically different than the one we saw at the end of last season.

Even with all that change, that won’t stop what should be another season filled with lots of bumps, beatings and bad play along the 82-game marathon of a season. 

Still, Kings fans have reason to believe that the franchise is taking some steps in the right direction. 

Having the fifth overall pick in last June’s draft, Sacramento landed the best player at that position who also fills a need in De’Aaron Fox. 

The 6-foot-3 point guard out of Kentucky enters the NBA as one of its fastest players from one end of the court to the other, reminding many of a young John Wall who like Fox, also attended Kentucky. 

And he has shown a knack for showing up in the marquee matchups, like Kentucky’s Sweet 16 matchup in March against UCLA which at the time was being led by Lonzo Ball. 

Fox had a career-best 39 points in Kentucky’s 86-75 win, in addition to getting the job done defensively as the main defender on Ball most of the game which significantly contributed to Ball tallying just 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

When asked after the game what motivated him to come out and have a performance like that, he told Sports Illustrated, “to shut LaVar (Ball) up!”

LaVar Ball is Lonzo’s Ball very outspoken father who tends to garner as much attention – if not more – than his son.

"In the last year, he became relevant for some reason," Fox said of LaVar. "When I knew Lonzo in high school, I'd never seen his dad before. He went crazy this year. I guess when your son’s a lottery pick, that gives you a lot of confidence."

Fox has an abundant amount of confidence now, but you have to wonder how will he handle what will surely be more losses this upcoming season than he’s probably lost in total since playing organized basketball. 

Helping the transition will surely be part of the job of veterans like Vince Carter and Zach Randolph who come from a Memphis franchise that had its share of rough times only to become one of the more consistent teams in the West the past few years under Dave Joerger who is now head coach of the Kings.

Sacramento should also benefit from the signing of George Hill who was instrumental last season in Utah snapping a four-year postseason drought this past season as the Jazz advanced to the second round before being eliminated by eventual NBA champion Golden State. 

There are plenty of changes in the now and on the horizon for the Kings.

As for wins?

Only time will tell if that’ll be part of this new-look Sacramento team. 

Key free agent/draft/trade additions:  George Hill (Utah); Zach Randolph (Memphis); Vince Carter (Memphis).

Key losses:  Rudy Gay (San Antonio); Arron Afflalo (Orlando); Tyreke Evans (Memphis); Ben McLemore (Memphis); Ty Lawson (Shandong, Chinese Basketball Association); Langston Galloway (Detroit); Anthony Tolliver (Detroit).

Rookies of note: De’Aaron Fox; Harry Giles III; Bogdan Bogdanovic; Justin Jackson; Frank Mason III.

Expectations: 31-51 (4th in the Pacific Division, 13th in the West)

Gordon Hayward will start traveling with Celtics in March

Gordon Hayward will start traveling with Celtics in March

LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics have made a point of trying to change up Gordon Hayward’s rehabilitation routine as to avoid the boredom that’s often associated with the recovery process from a long-term injury such as his.

How about a few days in Southern California?

Hayward is with the team here in Los Angeles, and will stay behind for a few days afterward according to head coach Brad Stevens.

“One of the things we wanted to do was change his environment,” said Stevens who added that Hayward may begin traveling with the team in March. “So, he’s going to be here for these two games, and he will stay here in Southern California for a week to 10 days with a couple of our staff and re-join us in Boston.”

The key to him re-joining the team for road games hinges on whether he can do is rehabilitation work without the need for an ultra-gravity (Ultra-G) machine which he has been using.

Stevens later explained why the team felt the need to try and switch up Hayward’s regimen.

“People that have been through this, you know, long process ... One of the things about us, we’re jumping on a plane every four or five days,” said Stevens who added that Hayward still has “a long way to go” before returning to play in an actual game. “And he’s used to that and he has been in the same routine doing the same thing for three or four months without that. So, we just wanted to have him here for a couple games while we’re out West and for a few days later, leave him out here.”

Al Horford is among the Celtics eager to have Hayward join the team on road games, even if his timeline for returning to action is still targeted for next season.

“We’re happy, anytime, for Gordon to be around us,” Horford said. “For him, it’s his process to getting back to where he needs to be. Obviously, we’re respectful of that. But any chance that he gets around us, it’s good to share with him. He’s still a part of this. That’s the cool thing about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Al Horford joins Kyrie Irving at the all-star game, selected as reserve

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Al Horford joins Kyrie Irving at the all-star game, selected as reserve

LOS ANGELES – Kyrie Irving won’t be all by his lonesome during all-star weekend next month, with teammate Al Horford being selected as an all-star reserve.

For Horford, this will be his fifth all-star selection but first as a member of the Boston Celtics after joining the team in 2016.

Horford’s play, particularly on defense, has been instrumental to the Celtics (34-13) having the best record in the Eastern Conference, and third overall in the NBA.

This season, he has averaged 13.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting a career-best 43 percent from 3-point range.

Horford’s numbers don’t always speak to his impact on teams and more important, winning games.

“He’s a big part of our team in order for us to be number one in the East and hopefully sustain that spot,” Irving said earlier today. “We know how valuable he is. The Celtics organization, our team, everybody. He definitely has a case; he’s got my vote.”

Horford is grateful and appreciative of being named an all-star.

But his focus, as you might expect, is on what he views as a much more significant prize – a victory tonight which would snap Boston’s season-long losing streak which stands at three straight.

Horford is more concerned about the Celtics setting the tone defensively tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“That has to be our mindset,” he said. “And sticking together. So this is a great time for us to make sure we’re together and we do it as a group.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE