30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded


30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

When Al Horford decided in the summer of 2016 to leave Atlanta after nine seasons to play for the Celtics, his departure was the first significant sign that changes were on the horizon.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, those changes have not been for the better.
Not even close.
It’s hard to imagine that it was just three years ago that Atlanta had the best record in the East (61-21). Now, the Hawks will be among the NBA's worst.
That team produced four All-Stars that season, all of whom are now playing elsewhere.
It has been the kind of upheaval that speaks to how this franchise has fallen quickly upon hard times that, by all accounts, won’t get better anytime soon.
Paul Millsap’s departure to Denver was the final core piece to leave, with the Hawks now fielding a roster that’s centered around Dennis Schroder. The 6-foot-2 guard is coming off his best season, averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game last season.
Still, as much promise as the fifth-year guard has shown, the Hawks are painfully weak across the board.
In addition to Milsap, the Hawks also saw hometown favorite Dwight Howard traded to Charlotte. And then there was Tim Hardaway Jr., who averaged a career-best 14.5 points per game last season and showed legitimate signs of being a breakout scorer in this league.
He opted to sign with the team that drafted him in 2013, the New York Knicks, who lured him back to the Big Apple with a four-year, $70.95 million contract.
Atlanta returns Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, who have each shown themselves to be solid pros with promising futures, but neither would be considered on the star-on-the-rise trajectory the Hawks desperately need.
The Hawks will also look to rookie John Collins to contribute as well. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Wake Forest had a strong summer league showing. It earned him a spot on the Las Vegas summer league first team. He averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games.
Lots of role players, for sure. But the franchise’s string of 10 consecutive playoff appearances will likely end this year.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions:  Dewayne Dedmon (San Antonio); Luke Babbitt (Miami); Miles Plumlee (Charlotte); Marco Belinelli (Charlotte); Nicolas Brussino (Dallas).
Key losses: Paul Millsap (Denver); Dwight Howard (Charlotte). 
Rookies of note: John Collins. 
Expectations: 26-56 (Fifth in the Southeast Division, 14th in the East)

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Against Magic, C's do what they're supposed to

Beating one of the few teams already eliminated from the playoff race is in itself not that big a deal.

It’s called doing what you’re supposed to do.

But for these Celtics, their 92-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night was more than just another victory.

It was the latest installment in a season filled with teachable moments and lessons that can bolster in some fashion their chances at a deep playoff run.

While there’s no way they’re going to go far without their core guys Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, getting guys to fill in for them and still manage to win, is important in this team’s overall development in both the present and future.

No one on the Celtics’ roster can score like Irving, the league’s 11th-ranked scorer at 24.4 points per game.

Still, getting his fill-ins Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin to go for 17 and 10 points certainly helps.

And Jaylen Brown’s ability to play both ends of the floor at a high level is huge, but rookie Abdel Nader has shown he too has some potential to be a solid two-way talent.

Smart’s defense sets him apart from others, but the Celtics collectively were able to make up for that with an impressive defensive rating of 83.1 against the Orlando.

And their collective efforts serve as yet another teachable moment for the Celtics.

Here are five takeaways from a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might lead one to believe: 

There may not be another Celtic whose stock has risen more than Terry Rozier’s this season. He has become a reliable two-way talent off the bench whose capable of giving you starter-like production when needed. He had 17 points against the Magic along with seven rebounds and five assists.

With Marcus Smart (right thumb) out for the rest of the regular season, Terry Rozier in the starting lineup along with Marcus Morris, those are three really big chunks of Boston’s second unit no longer coming off the bench. The second unit players might have been different, but that didn’t affect the Celtics’ bench from impacting the game in a significant way. Against the Magic, they outscored Orlando’s backups, 39-28. 

He signed with the Boston Celtics at a time when a role for him was far from defined. His patience and Boston’s faith in him has paid for both as Larkin continues to be that utility player that Brad Stevens has leaned on at times. Larkin was solid off the bench, scoring 10 points.

This may be one of the closest Coach of the Year votes we have ever had in the NBA. Regardless how short the list may be, you can bet Brad Stevens will be on it. The way he has been positioning the Celtics to be among the last teams standing despite all the injuries they have endured this season, speaks to his ability to not just draw up X's and O’s but also his ability to develop players who when called upon to play, are more than ready for the challenge.

It’s fair to expect the Celtics are going to be short-handed for the rest of the season, which means those still around have to step their game up – Horford included.

For Horford, stepping up involves being more assertive as a scorer and not rely as much on his skills as a play-maker. We saw that from Horford on Friday, as he tallied a near double-double of 15 points and nine rebounds but more important, he took a game-high 18 shot attempts.


'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

AP Photo

'Big Baby' busted with 126 grams of pot, $92K in cash

Former Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis was arrested last month in a hotel room in Aberdeen, Maryland, with more than 126 grams of marijuana and more than $92,000 in cash.

Davis, 32, who played on the Celtics 2008 championship team was last in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2015, was arrested Feb. 7 after the hotel owner at the Aberdeen Hampton Inn smelled marijuana coming from Davis' room, WMAR-TV in Baltimore reported.

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” Aberdeen Police Lt. William Reiber told WMAR. “In addition to that, there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

Davis is charged with seven counts of drug possession and distribution.

Police said the strains of marijuana were from a Los Angeles wholesaler that court records show Davis told police he was in business with.

He told officers he was visiting family in Maryland. Davis' attorney told WMAR the former Celtic (2007-11) adamantly maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court next month to clear his name.