Blakely: Celtics at the eye of the NBA's pre-draft storm

Blakely: Celtics at the eye of the NBA's pre-draft storm

BOSTON – If you didn’t know better, you would swear we’re coming up on the trade deadline – not the NBA draft – with all the activity that’s happening throughout the league.

These are stormy times in the NBA, and the Boston Celtics are at the eye of it.

Just about every rumored deal and transaction that has gone down of late has in some way been connected with the Celtics.


The trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets included the 27th overall pick going to the Lakers, a pick that the Celtics swapped with Brooklyn for what ultimately became the top overall pick for Boston (which they traded away to Philadelphia for the No. 3 pick and a future first-rounder).

And the rumored players on the move – Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Indiana’s Paul George and most recently, New York’s Kristaps Porzingis – have all been tied to the Celtics in some fashion.

It’s not unusual for the NBA to be so active, but this time of year?

“You’re right. You don’t see this kind of activity so close to draft,” one league executive told CSNNE.com. “But the circumstances right now for teams and the players being talked about, that’s not normal either.”

Especially Paul George.

His agent recently informed the Pacers that his client was not planning to sign a long-term extension with Indiana, a clear sign that George has every intention of returning to his home state of California and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers shortly after he hits free agency in the summer of 2018.

The Celtics and other playoff-caliber teams might have been interested in making a run at George as a one-year rental, with the hope being that a successful run would change his mind about playing for the Lakers.

Sensing this possibility, the Lakers cleared $54 million in salary cap space by making the trade with the Nets and are engaged in trade talks with Indiana for George right now.

The Celtics weren’t expected to make a run at George, but the move by the Lakers makes it even more unlikely that Boston or any other playoff-caliber team would make an offer for him.

Another player Boston has been linked to is Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, a player that the Celtics have had interest in previously but have since cooled on acquiring him. CSN Chicago’s Vincent Goodwill reported that if Butler is traded, Cleveland or Boston will likely be his destination.

And then there’s New York’s Kristaps Porzingis, an unexpected talent that the Knicks are apparently willing to listen to trade offers for.

Porzingis’ availability will draw plenty of suitors, and the Celtics not surprisingly will be among them.

The Celtics can put together a trade package that would include the No. 3 pick in Thursday’s draft.

And if Boston doesn’t want to do that, the Celtics might be able to put together a package that would include either the 2018 pick Boston will get from Brooklyn (likely a top-5 selection), or the 2018 pick that they will get from the Los Angeles Lakers via Philadelphia.

There’s no telling how any of this will play out, or whether any of the aforementioned players will wind up in a Celtics uniform.

But one thing we know is true.

In these turbulent times of uncertainty in the NBA, the Boston Celtics remain well entrenched in the eye of the storm.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.