Celtics

Celtics have talked to Magic about potential deal involving Nikola Vucevic

Celtics have talked to Magic about potential deal involving Nikola Vucevic

 BOSTON – If you’ve seen the Boston Celtics play this season, no one can blame Danny Ainge for looking around at any potential big men whose strength is scoring and rebounding.

Which brings us to Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, a 7-foot double-double machine throughout most of his career in the NBA with the Orlando Magic.

CSNNE.com has learned that the Celtics have talked with the Orlando Magic about a potential deal involving the 26-year-old center.

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While no deal is imminent, the addition of Vucevic would be a significant boost to the Celtics roster on multiple fronts.

Rebounding, defense and scoring are the Big Three areas the Celtics are looking to upgrade between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline.

The addition of Vucevic would address at least two of those areas for the Celtics – scoring and rebounding.

He’s averaging a near double-double this season with 13.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game along with 2.8 assists. For the season, he has 19 double-doubles compared to a Celtics team which collectively have just 21.

In his sixth NBA season, Vucevic is no stranger to trade rumors which tend to intensify when a team struggles as much as the Magic have this season.

So I asked him earlier how does he handle the speculation which is inevitable when you’re a good player on a team that’s not winning.

“You try not to pay too much attention to it and focus on what you can do,” Vucevic said. “And just focus on what you can do which is your play and do your best to help the team win.

Vucevic added, “there’s been a lot (of rumors) about me this season. I haven’t paid attention to it. I don’t read that much. It’s all rumors; you can’t control them. At the end of the day, what happens, happens.”

Not only are teams attracted to Vucevic because of his skills, but also because of his extremely team-friendly contract in this new age or big(ger) money pouring into the league and into the pockets of players and franchises.

Vucevic signed a four-year, $53 million rookie extension contract which will pay him $11.75 million this season, and has two years remaining at $12.25 million in ’17-18 and $12.75 million in ’18-19 which makes him one of the league’s best bargains over the course of the next two seasons.

Marcus Smart makes the Celtics great again

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Marcus Smart makes the Celtics great again

Two games in and the return of Marcus Smart has had the effect many predicted it would for Boston.

There may be other Celtics who score more points, tally more assists and snare a few more rebounds.

But the impact of Smart’s play on what truly matters – winning – is undeniable.

His play was one of the keys to Boston’s 121-112 win at New York on Saturday night.

Smart came off the bench to score 11 points to go with five assists and three steals.

In his two games back, Smart is averaging 11.5 points, 5.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 64.3 percent from the field.

Yes, it’s a small sample size for sure.

More than anything, it serves as a reminder of how one of Smart’s greatest assets as a player is his ability to contribute in a multitude of ways.

“He just adds a lot of versatility to our offense and our defense,” Boston’s Kyrie Irving told NBC Sports Boston following Saturday’s game. “He has a high awareness on both ends. He’s able to create opportunities for all of us at both ends of the floor and we appreciate that.”

Certainly Smart is credited for being a good defender, and his play-making skills have improved dramatically in the last year or so.

But arguably Smart’s biggest contribution is that his play allows others around him, to focus on whatever it is that they do well, knowing that Smart has the ability to do both his job as well as provide help when needed.

Boston’s defense struggled mightily before the break with teams scoring seemingly whenever they wanted to.

But in the last two games, Boston has looked more like the defensive unit that has been among the NBA’s best most of this season.

In the last two games, Boston’s defensive rating has been 104.5 which ranks 11th in the NBA during that span.

Several factors have played a role in Boston’s improved defense the last two games; among them being the return of Smart who missed 11 games after punching a picture frame last month that left him with 20 stitches.

“It’s the appreciation of Marcus Smart right there,” Irving said. “Implement him and him just putting his stamp and identity on our team as well. It just makes a lot of other guy’s job, easier. Because he covers up a lot of our mistakes as well as playing with unbelievable awareness at both ends of the floor. He understands spacing, he understands how the little things matter.”

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Kyrie is not happy with Zaza Pachulia

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File Photo

Kyrie is not happy with Zaza Pachulia

The Celtics defeated the Knicks in a game that had a little bit of everything Saturday night.

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics to victory and dominated in all of the important situations.

But he came out of the night a little pissed off.

During the Warriors-Thunders game tonight, Russell Westbrook drove to the paint and fell to the ground.

After Westbrook fell to the ground Zaza Pachulia appears to intentionally fall on to the back of his legs.

The play irritated Irving enough for him to air out his thoughts publicly on Instagram.