Celtics

Paul Pierce on Jayson Tatum: 'He looks like an older version of me'

Paul Pierce on Jayson Tatum: 'He looks like an older version of me'

WALTHAM, Mass. – From the time the Boston Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the comparisons to Paul Pierce’s game offensively have been steady.
 
For Pierce, he doesn’t see Tatum being as good as he was scoring the ball when the 10-time All-Star came into league in 1998.
 
He’s better.
 
“He looks like an older version of me, when I started doing the step-back and stuff,” Pierce said in an exclusive interview with CSN. “When I’m watching him, he looks like a mature version of my game, like sixth, seventh, eighth year. He sees the defense. He knows what’s going to happen before it happens. He understands his position, footwork, his step-back (jumper) is there. His offensive repertoire seems complete. The sky is the limit for that kid.”

LISTEN TO THE CELTICS TALK PODCAST WITH PAUL PIERCE


 
But having spent nearly two decades in the NBA, Pierce has seen his share of young talented players come and go, many with similar if not more potential in terms of talent as Tatum.
 
“The thing I see, what makes the guy special, there’s a lot of talent in the league. There’s no question about it,” Pierce said. “Your mentality, your drive, how great you want to be, that’s what separates the good from the great ones. You look at guys from the past, like Kobe (Bryant’s) determination, his competitive spirit. You see guys that were just as talented, they didn’t have the same competitive spirit so they could not reach the levels of other greats.
 
Pierce added, “that’s the biggest thing, the mentality, having a competitive spirit because there’s so much talent, and it’s about how hard you work and the mentality you bring every single night.”
 
And while it’s still early, Pierce sees some of those traits in Tatum.
 
The praise for Tatum certainly sounds good to Celtics fans, it also comes with added pressure which as Pierce knows all too well, is a given for any player who suits up for the Green Team.
 
As Pierce strolled on to the practice floor, he admits that even after all these years “it brings chills every time, just stepping out (on the floor), grabbing the ball, reminiscing about the practice days, looking up at the banners.”
 
Ah yes, those banners.
 
Boston has 17 of them, more than any other NBA franchise.
 
But there’s one banner on the wall that remains blank, something that serves as a reminder for Pierce of what could have – no, should have – been at least another title during his 15 seasons as a Celtic which ended when the Celtics traded him to Brooklyn for a king’s ransom of draft picks, among them being the picked used to ultimately have Boston wind up with Tatum.
 
“’I left one (banner) behind,’” Pierce tells Tatum and then adds, “’You gotta fill that one up for me.’’’

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Smart, Celtics unable to agree on contract extension prior to deadline

Smart, Celtics unable to agree on contract extension prior to deadline

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

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All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A sprained left ankle injury kept LeBron James out of all but one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason games, and has created a certain element of uncertainty as to whether he’ll play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. 
 
While it has yet to be determined for sure if he’ll play, all indications are that the 15-year veteran will be in the starting lineup as the Cavs kick off their quest to remain the team to beat in the East.

“I never hide stuff from you guys. I really don’t know,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if James would play against the Celtics. “Depending on how he feels, but I really don’t know.”
 
However, James looked pretty comfortable shooting the ball after practice with a trio of former Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. 
 
And if you listen to the man who would likely start in James’ place -- J.R. Smith -- there’s nothing to worry about Cavs Nation. 
 
According to Smith, James will play. 
 
“We were talking about it, he’s never missed, since he was 8 years old and he started playing, he’s never missed a first game,” Smith said. “I’m preparing for him to play.”
 
Despite having played more than 41,000 minutes -- only 33 players in NBA history have done so -- James has been one of the game’s more durable players. Last season James he sat out only eight games, and that was the most he has missed in a single season.
 
 "He's gonna go [Tuesday]," Smith said. "He's gonna go, trust me [on] that. I don't care what he's gotta do, he's gonna play."