Celtics

Isaiah at Cavs' intro: 'Excited to play with the best player in the world'

Isaiah at Cavs' intro: 'Excited to play with the best player in the world'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – It was only fitting that the introductory press conference for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic being introduced as Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t go quite as planned.
 
But just like the trade eventually getting done after some pretty tense moments, the players eventually showed up together (Jae Crowder’s flight was delayed) and said all the right things in their first official appearance as Cleveland Cavaliers.

MORE:

In addition to the players, the press conference also included Cavs general manager Koby Altman and coach (and former Celtics assistant) Tyronn Lue.

“It’s a great day for our franchise, adding these players to our team,” Altman said.
 
And while Thomas has acknowledged since the trade that he will miss Boston and its fan base dearly, he said he's also looking forward to playing with LeBron James.

“I’m excited to play with the best player in the world,” Thomas said. “I’ve been in situations before where things were tough, but we just kept fighting and worked for what we had. Being put in this situation on the court is everything. To play with the best player in the world, to play with a guy like Kevin Love and J.R. Smith and Derrick Rose and be coached by a guy like Tyronn Lue, who played in this league a long time, it’s like...a match made in heaven.”
 
The two teams came to an agreement on Aug. 22 to trade Kyrie Irving to Boston in exchange for Thomas, Crowder, Zizic and a 2018 unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn, pending physicals.
 
Thomas suffered a hip injury last season that sidelined him for Boston’s final three playoff games against the Cavs and has yet to fully heal.
 
Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said on a conference call shortly after the trade that Thomas might miss “some” time this season and added that his hip injury did play a role in the decision to trade him.
 
After the Cavs brought Thomas in for a physical, their doctors were concerned that he would miss more games than they had anticipated. Because of that, they felt they were due additional compensation from the Celtics in the form of a first-round pick.
 
Boston initially balked at the idea of giving more compensation.
 
Eventually, the two teams reached a compromise on Aug. 31 with Boston providing a 2020 second-round pick from Miami.
 
Altman declined to get into specifics regarding Thomas’ hip injury or a timeline for his return, but did indicate that the approach to dealing with Thomas’ injury is “a non-surgical plan.”
 
Thomas led all scorers in the Eastern Conference last season, averaging a career-high 28.9 points per game.
 
It was good enough to land him a spot on the All-Star team for the second consecutive season as well as a spot on the All-NBA second team.
 
Crowder is coming off a season in which he set several career highs with the Celtics, including minutes played (32.4), field-goal percentage (.463), 3-point percentage (.398), rebounds (5.8) and assists (2.2).
 
Zizic, drafted by the Celtics with the No. 23 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, is a high energy 7-footer who showed significant promise overseas while playing under former Cavs coach and Framingham, Mass., native David Blatt.
 
While the players were embracing their new team for the first time publicly, there’s no mistaking the impact Crowder and Thomas – Thomas specifically – made on Boston and his former coach Brad Stevens.
 
“What Isaiah did was special; Isaiah’s impact was special,” Stevens told CSN’s Kyle Draper. “I love Isaiah and he’ll always have that here; he’ll always have an impact in Boston that way. That’s the really hard part about this from a player or coaches’ perspective. With any change there’s an emotional cost attached; that’s a pretty significant emotional cost. I look forward to seeing him; not on the court, not against him because he’s a dynamite player. But I’m happy to have had a chance to work with him.

Stevens added, “Isaiah will always be special to me.”
 
The feeling goes both ways.
 
“That’s a guy that’s been in my corner since Day One,” Thomas said. “That’s a guy that allowed me to be great, and love me for who I was. He’s a special person in my life.”
 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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

celtics_bucks_al_horford_120417.jpg

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