Celtics

Source: Celtics have 'to unload' Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart

Source: Celtics have 'to unload' Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley or Marcus Smart

SALT LAKE CITY – Getting Gordon Hayward to leave Utah after seven seasons to come to Boston was not easy. 

Clearing enough salary cap space to sign him to a max salary contract hasn’t been a walk in the park, either. 

Boston has already renounced its rights to Kelly Olynyk, a key offensive spark off the bench with his ability to score from the perimeter.

Now it looks as though the Celtics will have to trade away one of its elite defenders in order to continue shedding salary. 

And the three targets most teams have focused on, are Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart.

Terry Rozier is also available, but the market for the aforementioned players has been much stronger.

While each player has established themselves as above-average defenders (all three received votes for making the all-NBA defensive teams), they each have piqued the interest of teams for different reasons. 

Bradley, a member of the all-NBA First team defense in 2015-2016, will earn $8.8 million in the final year of his four-year, $32 million contract. 

When he hits free agency in the summer of 2018, the Celtics will be hard-pressed to pay him the kind of salary his talents (somewhere in the range of $20 million or more per season) will be in line for. 

So trading him now and getting something in return, makes a lot of sense for Boston. 

And then there’s Crowder, who will earn $6.8 million this season. The 6-foot-6 forward has displayed the kind of versatility that has been instrumental to Boston’s rise the past couple of seasons to where they were able to finish with the best record in the East and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. 

Although he has three years left on his contract, the five-year, $35 million deal he signed last summer has him ranked among the best bargains in the NBA which his why the demand for Crowder will be pretty high. 

The challenge for Boston is to strike a deal that will enable to create the $29.7 million slot they need for the first year of Hayward’s four-year, $127.8 million contract. 

And then there’s Smart, a talented perimeter defender who is still on his rookie contract (he’ll make $4.5 million this season) but is eligible for an extension. 

While he has struggled throughout his career shooting the ball, his defensive instincts are exceptional and because of that, he tends to help teams far more than his offensive struggles hurt them. 

“Boston has to unload one of those three,” a league source texted CSNNE.com on Wednesday. “And to be candid, it really doesn’t matter which one. All three of them, no matter where they end up, will help a team.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

0:41 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and DJ Bean discuss the Celtics 16-game winning streak being snapped by the Miami Heat.

6:05 - Tom Curran and Mike Giardi talk about Tom Brady missing practice due to an Achilles injury and Randy Moss’ chances to make the Hall of Fame.

11:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the mental and physical fatigue that the streak had on the Celtics and if there is a sense of relief that the streak is over.  

16:11 - With it being the 5th anniversary of the Butt Fumble, we compare it to other embarrassing sports moments in history. 

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

When you reflect upon Boston’s 16-game winning streak which came to an end with Miami’s 104-98 win on Wednesday, there were moments in just about every game that played a major factor in their success.

So it was only fitting that in the Miami loss, it would be a whole lot of little things that ultimately brought the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history to a screeching halt.

  • Al Horford missed a pair of free throws.
  • Marcus Smart split a pair that had he made both, would have tied the game up in the fourth quarter.
  • Jayson Tatum had his only turnover of the game, in the fourth.
  • Terry Rozier had a rebound that he could not corral and bounced off his hands out of bounds.

And that doesn’t even factor in the missed open shots and unforced turnovers that collectively played a major role in Boston’s winning streak being a thing of the past now.

“I turned it over, we missed some free throws . . . we had some unfortunate things happen,” Tatum told reporters following the loss.

MORE:

Even with the loss, the Celtics (16-3) still boast the best record in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving has elevated his all-around play to a level to where he’s legitimately in the conversation as a league MVP candidate.

Jayson Tatum has established himself as one of the league’s top rookies from his draft class.

“As you could see, they kept hitting us, hitting us, until we were knocked out,” Irving said. “They deserved that win tonight.”

Disappointed with the loss, but it was not at all surprising to head coach Brad Stevens who has been raising concerns about his team’s attention to detail for the past few games and sensed it would catch up to them sooner or later.

“I told you, we’re not as good as the 16-game win streak,” Stevens said. “But we do have a lot of resolve. I can’t say enough about our guy’s will to come back. It’s incredible we were able to erase that lead that quickly and give ourselves a chance.”

Indeed, the Celtics rallied from a double-digit deficit to come within a single point in the fourth quarter. But unlike previous games, Boston couldn’t find a path to victory.

“We’re just going to continue to learn and continue to get better,” Irving said. “It’s the same things echoed when we were winning. Just continue to get better and understand, there’s still a lot for us to accomplish going forward.

He added, “It was a good streak, and it’s finally come to an end.”

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