Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: Can Wall, Wizards take the next step?

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30 teams in 30 days: Can Wall, Wizards take the next step?

The Washington Wizards were among the big spenders this offseason, choosing to reward its own rather than try and lure high-level talent from other franchises. 

That’s why despite having a team that on paper should be among the best in the East this season, you hear little about the Wizards being among the best in the Eastern Conference with most of the talk centering around Cleveland and Boston.

Now that’s understandable considering they were the last two teams standing last season in the East, and the two were involved in arguably the biggest offseason trade having just completed a four-player swap centered around Kyrie Irving coming to Boston while Isaiah Thomas was headed to Cleveland. 

While both Cleveland and Boston have tremendous talent, the one concern for both is chemistry – something the Wizards have down to a science now. 

By matching the four-year, $106 million offer sheet Brooklyn presented to Otto Porter Jr., Washington returns its starting five from a year ago as well as eight of its top nine players. 

And remember, they finished the second half of the season with a 27-14 record which ranked among the best records in the NBA over the final 41 games of the season.

That kind of success plus a strong showing in the playoffs, is reason enough for the Wizards to believe that they can pick up where they left off last season and be one of the top teams in the East. 

Leading that charge will be Wall, who seems to be overlooked at times when talking about the best point guards in the NBA despite being a four-time all-star. 

The Wizards certainly showed him lots of love with a four-year, $170 million extension that will take effect beginning in 2019.

Wall, who averaged a double-double of 23.1 points and 10.7 assists per game last season, believes he’s more than just one of the better playmakers in the NBA.

“I’m the best two-way point guard in the league,” he told Ballislife.com following a workout at the University of Miami this summer that included teammate Kelly Oubre Jr. as well as Cleveland’s LeBron James.

And while James and the Cavs are the standard all teams in the East are measured against, Wall is confident in himself as well as his teammates that their time to be among the elite teams in the East, is now.

“He’s LeBron James; that’s big brother to me,” Wall said. “But I’m working out with anybody like that, him, Kevin Durant or whoever I’m with, I want to be better than them because whenever I step on the court I feel I’m the best player, no matter who you are. That’s just my mindset.”

 Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Tim Frazier (New Orleans); Jodie Meeks (Orlando); Mike Scott (Atlanta).

Key losses: Bojan Bogdanovic (Indiana).

Rookies of note: None.

Expectations: 51-31 (First in the Central Division, 3rd in the East)

Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Anything is Podable Episode Four: Building the Roster

Even with three All-Stars in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, Danny Ainge and the Celtics knew that, in order to win a championship, the team needed a strong supporting cast of role players.

Episode Four of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” takes a look at how Ainge constructed the rest of the roster and how one word, “ubuntu,” set the tone for a memorable season.

Giving the team a shooter off the bench, as well as another veteran presence in the locker room, Eddie House was perfect for the 2008 Celtics.

“I remember going to a practice when he was a young player,” said Ainge regarding House. “Just watching him shoot, and shoot, and just amazed at what a great shooter this kid was.”

“I saw him have his 56 and 60 back-to-back point games in the Pac-10 and it was amazing.”

Long a fan of House, Ainge went out and got his guy, but he wasn’t finished yet.

James Posey, a veteran wing who had experience both starting and coming off the bench, was nearing a deal with the Nets, but one call changed everything.

“I actually told my agent, I’ll just go to New Jersey,” said Posey. “Then Eddie House called me.”

House convinced Posey to spurn the Nets in favor of the Celtics, giving Boston another veteran off the pine.

With the roster taking shape, what the team needed now was an identity.

Ubuntu.

Mentioned to Doc Rivers at a trustee meeting at Marquette University, the word that means “I am who I am because of you,” became the team’s mantra.

“I looked this word up and I spent, no exaggeration, hours and days on this word,” said Rivers. “Everything about the word epitomized what we had to be.”

Ubuntu was the rallying cry of the 2008 Celtics and it all started with a Board of Trustees meeting at Marquette.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Report: Knicks given slight edge over Celtics as Kyrie's free-agent destination

Those pesky Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around even before Yahoo's Chris Mannix mentioned the Celtics were "scared" of Kyrie Irving heading there next summer. They picked up steam this week with another report of The Big Apple as a destination for Irving and Jimmy Butler to join forces.

Now, ESPN's NBA Forecast Panel gives the Knicks a slight edge over the Celtics to land Irving, 46.9 percent to  43.8 percent.

Here's part of the panel's explanation on ESPN's "The Jump": 

It would take some salary-cap machinations for New York to lure Irving to play close to where he grew up in West Orange, N.J. They would likely have to risk losing Kristaps Porzingis in free agency next summer by not giving him a big-money extension this season. 

There's also a potential pursuit of Kevin Durant in free agency next summer as the Knicks - playoff-less since 2013 and title-less for 45 years - make another attempt to spend their way back to relevance. 

Irving has made it clear he's not going to cost himself millions by signing an extension with the C's this season ("Contractually, financially, it just doesn’t make any sense”) and is headed to free agency, so, with training camp more than a month away, get used to a season full of questions about his future. And expect the Knicks speculation to heat up before the four C's-Knicks games (Oct. 20 and Feb. 6 in New York and Nov. 21 and Dec. 6 in Boston). 

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