Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

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30 teams in 30 days: Too many departures will keep Hawks grounded

When Al Horford decided in the summer of 2016 to leave Atlanta after nine seasons to play for the Celtics, his departure was the first significant sign that changes were on the horizon.
 
Unfortunately for the Hawks, those changes have not been for the better.
 
Not even close.
 
It’s hard to imagine that it was just three years ago that Atlanta had the best record in the East (61-21). Now, the Hawks will be among the NBA's worst.
 
That team produced four All-Stars that season, all of whom are now playing elsewhere.
 
It has been the kind of upheaval that speaks to how this franchise has fallen quickly upon hard times that, by all accounts, won’t get better anytime soon.
 
Paul Millsap’s departure to Denver was the final core piece to leave, with the Hawks now fielding a roster that’s centered around Dennis Schroder. The 6-foot-2 guard is coming off his best season, averaging 17.9 points, 6.3 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game last season.
 
Still, as much promise as the fifth-year guard has shown, the Hawks are painfully weak across the board.
 
In addition to Milsap, the Hawks also saw hometown favorite Dwight Howard traded to Charlotte. And then there was Tim Hardaway Jr., who averaged a career-best 14.5 points per game last season and showed legitimate signs of being a breakout scorer in this league.
 
He opted to sign with the team that drafted him in 2013, the New York Knicks, who lured him back to the Big Apple with a four-year, $70.95 million contract.
 
Atlanta returns Kent Bazemore and Taurean Prince, who have each shown themselves to be solid pros with promising futures, but neither would be considered on the star-on-the-rise trajectory the Hawks desperately need.
 
The Hawks will also look to rookie John Collins to contribute as well. The 6-foot-10 forward out of Wake Forest had a strong summer league showing. It earned him a spot on the Las Vegas summer league first team. He averaged 15.4 points and 9.2 rebounds in five games.
 
Lots of role players, for sure. But the franchise’s string of 10 consecutive playoff appearances will likely end this year.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions:  Dewayne Dedmon (San Antonio); Luke Babbitt (Miami); Miles Plumlee (Charlotte); Marco Belinelli (Charlotte); Nicolas Brussino (Dallas).
 
Key losses: Paul Millsap (Denver); Dwight Howard (Charlotte). 
 
Rookies of note: John Collins. 
 
Expectations: 26-56 (Fifth in the Southeast Division, 14th in the East)

Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

Jayson Tatum on overhyped talk: 'I'll stick to my job'

A story earlier this week from Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes calling burgeoning young Celtics star Jayson Tatum one of the NBA's five most overrated players has expectedly ruffled some feathers in the Boston sports stratosphere. 

But Tatum himself is taking the high road. In a conversation with ESPN's Chris Forsberg centered around his recent workouts with future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant, the 20-year-old forward, who finished third in Rookie of the Year voting this past season, said he wasn't bothered by the article:

While Hughes acknowledged that Tatum could be a franchise player, his reasoning for inclusion on the list was that he could be a victim of the stacked team for which he plays, saying, "Kyrie has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover."

As for the session with Kobe? Tatum clearly absorbed a lot:

Hughes also named Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, Bulls foward Zach LaVine and Suns forward Josh Jackson in the company of overhyped players.

It's been quite a week for Tatum, the former No. 3 overall pick out of Duke University. Earlier in the week, the St. Louis native had his jersey number permanently retired at his high school alma mater.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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.