BOSTON – It wasn’t until Jae Crowder was traded to Boston a year ago that the 6-foot-6 wing began to turn heads.
He has gone from an end-of-the-bench reserve in Dallas, to a coveted, versatile two-way talent that’s at the heart of the Celtics revival towards NBA relevance.
The work Crowder has put in has caught the eye of many, including Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
“I’ve seen him develop from his days in Dallas,” Bryant said.
Bryant, whose farewell tour came through Boston on Thursday night, recalled seeing Crowder’s behind-the-scenes work play out.
“There was one night where we got in late to Dallas, and I went straight to the practice facility to get some shots up and workout,” Bryant recalled. “And he [Crowder] was there. He was in there working out. He was in there working on his game. And when I see that, I have nothing but respect for him. And watching how he’s developed.”
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has commented on Crowder’s work ethic and how he goes about getting himself prepared for games.
“Very, very deliberate,” Stevens said. “He works on things that apply to his game.”
And that work is paying off handsomely this season.
This season, Crowder is averaging career-highs in just about every statistical category which includes points (13.4), rebounds (5.3), assists (1.8), steals (1.8), field goal percentage (.442) and 3-point field goal percentage (.349).
And keep in mind, Crowder is putting up these numbers after he got his five-year, $35 million contract this summer.
“I just try to bring it every night, do what I do well each and every night. Do my part, do my job,” Crowder said. “It’s not about the contract. Contract makes you feel comfortable, helps your game. I don’t think I should relax. I don’t think I should do anything differently.”
Anthony Davis' future was among the hot topics in Charlotte during the NBA's All-Star Weekend.
The New Orleans Pelicans center revealed during All-Star media availability Saturday that the Boston Celtics are on his list of acceptable trade destinations, contrary to reports before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
The Celtics weren't able to trade for Davis before the deadline because of a league rule (explained here), but they presumably will get their chance to pull off a deal this summer.
Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving -- the team's lone All-Star Game participant -- was asked by The Athletic's Joe Vardon for his take on Davis' apparent change of heart on Boston, and the 26-year-old superstar didn't have much to say on the matter.
6. I asked Irving after Sunday’s game what he made of Davis’ adding of the Celtics to his list. “Oh, he did, did he?” Irving said. “I don’t think I have a comment on that right now.”
Irving figures to be a key piece in any Davis-to-Boston scenario. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer and recently has been less adamant about re-signing in Boston than he was in October. If Irving re-signs with the C's, perhaps that would convince Davis that Boston is a good destination for him in 2019-20 and beyond. Davis isn't eligible for free agency until the summer of 2020. Irving and Davis, as Vardon and others have noted, also are friends.
It's going to be fascinating to see how the Davis drama plays out after the season, and if the Los Angeles Lakers get another chance to land him after a public failure to do so at the deadline. It's just another story in what figures to be an absolutely crazy summer that could see several marquee players switch teams.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.