Celtics

Celtics need to make a few roster moves to make room for Hayward

Celtics need to make a few roster moves to make room for Hayward

SALT LAKE CITY – The Boston Celtics got their man when Gordon Hayward, courtesy of the Player’s Tribune, confirmed multiple reports earlier in the day that he would in fact sign a four-year contract with the Celtics worth more than $127 million with a player option after the third season.

But before folks get too carried away, there’s a bit – make that quite a bit – of roster cleansing the Celtics must first do in order to make sure they have enough salary cap space to sign the 27-year-old Hayward.

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One of the first moves Boston will make official most likely within the next 24 hours, is pulling back its qualifying offer to Kelly Olynyk and thus make the 7-footer an unrestricted free agent as one of several steps to clear enough cap room for the Hayward signing.

That will soon be followed by the Celtics rescinding their rights to all of their current free agents, with Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson – both on partially guaranteed contracts – being waived.

If only the salary cap came in closer to the projected $101-102 million amount, than the $99 million mark the league’s bean counters arrived at once the season was complete.

But because of the $2-3 million shortfall, Boston has to make at least one more move in order to ensure they have enough cap space to sign Hayward.

That means they have to clear at least one more contract off the books, with Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart the most likely players to be moved.

One alternative besides that would be for Hayward to take slightly less than a full max-salary, but it’s unclear if that’s an option he or the Celtics have discussed.

The bottom line is for the second year in a row, the Celtics add a significant free agent to the fold which only increases their chances of making an even deeper player run than we saw last season and just as important, move one step closer towards Banner 18.

The Enes Kanter Show: Why he snapped at Kendrick Perkins over Celtics tweet

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

The Enes Kanter Show: Why he snapped at Kendrick Perkins over Celtics tweet

Enes Kanter likes to have fun on Twitter.

But the Boston Celtics big man also has to look out for his own.

That's why, when ESPN analyst (and former Celtic) Kendrick Perkins openly proposed that the Celtics trade Gordon Hayward for Steven Adams to give them their "missing piece," Kanter snapped back

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On the latest episode of "The Enes Kanter Show," Kanter explained to NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg why couldn't let Perkins' tweet slide.

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I look at it this way: This is my family. My teammates are like my brothers. ... And it doesn't matter who you are. I will not let anyone mess with my brothers.

You don't know what Gordon or anyone else is going through. People respect Perkins a lot, and I respect him too. But for him to just go out there and say it like that, I was like, 'You cannot mess with my family like that."

The Celtics have been involved in speculation about adding a big man before the Feb. 6 trade deadline. This current group is tight-knit, though, and it's nice to see Kanter standing up for Hayward, who was also his teammate for three-plus seasons on the Utah Jazz.

"Our locker room is our locker room," Kanter added. "We won't let any distraction or outside voice break us down."

Check out the full episode above -- Kanter also discusses his fondest memories of the late Kobe Bryant and growing up a Lakers fan in Turkey -- and subscribe to "The Enes Kanter Show" on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.

Celtics' Marcus Smart again comes up with 'unbelievable' key plays late that shouldn't be overlooked

Celtics' Marcus Smart again comes up with 'unbelievable' key plays late that shouldn't be overlooked

MIAMI — Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Marcus Smart labors through a rough shooting night and is uncharacteristically sloppy handling the ball for the better part of three quarters. Then, crunch time rolls around and Marcus Smart morphs into the most valuable player on the court.

It’s a tale as old as time. But it played itself out again on Tuesday night in Miami. Smart missed nine of his first 10 shots and matched his season-high with four turnovers.

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Still, with the game in the balance, Smart did Smart things. Like calmly knocking down a straightaway 3-pointer with 1:50 remaining on a kick out from Kemba Walker. Like swatting down what should have been an easy Bam Adebayo dunk a short time later. Like flinging himself into a trio of baby-blue jerseys and out-jumping the springy Adebayo for an impossible offensive rebound in the final minute.

A cursory glance at the box score will have most dismissing Smart’s night. He finished with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting — missing all five of his shots inside the arc and five more of eight beyond it — with the four turnovers. 

But he balanced it out with eight rebounds, four assists, and three blocks in 36:29. All while being absolutely everywhere down the stretch as the Celtics picked up one of their best road wins of the season in Miami.

What was going through Smart’s mind late in the game?

“Win,” said Smart. "To me, it’s just what can I do to help my team? And, [on the offensive rebound], I saw a loose ball. I just thought, first one to get it, whatever happens, happens.

"I’m in the air, so I was hoping I didn’t get flipped or get hit in the face like I usually do. But you can’t think of that in the moment. You gotta go, and go hit the ball. First person to the floor, first person to the ball wins.”

Walker marveled at the way Smart makes all the key plays in high-pressure situations.

"Man, that dude. I love that dude,” said Walker. "I love his passion for the game. I love his energy. I love how he competes each and every night. He makes me want to compete just like him.

"He’s just so tough. He’s not scared of the moment. He made so many huge plays down the stretch. I know everybody will probably say the 3 that he made, but Adebayo had an open basket, he blocked his shot. I missed a shot, he got a huge [rebound]. He’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

Smart seemed smitten to learn of Walker’s praise. He noted it carries additional heft because of Walker’s All-Star status and the intensity that Walker brings to the floor.

“It’s a great feeling. I love Kemba, that’s my brother,” said Smart. “Just like all these guys in this locker room. But to hear somebody of his caliber just really really really give you praise and the recognition that you probably never get, it means a lot.”

Smart said he couldn’t allow missed shots to impact his energy. In fact, the missed shots only caused him to lock in a bit more defensively and find other ways to impact the game.

And all the struggles of the first 46 minutes will be forgotten because of his efforts in the last two.

“Continue to do what I normally do. I don’t really let shots not falling affect how I play, energy-wise,” said Smart. “Times like that, when your shot's not falling, your defense has to be at an all-time high. So, for me, just making sure guys are in the right spots on the defensive end and just really really really getting guys like [Jaylen Brown] and Gordon [Hayward] — they were the hot guys tonight, so we were trying to find them as much as we can.”

Still, teammates marvel at the way Smart can just take over a game with nothing more than grit and desire.

“Getting that tip-out…when he tipped it out and we were able to shoot free throws, that was a big momentum play, a huge play, at the end of the game,” said Grant Williams, who has affectionately dubbed himself a "Smart Mini-Me” and left a similar energy-filled stamp on the game Tuesday night. Williams noted that Smart’s play undoubtedly rubs off on the rest of the team.

Said Williams: “Just following his lead.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Warriors-Celtics, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.