Celtics

Grousbeck: In-season trade could lure NBA stars

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Grousbeck: In-season trade could lure NBA stars

BOSTON - Danny Ainge has already gone on record in saying that he doesn't think this currently-constructed Celtics team is built for a championship.

[Insert sad trombone sound here.]

But really, you'd have to be walking around with green goggles on if you thought this team had a legitimate shot at the title.

Shot at the playoffs? Of course. Shot at winning a round? Sure. But no, not the NBA Finals.

The Celtics are a better team this season than they were last season - that much we know. By adding David Lee and Amir Johnson, and having a full season of Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the team has more talent. Plus Marcus Smart has a year under his belt.

They aren't a basement dweller by any means - or shouldn't be anyways - and that's partially why Celtics CEO and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck thinks the team can lure in a big-name player.

Speaking on The Sports Hub's Felger and Mazz show Wednesday evening, Grousbeck touched on that and more.

"I personally think free agents will come to a place that is on the cusp," Grousbeck said. "And if you're down on the bottom you're never going to get a free agent."

Grousbeck also says the Celtics are set up for the future in multiple ways. They don't have to "tank" in order to get a top draft pick this year. They hope the Nets will take care of that for them.

"The way we are set up right now, it's all three," Grousbeck said when discussing ways the team can improve. "We have the draft - we have more picks than anybody's ever had in history. We've got cap space - we've got cap space for two [max] guys next year if we can get them to come. And trade - we've got Trader Danny. We're not saying no to any option."

Grousbeck presented a "Trader Danny" scenario that could give the Celtics a shot at a superstar later.

"Let's say we win 50 [games] this year and get to the Conference Finals," Grousbeck said. "We make some trade in February and get to the Conference Finals. We might, we might not. Got two max spots and Brad Stevens, one of the best coaches in the game."

It's rare for big-name free agents to change teams. It happens once in a blue moon. But the C's did get Kevin Garnett to agree to a trade to Boston. So that's something, anyways.

"Free agency is the last choice and it's when you haven't made a trade that locks up your cap, or you haven't developed guys enough who then are max guys to re-sign them," Grousbeck said. "We're not saving for free agents. It's not like we're saying no to expensive people. We brought in [David] Lee and [Amir] Johnson but on one year. We're going to take a look at those guys. Two good players. We have the option to probably re-sign them next summer. We can extend some of the guys on the roster or we can make a trade in February and take on a bunch of money. So all those things. At the end of it all if there's free agency dollars left then you can go the free agency route."

Grousbeck can't name specific players they're interested in due to tampering, but did say they have people in mind - whether they're free agents after this season or not.

"Mostly we're looking right now at trades for December and February and then we'll worry about free agency after that," he said. "If you don't dare to do something you're never going to get it anyway."

Gordon Hayward eyes potential Celtics return Monday night vs. Cavaliers

Gordon Hayward eyes potential Celtics return Monday night vs. Cavaliers

BOSTON — Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward said the fractured bone in his left hand has completely healed and acknowledged the possibility that he could return to action on Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Bone has healed, probably stronger than my right hand. There’s a plate in there with screws. The bone is good,” Hayward said Sunday after going through the team’s offday practice. Boston did not engage in any live 5-on-5 action but Hayward sounded open to returning Monday.

"Tomorrow’s a possibility,” he said. "See how I feel when I wake up, go through shootaround, see how it goes.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he’d let the training staff determine when Hayward was ready to return but also didn’t rule out Monday and noted, “he’s coming back sooner than later.”

The Celtics originally announced a 6-week return-to-action timeline for Hayward after he underwent surgery to repair a fourth metacarpal fracture in his left hand on November 11. Hayward suffered the injury running into LaMarcus Aldridge on Nov. 9.

Hayward has ramped up activity over the past week and acknowledged that an earlier return seemed possibly recently.

"I mean you try to take it day-by-day. I think as it’s steadily improving and can do more and more, you start to think coming back a little bit earlier,” said Hayward. "I think you set the timeline a little bit later than what you’re hoping for just so that [the media] and everyone else isn’t like — if you’re late like, what’s the deal?”

Hayward stressed that, if the bone is fully healed, he’s at no real risk for reinjury without taking another shot.

"I can’t do anything that’s going to hurt it. I’m going to have to get hit equally as hard, probably more than last time, because I have the metal in my hand now,” said Hayward. "So the bone is healed. I can’t hurt it worse. It’s almost like playing through the pain, the tissues that I have in my hand, those are a lot slower to recover, so those are going to be sore a little bit. Motion and strength is going to take a little while to get back; it’s whether or not you can play through that and still be effective. That’s kind of what we’re determining but the bone is healed.”

Hayward said he does not expect to have the hardware in his hand removed unless it bothers him further down the road. He admitted he’s been cautious with the hand as he ramps up contact activities but doesn’t expect that to linger.

"It’s definitely something I’m still guarding and it’s going to be like that for a little while,” said Hayward. "That’s only natural. But part of that is getting out there and playing and getting over it mentally. I have gotten a hit [by an assistant coach], it reacted normally to that. The bone has healed and that’s the important part.”

A six-week return had Hayward looking at closer to a Christmas return. The Celtics play three games in four nights starting with Monday’s visit from the Cavaliers.

Boston is 9-4 without Hayward.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

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Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

The Maine Red Claws were in action at home at the Portland Expo Center on Saturday night hosting the Delaware Blue Coats, taking a 128-123 loss to fall to 7-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Tacko Fall wasn’t in action, but Bryce Brown was simply furious, leading all scorers with 43 points 15 of 17 from the floor overall and a franchise single-game record 11 of 11 three-pointers. Tremont Waters was terrific, too, with 18 points and 11 assists.

HIGHLIGHTS

BRYCE BROWN

Brown, an undrafted free agent who helped lead Auburn to its first Final Four appearance last spring, was simply unconscious for the Claws. He shot a perfect 11 of 11 from three-point range to give him an absurd effective field goal percentage of 1.2 for the game.

TREMONT WATERS

Waters, the Connecticut native, was crafty in his distribution, with just four turnovers to go with his 11 assists.

Yante Maten (18 points), Vincent Poirier (18) and Justin Bibbs (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Claws.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Red Claws return to action Friday in Des Moines, Iowa to face the Iowa Wolves, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.