Celtics

Blakely: All signs pointing toward C's reunion with Baynes

Blakely: All signs pointing toward C's reunion with Baynes

BOSTON -- The Celtics didn't collect any accolades at the NBA Awards Show on Monday night in Los Angeles, but there was a far more important takeaway from the festivities.

It was the presence of Aron Baynes in the audience representing the Celtics, which is not common for a player about to hit free agency after having played with a team for just one season.

But it wasn't just any season for Baynes. It was the first in which the fifth-year pro played an integral part for one of the better teams in the NBA. 

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And it's a role that multiple league sources believe will continue, as they expect the Celtics to sign the veteran big man to a multiyear deal. 

Baynes representing the Celtics at the awards show is another sign of the connection he made with the franchise in just one season.

One can easily surmise that the Celtics called upon Baynes to represent them for more reasons than him having some free time. 

As we’ve come to see with this franchise, there’s often more to what they do than meets the eye.

Baynes was a defensive stalwart last season and is in position as an impending free agent to cash in on that strong play.

From an individual basis, Baynes has grown more in Boston than he has with any other franchise -- San Antonio included. Yes, he won a title with the Spurs in 2014, but Baynes’ role on that team was significantly different, and far less impactful, than what he did in Boston.

And that is in part why, according to multiple league sources, Baynes is expected to return to Boston next season.

Following the player’s exit interviews, Baynes made no secret about wanting to be back. And the Celtics’ brass has been clear about their intentions of bringing him back in the fold.

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Sounds good for both sides, right?

But it’s what you do and not so much what you say, that has meaning.

And the image that we saw last night of Baynes with ownership at the NBA awards show, speaks volumes as to where the sides are heading into free agency next week.

Because of that, it didn’t matter that Brad Stevens and Jayson Tatum didn't win Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year, respectively.

It was clear to us all that Boston was winning another battle; the recruitment of Baynes who is a big man void of the big name that teams tend to scurry after this time of year.

He's someone the Celtics have identified as being a key cog in the short-term with both sides hoping to be celebrating a different kind of award -- the Larry O’Brien Trophy -- next year.

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Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter shows big support for 7-foot-7 Tacko Fall in latest tweet

Enes Kanter seems to be a fan of Boston Celtics' 7-foot-7 rookie Tacko Fall.

Kanter posted a video to Twitter of Fall practicing at Auerbach Center, and he took time to praise Fall's efforts on Twitter.

The Celtics' signed Kanter to a two-year $10 million deal back in July, while Fall entered Boston's system as an undrafted free agent but he impressed in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kanter is the replacement for Al Horford, who left the Celtics over the summer for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two should be a great duo for the Celtics, as both have the height and skill to be something special this coming season.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Record predictions for the 2019-20 campaign

Entering training camp a year ago, expectations were sky-high for the Celtics. Most pundits considered them the team to beat in the East. Vegas fancied Boston as a 59-win team, the second-highest win total behind only Golden State. And a Finals matchup between those two teams was far from a pipe dream.

Fast forward a year and expectations have been tempered. The Celtics lost a pair of All-Stars this summer in Kyrie Irving and Al Horford and, despite signing another in Kemba Walker, the team finds itself widely considered a Tier 2 team in the East behind projection darlings Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

So what happens this year? Do the Celtics go back to being the sort of overachievers that have defined Brad Stevens’ coaching career? Will a younger roster struggle to simply meet even the lowered expectations of this season?

To wrap up Week 1 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to look into their crystal balls and predict not only Boston’s final win-loss record but how far they’d advance in the playoffs.

The  Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook projects Boston at 49.5 wins this season. The Bucks (58) and Sixers (55) top the Westgate projections and the next five teams all reside in the west. 

The Celtics went 49-33 last season, settling for the fourth seed in the East. They swept the Victor Oladipo-less Pacers in Round 1 but bowed to the top-seeded Bucks in five games in Round 2.

When you consider that Westgate’s four lowest win totals reside in the East (Knicks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Hornets) and seven East teams sit below 40 wins, it feels like the Celtics should reasonably win 50+ games despite the roster changes.

So we’ll put the Celtics at 52 wins and a spot in the East semifinals. That seeding would likely mean a second-round matchup jousting with either Giannis’ Bucks or Embiid’s Sixers and Boston’s frontcourt development might dictate just how competitive those series could be. Remember, too, Stevens tends to produce his best magic when you least expect it.

The irony, of course, is that the Celtics could win 49 games this season and get bounced in Round 2 again but if they develop chemistry and are more enjoyable to watch then last year’s gang, then Celtics fans will be far more OK with that script playing out a second time — well, so long as players make the sort of strides that suggest more is possible in the coming years.

Abby Chin: 50-32 Eastern Conference Finals

I think purely based on better chemistry and grit, this team will improve on last year’s win total. And, I’ll bank on some luck in the playoff bracket. Maybe with injuries, or regular season Al Horford, Philly and Milwaukee fall to the 2 and 3 seed so the Celtics could avoid them in the first couple rounds.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: 50-32, East Finals

I'm gonna keep the cookies on the bottom shelf with this one. They are a better team (team not individuals) than they're going to get credit for, and they have a roster that's full of talent with a huge chip on their shoulders from the coach on down. This group will play harder, smarter and win a lot of games they probably shouldn't and by doing so, keep Celtics fans extremely happy all season.

Max Lederman: 51-31, lose in 2nd round

Before last season the Celtics have always overachieved under Brad Stevens. I expect a return to that with lowered expectations this season. The Celtics also had their worst record vs winning teams last year since Brad's 2nd season. They should put up a better fight this season.

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