Celtics

Brad Stevens pondering Smart move to starting lineup?

Brad Stevens pondering Smart move to starting lineup?

The plane ride home, particularly after along west coast road trip, is never a quick one.

It has an even longer feel about it when you come up short the way the Boston Celtics did with Sunday’s 100-94 loss being their fourth in five games.

“It’s been a disappointing trip,” Stevens said.

And when that disappointment extends for as long as we’ve seen with this team, the contemplation of making some kind of change – whether it be with the rotation or the starting lineup – has to be considered.

“I’d like to see us find some consistency at some point,” Stevens said. ‘I think that it’s not consistent, whatever our issues are.”

The first six games, Boston’s offense seemed to be the issue while the defense was rock solid most games.

Lately, it has been Boston’s defense that has been shaky while the offense has shown some growth.

And this loss had little to do with effort and everything to do with the team playing with the kind of hunger and sense of urgency, until it was too late.

“When we’re desperate and urgent we’re pretty good,” Stevens said. “We’ve got to do a better job and I have to do a better job of making sure we start games that way.”

And that’s where you may see Marcus Smart inserted into the starting lineup. 

Smart played just under 22 minutes against the Blazers, missing all three of his shots from the field.

However, he still managed to grab four rebounds, tally four assists and have a plus/minus of +1 which was tops among all Boston players who logged at least 20 minutes of court time.

The 6-foot-4 Smart has the versatility to play multiple positions which would certainly benefit Boston from a flexibility standpoint.

And while he’s not a shot-maker (he’s only shooting 32.8 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from 3-point range this season), there’s no mistaking the impact Smart has made on the Celtics offensively even when he’s not making shots.

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Ex-Celtic Marcus Morris opens up about free agency decision

Ex-Celtic Marcus Morris opens up about free agency decision

Free agency didn't come without controversy for Marcus Morris.

The former Celtics forward agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with the Spurs on July 7, but backed out of that deal to sign a one-year, $15 million contract with the Knicks instead. San Antonio reportedly was "pissed" about the change of heart, and Morris fired his agent Rich Paul shortly thereafter.

In an interview with The Athletic, Morris opened up about his tumultuous offseason and awkward situation with the Spurs.

“I have a good relationship with those guys and I have so much respect for [head coach] Pop [Gregg Popovich], [general manager] RC [Buford] and [assistant GM] Brian Wright,” Morris told The Athletic. “The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew. There was no shade. There’s no disrespect. I had great conversations afterward, and as long as I feel that I’m clear with them and gave them my truth, I feel good about moving forward.

“I was under the impression that I didn’t have anything left. I thought at the time that the Spurs deal was all that I had. The process wasn’t what I expected and it didn’t go the right way.”

It appears there was no ill will on Morris' end, but it's understandable for there still to be some sour grapes on the Spurs' side.

Before choosing New York over San Antonio and firing his agent, Morris also turned down a more lucrative offer with the Clippers. L.A. reportedly offered Morris a three-year $41 million deal at the start of free agency, but he opted to "make the best decision for him and his family."

Morris will hope for a smoother free agency process when he hits the market again next summer.

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Al Horford says Celtics' tampering suggestions are 'ridiculous'

Al Horford says Celtics' tampering suggestions are 'ridiculous'

Al Horford said it’s “ridiculous” if the Boston Celtics are upset about any sort of tampering that occurred last month after Horford opted out of the final year of his deal.

Horford, appearing on the Dan Patrick Show on Monday, said he was aware of an ESPN report that suggested the Celtics had “stomped their feet” about what they considered tampering with Horford before the start of free agency. But Horford, who declined a $30.1 million option before signing a four-year, $109 million offer with the Philadelphia 76ers, dismissed it.

"I just think it’s -- what can I say? — it’s ridiculous,” said Horford. "It is what it is. Danny [Ainge] -- I love Danny. Danny was really good to me. I know he’s definitely frustrated that things didn’t work out with us.”

Horford opted out in mid-June and initial reports suggested he was eager to work towards a new long-term deal with Boston. Later that same day, however, reports shifted to suggest that Horford was seeking a four-year deal that Boston wasn't offering to that point.

While tampering seemed pretty evident across the league this summer, the Celtics could be upset that, before the start of free agency on June 30, it became clear that Horford had at least one mystery suitor ready to throw big money at him over four years. That took away any leverage Boston had and made it tougher for them to negotiate a deal they felt comfortable both in terms of years and money with Horford.

Last week after introducing Kemba Walker, Ainge said that he was unsure if Horford would have made the same decision if he knew Walker was coming to Boston.

"I don’t know if Al makes the decision he makes if he knows that Kemba is coming, as an example,” said Ainge. "I have no idea if that makes -- but that’s how free agency is, sometimes you gotta make decisions before you know other certainties. But I’m not worried about that. We just have two new guys that have chosen to come play for us that really want to be here and we wish them well. I’m grateful for Al and Kyrie choosing to come play in Boston and grateful for all that they gave us.”

Earlier in his interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Horford said opting out of the final year of his contract and departing Boston was no easy choice.

"It was a very difficult decision, just looking at everything that had gone on with the season, my time in Boston, it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly by me,” said Horford. "We thought things were going to work out a certain way with Boston and they didn’t, and, yeah, I had to start looking at the next step. But it was not easy.”

Asked what went wrong with the 2018-19 Celtics, Horford suggested expectations weighed the team down.

"We had a lot of high hopes for our group,” said Horford. "I just think that we never were able to gel like we needed to, coming together as a group, and playing at the level consistently that we needed to play.” 

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