Celtics

Celtics first-round options in the NBA Draft: Oregon center Bol Bol

Celtics first-round options in the NBA Draft: Oregon center Bol Bol

BOSTON -- During Bol Bol’s first game with Oregon, there was a 36-second span in which he missed a dunk, caught a lob alley-oop, grabbed a defensive rebound and turned the ball over. 

He did a little bit of everything, which is both the blessing and the burden that comes with selecting the 7-foot-2 ½ (not so) big man in this month’s NBA draft. 

Bol has the kind of all-around skills that in most draft classes, would make him a top-5 lock. 

But the impressive play we saw from him at Oregon constituted just nine games courtesy of a foot fracture injury. 

And while the injury wasn’t deemed career-threatening or anything like that, there is concern that it could be the first of many physical setbacks for one of the most talented players in this year’s draft class. 

That’s the only reason why a team like the Boston Celtics has any hope of potentially landing him with one of their three, first-round picks - none of which are in the top 10. 

But that shouldn’t matter, not with most teams with a top-10 selection unlikely to roll the dice on the son of NBA legend Manute Bol. 

While Bol Bol certainly shares the height gene from his Sudanese-born father, that’s about the extent of their games being similar. 

The younger Bol is indeed more of a product of this generation of big men, one in which playing with one’s back-to-the-basket is far from a prerequisite to be a dominant big man. 

Bol Bol is seemingly at his best in transition, able to both initiate a break or finish it off with the kind of ball-handling skills you seldom see in a player with his length. 

At 7-2 ½, he has a 7-7 wingspan and a 9-7 ½ standing reach - just a half inch shy of the combine record measurement for standing reach. 

“He’s a big-time talent, no doubt about that,” an Eastern Conference scout told NBC Sports Boston. “There’s a risk with anyone you draft, obviously. But the risk is a little bit higher with him because he played so few games at Oregon and how his body responded to the time off with the injury.”

For most players who suffer a long-term injury, the concern among team officials usually centers around them gaining weight and thus becoming less impactful because of the added poundage. 

But Bol was just the opposite as he weighed in at 208 pounds at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago earlier this month. 

His new weight at the combine was about 30 pounds less than he weighed at the start of the college basketball season, raising lots of concerns about whether he can physically handle the rigors of being an NBA big man. 

And if you decide to have him play more of a wing position, does he have the lateral quickness to not get beat by quicker players? And conversely, does he have enough physical strength to get to the spots he wants to against shorter defenders. 

These are just some of the questions and concerns that make Bol Bol one of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft, a player that the Celtics have to give some thought to selecting with one of their three, first-round picks. 

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.

Report: Celtics 'quickly' shot down trade offer for Gordon Hayward

Report: Celtics 'quickly' shot down trade offer for Gordon Hayward

As Gordon Hayward struggled to return to form last season following his catastrophic ankle injury, some wondered whether the Celtics could look to move him and dump salary.

Hayward was supposed to star alongside Kyrie Irving after the C's signed him to a max contract in 2017, but obviously, things didn't go as planned. Irving apparently mulled his exit from Boston in December of last year and when it became evident he was on his way out, teams checked in about Hayward's potential availability in a deal.

But even amid what was a letdown season for Hayward and the C's, Boston was unwilling to part ways with the 29-year-old, according to one opposing NBA executive.

“After it was clear Kyrie [Irving] was leaving, I told our owner that we could maybe grab Hayward for nothing if Boston tore it down," the executive told Keith Smith of SB Nation's Celtics Blog. "He’s owed a lot of money, but only a couple of years left. We made a call, but it got shut down quickly. I think Danny [Ainge] and Brad [Stevens] know what they have in Hayward for this year and going forward. He’s going to be really good again.”

It's clear the Celtics weren't discouraged by Irving's departure and the chemistry issues that lingered throughout the 2018-19 campaign. Smith included quotes from other opposing NBA executives, who called the C's asking price for Jayson Tatum "insane" and said Boston shot down an offer for Jaylen Brown as well. President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge obviously believes in the core he put in place and has Hayward, Tatum, and Brown each at the center of the plan going forward.

With the rocky season behind them, the Celtics will have Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter in addition to that core as they look to add some much-needed positivity to the equation.

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.

Zion Williamson joins Jayson Tatum among latest Jordan brand signings for Nike

Zion Williamson joins Jayson Tatum among latest Jordan brand signings for Nike

Nike's Air Jordan brand has enjoyed a successful summer adding NBA stars to its roster.

Zion Williamson, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, has officially joined Jordan brand, the company announced Tuesday.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in a Nike statement. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”

The list of talented basketball players who recently have become Jordan Brand athletes is quite impressive, and it includes Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. Boston's 21-year-old star signed a deal with the company in June.

Tatum isn't the only Celtics player on Jordan Brand's roster.

Newly signed point guard Kemba Walker also is one of the brand's top stars. Tatum even tried to recruit Walker to sign with the Celtics in NBA free agency during a Jordan event in Paris last month.

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.