Celtics

Celtics one of several teams to vie for Dwight Howard

Celtics one of several teams to vie for Dwight Howard

BOSTON – Dwight Howard has reportedly begun the buyout process with the Brooklyn Nets, seeking to become a free agent this summer and in doing so, latch on with a title contender.

Several teams will vie for his services, including the Boston Celtics.

Remember, Howard was considered a “Plan B” option for Boston a couple years ago if the Celtics failed to land their top choice Al Horford who as it turned out, was replaced in Atlanta by Howard.

MORE CELTICS

"I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win," Howard told ESPN’s Chris Haynes. "That's my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it's not people talking about my past."

Boston enters this summer looking to bolster its defensive presence in the middle with Aron Baynes and Greg Monroe both unrestricted free agents.

Monroe, who was acquired after he agreed to a buyout with the Phoenix Suns, is expected to play elsewhere next season.

But Baynes, an integral defensive stalwart for Boston this past season, is someone the Celtics would like to re-sign.

However, his emergence defensively this past season might make him too pricey for the Celtics.

And while it remains to be seen what Howard will be looking for salary-wise from Boston, a chance to play for a title contender might be enticing enough for him to come to terms on a salary that the Celtics feel comfortable with going forward.

The addition of the 32-year-old Howard would provide Boston with one of the better defensive centers over the past decade, in addition to an upgrade scoring-wise at the position.

Last season in Charlotte, Howard averaged a double-double of 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game which placed him prominently in the all-star discussion in February.

MORE BLAKELY

The top overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft by Orlando, Howard has been one of the league’s most decorated players since his arrival.

Howard is an eight-time all-star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, in addition to leading the NBA in rebounds five times and blocked shots twice along with several all-NBA selections. 

His resume is impressive.

But throughout his career, Howard has often been cast as a player who doesn’t care enough about winning, isn’t a great leader and someone who’s more harmful than helpful to a locker room. 

Those perceptions will certainly factor into whatever team decides to pursue him.

But to Howard’s credit, he’ll do what he can to show what folks have heard and what those around him say about him, are two completely different narratives.

Kent Bazemore is a former teammate of Howard’s in Atlanta.

"(Dwight's) gotten so much of a bad rap, but he's a great teammate," Bazemore told ESPN. "For such a long season, his energy and his laughing helps you get through. And if you're going through a tough stretch personally, it's good to have that type of person around. Before he signed in Atlanta, there was all this bad stuff said about him. ... I found that he has a good heart and he works hard every day to turn that perception around."

If Howard joined the Celtics, he would already have a close friend on the team in Jaylen Brown.

Both are from Georgia and have shared the same trainer in the past.

When asked about Howard earlier this season, Brown said that Howard has been a mentor of sorts for him, advising him on the things to do and not do early on in your pro career.

Howard will be the first to acknowledge he has made some bad decisions in his career, which is why he has made a point when given the opportunity to pass on the lessons he learned so that others like Brown won’t repeat those same mistakes.

“When you’re talking to a guy trying to be in the NBA and stuff like that, you just always want to be real,” Howard told NBC Sports Boston. “For us growing up, we didn’t see the stuff that players went through. I didn’t know what to expect. I only saw the TV, what was on TV, the cars, the houses, that stuff. Once I got in, it’s a different side. That’s the side I wanted to talk to him (Brown) about, just try to … I don’t want him to make any of the mistakes I made as far as away from the game. On the court, he’s going to handle himself. But away from the game, just so he doesn’t make those little mistakes that could cost you in the end.”

Now  Howard has accomplished just about every individual honor a player can throughout the course of what has been on paper at least, a Hall of Fame-worthy career.

But as his career nears an end, Howard has that thirst to win at the highest levels, something that has often been questioned about him in the past.

Can he get that thirst quenched in Boston?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Why Grant Williams gave out candles to Celtics staff and teammates

Why Grant Williams gave out candles to Celtics staff and teammates

Last month, Grant Williams' generosity was on display when he provided the Boston Celtics staff with a special gift.

The C's rookie gave out candles to media members, teammates, and employees throughout the organization to show his appreciation for their work. He also took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

Williams talked to NBC Sports Boston's Kyle Draper on Celtics Post Up about why he chose candles as the gift for his kind gesture.

"Candles, for me, they always put me in a great mood," Williams said. "They're relaxing. They can change your emotion after a long day. I think it's a small token of just showing appreciation and allows especially during the holidays to be able to go home and just have something where you say 'I feel appreciated.'"

A simple yet thoughtful explanation from the 21-year-old.

Williams has been impressive on the court as well as off of it this season. Of course, his 3-point shooting remains an area he'd like to improve. Especially if it means changing some of the nicknames he's been given by his Celtics teammates.

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.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown proving the haters wrong

celtics_talk_podcast.png
NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown proving the haters wrong

When Jaylen Brown first signed a four-year, $115 million contract extension with the Celtics this offseason, there were questions raised about the deal.

Is this too much for Brown? Would he be able to live up to the deal?

Did the Celtics make the right move extending him?

So far, the answer to the lattermost question has been a resounding yes.

Brown has been proving his haters wrong so far this season to the tune of 19.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game for the Celtics. And on the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely, Kyle Draper, and Chris Forsberg discussed Brown's performance and Forsberg noted what has led Brown to such a torrid start.

What's remarkable to me is that [Brown's improvement is] across the board. It's not like one thing that Jaylen did this offseason. It feels like he improved his ball-handling, he improved his vision. Like I thought he would come into the season and make a noticeable leap. But to not only be up at 20 points per game now, even more in this stretch without Gordon Hayward, but to be able to take Jimmy Butler off the dribble, hit him with two crossovers and then hit a 22-foot stepback, Jaylen Brown wasn't doing that a year ago.

I look at his stat line now, and I know I've joked about it in the past, but it's pretty close to Jimmy Butler. It's getting closer to Kawhi Leonard.

Forsberg would clarify that Brown isn't on that level yet, but he certainly is getting better.

In addition to the discussion about Brown, the podcast crew also talked to Grant Williams, who discussed the start of his rookie season as well as some entertaining stories about some of his new nicknames that stem from his 3-point shooting.

Hear more from Blakley, Draper, and Forsberg on the latest episode of "The Celtics Talk Podcast," which drops every Thursday on YouTube and the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.