Celtics

Danny Ainge draws interesting parallel between Anthony Davis, KG trade

Danny Ainge draws interesting parallel between Anthony Davis, KG trade

The Boston Celtics' pursuit of Anthony Davis comes with a huge asterisk: If they sold the farm to acquire the New Orleans Pelicans big man, would he even stick around past one season?

Davis will enter the final year of his contract in 2019-20, after all, and reportedly prefers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020 free agency.

Danny Ainge can't talk specifics, but the Celtics' president of basketball operations said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" radio show he's certainly open to the idea of trading for a "rental" like Davis.

Yes, but it depends on the situation, It depends on the player, the circumstances and the package you have to trade for him. We’ve had a chance to do it and have done it, and we’ve had a chance to do it and have not done it.

Ainge then provided fitting historical perspective involving his pursuit of Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett during the summer of 2007.

We initially had a trade together and KG said he wouldn’t come to Boston. He said no. So, we pulled the trade offer. Then we traded for Ray Allen and went back to Minnesota and they allowed us to speak to KG, and he said yes.

He also said he would sign an extension and we did the trade. We had another opportunity -- I won’t name the player, but that player wouldn’t commit to re-signing, so we didn’t do the deal.

It’s not about selling the player. They want to be themselves and they want to win. It’s about creating an environment where they can reach their goals. That’s usually how you keep players.

Garnett's and Davis' scenarios are different -- the Allen trade convinced KG to sign an extension as soon as he got to Boston, while Davis likely will wait until 2020 to make up his mind.

But Ainge's point is well-taken: The Celtics' most important goal this summer should be trading for Davis (if he isn't moved before the Feb. 7 deadline), not worrying about the chances he re-signs after a year. Davis' sights may be set on L.A. now, but that could change if his experience in Boston goes well. Just ask Paul George, who spurned L.A. to stick with the Oklahoma City Thunder this past offseason.

Is trading for Davis a gamble given his contract situation? Certainly. But the 2008 NBA champion Celtics are proof that such a gamble can pay off.

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Forsberg: It's not la-la-land, these Celtics can truly compete with anyone

Forsberg: It's not la-la-land, these Celtics can truly compete with anyone

LOS ANGELES — Marcus Smart took the brunt of the fall on his right hip — the same hip he bruised earlier in this west coast road trip — then practically disappeared from sight while sliding into a courtside announcer's booth.

Most players wouldn’t have even suited up with what Smart’s been dealing with lately but this game meant too much. So here he was, in minute 40 of his night, flailing on the court trying desperately to give his team one last chance to steal a victory.

With the Clippers up three and looking for a knockout punch in overtime, Smart had been hounding Leonard above the 3-point arc, thwarting the simple handoff that Lou Williams was trying to complete. The dance with Leonard eventually extended out near the midcourt logo before Smart swatted away Williams’ pass attempt. Smart took one step, toed the sideline and then leapt, somehow throwing the ball off Leonard’s leg while crashing to the ground so viciously that courtside spectators covered their mouths at the sight.

It was the quintessence of Smart. And maybe these 2019-20 Celtics, too. This Boston team seems to have dug into the archives and emerged as the scrappy us-against-the-world hoopsters that previously typified the Brad Stevens era.

Smart’s hustle got them one final gasp but Kemba Walker’s 3-point offering got blocked by Leonard at the buzzer as a finally full-strength Clippers squad emerged with a 107-104 overtime triumph at Staples Center.

Smart, an ice bucket dispatched from in front of him, had a quick huddle with trainers after the game, then slipped on a pair of basketball shorts bearing his name and number and stepped in front of the cameras to offer a declaration.

"We believe truly that we can compete with anybody in this league,” said Smart before stressing how every possession matters and lamenting how Boston let a double-digit lead slip away.

"They’re really good, and we’ve just got to be a little better.”

Rarely will we buy the oft-floated notion that a team can find positives in a loss. No, wins are the goal in this league. But lingering behind the obvious disappointment that Celtics players expressed after Wednesday’s game was an understanding that they just went toe-to-toe with the league’s title favorite and nearly toppled them.

Or, as Smart told it, “We shot the ball very poorly, our defense wasn’t great, but we still were in the game — plain and simple. Clean up a couple things and it’s probably a different outcome and we’re talking different about what happened tonight.”

The Celtics might have actually learned more about themselves in this game than most nights during their double-digit winning streak. This game had been dubbed a measuring-stick game and, downplay it as the teams tried, Boston certainly seemed to get a better gauge on where it stands with Wednesday’s tilt.

The Celtics realized that Jayson Tatum is a bonafide late-game killer. Tatum, already building an impressive resume of crunch-time heroics this season, left Paul George crumpled on the Staples Center court with a step-back move before hitting an overtime-forcing 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds remaining in regulation.

Tatum finished with a game-high 30 points despite the fact that the Clippers swarmed him with the trio of Leonard, George, and Patrick Beverley. But Tatum still nearly willed his team to a win.

"I’ve always looked up to Kawhi and PG. Especially PG, that was one of my favorite players,” said Tatum. "This is the opportunity you look for, especially the bright lights, big stage, you don’t want to back down. You want to compete and show them that you belong out here and just earn their respect.”

The Celtics learned yet again that Smart is the heart and soul of this team. He not-so-subtly hinted on Wednesday morning that the Clippers showdown was all the reason he needed to duct tape his battered body together and play through those maladies. He spent the night hounding Leonard, George, and Williams. What’s more, Smart logged 40 total minutes, seconds less than team-leader Tatum, and chipped in 15 points on 7-of-20 shooting. That he took more shots than Walker (17) is surprising and Smart’s 3-point shooting remains in a mini funk (1 for 11) but he made multiple plays in crunch time that at least gave Boston a chance to steal the win.

The Celtics learned that they can be competitive with an elite opponent even when Walker is off his game. Walker made only 4 of 17 shots for 13 points. He had nine rebounds but committed six turnovers over 38:44. Jaylen Brown had a poor shooting night as well.

"I just made a lot of bad decisions tonight,” said Walker. "I've just got to be better at the end of the day, be better for my teammates. But we played hard. We did everything we can do to still stay in the game and try to win the game but, as an individual, I definitely would love to have been better for my teammates.”

The Celtics learned that their big-man issue might not be as pressing as some make it seem. Daniel Theis continues to give this team solid minutes. He’ll land in the highlights because Leonard put him on a fourth-quarter poster but Theis grabbed 14 rebounds including seven on the offensive glass to keep possessions alive.

It was fair to be skeptical of Boston's potential before the LA visit and now it seems safe to suggest that Boston might just be a legitimate threat to top-tier East foes Milwaukee and Philadelphia.

These Celtics have heart. They have grit. They don’t have a very big margin for error but, the way they play, they won’t ever be out of a game. Yes, like Smart said, this team truly can compete with anybody in the league.

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Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Clippers Instant Overreactions: C's need more out of Kemba Walker in first half

Celtics-Clippers Instant Overreactions: C's need more out of Kemba Walker in first half

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers both were slow out the gate on Wednesday night, but they ended up putting on a show.

It was the Clippers coming away with the victory in an overtime thriller, 107-104. Jayson Tatum starred for the C's and drilled a clutch 3-pointer to force OT, though Boston just couldn't finish the job as a poor shooting night ultimately cost them.

Here are three instant overreactions from the Celtics' loss, which brings them to 11-3 on the season.

1. Kemba Walker needs to get going in the first half.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Walker has been excellent to begin his Celtics career, but slow starts have been an issue. That was the case again in Wednesday's contest as in the first half he was just 1-of-7 from the field with three points.

Usually, Walker's huge fourth quarters make up for his first-half woes. This time, it didn't get much better for him as he finished with 13 points (4-for-17 shooting) and six turnovers, including a critical one with 20 seconds remaining in the fourth.

Don't panic about Walker or anything. It'd just be nice to see more dominant performances from start to finish out of the C's star guard.

2. Brad Wanamaker is the real deal off the bench.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Wanamaker has come up big off the bench for the Celtics so far this season, and Wednesday's win marked his most impressive performance yet.

The second-year pro out of Pittsburgh finished with 14 points, trailing only Jayson Tatum (30) and Marcus Smart (15) in scoring for Boston. He also added five rebounds, three assists, and a steal in 27 minutes.

NBC Sports Boston's own A. Sherrod Blakely saw Wanamaker's big night coming:

3. Time to worry about 3-point shooting woes.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics went a putrid 1-for-18 from 3 during the first half with the aforementioned Wanamaker being the only C's player to drill one from beyond the arc.

They finished 12-for-45. Definitely not ideal, but bouncing back to hit a few clutch shots after that abysmal first half was encouraging. Just take this one by Jayson Tatum for example:

Shooters shoot, and plenty of big shooting nights lie ahead for this 3-point heavy Celtics squad. Plus, the fact they were even in this game with such a horrendous offensive night speaks volumes.

Next up for the Celtics is a matchup vs. the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.