Celtics

Enes Kanter Show Podcast: Witnessing Jayson Tatum's emergence into an NBA force

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Enes Kanter Show Podcast: Witnessing Jayson Tatum's emergence into an NBA force

Like the rest of the NBA, Enes Kanter continues to marvel at the metamorphosis of Jayson Tatum from elite NBA player to full-blown superstar.

When NBC Sports Boston Celtics Insider Chris Forsberg remarked on the latest edition of The Enes Kanter Show podcast that he's never seen a player improve within a season as much as Tatum has, Kanter replied:

"Yes! You just stole my line."

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It's not just in season, it's been the past month, really the past five games in which the third-year Celtics forward has averaged 35.4 points a game. 

I'll say this, JT is a man on a mission," Kanter said. "Have you seen what happened to him after the All-Star break? Something got into him.

Was there one thing that has prompted the scoring binge?

"I feel like with Kemba [Walker] being out for four or five games, I think he's just like, 'Hey I've got to put this on my shoulders'  and he's just taken responsibility. He's feeling confident and feeling comfortable out there. And that's what a superstar does."

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It contributed mightily to Boston's 3-1 trip with only a two-point loss to the Lakers keeping the C's from sweeping their Western swing. 

That success also has Kanter amazed at something else in his first season as a Celtic.

"We don't have any drama [on this team]," he told Forsberg. "Every team I've been on...there's been big drama. The players are getting mad, the media getting on us. With us it's like, you don't play enough? Come in the next day and work harder."

Earlier in the pod, Kanter reflected on the essay he wrote for Time magazine on the WNBA, and women in sports in general, striving for equality. He also talked about WWE superstar Lacey Evans giving him some wrestling tips and looked back at visiting his former NBA workplaces in Portland and Utah on the just-completed C's trip. It's all on the latest Enes Kanter Show podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Rockets-Celtics, which begins Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Want to witness one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history? Just tune into NBC Sports Boston on Sunday night.

Our "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals on Friday night -- continues Sunday with a throwback: Game 2 of Boston's 1986 NBA playoffs first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.

That April 20, 1986, game at TD Garden was a defining moment for then-23-year-old Michael Jordan, who went off for an NBA postseason-record 63 points.

But Celtics fans can appreciate Jordan's masterful performance knowing that Boston outlasted Chicago 135-131 in double overtime and swept the series en route to an eventual NBA title.

The broadcast begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and as an added bonus, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- who scored 24 points in this game while defending Jordan -- will join Brian Scalabrine to provide real-time commentary throughout the game.

Other reasons to watch:

- A vintage performance from Celtics star Larry Bird, who scored a team-high 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

- The 1980s Celtics at their peak: Bird, Ainge, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton all scored double figures.

- Jordan hitting two free throws in the final seconds of regulation to force the first overtime.

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NBA Rumors: Execs expect Gordon Hayward to opt in to $34 million Celtics contract

NBA Rumors: Execs expect Gordon Hayward to opt in to $34 million Celtics contract

Gordon Hayward was enjoying his best season as a Boston Celtic before the 2019-20 season came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Through 45 games, the 30-year-old forward was averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. Hayward's performance was setting himself up for a solid contract if he were to opt out of his contract and hit free agency this summer.

That scenario doesn't appear likely, however.

According to Heavy.com, NBA executives expect Hayward to exercise his $34 million player option.

'It’s too much money to pass up,' one general manager told Heavy.com. 'He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him, they have a lot of young guys to pay and the starting (salary) number on whatever the contract is will not be close to $34 million. He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year. When you look at what he has done since his injury, he has only gotten better. He could get better next year and be ready for the summer of 2021.'

That doesn't exactly come as a surprise. Hayward may get a nice contract if he were to hit the open market this year, but it certainly wouldn't be anywhere near that eye-popping $34 million figure.

It makes far more sense for Hayward to take his money and test the market in 2021 if he and the Celtics don't agree on an extension before then. The 2021 free agent class will be much deeper, and teams will have more cap space to give Hayward a sizable long-term deal. That is, if he can duplicate the kind of success he's enjoyed so far this season.