Celtics

Gordon Hayward offers support to Caris LeVert following gruesome ankle injury

Gordon Hayward offers support to Caris LeVert following gruesome ankle injury

BOSTON – It didn’t take long before footage from Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert’s right ankle injury made its way to Gordon Hayward.

The injury suffered by LeVert on Monday against Minnesota had similarities for many to the season-ending ankle injury suffered by Hayward last year.

“I didn’t see it live,” said Hayward, who has returned to the Celtics lineup this year after missing all of last season following his left ankle/leg injury. “I hate to see that. I heard the timeline (for LeVert’s return) is a little better, but still … he was playing really well. You hate injuries for anybody; it’s tough.”

All things considered, the news is indeed optimistic for LeVert, who is expected to return to the Nets lineup at some point this season.

“Fortunately, tests performed revealed that there are no fractures and only moderate ligament damage,” Nets team orthopedist Dr. Martin O’Malley said in a statement. “While the optics of this injury may have appeared to be more severe, surgery will not be required.”

LeVert, in an attempted chase-down block with 3.7 seconds to play in the first half of Brooklyn’s game against Minnesota, came down hard on his right leg after a collision with Jeff Teague.

He was carted off the court and taken to a nearby hospital for further evaluation.

At the time of his injury, LeVert had 10 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, the kind of stat line that spoke to the kind of breakout season the third-year guard was having.

In 14 games this season, LeVert is averaging 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists – all career highs.

Hayward was among the many to tweet their support for LeVert as he begins the road to recovery.

“For sure, anytime somebody goes through a major injury you feel for them,” Hayward said. “And what I’ve been through, I know first-hand what it’s like.”

For Hayward, having others reach out to him, both athletes and non-athletes, following his injury last year was extremely beneficial in helping keep his spirits up as he began his journey toward getting back on the basketball floor this season.

“The fact that people cared, especially initially,” Hayward said. “Even people who hadn’t gone through an injury, you’re getting like random people that saw the injury took the time to reach out and show support. That meant a lot to me.”

And he’s willing to be there for LeVert if needed.

“If he ever needs to reach out, he knows how to get a hold of me,” Hayward said.

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Could blowing a 28-point lead deliver a first-round pick to Boston?

Could blowing a 28-point lead deliver a first-round pick to Boston?

Could the so-called worst loss of the Brad Stevens era actually help deliver a first-round pick to Boston in June?

The Los Angeles Clippers, who roared back from a 28-point deficit to stun the Celtics here earlier this month, are set to send their 2019 first-round pick to Boston if it lands outside the lottery. That means Los Angeles would have to make the playoffs, which seemed unlikely after the Clippers dealt Tobias Harris to Philadelphia before the trade deadline.

But as the race for the final Western Conference playoff spots begins to take shape, the Clippers find themselves with pole position next to fellow hopefuls Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers. What’s more, the Athletic reported Friday that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer prefers the team make a playoff push this season. 

On the surface, it sounds counterproductive for the Clippers considering a lottery pick could be beneficial to the team’s rebuilding process, even as they prepare to chase max-contract free agents this summer. But let the Celtics stand as a model of how even a small taste of the postseason can help a young core, especially right before the team adds top-end talent. The Isaiah Thomas-led Celtics got a couple small bites of the playoffs a few years back and, as soon as the team added Al Horford in the summer of 2016, it rocketed the team to the conference finals.

The Clippers won on the road over the Grizzlies on Friday night to improve to 33-27 on the season and now sit 2 games ahead of the Kings and 3 ahead of the Lakers.

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Entering Friday’s action, projections heavily favored the Clippers making the postseason. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gave the team a whopping 80.6 percent chance to make the playoffs based on the team’s performance throughout the season, with the Lakers (9.2 percent) and Kings (8.6 percent) lagging well behind.

Even FiveThirtyEight's NBA projections, which factor in roster and lineup changes, important considering the Clippers’ trade, had the team at 62 percent to make the playoffs, a comfortable distance ahead of the Lakers (28 percent) and Kings (9 percent).

The Celtics would benefit from both the Clippers making the playoffs and the Kings missing out. Boston will collect Sacramento’s first-round pick, so long as it doesn’t vault to No. 1 in the lottery.

Entering Friday’s action, draft-tracking website Tankathon had Boston set to collect picks No. 14 (via Kings), 18 (via Clippers), and 23 (its own). Ranking teams by total pick value, the Celtics projected to have more 2019 draft capital than, say, the Knicks if they landed the No. 2 pick.

That’s important given the Anthony Davis pursuit that could loom this summer. The team that emerges with the No. 1 pick could dangle that selection — more commonly referred to as “the chance to draft Zion Williamson” — and put themselves in the running for Davis’ services. But the Celtics can make a very intriguing package with both picks and proven young talent.

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Even though the Celtics can’t formally deal for Davis until July 1, the parameters of a deal could be in place with the Pelicans and Boston would simply draft for them with any 2019 picks that are set to be swapped.

The Clippers' pick is lottery protected again next season before morphing into a 2022 second-round pick if not conveyed by 2020. Given the Clippers’ hopes of adding max-contract talent this summer, there’s a strong chance that pick might simply deliver next June in the event the Clippers fade this season.

But if the Clippers pick delivers, and especially if it ultimately is flipped as part of a deal to acquire a talent like Davis, then maybe just maybe the Celtics coughing up a 28-point lead won’t be as bad as it seemed in the moment.

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ESPN panel favors Celtics to land Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving

ESPN panel favors Celtics to land Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving

For the better part of the 2018-19 NBA season, the Boston Celtics have been surrounded by rumors regarding Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis. Irving is set to be a free agent after this season while Davis will almost certainly be traded by the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2019 offseason. It's unclear exactly what the future has in store for both players, but both could be in different uniforms next year.

However, a recent ESPN panel predicted where the NBA's superstars would be playing next season. According to the panel, the Celtics are the favorites to land both Davis and Irving.

The Celtics earned 61.1 percent of the panel's vote when looking at Davis' move. The reasoning for this is simple. Davis has to be traded on a one-year deal and the Celtics are one of the few teams in the league that can offer the Pelicans an enticing trade offer for the franchise star. Thanks to their glut of young assets including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and several first-round draft picks, many believe that the team will swing the deal, even if they don't have a guarantee that Davis will re-sign with them in the 2020 offseason.

The Celtics have previously indicated that all options are on the table in trade Davis trade talks. It also helps that Davis has recently stated that the Celtics are on his list, as that will give the team a better chance of signing him to a long-term extension

Meanwhile, the panel's projections of Irving are a bit more split. The Celtics received 52.8 percent of the vote for Irving while the New York Knicks got 30.6 percent. It makes sense that Irving's numbers would be lower than that of Davis, as Irving is a free agent and has no hurdles to dodge when considering signing with another team.

It would stand to reason that if the Celtics do trade for Davis, it would incentive Irving to stay. After all, the two are good friends and the Celtics could sell the duo on the idea of playing for a title together with a strong supporting cast.

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