Celtics

Here's how Kemba Walker helped recruit Enes Kanter to Celtics in NBA free agency

Here's how Kemba Walker helped recruit Enes Kanter to Celtics in NBA free agency

Enes Kanter chose the Boston Celtics in NBA free agency, and Kemba Walker played a key part in making it happen.

Kanter recently told Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News that Walker -- who signed a four-year, $141 million max contract with Boston earlier this month -- called the 27-year-old center during NBA free agency in an effort to recruit him to join the C's.

“One of the reasons I picked Boston was because of Kemba Walker,” (Kanter) said. “He called me during free agency on Danny Ainge’s phone. He said, ‘Hey, how we doing, big man?’ That was special to me.”

Kanter agreed to a reported two-year, $10 million contract with the Celtics, and he is the second-most notable offseason addition for Boston behind Walker.

The Turkish center told Winfield that among the things he valued while considering free-agent offers were “a winning culture and good, young players on the roster.” The Celtics are able to provide all of these things despite undergoing a major roster transition this summer.

The frontcourt, in particular, has seen the most change.

Veteran center Al Horford left to join the rival Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent. Center Aron Baynes was involved in a draft night trade with the Phoenix Suns. Versatile forward and UFA Marcus Morris departed for the New York Knicks. French center Vincent Poirier was signed to provide frontcourt depth. Boston also selected Tennessee star Grant Williams in the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft, and he could see minutes at center in head coach Brad Stevens' small-ball lineups.

Kanter, as an excellent rebounder and a quality low-post scorer, should play an important role for the Celtics alongside Walker and the team's talented young duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Kanter to wear No. 11 with Celtics>>>

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Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

Celtics 'thrilled' for new Duke women's head coach Kara Lawson

The Boston Celtics are sad to see Kara Lawson go, but ecstatic to see her begin a new chapter as head coach of the Duke University women's basketball program.

Lawson, who joined the C's prior to this season and became the first female assistant coach in franchise history, was officially welcomed aboard by Duke on Saturday. Former Duke star Jayson Tatum promptly congratulated her on the exciting opportunity, and several C's followed suit after their practice Sunday.

"We’re thrilled for her," said head coach Brad Stevens. "I don’t want to take away from her press conference tomorrow before she gets more of a chance to talk about it. I can’t say enough about what a terrific person, terrific coach, she’ll be a great fit at Duke with their incredible tradition.

"She’s really excited. We actually went on a walk – Kara, [Stevens’ wife] Tracy and I – a couple of months ago. And we were talking about what she’d be interested in the future, and being the head coach at Duke was one of the things that came up. So it’s really cool that she’s getting a chance to do that. She’ll be terrific."

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Even after just one season, Lawson has made a tremendous impact on Boston's players. Celtics big man Robert Williams opened up about how Lawson was a positive influence both on and off the court.

"Kara is always known for putting a smile on players' faces," Williams said. "She stays in your ear, even though she may not be your personal coach she always keeps asking how I'm doing and if there's anything I need to talk about, so I feel like Duke is going to get a great head coach. We're going to miss her. We don't want her to go, but it's on to bigger and better opportunities."

Smart echoed Williams' sentiments, calling Lawson a "friend" and someone he had a connection with since she was hired by the Celtics last summer.

"When Kara first got here, actually, and this is why our bond has been strong, she had the option to work with anybody. Brad gave her the option to choose who she wanted to work with, and the first person she chose with me," said Smart. "When she told Brad the reason why, she just liked the way I play my whole game. So that really hit home for me and it meant a lot. And like I said our relationship just built amongst that and she became more than just my shooting coach, she became a longtime friend and somebody I know I can talk to if I ever need advice.”

Lawson starred as a player at the University of Tennessee and went on to have 13 successful seasons in the WNBA. She served as an NBA and WNBA analyst for ESPN before joining the Celtics' coaching staff.

If what the C's had to say about Lawson is any indication, there's no doubt she will do great things for Duke as it aims to make its way back into the NCAA Tournament.

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

Kemba Walker held out of Celtics' first 'hard practice'

The Boston Celtics' plan to ease Kemba Walker back into the flow of things was on full display Sunday as Walker (knee) was held out for all of the team’s first "hard practice" since the team entered the Orlando Bubble as part of the NBA's return to play.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said this is part of the team’s plan of progression in working Walker back into being at his best physically for the playoffs, so that the stop-and-start state of his play won’t be the case by the time Boston gets to the postseason.

Walker has been among the most durable players in the NBA for years.

But this season, the 30-year-old has missed 16 games, most of which were due to left knee soreness. To put that in perspective, Walker missed just four games the four previous seasons combined.

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Without Walker, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens liked a lot of what he saw on Sunday in what was the team’s first hard practice. 

“Guys really got after it,” Stevens said.

He anticipates another hard practice on Monday with a day off on Tuesday. 

Walker is in the first year of a four-year, $141 million deal he signed after spending his first eight NBA seasons in Charlotte. 

This season, he is Boston’s No. 2 scorer with a 21.2 points per game average along with dishing out 4.9 assists while grabbing 4.1 rebounds.