Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier share mutual love from days as Celtics teammates

Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier share mutual love from days as Celtics teammates

If you believe the reports, Kyrie Irving didn't get along too well with some of his Boston Celtics teammates.

But it looks like his backup and his predecessor still share a tight bond.

In a recent interview with Bleacher Report's Jonathan Abrams, the former Celtics point guard shared some lofty praise for Isaiah Thomas, Rozier's teammate for his first two seasons in Boston.

"I just respect him probably more than I respect just about anybody in this league," Rozier told Abrams, adding that Thomas was a "true warrior" and a "true Celtic" for the way he battled through a hip injury during the 2017 playoffs while also dealing with the tragic death of his sister, Chyna.

Rozier's comments made their way to Thomas, who reciprocated his ex-teammate's praise Wednesday night on Twitter.

Life has changed significantly for both point guards since that 2016-17 season. Thomas has played for three teams over the last two seasons while battling a nagging hip injury and will attempt a comeback with the Washington Wizards this season on a veteran's-minimum $2.3 million contract.

Rozier, meanwhile, had a down season behind Irving in 2018-19 but hit the free agency jackpot by landing a three-year, $58 million contract.

Rozier and Thomas will meet four times this season as Southeast Division foes -- the first coming on Nov. 22 in D.C. -- and it sounds like they'll welcome the reunions.

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NBA Rumors: Why Celtics may hesitate to trade Grizzlies pick for big man

NBA Rumors: Why Celtics may hesitate to trade Grizzlies pick for big man

The Boston Celtics have the best record in the NBA through 11 games, but also could use an upgrade at center if they want to be a legitimate title contender.

Turns out they have the perfect asset to swing a deal for a big man ahead of the NBA trade deadline -- or so we thought.

That asset is the Grizzlies' first-round draft pick, which is Top-6 protected in 2020 and would become an unprotected first-rounder in 2021 if Memphis lands inside the top six in 2020.

Boston could dangle that pick to target a top-tier big man, but a "rival" NBA general manager told Heavy.com's Sean Deveney he doesn't see that happening.

"It wouldn’t make sense to move the Memphis pick," the GM told Deveney. "If it’s Anthony Davis then, OK, you change your plans. But there’s not really anyone on the market who is going to get them to move that."

Which big men could be on the market, you ask?

Deveney cited sources who told him the Indiana Pacers "would be unlikely" to trade center Myles Turner, then added the Celtics would be "reluctant" to pursue San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge if it meant giving up Gordon Hayward.

Houston Rockets rim-runner Clint Capela also has been speculated as a Boston trade target, but as that GM suggested, the Celtics have placed a high value on a Memphis pick that should be a lottery selection and may not want to deal the pick unless they can land an elite player.

There's one wrinkle, though: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and the young Grizzlies have exceeded early expectations. They have the NBA's 12th-worst record as of Tuesday and could leave the C's with a low lottery pick in 2020 if they continue to improve.

But president of basketball operations Danny Ainge won't unload draft assets without getting good value in return, and it seems good value is hard to come by at the moment.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

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.

Load management works for Kawhi Leonard, so what about Celtics' Kemba Walker

Load management works for Kawhi Leonard, so what about Celtics' Kemba Walker

BOSTON — When it comes to NBA players, the more you're around them, the more you learn. 

Take Kemba Walker for example. 

Before becoming a Celtic, I knew all about his killer step-back shot and the cross-over. I knew he was far more competitive than most folks outside of Charlotte realized. And how he was a pesky defender; not Marcus Smart pesky but definitely part of irritante family of NBA players at that end of the floor. 

But what I didn’t anticipate was how often he gets knocked around on a night-to-night basis. 

And how from time to time, he’ll linger on the floor a little longer than most Celtics fans feel comfortable with, fearful that this will be the hit that he can’t bounce back from quickly. 

But as each hit passes he eventually rises to his feet, displaying an unflinching level of durability few players in the NBA possess in this era of self-preservation cloaked in the verbage known as “load management.”

And the Celtics are doing their part to keep Walker upright by giving him something in games he didn’t get nearly as much of while in Charlotte. Rest. 

The Celtics aren’t in full-blown load management mode when it comes to Walker, but there’s no mistaking how they have gone about finding a balance between him playing superstar-like minutes while still getting proper in-game rest along the way. 

The results thus far have been impressive. 

Walker is still putting up All-Star level numbers (23.4 points, 5.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds) for a Celtics team that at 11-2 has the best record in the Eastern Conference. 

And here’s the kicker. 

He’s doing it in 33.5 minutes per game, the fewest he has averaged since his rookie season. 

Walker is following the path blazed by Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving as far as being a more efficient All-Star, both in terms of his play and how his playing time is being utilized with the Celtcs. 

And while his durability is unquestioned (he has missed six games total in the last four years), we know at some point all those minutes logged will catch up to him and make playing at the elite level that he’s at now, far more difficult than it is currently. 

No one is giving too much thought to how many minutes Walker is playing and its impact down the road. 

But as the wins keep piling up and the confidence of this team keeps growing, at some point sooner rather than later, the Celtics have to do all they can to best ensure that Walker is as close to being 100 percent health-wise going into the postseason. 

We see teams across the league resting their top players from time to time for no other reason than to give them a night off, with the intent being to keep them as fresh as possible for when the games matter most. 

The success that the Toronto Raptors had last season while resting Kawhi Leonard spoke to the best-case-scenario for using “load management” to benefit your top players. 

Now with the Los Angeles Clippers, we see that Leonard continues to be on load-management restrictions. 

The Clippers will host the Celtics on Wednesday, with no indication whether Leonard will play for the first time with his new running mate Paul George, who recently returned to the lineup following offseason surgery on both shoulders. 

And while the Clippers (8-5) haven’t been nearly as successful in the regular season than the Leonard-less Raptors were a year ago, that doesn’t matter. 

The Clippers are playing for an NBA title this year, and are confident that a healthy Leonard — regardless of their playoff seeding — can make that happen. 

Meanwhile, Boston didn’t come into the season with a roster built to compete for and potentially win an NBA title. 

But with their fast start to the season, along with the growth of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum among others, and Walker’s play, the calculus for the expectations of this team has been modified. 

While it’ll be difficult for them to come out of the East and get to the NBA Finals, there’s a brighter flicker of hope at the end of the tunnel of self-doubt that maybe — just maybe — this Celtics team can shock the world and be one of the last teams standing. 

In order to do that, they will need Kemba Walker to continue playing at an upper-echelon level as far as impacting the game, a process that becomes more doable if his minutes continue on a load management-like schedule. 

C's Director of Player Development Allison Feaster joins The MichaeI Holley Podcast:

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Clippers, which tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.