Celtics

It's hard to ignore the timing of this Jaylen Brown Instagram post

It's hard to ignore the timing of this Jaylen Brown Instagram post

If reading between the lines of Instagram comments is your thing ... you're in luck.

Here's what Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown posted Wednesday from Marrakech, Morocco, as he continues his globetrotting offseason:

https://www.instagram.com/p/By5UOa_lD5n/?hl=en

Brown's post doesn't include any Celtics players and very well could have nothing to do with the C's or basketball.

... That caption, though:

"Would rather walk than ride with bad company !"

If we were to read between the lines, we'd point out Brown's post comes one day after reports that Kyrie Irving has signaled he'll join the Brooklyn Nets in free agency.

We'd also point out that Brown and Irving seemingly had their share of disagreements this past season; the former insisted the Celtics "can't point fingers" after the latter appeared to call out Boston's young players back in January.

So, is Brown saying in this Instagram caption he'd rather play for a less talented Celtics team next season (which seems quite likely with Al Horford also reportedly leaving town) than endure another campaign alongside Irving?

We have no idea. (We're just reading between the lines, remember?) But we wouldn't fault C's fans for jumping to that conclusion amid what's shaping up to be a rough offseason in Boston.

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NBA Rumors: These Celtics players are off-limits in trade deadline talks

NBA Rumors: These Celtics players are off-limits in trade deadline talks

The Boston Celtics may need to upgrade their frontcourt if they want to compete with the beasts of the NBA's Eastern Conference.

But to get something good, you need to give something good in return ... and the Celtics don't seem willing to do that at the moment.

Here's what ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported in his column Wednesday about the prospects of Boston trading for a big man before the Feb. 7 NBA trade deadline:

While one could have some fun with the Trade Machine, Boston has made it clear to anyone who has asked that their core players are absolutely not available. That includes, sources said, both (Gordon) Hayward and (Marcus) Smart, players who have been floated as possible trade chips in the past.

Windhorst didn't confirm who Boston's other "core players" are, but we can fill in the gaps: If Hayward and Smart are off the table, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown aren't going anywhere, either.

Can the Celtics really make an upgrade in the frontcourt without moving one of their five best players?

If they do, a trade almost certainly would need to include the Memphis Grizzlies' first-round pick, which is top-six protected for 2020 and is Danny Ainge's best trade chip. The C's also should get the Milwaukee Bucks' first-rounder in addition to their own.

But even if draft picks can lure a big man like Clint Capela, Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge, the Celtics still would have a hard time matching salaries: Outside the five "core players," only Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis (both big men) are making more than $4 million on Boston's roster.

Seven-footers like Joel Embiid and Brook Lopez could pose a problem for the Celtics in the playoffs, so expect Ainge to do his big man due diligence, even as the C's enter Wednesday as the East's No. 1 seed at 11-2. A major trade at the deadline may be easier said than done, though.

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

Marcus Smart ready for Clippers: 'These are the games I live for'

Marcus Smart ready for Clippers: 'These are the games I live for'

LOS ANGELES — Marcus Smart, clad in a Versace robe as has become the custom at recent road shootarounds, plopped into a chair courtside at Staples Center and immediately declared himself ready to play not only on Wednesday night against the Clippers but the rest of the team’s trip out west.

Not that there was ever much doubt. Even as coach Brad Stevens asserted a few feet away that the team would never put Smart out there if he was at risk to further aggravate any of his maladies — but especially the right ankle he sprained on Monday in Phoenix — you just kinda knew Smart was going to duct tape himself together for Wednesday’s showdown.

After all, Smart knows no other way. So despite the fact that, just on this trip, he’s dealt with a bruised hip, two sprained fingers, and the non-contact ankle injury that looked scary when it happened, Smart plans to go full throttle versus the Clippers.

Smart did not hide from the fact that playing against what many believe is the favorite to win the NBA title, with the chance that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will play together for the first time this season, gave him extra motivation to be on the court.

"That was really actually one of the main reasons, because of who we are playing. And me being the competitor that I am, I want to be out there,” said Smart. “Obviously, if it was serious enough, obviously I'd shut it down because it is so early, but, like I said, it's not as serious. It's a minor sprain, but nothing crazy, so I'm able to still play. 

"And that's what I want to do.”

Smart then spent some time gushing about fellow defensive bulldog Patrick Beverley, nothing his respect level for him is “through the roof.” Smart knows Wednesday’s showdown could be exactly his type of game.

“These are the types of games I live for,” said Smart. "You’re just going in and being as physical as you can but smart at the same time. But you've got to grind, you've got to work, and it's not going to be pretty. And those are the type of games I like to play in.”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he leans on the direction of trainers in instances like this.

"First of all, [Smart is] tough and everybody knows he’s tough. But, secondly, we’re not going to put him out there if we thought — if there’s risk there,” said Stevens. "Our [trainers] feel good about — it didn’t swell, looks good, it may just be one of those lucky deals on a fall where it’s not as bad as it looks. But there’s no questioning Marcus’s toughness but, at the same time, we’re not just going to let him go out and play if there’s any long-term ramifications.”

Smart, who came onto the court a little later than most of his teammates, offered a positive report on testing the ankle earlier in the day, leading to this scene before shootaround:

Smart: “Ankle's feeling fine. A little soreness, but we tested it -- running, jumping, cutting — everything came out OK. It felt great, so …” 

Jaylen Brown (seated next to Smart, loudly): “Man, he’s a'ight.” 

Smart: "Yeah, what Jaylen said.”

The Celtics listed Smart as probable Tuesday and Smart said he’s confident in the ankle. He has no plans to throttle down.

"I was just born and raised and always a true believer of whatever is meant to happen on the court is going to happen, you know?” said Smart. "When you start going out there and trying to prevent it from happening or prevent an injury or anything like that, that's when you get injured. Instead of just going out there and playing and let whatever happens happen."

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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.