Celtics

Kawhi's decision - not Zion's first game or an earthquake - rocked the NBA landscape

Kawhi's decision - not Zion's first game or an earthquake - rocked the NBA landscape

LAS VEGAS -- The earth moved in a way few anticipated at the Thomas & Mack Arena on Friday night. 

And it had nothing to do with Zion Williamson’s much-anticipated summer league debut with the New Orleans Pelicans against his former Duke teammate, New York Knicks guard R.J. Barrett. 

It wasn’t the aftershocks of a 7.1 earthquake in Southern California that was felt all the way to Las Vegas, either. 

The NBA landscape took a dramatic and unexpected turn late Friday night/Saturday morning when Kawhi Leonard hitched his lot to the Los Angeles Clippers and he’ll be joined by Paul George, who was acquired by the Clippers via trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

The particulars as to what the Thunder received for George, a top-five MVP candidate this past season, are irrelevant. 

More than anything else, Leonard's decision - and his ability to get the Clippers to go out and land Paul George - is an impressive power move by the reigning NBA Finals MVP.

And it certainly is a jab at LeBron James, who was hopeful that Leonard would pick the Lakers over the Clippers and Toronto Raptors, who Leonard led to the franchise's first NBA title last month.

For the second time in the past three years, LeBron James was LeBron James’d by another player. 

Kyrie Irving’s decision to demand a trade out of Cleveland unexpectedly a couple of years ago was very much a LeBron James-like move. 

And Leonard indicating to the Clippers that he would reportedly come only if they traded for Paul George - which they did successfully -  was very much the kind of power move we’ve seen James execute in the past. 

Just when it seemed the Lakers were one Kawhi commitment away from being the best team in the NBA, now, they’re not even the best team in their building. 

And this is why the NBA is the best league in America. 

Because on a night when a transcendent player of Zion Williamson’s caliber plays his first game and has quite a few highlight-worthy plays, it becomes such a minor footnote because Leonard’s decision provided the kind of NBA fireworks we’ve come to expect. 

The aftershocks postponed the New Orleans vs New York game that eventually was won by the Pelicans, the outcome really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. 

Because on this night, Kawhi's long-awaited decision was what really rocked the NBA landscape, delivering aftershocks that will be felt for quite some time. 

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Why Grant Williams gave out candles to Celtics staff and teammates

Why Grant Williams gave out candles to Celtics staff and teammates

Last month, Grant Williams' generosity was on display when he provided the Boston Celtics staff with a special gift.

The C's rookie gave out candles to media members, teammates, and employees throughout the organization to show his appreciation for their work. He also took to Twitter to express his gratitude.

Williams talked to NBC Sports Boston's Kyle Draper on Celtics Post Up about why he chose candles as the gift for his kind gesture.

"Candles, for me, they always put me in a great mood," Williams said. "They're relaxing. They can change your emotion after a long day. I think it's a small token of just showing appreciation and allows especially during the holidays to be able to go home and just have something where you say 'I feel appreciated.'"

A simple yet thoughtful explanation from the 21-year-old.

Williams has been impressive on the court as well as off of it this season. Of course, his 3-point shooting remains an area he'd like to improve. Especially if it means changing some of the nicknames he's been given by his Celtics teammates.

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown proving the haters wrong

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Celtics Talk Podcast: Jaylen Brown proving the haters wrong

When Jaylen Brown first signed a four-year, $115 million contract extension with the Celtics this offseason, there were questions raised about the deal.

Is this too much for Brown? Would he be able to live up to the deal?

Did the Celtics make the right move extending him?

So far, the answer to the lattermost question has been a resounding yes.

Brown has been proving his haters wrong so far this season to the tune of 19.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game for the Celtics. And on the latest episode of NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Talk Podcast, A. Sherrod Blakely, Kyle Draper, and Chris Forsberg discussed Brown's performance and Forsberg noted what has led Brown to such a torrid start.

What's remarkable to me is that [Brown's improvement is] across the board. It's not like one thing that Jaylen did this offseason. It feels like he improved his ball-handling, he improved his vision. Like I thought he would come into the season and make a noticeable leap. But to not only be up at 20 points per game now, even more in this stretch without Gordon Hayward, but to be able to take Jimmy Butler off the dribble, hit him with two crossovers and then hit a 22-foot stepback, Jaylen Brown wasn't doing that a year ago.

I look at his stat line now, and I know I've joked about it in the past, but it's pretty close to Jimmy Butler. It's getting closer to Kawhi Leonard.

Forsberg would clarify that Brown isn't on that level yet, but he certainly is getting better.

In addition to the discussion about Brown, the podcast crew also talked to Grant Williams, who discussed the start of his rookie season as well as some entertaining stories about some of his new nicknames that stem from his 3-point shooting.

Hear more from Blakley, Draper, and Forsberg on the latest episode of "The Celtics Talk Podcast," which drops every Thursday on YouTube and the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.