Celtics

Knicks are keeping tabs on Celtics other than Kyrie Irving this offseason

Knicks are keeping tabs on Celtics other than Kyrie Irving this offseason

BOSTON -- For months It has been no secret that the New York Knicks have kept a watchful eye on Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving with the plan being to entice him to bring his talents to the Big Apple next season. 

Well he’s not the only Celtic free-agent-to-be that they watched closely during Boston’s postseason run, which ended last week in the conference semifinals to Milwaukee. 

Multiple league sources tell NBC Sports Boston that the Knicks, a team with plenty of roster holes to fill this offseason, have interest in at least two other Celtics players besides Irving — Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier — who like Irving, will be free agents this summer. 

New York’s interest in Rozier has been steady, only to have picked up during Rozier’s strong showing in the playoffs last year and continued through the February trade deadline, which is when Boston made the decision to keep Rozier and the rest of the team intact. 

And while Irving is the bigger priority for New York, if the Knicks are able to land the No. 1 overall pick and package that in a trade for Anthony Davis while also securing Kevin Durant via free agency from Golden State, that would take them more or less out of the hunt for signing Irving and force them to potentially swing a deal for a less-established playmaker like ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo or a young player with upside… a player like Rozier. 

Because Rozier will be a restricted free agent, the Celtics will have an opportunity to match any offer sheet the 6-foot-2 guard signs this offseason. 

Like most of the Celtics, this was a rollercoaster of a season for Rozier, who was banking on a bigger, more consistent role after turning down a multi-year extension from the Celtics that was worth about $12 million per season. 

It is unclear if Rozier will secure a deal in that neighborhood, or whether the Celtics would be inclined to match such an offer. 

But it appears as though Rozier, while appreciative of his time with the Celtics, who selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, is ready to move on to a franchise where he can have a more prominent, more consistent role than the one he has had during his time as a backup to Isaiah Thomas and most recently, Kyrie Irving. 

As for Morris, his play in the postseason will increase the number of potential suitors for him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. 

In nine playoff games, Morris averaged 13.7 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from 3-point range, in addition to grabbing 8.1 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game. 

Besides his numbers, the Knicks really liked the tough, rugged brand of basketball he played during the regular season that spilled over into the playoffs as well. 

The price tag for Morris remains to be seen, but it’s fair to expect that he will at least double (and likely triple) his $5.375 million salary from this past season. 

Boston will try and find a way to keep Morris in the fold this summer, but he’s likely to get a bigger-money offer from another team. 

And then there’s the potential for someone to offer deals to him and his twin brother Markieff, which could potentially result in him taking less than his market value in order to play with his brother once again. 

The Knicks expressed some interest in Daniel Theis as well, but they’re not anticipating making much if any pitch for him this summer with Theis set to be a restricted free agent. 

This past season, one of the issues with Boston was that it had a roster that may have had too much talent. 

Well, free agency will likely take care of that going forward. 

And you can bet the New York Knicks will be among the teams looking to cash in on Boston’s impending glut of free agents - and it ain’t just Kyrie Irving, either. 

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Jayson Tatum shares best moments from first All-Star Game on Instagram

Jayson Tatum shares best moments from first All-Star Game on Instagram

Jayson Tatum's maturity on the court this season helped earn him a spot in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

But the morning after, the Boston Celtics forward reacted as any 21-year-old kid would: He posted on Instagram.

Here's Tatum recapping his first NBA All-Star Game, in which he added six points, three assists and three steals in 14 minutes for Team LeBron, which defeated Team Giannis 157-155:

"WOW... just played in my first All-Star game! Dreams do come true! Thankful," Tatum wrote in the caption.

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The third-year forward also shared several memorable photos, including a shot of him backing down Celtics teammate Kemba Walker (the starting point guard for Team Giannis) and a picture of him posing with veteran guard Chris Paul.

The relationships Tatum forged (and maintained) at his first All-Star weekend were far more important than his play on the court, and it sounds like budding young star made the most of his opportunity.

Jayson Tatum, NBA All-Stars honor Kobe Bryant with well-played All-Star game

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USA Today Sports Images

Jayson Tatum, NBA All-Stars honor Kobe Bryant with well-played All-Star game

CHICAGO -- The untimely death of Kobe Bryant was the theme leading up to Sunday night’s All-Star game which was won by Team LeBron, 157-155.

The night began with a series of tributes to Bryant which included a stirring speech given by Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

Throughout Johnson’s speech, there was the occasional “Ko-be, Ko-be, Ko-be!” chant from the stands.

And the actual game itself was one of the better-played All-Star games in recent memory courtesy of a new format that seemed to go over well with all involved. 

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The game came down to big shots and big stops by both teams, a fitting end to the night considering how all involved wanted to honor Kobe Bryant and did just that with a brand of basketball that in many ways was part of the Kobe narrative of elite play at both ends of the floor. 

Chris Paul acknowledged the challenge of playing the game at a high level and not think about Bryant who was a major influence for many of today’s All-Star players. 

“It was tough early, especially early,” Paul said. “For a lot of us, it's still surreal. It's not real until you start showing pictures and talking about it. But I think the best way we could honor Kobe, Gigi, and everyone involved was to play like we played, you know what I Mean? Me and Russ (Russell Westbrook) kept talking about it, that's one thing about Kobe, whenever he was on our team in the All-Star Game, there wasn't none of that cool stuff. There wasn't none of that. It was like, as long as they throw the ball up, let's get to it.”

LeBron James added, “You could definitely feel his presence just from the start. From every moment from the fans chanting his name till you seen the numbers. Every time you saw Giannis' team run on the floor, you saw the 2-4. So he was definitely here.”

Former NBA All-Star Richard “Rip” Hamilton was among those in attendance at the game. 

He and Bryant were both prep stars who grew up competing with and against each other in Pennsylvania and were at times roommates during all-star competitions.

Hamilton acknowledged he still hasn’t fully come to grips with what happened to Bryant and the others. 

“It hurt me, man, it hurt me to my core,” Hamiton told NBC Sports Boston. “And I still haven’t fully recovered from it. Him and I go back way before the NBA and the glitz and glamor and everything else. It’s a thing that … it still impacts me to this day.”

And once the current crop of All-Star players stepped on the floor, Team Giannis wore jersey number 24 (Kobe Bryant’s number) while Team LeBron wore jersey number 2 (the number of GiGi Bryant, Kobe’s daughter). 

Boston’s Jayson Tatum is among the many players on the floor whose game was heavily influenced by Bryant who along with his daughter Gigi, was killed along with seven others in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. 

The relationship between Tatum and Bryant had grown into a friendship strengthened by Bryant’s interest in mentoring Tatum who has never shied away from acknowledging how influential Bryant has been in his life, both on the court as well as off the court since coming into the NBA. 

“He was the reason I started playing basketball,” Tatum said recently. “To have him reach out and try and help me, wanna work with me was something I would never forget.”