Celtics

Kyrie Irving was mulling Celtics exit in December, Spencer Dinwiddie says

Kyrie Irving was mulling Celtics exit in December, Spencer Dinwiddie says

In early October 2018, Kyrie Irving stood in front of a TD Garden crowd and said he planned on re-signing with the Boston Celtics the following offseason.

Two months later, he already was plotting a move elsewhere.

That's according to Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who told The Athletic's Shams Charania that Irving contacted him in December about the possibility of playing in New York for the Knicks or Nets.

"The first time he reached out was maybe like December, in terms of loosely talking about it, because he was still focused on his season and everything," Dinwiddie said.

Dinwiddie had befriended Irving in September when the two attended a Harvard Business School course together. And when Irving contacted him, the Nets guard got the sense he may be open to leaving Boston.

"You could just tell from the conversation that it was a little bit different," Dinwiddie said. "... Actually, it definitely was December because he made a comment to me, he was like, 'New York might be real fun next year,' because I hadn't signed yet. ... That's when I was first tipped off to the whole thing."

Dinwiddie had yet to sign his contract extension with Brooklyn at the time, but after landing the deal on Dec. 13, he embarked on a campaign to convince Irving and Kevin Durant to come to the Nets instead of joining the Knicks.

The 26-year-old said he spoke to Irving "a ton" about Brooklyn's style of play, a family-oriented organizational mindset under general manager Sean Marks and a top-notch training staff.

"Of course I'm going to be like, 'Bro, it's perfect for you,' " Dinwiddie added. " ' And (head coach) Kenny (Atkinson) gonna let you rock.' "

Irving apparently managed to keep his intentions from the Celtics for a few more months, as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he didn't get the sense his point guard was leaving until March or April.

But Dinwiddie's revelation is proof that Irving either soured on the C's very quickly or was simply being disingenuous in October.

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Jayson Tatum explains what playing for Team USA is like

Jayson Tatum explains what playing for Team USA is like

The Boston Celtics are getting a chance to see some of their younger players and new talent develop ahead of the 2019-20 NBA season. The 2019 FIBA World Cup is taking place in Australia starting in September, and the Celtics are well-represented on the team.

One of the players that will be playing for the squad is Jayson Tatum. The 21-year-old is a budding star and is relishing the opportunity he has to play for Team USA and coach Gregg Popovich. He also explained how playing for Team USA was a bit different than playing in the NBA.

"Just playing with USA, you got to play in a different way," Tatum said per MassLive.com's John Karalis. "You have to sacrifice, because you are playing with 11 great other players. So, we all got to sacrifice something for the bigger goal at hand."

This could end up being a positive for Tatum. The Celtics' playing style last season sometimes became too isolated and moved away from the ball-movement system that had worked so well for Brad Stevens in the past. Tatum is a great scorer, but he possesses very good passing skills as well. So, perhaps working with Team USA will accelerate his development in that area.

Tatum also expressed excitement about getting to work alongside a few of his Celtics teammates with Team USA. He was hopeful that the quartet would have some time to learn to play together ahead of the NBA season.

"It’s pretty cool. There is four of us on this team," Tatum said per Karalis. "Four of us get to embark on this journey together and build some real good chemistry for the season. Especially with Kemba, adding him to the Celtics, so should be fun."

Overall, it seems that the Team USA experience is positively impacting Tatum. That could end up being huge for the Celtics as they look for their third-year player to truly emerge as a star alongside Kemba Walker.

Where do Tatum, Brown rank on this year's '20 under 25'?>>>

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Aron Baynes: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are 'thirsty to go out and improve their game'

Aron Baynes: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are 'thirsty to go out and improve their game'

Aron Baynes is no longer on the Boston Celtics, but the Australian center is still a big fan of some of his former teammates.

Ahead of Australia's exhibition series with Team USA in the lead up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Baynes spoke about the potential of his ex-teammates, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Brown, 22, and Tatum, 21, are viewed as big parts of the Celtics' future, and Baynes indicated that both were on the right path to becoming top-tier players in the NBA.

"Those younger guys [Tatum and Brown] are thirsty to go out and improve their game and there's no better place than the summer time playing international ball against some of the best players in the world," Baynes said per ESPN's Niall Seewang. "Those guys are still in their rookie contracts and they're looking to prove themselves over the next couple of years and they definitely have all the tools to do it."

In particular, Baynes was complimentary of Tatum's skill set and said that he was ready for superstardom. Baynes pointed to Tatum's rare combination of offensive ability and desire to play defense as the primary reason for that.

"He's so talented," Baynes said per Seewang. "Even from the first day I played with him when he was a rookie in his first preseason, you could see how talented he was offensively and he also wants to work on the defensive end which isn't common in the NBA. Some guys live on that offensive talent but he wants to develop his all-round game."

Seeing Tatum continue to develop would certainly be nice. He didn't quite live up to the lofty expectations set for him ahead of his second season, yet he still averaged 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, all improvements over his rookie season. If he can continue to make strides during the 2019-20 campaign and improve upon his league-average shooting percentage, he should have a chance to be a star. And that's one of the major reasons the Celtics were reluctant to include him in any trade packages this offseason.

Either way, it's nice to see Tatum and Brown earning some praise from a former teammate. Despite all of the chemistry issues the Celtics had last year, the team seems to be on the right track with their new core, and Tatum and Brown could be a big part of their retooled roster.

As for Baynes, he will be a member of the Phoenix Suns this year after the Celtics traded him on draft night. Baynes, 32, averaged 5.6 points and 4.7 rebounds for the Celtics last year while serving as a solid weapon on the defensive side of the ball.

Where do Tatum, Brown rank on this year's '20 under 25'?>>>

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