Celtics

Lottery night could've been a lot worse for Celtics

Lottery night could've been a lot worse for Celtics

If you went into the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday night clinging to the tiny hope that the Celtics would vault to spots No. 2, 3, or 4, with the Sacramento Kings’ pick, your lottery night soured almost immediately when Boston came up in the first envelope revealed, locking them into that No. 14 selection delivered from the Kings.

But here’s the thing: Draft night could have gone a lot worse for the Celtics.

The Memphis Grizzlies vaulted into the top 4, meaning the pick they owe the Celtics will roll into future drafts where it might be even glitzier than the No. 9 selection the team would have otherwise delivered this season. 

And, more importantly, both the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, maybe Boston’s primary competition in the Anthony Davis pursuit, both missed out on the No. 1 pick despite landing top spots, keeping Boston alive in a sweepstakes that’s gotten a bit more competitive.

The New Orleans Pelicans — Davis’ current squad — vaulted from the seventh-best odds to secure the No. 1 overall selection. They will be able to select Zion Williamson and usher in an exciting youth movement that might make it even easier to move on from Davis following his trade request last season.

The Athletic reported Tuesday night that Davis’ stance on desiring a trade has not changed, which suggests the Pelicans will have to reassess potential offers and the Celtics still have maybe the deepest treasure chest of assets if they are willing to pay a ransom to make a deal.

Without question, the Knicks and Lakers added shiny new pieces that could help their own quests, but Boston has maybe the best blend of proven young talent and picks. Alas, it only matters what new Pelicans GM David Griffin thinks of the respective stashes.

Even with Memphis vaulting, the short-term outlook on that pick seems encouraging. The Grizzlies can draft Ja Morant and go full rebuild mode if they move Mike Conley’s bloated contract. It would still take some time for them to turn things around. That pick remains top-6 protected in 2020 before becoming unprotected in 2021. 

The big bullet dodged by the Celtics is with the Knicks. 

If New York had won the lottery, it would have been an absolute disaster for Boston. New York would have possessed the golden Zion ticket to extract Davis from New Orleans, all while still being able to recruit both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for a full-fledged super team. The Knicks are still a threat to lure Irving away but, if New York had positioned itself for both Durant and Davis, it would have made the pull that much stronger for Irving.

The Knicks might still have the assets to make New Orleans think but Boston will at least have a chance to be in the bidding, something that wouldn’t have happened if New York landed Williamson.

The Lakers have the No. 4 pick but in a draft where the focus, at least coming out of lotto night, is on the top 3 players (Williamson, Morant, RJ Barrett). It would seem Boston would still be ahead of Los Angeles if they were willing to offer some combination of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and that Grizzlies pick.

The big thing is that Boston is simply in that conversation. In those three awkward minutes before envelopes Nos. 1-4 were unveiled, there was the chance that one of Boston’s offseason paths would be completely closed off.

There are still boxes to check before Boston even navigates that path. Much of how Boston proceeds hinges on Irving’s desire to return. And, if he does, how much pressure can he put on the organization to go all in on a Davis pursuit?

The first domino has fallen now with lottery night in the rear-view mirror. Could it have gone better? Sure. But it could have been a lot worse for Boston.

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Brad Stevens praises Adam Silver for handling of NBA-China tensions

Brad Stevens praises Adam Silver for handling of NBA-China tensions

The NBA and China aren't in a good place right now.

Neither are players like LeBron James, who's gotten backlash for indirectly siding with China in a feud ignited by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's tweet about protests in Hong Kong.

Brad Stevens doesn't seem to share James' opinion, though. The Boston Celtics coach sided with the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday when asked about the league's ongoing tensions with China.

"I'm glad we have Adam Silver to lead the league," Stevens told 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand" in his weekly interview. "Obviously, after Daryl's tweet, I thought the most important thing that Adam could say and that we and the league could say is that we value the freedom of expression.

"The NBA's been big on that, and the way that he's handled that and the way that he's basically said, 'We're not going to regulate what people say. It's part of what we all believe.' I think is really important. I agree with him."

Stevens' comments also are an endorsement of Morey, whose tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong has led several businesses and state-run offices in China -- which has sovereignty over the coastal state -- to cut ties with the NBA.

"I haven't paid attention to everybody's talk and quotes since then," Stevens added. "I'm not going to pretend like I was a political expert on China prior to whatever day that was when it all came out. But I appreciate (Adam's) leadership and certainly have been reading and learning and trying to get up to speed with everything."

Stevens hardly is going out on a limb by supporting free speech. But he's still offering more of an opinion on the thorny issue than some of his contemporaries -- notably Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, who essentially declined to comment when the controversy first started.

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Report: Jaylen Brown seeking more than this Celtics extension offer

Report: Jaylen Brown seeking more than this Celtics extension offer

Jaylen Brown and his new agent reportedly are getting right down to business.

The Boston Celtics have offered Brown a four-year contract extension worth $80 million, Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Wednesday.

But the 22-year-old guard, who is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, is "pursuing a bigger offer," according to Haynes.

A $20 million-per-year deal would make Brown the third-highest-paid player in Boston, behind only max-contract players Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward.

Brown may be wise to bet on himself, though. He'd likely be a top-10 free agent in a weak 2020 class, and possibly could vault into the top five with a strong fourth season.

Whether Brown deserves a maximum contract remains to be seen, but it sounds like he's pushing for more than what the Celtics are offering him.

"Everybody says that they’re not concerned with it, but in some way, shape or form they are,” Brown told The New York Times' Marc Stein in a recent interview, via Stein's email newsletter. "But to be honest, it’s really not overwhelming me or ruling my thoughts. I know what type of talent I have. I’m confident in myself. I’m confident in my ability."

The Celtics have until next Monday to offer Brown an extension, or risk him testing the market in restricted free agency.

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