Lottery's over; do Celtics want to pay to play Anthony Davis sweepstakes?

Lottery's over; do Celtics want to pay to play Anthony Davis sweepstakes?

For all the hype surrounding Zion Williamson, the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery might ultimately be remembered for its impact on the impending Anthony Davis sweepstakes.

The path to AD got thornier for the Celtics on Tuesday night with chief rivals both emerging with glitzy new picks to offer, and New Orleans landing the No. 1 overall pick might just leave the Pelicans putting a hard sell on why Davis should consider coming back.

But with the “That’s All Folks” T-shirt still fresh in mind, it’s hard to see a path towards reconciliation. So the question becomes: Do the Celtics still have the necessary assets to entice New Orleans to make a deal?

What’s a bit more certain after the lottery is that the asking price might have gone up again, especially as teams like the Knicks and Lakers bolstered their offers by securing top spots in this year’s draft.

There could be mystery shoppers this summer — teams like Toronto or the Clippers can put together very intriguing offers depending on how the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes unfolds — but for the sake of post-lottery argument, the focus is on the three main Davis seekers: Celtics, Lakers, and Knicks.

What could each offer?

Boston could build a package with a mix of established young talent, proven NBA talent, and future picks by offering some combination of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, the future Grizzlies pick (which rolled into future seasons, where protections loosen), and some of Boston’s three first-round picks this year. Alas, that’s not all. Marcus Smart or Gordon Hayward might be needed to make salaries match, unless the Celtics’ front office can get creative.

The Lakers vaulted to the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft and can add that gem — albeit in a draft where the buzz currently surrounds the top three players — to last year’s mega-offer, which was some combination of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and L.A.’s future first-round picks. 

The Knicks whiffed on the top spot but landed at No. 3 and could package that with Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson, and some of their draft assets like the 2021 unprotected first-round pick acquired from Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis trade. While missing out on Williamson made the path a bit tougher, there’s still a path to a super-team if the Knicks can recruit free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving before flipping assets for Davis, but it got a bit trickier by not winning the lotto.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the offer that ultimately pops most might hinge on what New Orleans general manager David Griffin desires. Typically, teams can’t ask for the moon for a player entering a contract year, but the Pelicans winning the lottery changes that a bit and puts the Pelicans in a bit more of a power position.

Timelines will also be interesting here. The Celtics would seemingly want to make an early charge at Davis in order to sell Irving on staying in Boston. The idea of a starting five with an Irving/Hayward/Horford/Davis combo should be mighty intriguing to both Irving and Horford as they contemplate their futures. Still, it’s a steep price to pay without a future commitment from Davis and could leave the Celtics leery.

Alas, between the Leonard revitalization and Boston’s own stinker of a season, it’s a friendly reminder that 1) Top-flight NBA talent is worth taking risks on and 2) Windows are fleeting and sometimes you just have to push your chips in. If the Celtics step back from the Davis pursuit, it adds a layer of intrigue to offseason roster construction and how the team might make the tweaks necessary to avoid what ailed it a year ago.

The question becomes, how much is Boston willing to pay for a move that has obvious short-term benefits but complicates the long-term vision? Is this team better off waiting for the next star to come along and hoping the price isn’t as prohibitive?

There are no easy answers and the lottery complicated matters. But Boston is still in the mix, which is about as much as it could have hoped for going into the ping pong madness of Tuesday night.

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2020 NBA restart: Celtics' three-game scrimmage schedule in Orlando revealed

2020 NBA restart: Celtics' three-game scrimmage schedule in Orlando revealed

By this time three weeks from now, the Boston Celtics will be back on the court playing other NBA teams.

The Celtics' first game of the 2020 NBA season restart isn't until July 31, but they'll start warming up a week earlier with three scrimmage games at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

Here's Boston's three-game scrimmage schedule in the bubble:

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Friday, July 24
Celtics vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (5 p.m. ET)

Sunday, July 26
Celtics vs. Phoenix Suns (1:30 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, July 28
Celtics vs. Houston Rockets (8 p.m. ET)

The C's face three Western Conference opponents who aren't on their eight-game "seeding round" slate. Their final tune-up against James Harden, Russell Westbrook and the Rockets should be entertaining, although it's possible each team's starters play limited minutes as squads shake off the rust.

The NBA plans to release "potential" broadcast details at a later date, so it's unclear whether any of these games will be televised.

The Celtics began official practices July 1 and are set to travel to Orlando between July 7 and 9, where they'll join 21 other teams in the "bubble." Boston is the current No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and could be a legitimate championship contender.

Check out the Celtics' eight-game seeding schedule below:

Gordon Hayward recalls rollercoaster Celtics tenure, three years after signing

Gordon Hayward recalls rollercoaster Celtics tenure, three years after signing

It was three years ago that the fireworks that Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck had previously talked about (and we absolutely loved to talk about over and over and over again), actually came to fruition for the Celtics. 

That's when Boston did what no Celtics team under Danny Ainge’s watch had ever done. 

They went out and signed an All-Star free agent, then-27-year-old Gordon Hayward, who was still in his prime as a player. 

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“I can’t believe it’s been three years already, to be honest,” Hayward said during a teleconference call with reporters on Friday. “A lot has happened for me, for my family.”

It is impossible to look at the Hayward narrative in Boston without delving into the gruesome left leg injury he suffered just five minutes into this first game as a Boston Celtic. 

Once he was cleared to resume playing, there was the usual rust associated with a long layover. But more than the time off, Hayward had hurdles to clear beyond being physically able to return to play. 

For most of his career, Hayward leaned on his basketball instincts when it came to making plays at both ends of the floor. 

The injury changed that. 

Hayward had developed the kind of muscle memory with his game that allowed him to ascend to an All-Star level while in Utah, with play that on many nights looked seemingly effortless. The injury, which sidelined him for the rest of the 2017-2018 season, forced him to work at bridging the divide that now existed between his mind and body as far as what he was capable of doing on the court.

It wasn’t all that surprising that it led to mixed results, with Hayward looking like the best player on the floor some nights and then inexplicably struggling against inferior competition the next. 

And just like fans at times would become frustrated with his inconsistent play, Hayward wasn’t enjoying this rollercoaster of emotions fueled by his up-and-down play either. 

The 6-foot-8 forward has spent his entire basketball career working to strengthen his body to withstand the physical rigors that come with being a slashing, attacking-the-rim wing who can also make teams pay for sagging off him with a mid-range game that can extend beyond the 3-point line. 

But the injury forced Hayward to really work at strengthening his mind, something that he quickly acknowledged as being the biggest takeaway from his time thus far in Boston. 

“For sure I hit a low during my injury,” Hayward said. “And had to work more than ever on that mental side, more than I ever had in my basketball career on that mental side. That’s for sure something that takes work.”

The topic of mental health among professional athletes has gained significant traction in recent years as a discussion which professional players such as Hayward are far more comfortable addressing publicly. 

“For sure the mental side is where I’ve grown,” he said.

And that growth has Hayward in arguably the best position he has been in as a Celtic. 

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While he was initially brought in to be either the team’s go-to guy or next in line, Hayward has effectively settled into more of a jack-of-all-trades role, allowing him to make an impact of significance without necessarily having to carry the team on a night-in, night-out basis. 

He’s averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists this season, his best numbers in those categories since becoming a Celtic. 

Just as impressive has been his efficiency — he's shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 39.2 percent from 3-point range this season.

And while he’ll be the first to tell you that his time in Boston has indeed been a rollercoaster of sorts, he has no regrets about his decision to become a Celtic which reunited him with his college coach at Butler, Brad Stevens.

“It’s been some great moments for sure,” Hayward said of his time in Boston. “Obviously some not-great moments with the injury and everything but some great moments. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”