Marcus Smart explains Celtics' improved approach to NBA trade deadline

Marcus Smart explains Celtics' improved approach to NBA trade deadline

BOSTON — We are about 24 hours away from the NBA trade deadline, which is about when deals start to get done after having been internet speculation for months. 

We’ve already had a four-team blockbuster agreed upon involving Atlanta, Denver, Houston and Minnesota, with more deals likely on the horizon. 

And while the potential for a major shake-up is always present in Boston, there’s a level of calm surrounding the Celtics that we haven’t seen in the lead-up to the trade deadline in recent years. 

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Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters earlier Wednesday that if the Celtics did anything at the trade deadline, it would likely be a very minor deal.

It’s unclear if that sentiment has trickled down to the players, who have been playing with the kind of care-free, get-it-done approach that has catapulted Boston into the No. 3 spot in the East.

“We’re really just focused on the task at hand, and that’s the game tonight,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston.

Smart, who will miss tonight’s game due to a right quad injury, chalks it up as one of the many lessons he and the team’s veterans learned from last year’s trade deadline, a teaching moment of sorts they have passed along to the younger Celtics. 

“In the recent past, a lot of guys … were probably focused on things they probably shouldn’t have been focused on (near the trade deadline),” Smart said. “If you’re focus is on that, then your focus isn’t on what it should be on — which is to play basketball and win games.”

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has made no secret about his trade deadline wish: for his team to be healthier than it has been so far this season.

Several players have been in and out of the lineup, making it more challenging for Ainge and the Celtics to accurately determine what areas they need to bolster before the trade deadline. 

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This has been especially true at center, a position that was believed to be an area of weakness for Boston at the start of the season. 

But the 1-2 center punch of Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter has been strong for Boston, providing the kind of inside scoring/rebounding/defense that has allowed Boston to be among the top teams in the Eastern Conference most of this season. 

“They’re holding their own with all the centers in the league,” Ainge told NBC Sports Boston. “I feel good about our center position.”

However, don’t for a minute think that Ainge has given up on the search for an upgrade at the big man position. 

The Celtics were among the teams reportedly in the running for Clint Capela, who was part of the aforementioned four-team trade that will send him to Atlanta. 

If the Celtics fail to strike a deal for another mobile center, they may set their sights on trying to attract another guard with a bit more of a scoring mentality who could provide some much-needed offensive punch off the bench. 

Two league sources told NBC Sports Boston this afternoon that the Celtics are more likely to add a player from the buyout market than they are to trade for one. 

“Those guys, you can tell have great chemistry,” a league executive told NBC Sports Boston. “Danny saw last year what happens when the chemistry isn’t great. He’s not about to put this team and his coach (Brad Stevens) through that again if he can help it.”

And while there’s a strong sense that Ainge wants to keep this core group together, Smart has been around the league long enough to know that things can change quickly when it comes to the trade deadline. 

“We’ll see; we’ll see,” Smart said. “Like I said, all we can do is control what we can control and that’s go out, play the game and hopefully win. That’s the only thing we should be thinking about, really.”

Report: NBA to launch 2K tournament, each team will have player representative

Report: NBA to launch 2K tournament, each team will have player representative

It looks like eSports' time to shine is finally here.

With all the major sports leagues on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has come up with a creative solution to create some new basketball-based programming.

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the league will be hosting a players-only NBA 2K tournament on Friday and it will air on a major network. Additionally, Haynes is reporting that each team is planning to have a player gamer involved with the tournament.

This is a good way for the league to create some new basketball-related excitement with the season currently suspended. It will certainly be fun to see how players who are so good on the basketball court can fare in the realm of basketball video games.

Of course, if every team does have a player representative set to play on Friday night, that means a member of the Boston Celtics will be in action. The ideal fit for the team would be Gordon Hayward, as he's an avid gamer and would almost certainly be able to lead the 2K Celtics to some victories.

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If Hayward isn't the choice, Grant Williams would be another logical option. He disclosed to NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely that he loves playing video games on an episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast shortly after he was drafted.

No matter who is running the Celtics team, it will be entertaining to watch NBA players square off against each other again, even if it is just in some 2K action.

And speaking of 2K action, be sure to check out our latest Celtics simulation. The 2K-C's took on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night as they looked to keep their winning streak alive.

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

How well does 21-year-old Jayson Tatum compare to 21-year-old Michael Jordan?

We know that Jayson Tatum is on the path to NBA stardom. But is he on a similar pace to one of the greatest players ever to play the game, Michael Jordan?

You be the judge.

Boston Sports Info (@BostonSportsInf) checked out the statistical comparison between Jayson Tatum and Michael Jordan during their 21-year-old seasons. And when looking at the numbers on a per 36-minute basis, they were relatively close in most major categories.

In addition to the numbers pictured, Tatum averaged 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks per 36 as a 21-year-old. Meanwhile, Jordan got 5.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 0.8 blocks per 36.

So, Jordan edged Tatum in most categories, save for Tatum's rebounding advantage and his ever-so-slight blocks advantage. Of course, it's worth noting that Jordan entered the league as a 21-year-old rookie, so he had no NBA experience while he put up these excellent numbers. Tatum had 143 games of regular-season experience and 19 games of playoff experience before his 21st birthday.

Regardless, the point is that Tatum is still developing very well and the fact that his numbers can even be comparable to one of the NBA's all-time greats is an excellent sign. He should continue to progress and should soon be one of the top players in the NBA if he continues on his current trajectory.

Tatum may not reach Jordan level. Few ever do. But the stats indicate that he's on the right track very early on in his career.

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