Celtics

Moving Aron Baynes would signal another pivot in Celtics' approach to upcoming season

Moving Aron Baynes would signal another pivot in Celtics' approach to upcoming season

BOSTON -- When word spread that Kyrie Irving was planning to play for a team other than Boston next season, you knew big changes were on the horizon.

That was followed by Al Horford’s reported decision to focus on signing with another team this summer, which only cemented what will surely be a new-look Celtics team whose focus will also be undergoing a makeover.

Now comes word that Boston is making Aron Baynes and his $5.4 million contract available in an effort to clear cap space to potentially pursue one of the upper-tier free agents.

While adding a big man like Orlando free agent center Nikola Vucevic would make a lot of sense considering recent developments, moving Baynes to another team also creates a greater window of opportunity for Boston's youthful big men like Robert Williams III and Guerschon Yabusele.

And that means any dreams of a Banner 18 run this season by Boston ... that ain't happening.

Instead, Boston will be reverting back to the steady growth plan we saw a couple years ago when getting to the postseason and winning a round or two was progress.

Potentially trading away Baynes makes sense for both him and the Celtics.

Yes, Boston would be losing one of the league’s top big-man defenders in Baynes.

But if this team isn't a title contender, it doesn't make a ton of sense to have too many players who don't fit into the long-range plans of the franchise.

The further removed this Boston team becomes from winning a title, that only lessens the value that a player with Baynes' talents and skills can provide to the team.

And at his age and with his level of experience, playing for anything other than a title at this point doesn't really make a lot of sense. 

His strengths are best suited for teams that are competing for a title, not ones who are forced to re-calibrate not only their roster but also their expectations for what constitutes a successful season.

And with the offseason defections here in Boston, this is not a title-contending team and aren't likely to get there this season.

With that said, their focus has to be more centered around the continued development of their young players, many of whom have shown promise but only in spurts.

That is the path that this Boston team is currently on; a path that in all likelihood does not include Baynes along for the ride.

Ranking the top free agents of 2019 NBA offseason>>>>

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Tremont Waters remains patient, prepared for his time as a Celtic

Tremont Waters remains patient, prepared for his time as a Celtic

BOSTON -- Like many youngsters, Tremont Waters has wanted to play in the NBA for most of his life. 

Hanging out with his family in New Haven, Connecticut, as a kid, Waters would watch NBA games and envision one day hearing his name being introduced as he jogged onto the parquet or the floor of some other NBA arena. 

That little boy has grown up, been a standout at LSU and is now a member of the Celtics. 

That same drive and motivation to be in the NBA remains alive and well. 

But as eager as Waters is to prove his worth to the Celtics and the rest of the world, he’s patient with the process, knowing that just to be where he is now is a tremendous accomplishment not to be taken lightly or for granted. 

As a two-way contract player, Waters will be with the Celtics this season for no more than 45 days while the rest of his time will be spent with Boston’s G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

That’s why a lack of playing time, on the immediate horizon due to Boston's logjam of guards, only strengthens Waters' resolve to make sure when opportunities to play present themselves, he’s prepared for the moment. 

So, when Celtics coach Brad Stevens decided to keep most of his regular rotation back in Boston while the rest of the players traveled to Cleveland for the preseason finale on Tuesday night, Waters thrived in his enhanced role.  

His 24-point, seven-assist, two-rebound performance was one of the many that stood out in a 118-95 win over the Cavs. 

In addition to finding the red-hot Carsen Edwards on 3’s, Waters also made a point of connecting with teammates cutting to the basket or moving without the ball to open spaces where the ball would meet them in stride, from Waters. 

But he also can get his own shots, too. 

Ask Cleveland’s Kevin Porter Jr. who found himself in spin cycle mode when a switch defensively had him trying to guard Waters. 

Waters drove to his left past Porter Jr., but slowed down just enough for Porter Jr. to catch up. 

Keeping his dribble, Waters made a hesitation move as if he was going to stop his dribble and look to shoot - he didn’t - and blew past Porter Jr. for a right-handed lay-up amid a small chorus of oohs and ahhs. 

This was one of the many moments that contributed to a win that kept Boston's preseason record unblemished at 4-0. 

And for Waters, a second-round pick taken 51st overall last June, it was yet another game when he was able to showcase his talents and skills before the Celtics and his teammates.

“Tre, he’s going to be a really good player in this league,” Celtics guard Kemba Walker told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s got a really good feel for the game, works hard, crafty with the ball and is a good defender. Sooner or later, his time is going to come to shine.”

But even when he’s not on the floor playing, Waters says he’s grateful to be in a position to fulfill a childhood dream that so many have but only a handful ever truly get to experience. 

“A lot of people don’t get this opportunity,” Waters told NBC Sports Boston. “So for me to sit there and watch a game live…when I was younger I sat on my couch watching NBA games, wishing, hoping that I could play in the NBA one day. I get to watch it live, sitting on the bench or sitting on the floor at the end of the bench. I’m not taking it as a bad thing. I’m living the life; I don’t have anything to complain about.”

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Celtics' Jaylen Brown is smart to bank on himself for next contract

Celtics' Jaylen Brown is smart to bank on himself for next contract

That Jaylen Brown is not interested now in a reported four-year, $80 million extension offer from Boston Celtics is not surprising.

Brown is eligible for a five-year extension worth up to roughy $170 million based on the league's salary-cap projections. The Celtics can also offer Brown a four-year pact worth up to a maximum of roughly $130 million.

Any extension would start with the 2020-2021 season and neither player nor team should be in a particular rush to hammer out a deal. The Celtics can extend a modest offer knowing that Brown is in line to be a restricted free agent next summer and the team will have the opportunity to match any deal he might receive. Brown can bank on himself knowing that a solid fourth-year season could drive his price tag way up.

Brown, the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft, is scheduled to earn $6.5 million this season. The Celtics can extend an $8.5 million qualifying offer next summer which will position Brown to test those often murky waters of restricted free agency.

The Celtics have a long history of treading cautiously with rookie extensions, having not completed one since Rajon Rondo in 2009. Boston routinely offers aggressive-but team-friendly deals that players have been reluctant to pounce on.

Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray are the only two members of the 2016 draft class to have negotiated maximum-salary extensions, with their respective teams essentially designating them as franchise cornerstones. That’s not to say that the Celtics don’t view Brown in the same light; they are simply putting a premium on cap flexibility while knowing they have options regardless of how the 2019-20 season plays out.

Scoff if you’d like at the notion that Brown considers himself more than a $20 million-per-year player given what he’s displayed through his first three NBA seasons. The reality is that rookie extensions are negotiated based on what a player should become and not what they are in the moment.

Brown can bet on himself knowing that the 2020 free agent class projects as one of the weakest in recent memory. Not only have Simmons and Murray already inked extensions, Draymond Green signed a four-year, $100 million extension with the Golden State Warriors this summer. That leaves Brown as one of the glitziest young names available, maybe only behind Pascal Siakam.

Many NBA teams will look to save their pennies for the potentially bountiful 2021 free agent class. The 2020 market only becomes more robust if Anthony Davis opts out and elects not to re-sign in L.A., or if Gordon Hayward opts out of the final year of his current Celtics pact in hopes of a bigger deal.

Even if Brown shows limited advancement next season, someone will almost certainly offer him a deal in the neighborhood of four years, $80 million. There are more than 50 players in the NBA this season making $20+ million. What Brown displayed in the 2018 playoffs is tantalizing enough for teams to splurge on a player who turns just 23 later this month.

Remember that the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Otto Porter Jr. eventually got maximum-salary extensions, so teams will spend on the mere hope of what a player might eventually become.

While the Celtics could splurge on Brown now, it’s not the worst thing for the player to have some additional motivation to prove himself. Yes, players can sometimes press too hard in contract years, but Brown handled last year’s train wreck of a season better than most anybody else on the Celtics’ roster and that bodes well for how he’ll respond this season even as he attempts to establish himself as a star.

The reported four-year, $80 million offer is likely just a starting point for the Celtics. The team might be willing to creep higher but Brown, who recently hired Al Horford’s agent, might ultimately be content to wait until next year in hopes of maximizing his payday.

What the Celtics elect to spend next summer might be dictated by Hayward’s future. A bounce-back year could encourage Hayward to opt out and seek a monster payday now with 10 years of NBA service. Conversely, if Hayward struggles again, the team must decide what to do with him set to earn $34.2 million in the final year of his deal.

Remember, too, the Celtics must brace themselves to offer Jayson Tatum a potential maximum salary extension next summer as well.

Boston can get a gauge on Brown’s development early this season and then either ready itself for the financial commitment it will require to keep him, or examine trade possibilities.

Remember that a player not agreeing to an extension doesn’t necessarily mean they will walk after the season. Marcus Smart turned down a strong offer and got slightly more money from the Celtics the summer after. Boston moved Terry Rozier to Charlotte in a sign-and-trade and recouped assets for his departure.

Brown has repeatedly stressed he wants to “just play basketball” this year and not get caught up in any drama.

"To be honest, I haven’t put too much thought into [an extension],” Brown said on Media Day last month. "I’m not losing any sleep over it. I think stuff like that will end up working itself out in the end, or however. 

"So I’m just focused on this season and playing basketball. I think that’s my No. 1 emphasis, and let the chips fall where they may.”

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