Celtics

NBA rumors: Celtics 'cautiously optimistic' on re-signing Kyrie Irving

NBA rumors: Celtics 'cautiously optimistic' on re-signing Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving's future in Boston seemed like a non-story once he told season ticket holders at TD Garden in October that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics. Shortly after that, he filmed a Nike commercial where he played 1-on-1 against his father at the Garden and said he wants to be the last Celtic to wear No. 11.

A lot has changed since then, however. Rumors about Irving's commitment to Boston have surfaced in recent weeks, conveniently timed with the plethora of Anthony Davis trade rumors. Irving fueled the fire by not affirming his plans to re-sign in Boston during a media availability in New York last week and instead saying Boston remains at the "head of the race." 

While Celtics fans suddenly are a bit more nervous about Irving's plans than before, how does the team actually feel? Here's what ESPN's Zach Lowe reported Wednesday:

(Boston, for its part, remains cautiously optimistic about keeping Irving, though the events of the past week -- Irving's comments, New York opening up a second maximum salary slot -- have shaken them. But Boston is always confident. That is Ainge's default mindset. The league at large is much less confident, but it is hard to say who knows what, and with what level of reliability. The postseason could be really telling for so many of this summer's headliner free agents.)

Irving is able to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. It's no secret the Celtics are interested in trading for Davis but can't pull it off until at least June because of a league rule (explained here). Acquiring Davis would be a great way to convince Irving that Boston is the best place for him to win long-term. It also doesn't hurt that the C's can offer Irving more years and money in his new contract than any other team in free agency.

The Celtics could go in a number of different directions between now and the summer, but winning is the best way to show Irving, Davis and everyone else that Boston is the prime destination to compete for championships. A run to the NBA Finals would be an impressive show of what Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has built in Boston.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Celtics' Jayson Tatum details 'chip on our shoulder' driving Team USA's mentality

Celtics' Jayson Tatum details 'chip on our shoulder' driving Team USA's mentality

The United States men's basketball team is traditionally a heavy favorite in any tournament it enters.

Team USA has dominated international competition for many decades, and especially since the 1992 Dream Team became the first American squad at the Summer Olympics to use NBA players. Beginning with that historic 1992 team, the United States men have won six of the last seven Olympic gold medals, with the only disappointment coming in 2004. 

The Red, White and Blue currently are in Melbourne, where they will play the Australian national team twice this week in preparation for the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. If you've watched any of the exhibition games so far, you've noticed many of the American-born superstar players are not present. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Stephen Curry and other elite players are not participating. Instead, Team USA is relying on many of the NBA's best young players, most of whom have little international experience. 

One of those players is Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics. The team's roster makeup, in addition to some lackluster performances in recent weeks, have led some people to think the United States might not be the favorite to win the tournament. Tatum recently explained to The Undefeated that Team USA is highly motivated and playing with a chip on its shoulder.

USA Basketball not bringing its most talented roster to the FIBA World Cup should make the tournament a little more competitive, but it still would be quite surprising if this squad failed to win the gold medal. There are some other really talented teams, including Serbia and Spain, but the United States is still the most skilled and deepest team in the tournament.

Playing for Team USA has been a springboard for many players in taking their skill sets to a higher level. Kevin Durant dominated at the 2010 World Cup in Turkey and it really helped propel him to superstardom. There are several other examples, too. 

It would behoove players like Tatum to use this experience to their advantage entering the 2019-20 NBA season. This tournament, and the last few weeks of practices, are a great opportunity to get in shape, improve your skills and learn from legendary head coach Gregg Popovich.

WATCH: Tatum, Brown and Kuzma play 1-on-1 after USA practice>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Watch Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyle Kuzma play 1-on-1 at Team USA practice

Watch Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyle Kuzma play 1-on-1 at Team USA practice

The historic NBA rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers has extended to USA Basketball.

Team USA is in Melbourne preparing for its pre-2019 FIBA World Cup exhibition games against Australia beginning Thursday night, and several players from the Celtics and Lakers are still with the Red, White and Blue squad. 

Celtics forwards Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, as well as Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma all got in some extra practice by playing 1-on-1 against each other this week.

Check out the action in the video below:

All three of these players are facing huge expectations entering the 2019-20 NBA season.

Kuzma will be expected to provide valuable scoring, rebounding and versatility as the No. 3 option behind LeBron James and newly acquired superstar Anthony Davis on the Lakers. Tatum and Brown are aiming to bounce back from disappointing 2018-19 seasons in which they were inconsistent and saw their 3-point shooting percentages drop. Brown also is entering the final year of his rookie contract, so he should be plenty motivated to prove he's worth a massive contract extension in the near future.

Before they join their respective NBA teams, these three young stars will first try to lead Team USA to another gold medal at the FIBA World Cup. The tournament starts Aug. 31 and will be hosted by China.

Could Jaylen Brown play PF for Team USA? C's star explains>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.