Celtics

NBA Rumors: Celtics felt teams tampered in pursuit of Al Horford

NBA Rumors: Celtics felt teams tampered in pursuit of Al Horford

Al Horford signing with the rival 76ers in free agency was an unexpected and upsetting turn of events for the Celtics.

But it appears the C's were even more upset with the events that led up to Horford signing a four-year, $109 million deal with Philadelphia. Horford recently stated he was "surprised" by the Sixers' interest, but the Celtics reportedly believe teams had deals on the table for Horford before free agency even began, ruining their chances of re-signing the 12-year veteran.

On the latest Hoop Collective Podcast, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Boston complained about teams tampering in their pursuit of Horford.

“I don’t know if you heard this, but the Celtics were, from what I am told, one of the teams that kind of stomped their feet about what they felt was tampering,” Windhorst told co-hosts Jackie MacMullan and Tim MacMahon. “Not with Kyrie, although that looked like it was lined up pretty far in advance, but with Horford.

“What happened with Horford, again from what I’m told, really upset the Celtics. They were thinking they were going to be able to negotiate with him. Talk to him about a new contract and all of a sudden it was like he already knew what his market was and he was out of there.”

If Danny Ainge felt there was some foul play involved in Horford's free agency, he hasn't expressed it publicly. The C's general manager attributed Horford's decision to it simply being a "different era" in the NBA.

Regardless of what may or may not have gone down in teams' pursuits of Horford, the Celtics rebounded quickly after his departure by signing eccentric big man Enes Kanter and re-signing Daniel Theis to a two-year contract.

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Bittersweet return for Isaiah Thomas against his former Celtics team

Bittersweet return for Isaiah Thomas against his former Celtics team

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas has proclaimed his love for the city of Boston time and time again. 

But when it comes to facing his former Celtics teammates, who have shown tremendous growth since he was traded, well, that’s another story. 

“As a competitor, I hate it,” Thomas said. “But to see them jelling how they are and playing the best basketball of any team in the NBA right now, you have to take your hats off to them. They have great players, a great coaching staff that’s putting them in position to be successful.”

The Wizards became the latest to find this out the hard way as the Celtics extended their winning streak to nine following a 140-133 victory over Washington. 

Boston (9-1) will begin a five-game Western trip on Friday night against the Golden State Warriors as they hit the road with the best record in the NBA. 

Having that kind of status was something Thomas felt could happen during his time in Boston which included him being named an All-Star in back-to-back seasons. 

But a significant hip injury and a slow recovery time derailed what was shaping up to be a promising future for the last player selected in the 2011 NBA draft. 

Now Thomas finds himself back on the grind trying to prove that the player he was in Boston, can be resurrected in Washington. 

Wednesday’s game, while not ending the way Thomas wanted, was indeed a step in the right direction. 

Thomas finished with 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting along with seven assists.

But considering how dominant a scorer he was while in Boston, Thomas knows he’ll have to string together many more games like that before he will truly be back to the player he once was. 

“It’s tough because I want it all back right now,” Thomas said. “But I can’t skip any steps. I have to take it one day at a time. I’ve been doing that. This opportunity has been good for me; coach [Scott Brooks] believes in me, my teammates believe in me and that’s all that matters.”

Thomas has been a favorite of head coach Brad Stevens since he left, and has remained close to a number of his teammates including Marcus Smart. 

“I.T. was a great teammate,” Smart recently told NBC Sports Boston. “Going through all that he has gone through, not just playing but with life, you want to see him do well, you want to see him succeed.

Smart added with a grin, “but you want to beat him, too.”

And that is what made Wednesday’s game a bittersweet one for Thomas. 

Even though Washington (2-7) has one of the worst records in the NBA, Thomas came into Wednesday’s game confident that he could play well and that Washington would find a way to get the victory. 

For most of the game, the Wizards stayed within striking distance and even played with a lead from time to time. 

In addition to Thomas, Washington also got a big game from All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who led all scorers with 44 points.  

“It felt good to be out there,” Thomas, visibly disappointed, said shortly after the loss. “But I just want to win. We didn’t get the job and that was the most important thing. But overall it felt good to be back and play some meaningful minutes.”

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Jaylen Brown gets revenge on ex-Celtic Isaiah Thomas with ruthless burn

Jaylen Brown gets revenge on ex-Celtic Isaiah Thomas with ruthless burn

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas took a friendly dig at Jaylen Brown on Tuesday night, calling out his ex-teammate for his "ugly" new haircut.

But Brown got the last laugh Wednesday night at TD Garden.

The 22-year-old guard -- who was a rookie in Thomas' final season in Boston in 2016-17 -- scored 22 points in Boston's 140-133 win over Washington.

Two of those points came against the 5-foot-9 Thomas on an isolation play that Brown seemed to relish.

When asked about the play after the game, Brown fired his return shot at I.T.

"Oh man, he knows. You don't need to say it. He knows he can't guard me," Brown said. 

"He was screaming for help. Maybe his braids was too tight and he thought he could guard me."

Lest you think there's actually any bad blood here, that's just how Brown and Thomas interact. The 30-year-old guard acted as a mentor to Brown in that 2016-17 campaign, and that included plenty of good-natured banter.

"It's great to see him out there," Brown quickly followed up. "Me and I.T. joke back and forth, but I look at I.T. as like a big brother. He's a great teammate, great guy and I'm happy to see him out there playing well."

Thomas dropped a season-high 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, tallying his first points at TD Garden since his trade to Cleveland in the 2017 offseason.

But Thomas' "little brother" still outscored him by tallying 20-plus points in his third consecutive game, as the Celtics moved to an NBA-best 9-1 on the season.

That's a good way to get even.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Warriors, which tips off Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.