Celtics

NBA Rumors: Celtics frontrunners to sign Kemba Walker as Hornets hit 'stalemate'

NBA Rumors: Celtics frontrunners to sign Kemba Walker as Hornets hit 'stalemate'

The Kemba Walker-to-Boston hype train is picking up serious speed.

The Celtics have "emerged as the frontrunner" to sign Walker once free agency begins June 30, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday morning.

Wojarowski added on ESPN's "Get Up" that the C's and Walker are "focused on each other" in free agency and added there's a "very strong possibility that Kemba Walker will replace Kyrie Irving" as Boston's point guard.

The Athletic's Shams Charania also reports Walker's contract talks with the Charlotte Hornets have reached a "stalemate" and cites the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks as Boston's top competitors for Walker.

Dallas Morning News reporter Brad Townsend also pegged Boston as a frontrunner to land the 29-year-old point guard Wednesday, as reports of Walker coming to the Celtics have gained impressive traction since The New York Times' Marc Stein first reported the C's as a "stealth suitor" for Walker on Tuesday.

Walker is expected to seek a maximum contract in free agency worth $32.7 million next season, a deal the Celtics could give the UConn product by renouncing their rights to nearly all of their free agents, including Irving, Al Horford, Marcus Morris and restricted free agent Terry Rozier.

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Celtics-Trail Blazers Takeaways: Tatum has 36 for an encore, C's roll in Portland

Celtics-Trail Blazers Takeaways: Tatum has 36 for an encore, C's roll in Portland

Jayson Tatum came in having had the best game of his life in Los Angeles, dropping 41 on LeBron & Co. 

His encore performance in Portland was just as impressive, delivering yet another brilliant scoring game in leading the Celtics to a 118-106 win. 

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Tatum finished with 36 points against the Blazers, mixing in yet another array of dribble-drive baskets, 3-pointers (he had a career-high eight 3’s) and finishes at the rim. 

This was actually a better performance for Tatum because of the game’s outcome. 

The Celtics, playing without Kemba Walker (knee) for the third game in a row, got contributions from several players in addition to Tatum. 

Still, this game was yet another one where Tatum was again the best player on the floor. 

KILLER 3’S

The Celtics were looking for the 3-point shot early and often, and considering who they were playing…you can understand why. 

Boston has been a top-10 team from 3-point range most of this season, while the Blazers have been among the NBA’s worst teams when it comes to defending the 3. 

Portland came in allowing 13 made 3's per game, a total that the Celtics reached after just three quarters of play. 

Boston finished with a season-high 19 made 3-pointers.

This was another game in which the Celtics faced an opponent with a clear weakness and to their credit, they took full advantage. 

JAYLEN BROWN

Boston began to put some distance between itself and Portland in the second quarter and Brown’s play had a lot to do with it. 

He would finish with 24 points, 12 of which came in the second quarter, which ended with the Celtics leading, 56-48.

Following the loss to the Lakers on Sunday, Brown talked about how Tatum had elevated his play to another level, and the rest of the Celtics - himself included - had to step up as well. 

Tuesday was a strong step in that direction, for sure. 

BRAD WANAMAKER

It has been a rough few games for Wanamaker, who came into Tuesday 3-for-14 (21.4 percent) from the field in his past two games. 

Wanamaker was much better on Tuesday, scoring 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field. 

But more than the scoring, Wanamaker played with more poise and was among the keys to Boston getting the win. 

If you’re the Celtics, you’re hoping the backup guard will build off his solid performance especially with Walker missing the past three games and no clear indication when exactly will he will be back. 

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NBA Highlights: Jayson Tatum keeps it going with 36 points as Celtics bounce back in Portland, 118-106

NBA Highlights: Jayson Tatum keeps it going with 36 points as Celtics bounce back in Portland, 118-106

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 118, Trail Blazers 106

IN BRIEF: Jayson Tatum continued his torrid scoring pace with eight 3-pointers in a 36-point effort as the Celtics bounced back from a tough loss to the Lakers with win No. 40, beating the Trail Blazers 118-106 in Portland on their Western trip. BOX SCORE

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CELTICS RECORD: 40-17, 3rd in Eastern Conference

HIGHLIGHTS

TATUM PICKING UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF:

SMART HEATING UP:

OJELEYE TAKING THE CHARGE:

KANTER WITH THE HOOK:

TATUM TURNS IT ON AND FINISHES STRONG:

TATUM WITH THE LOB TO THEIS:

MORE TATUM...FROM DOWNTOWN:

UP NEXT:
@Utah Jazz, Wednesday, 10:30 p.m., NBC Sports Boston
Vs. Houston Rockets, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., ABC 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.