Celtics

NBA rumors: Celtics not only team interested in trading for No. 4 pick

NBA rumors: Celtics not only team interested in trading for No. 4 pick

The New Orleans Pelicans appear to have several potential suitors for the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, a selection they acquired as part of the Anthony Davis trade with the Los Angeles Lakers over the weekend.

The Boston Celtics reportedly are interested in acquiring the No. 4 pick, but they aren't alone. The Atlanta Hawks, the only team besides the Pelicans with multiple top-10 picks, also covet the No. 4 selection. Here's the latest update on the Hawks' pursuit of moving up in the lottery.

The Celtics have three first-round picks at No. 14, No. 20 and No. 22. Those selections obviously don't have as much value as Atlanta's first-rounders, but the C's also have talented young players (including Jaylen Brown) and future picks (including a valuable Memphis Grizzlies protected first-rounder) to offer in potential trade packages for the No. 4 selection.

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Boston reportedly is targeting Vanderbilt guard Darius Garland if it were to acquire the No. 4 pick. The other popular names for that range in the draft include Duke guard R.J. Barrett, North Carolina guard Coby White, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter. Duke forward Zion Williamson and the Murray State guard Ja Morant are the consensus top two picks. 

The 2019 draft class has been labeled as top heavy by many experts, so it's not surprising teams outside the top five are looking to move up.

Trading up in the lottery isn't the only path for the Celtics to pursue before the draft happens Thursday night. They reportedly "will be in on" a possible Mike Conley trade, and Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal reportedly is a "prime option" for Boston following its failure to acquire Davis from the Pelicans.

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Kemba Walker injury: Danny Ainge gives update on Celtics star's knee

Kemba Walker injury: Danny Ainge gives update on Celtics star's knee

Boston Celtics point guard Kemba Walker has missed four consecutive games with a left knee injury, including Wednesday night's 114-103 win over the Utaz Jazz on the road.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gave an update on Walker's knee during his weekly Thursday morning appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" show, and he doesn't seem too worried about the situation.

“We’re just taking it day by day, and we’re being very cautious with Kemba,” Ainge said. “We feel like we need Kemba to be his best self, and right now, we don’t think that he can sustain what he wants to do. But we are confident that his knee is going to be fine and that he’ll be ready to go at some point in the near future.”

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A lot has been made of Walker playing in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 16. Walker was among the game's starters for Team Giannis, and he played nearly the entire fourth quarter as the matchup became ultra competitive. Ainge downplayed the impact playing in Chicago has had on Walker's absence.

“I think the All-Star Game is a little bit of an overblown situation,” Ainge said. “I mean, if he plays 20 minutes or he plays 29, I’m not sure it really makes that much of a difference, especially since it’s one game over a six or seven-day period. So, I don’t really have any regrets about that. I think that this has been an issue that has been lingering a little bit from before the All-Star Game and I think that nobody really knew to what extent, and we’re just being really cautious with him right now.”

The Celtics are fortunate to be in a situation where they don't need Walker to rush back. The C's are building a comfortable distance between themselves and the No. 4 seed, so it's looking increasingly likely Boston will earn at least the No. 3 seed. Given the Toronto Raptors' difficult schedule to finish the regular season, getting the No. 2 seed also is a pretty realistic goal for the Celtics. 

It's not crazy to be a little concerned about Walker. He is one of the team's most important players, and the Celtics no doubt are at their best when he's in the lineup. The Celtics taking a cautious approach is absolutely the right decision. It's much better for Walker to miss games in February than be sidelined in April and May when the playoffs are in full swing.

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Kendrick Perkins gives Celtics guard Marcus Smart the ultimate compliment

Kendrick Perkins gives Celtics guard Marcus Smart the ultimate compliment

There's little doubt Marcus Smart is the heart and soul of the Boston Celtics.

Whether it's great leadership, All-NBA caliber defense, 100 percent effort and hustle on almost every play, or carrying the load offensively when needed, Smart gives the Celtics a boost in so many areas. 

Smart's presence was felt at both ends of the floor in Boston's 114-103 win over the Utaz Jazz on the road Wednesday night.

His defense was fantastic. Jazz players shot 4-for-12 from the field, including a lackluster 1-for-8 mark from 3-point range versus Smart. He also made an impact offensively with 17 points, including a couple clutch baskets in the fourth quarter. He had nine assists, too.

Smart's all-around play received a special shotout on Twitter from former Celtics center Kendrick Perkins, who paid the C's guard the ultimate compliment.

Well said, Perk.

Smart embodies all of the qualities that have made the Celtics the premier NBA franchise for more than 50 years. His performance at both ends of the court, as well as his leadership, are so valuable to this Celtics team. If the C's make a deep run in the 2020 NBA playoffs, you can bet Smart will be a driving force behind that success.

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