Celtics

NBA Rumors: Could Clint Capela be a Celtics target at trade deadline?

NBA Rumors: Could Clint Capela be a Celtics target at trade deadline?

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For all of the positive vibes surrounding the 2019-20 Boston Celtics, there's one obvious area for improvement ... and it's under the basket.

The Celtics entered the season pretty thin at center, and early injuries to Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis left only second-year big man Robert Williams, recent pickup Vincent Poirier and 7-foot-6 rookie Tacko Fall to play the position.

Depending on what happens between now and February's NBA trade deadline, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge could decide he needs an upgrade at center to compete in the Eastern Conference.

Could that upgrade be Houston Rockets center Clint Capela?

In a column Wednesday for ESPN, Brian Windhorst mentioned Capela as a player "executives are watching," noting that Houston considered trading Capela last summer before landing Russell Westbrook.

"If the Rockets need midseason changes, and they almost always itch for them, Capela could be available again," Windhorst wrote.

The 25-year-old has averaged a double-double in each of the last two seasons (16.6 points and 12.7 rebounds per game last season) and is an excellent rim protector, with eight blocks in just three games for Houston this season.

Windhorst also noted veteran big man Steven Adams could be a Celtics target if the Oklahoma City Thunder make him available. But during a recent appearance on "The Bill Simmons Podcast," NBC Sports Boston contributor Chris Mannix suggested Capela is the apple of Boston's eye.

"I think the guy they're sitting on, really, is Clint Capela," Mannix said. "I think they'd love to take a Daniel Theis contract and maybe a couple other small things and a draft pick and go get a guy like that."

Expectations are high in Houston with Westbrook joining James Harden, and if they meet those expectations, it seems unlikely they'd deal an important player like Capela while competing for a top Western Conference playoff spot.

But if the Westbrook-Harden experiment goes south, perhaps Ainge will place a call to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

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Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

Another Larry Bird milestone to assert his place among the all-time greats

BOSTON -- The 1986 Boston Celtics are considered one of the greatest teams of all time, having run through the regular season with ease towards a dominant postseason that ended with the team hanging Banner 16.

But weeks before the franchise’s triumphant conclusion to the season, there was another historic milestone.

Larry Bird was named the league’s MVP 24 years ago this week for the third straight season, a feat that only two others - Bill Russell (1961-1963) and Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) - had ever done.

It’s significant because it serves as yet another reminder of how historically great Bird was; not only for the Boston Celtics but for the entire league.

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To carve out a spot in history with such an elusive group speaks to Bird’s greatness as a player who at the very least should be in the conversation as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history. 

And what made that season even more special was that during the playoffs, the elite level at which Bird played during the regular season did not waiver or lessen up in the games that mattered the most. 

In the playoffs that year, he averaged 25.9 points (0.1 points less than his season average) while increasing his field goal shooting (51.7 percent in the playoffs, 49.6 in the regular season), assists (9.8, from 8.2) and steals (2.1, from 2.0).

And when the game was on the line, the only thing larger than Bird’s ability to come through in the clutch, was his confidence.

“There’s no doubt I’m in control of what I do out there,” Bird said in an interview in 1986. “I can score any number of points my team wants me to if they give me the ball in the right situations.”

And he did, over and over and over again before finally calling it quits on his Hall of Fame career in 1992. 

Throughout his time in Boston, Bird had a number of stretches of brilliance as a basketball player. 

But the three-year run in which he was the league’s best player, resulting in three consecutive league MVP awards, stands out in a career that was filled with standout moments.

NBA Rumors: Celtics 'most likely' will offer Jayson Tatum max contract after season

NBA Rumors: Celtics 'most likely' will offer Jayson Tatum max contract after season

Just before the 2019-20 NBA season was suspended due to the coronavirus, Jayson Tatum was turning into a superstar before our very eyes. Now, it appears the Boston Celtics are ready to pay him like one.

Saturday on SportsCenter, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said the C's "most likely" will offer the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft a max contract this offseason.

"If Jayson Tatum is the superstar that they envisioned when they began this whole rebuilding process when they traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for all of those draft picks hoping to land a player like this, we could see 'Glory Days' for the Celtics again," Windhorst said, as transcribed by Bleacher Report.

"But it's very much up in the air, and I'm gonna tell ya, they're gonna have to pay him like it because after this season ends, he is going to get most likely a max contract. They're going to bet that he becomes that player."

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The Celtics recently have signed both Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown to four-year contract extensions, so signing Tatum to a max deal and locking up their core for the foreseeable future seems like a no-brainer. One potential hurdle for Danny Ainge and the C's front office, however, is the effect the coronavirus pandemic could have on the league's 2020-21 salary cap.

Regardless, we can expect Boston to do whatever it takes to assure their budding superstar is here to stay. This season, the 22-year-old leads the team with 23.6 points per game while averaging 7.1 rebounds and shooting 39.8 percent from 3-point range. He was named an All-Star for the first time in his promising career.

Tatum currently is set to make $9.9 million next year on his rookie contract.