Celtics

NBA Rumors: Three-way trade to bring Al Horford back to Boston was discussed

NBA Rumors: Three-way trade to bring Al Horford back to Boston was discussed

When Al Horford claimed his free-agent path could have been different if he'd known Kemba Walker was coming to the Celtics to replace Kyrie Irving, many of us pointed back to the nearly impossible three-team sign-and-trade Danny Ainge would have had to execute in order to land both Walker and Horford in one move. 

Boston would have received Walker from the Hornets, sent Terry Rozier and his new contract to Charlotte and given Irving to Brooklyn along with an additional asset as an incentive to help the Celtics execute the trade. The Celtics could then re-sign Horford to the contract he wanted and then operated as an over-the-cap team to legally acquire Walker. 

As Chris Forsberg outlined earlier this week, the major hurdle in the deal was presumably convincing the Nets to help a conference rival acquire an All-Star point guard in free agency without having to give up its All-Star center.

According to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, such a trade was discussed, and the Celtics were prepared to meet the Nets' asking price to execute the trade. However, the deal never got to the final stages because of Horford's commitment to the Philadelphia 76ers. He honored his commitment and signed a four-year $97 million contract with Philly on June 30. 

The Celtics already had Walker's commitment days before free agency began, so Horford was seemingly locked in on Philadelphia well beforehand. Afterward, the Celtics were reportedly stomping their feet at teams tampering with Horford before he decided to opt-out of his contract with the Celtics. The level of tampering that occurred this summer kickstarted an effort by the NAB to crack down on such behavior moving forward. 

But it's all over now. Walker is a Celtic, Horford is a Sixer and Boston now must figure out how to navigate a Horford-Joel Embiid frontcourt without any proven interior defender on the roster. 

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Bigger competition on the horizon for Daniel Theis, Celtics defenders

Bigger competition on the horizon for Daniel Theis, Celtics defenders

BOSTON — The concerns about the Boston Celtics and their bigs on the defensive end have been well documented, discussed and dissected all season. 

But in what has been a never-ending storm of questions, the answer to emerge for some — but not all — of the team’s big man issues, can be summed up in two words: Daniel Theis. 

His play for the most part won’t be included in your sizzle reel or end-of-the-season plays to remember. 

But there is no question that a big part of why Boston (17-5) has been among the best teams in the NBA most of this season has been the contributions made by the third-year center, who has emerged as the leader of what has been a pack of potential bigs contending to play big minutes this season. 

And the challenge awaiting Theis and the Celtics’ other bigs won’t get much bigger than this week as they face Indiana and Philadelphia on back-to-back nights, with each team’s success fueled in part by the play of not one, but two talented bigs. 

For the Pacers, we’re talking about Domantas Sabonis, who is playing at an All-Star level this season, along with Myles Turner, who has also been solid at both ends of the floor for Indiana. 

The Sixers are led by Joel Embiid, but the Celtics know better than most not to sleep on the play of Al Horford, who spent the previous three seasons in Boston. 

Boston will continue to employ a bigs-by-committee approach, one that will more likely than not begin with Theis.

“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help the team,” Theis recently told NBC Sports Boston. “Rebound, defend, block a shot, whatever they need me to do, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

More than anything else, the Celtics have leaned on him to be a presence in the middle when it comes to contesting shots. 

And so far he has been up to the challenge. 

Statisitics from NBA.com show that those who shoot against Theis are only connecting on 42.3 percent of their shots. 

To give that the proper context, consider this:

There are only three centers in the NBA whose defense has yielded a lower shooting percentage, and two of those centers are Anthony Davis (38.2 percent) and Rudy Gobert (39.4) with the third in the middle of the top three being Miami’s Bam Adebayo (38.7). 

“He (Theis) doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does for this team,” Marcus Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “But we know, the players, the coaching staff, we know how important he is to what we want to do every night.”

Theis is quick to acknowledge any success or praise he deserves is more about what the team is doing and not just his work defensively. 

“We have good defenders, but we can’t be a really good team defensively unless we lean on each other,” Theis said. “I play well defensively when the team plays well, and when the team plays well, I usually play well; not always, but most of the time.”

Theis’ play defensively is no surprise to the Boston Celtics. 

That was among the many reasons why they signed him two years ago. 

While in Germany, Theis not only won championships, but also stood out as one of the best defenders in Europe. 

A four-time German League All-Star (2014-2017) and three-time German League champion (2015-2017), Theis was also named the German League’s best defender in 2017.

Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker won a German League title in 2016 with Theis when the two played for Bros Bamberg. 

“Nothing surprises me about Theis,” Wanamaker told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s a good player. He can rebound, defend, shoot the ball better than most people know. Back then when we played in Germany, he did a lot of the little things, the dirty work, for us to win and he’s doing a lot of that same stuff now.”

While he may be contributing in a multitude of areas, defense has been his focus. 

It’ll need to be that way with two of the more rugged teams up next. 

“It’s something I always wanted to do, wanted to be good at,” Theis said when asked about playing defense. “When I play, I want to win. And I know to win, you have to play good defense, have a good team defensively.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Celtics had a terrific celebration planned for Grant Williams' first 3-pointer

Even the best-laid plans go awry when you're too excited about your teammate making his first career 3-pointer.

Celtics rookie Grant Williams finally hit a deep ball Monday night in the third quarter of Boston's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, ending an 0-for-25 spell to begin his NBA career and causing his teammates to go wild on the bench.

It was a hilarious celebration for a cool moment -- but not the celebration the Celtics had planned.

Backup point guard Brad Wanamaker told the Boston Sports Journal's Brian Robb what should have happened after Williams' first 3-pointer.

If you watch the video, Wanamaker actually stuck to the plan and "passed out" on the sideline, but the rest of his teammates were too excited (shocked, perhaps?) to remember to follow suit.

We appreciate the effort, Brad.

According to Williams, his teammates' celebration also included some colorful language.

"A lot of it was graphic," Williams told reporters when asked what the Celtics were yelling at him after his 3-pointer. "Especially Carsen (Edwards), you know. But outside of that, it was a good moment, just because they were celebrating me."

It helped that the C's were cruising to a 110-88 win over the Cavs, giving them full latitude to celebrate Williams first deep ball however they wanted.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Pacers, which tips off Wednesday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.