Rich Paul's comments on Anthony Davis shouldn't scare off Celtics

Rich Paul's comments on Anthony Davis shouldn't scare off Celtics

Despite Rich Paul’s latest public proclamation that Anthony Davis does not see a long-term future in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge ought not be deterred from his quest to land the superstar talent if he deems that's Boston’s best path to immediate title contention.

In a recently published Sports Illustrated story, Paul, referencing himself in the third person, says, “Don’t blame Rich Paul,” if the Celtics sacrifice assets this summer only to watch Davis walk away in free agency in the summer of 2020.

“[The Celtics] can trade for [Davis], but it’ll be for one year,” cautions Paul. 

Yes, Paul’s comments add another layer of intrigue to the high-stakes game of chicken that the super agent is playing while acutely aware that Boston has long coveted his client. It would be easier to heed Paul’s warnings if he didn’t have the obvious conflict of interest in being LeBron James’ agent (and pal).

Paul’s declaration, which might have come as early as March based on the timeline offered in Sports Illustrated’s story, leaves some Celtics fans wondering if it’s safer to embrace the idea of building around the team’s current young core, and simply move on from both Davis and Irving if they don’t desire to be here.

All of which us leaves us replaying one of Ainge’s more notable quotes from his recent press gathering.

"There's always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risk.”

If acquiring Davis is Boston’s best chance of retaining Irving, then the team has to consider it. That superstar duo, combined with a returning core that would likely still include Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, and at least one of Jaylen Brown or Marcus Smart, would position the Celtics as legitimate contenders in a league that could look very different next season. Yes, last year showed that it’s dangerous to make any assumptions about team potential but let’s remember that Davis was maybe the best player in basketball two seasons ago and would have three former All-Stars around him in Boston. That team should be pretty good if not overwhelmed (again) by the expectations that would exist.

Yes, there is obvious risk in mortgaging young talent and prime draft picks for a flight risk. There is even more risk if the only way to retain Irving is to sign him to a 1-and-1 deal that would essentially allow him to return to free agency in the summer of 2020, setting up a scenario in which Davis, Irving, and maybe even Kevin Durant, depending on how his situation plays out in the aftermath of his Achilles injury, hit the open market at the same time.

Celtics fans worry that the cupboards would be bare if Boston traded prime assets, including Jayson Tatum, for Davis, and then watched both Irving and Davis bail after next season. Remember, though, that the Celtics would still have paths to remain competitive in that scenario.

The Celtics’ books for the 2020-21 season are currently quite clean. Right now, Marcus Smart is the only guaranteed contract at $13.4 million. Hayward owns a $34.2 million player option while the Celtics are currently scheduled to have team options on Guerschon Yabusele ($4.8 million), Robert Williams ($2 million), and Semi Ojeleye ($1.8 million). Jaylen Brown, if not previously extended or traded, would have a $8.6 million qualifying offer while wading into restricted free agency.

Even if Davis and Irving both elected to move on, Boston could consider everything from sign-and-trade avenues to recoup proven talent to simply renouncing the rights to all of their potential free agents and examining the bountiful cap room they might have to work with. It’s not inconceivable that Boston could open enough cap space to pursue a new star duo to complement whatever young talent remains (making it important that Boston maintain at least some of its draft assets in the pursuit of Davis).

Is it a riskier path? Undoubtedly. But there is no guarantee with the alternative. The Celtics can build around a young core of Tatum and Brown but would need both to makes strides and have Hayward revert to All-Star form in order to have legitimate title potential next season. Remember, too, that Boston is going to have to pay Brown a hefty salary as early as the summer of 2020, limiting the team’s options to put talent around that young core further down the road.

It comes down to risk management. Heck, the Celtics could mortgage their future to make a Davis deal before draft night and not even know if it would guarantee Irving’s return (Ainge said last week that he’s uncertain if there are moves that would increase Irving’s desire to return). No Irving would make it even tougher to sell Davis on staying long-term, though certainly Paul’s hard-line stance could soften once Davis is actually here. Plus, the league is in such flux this summer, it’s hard to know exactly the situations that could attract players a year from now.

Which is why we keep coming back to what Ainge said.

"There's always risk in making deals. We’re not afraid of risk.”

The Celtics have long had their eyes on Davis. Maybe there’s a point at which the risk simply isn’t worth the pursuit. But an agent with an agenda probably isn’t the tipping point.

Click here for A. Sherrod Blakely's NBA Mock Draft 5.0>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

AP photo

Celtics vs. Kings Instant Overreactions: C's starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence?

The Boston Celtics had their 10-game win streak snapped on Sunday as they fell to the Sacramento Kings, 100-99.

It came down to the final buzzer as Marcus Smart's last-second floater hung on the rim, but failed to fall into the basket.

Here are three instant overreactions from the loss, which brings the C's to 10-2 on the season:

1. The C's are starting to feel Gordon Hayward's absence.

Verdict: Overreaction

The Celtics have looked out of sync offensively in their last couple of games. Friday night's close call vs. the lowly Golden State Warriors left plenty to be desired, and their struggles in Sunday's loss didn't do much to inspire confidence either as they turned the ball over 14 times.

If we see one or two more lackluster performances like this on the West Coast road trip, it may be time to start counting down the days until Hayward's return. But for now, I'm willing to give the C's talented offensive unit the benefit of the doubt.

2. Jaylen Brown and Buddy Hield both are showing they're worth every penny.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

Jaylen Brown finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Once again, he was one of Boston's standout performers on the offensive side and is backing up his statement about his game improving.

As for Hield, he continues to reward the Kings for signing him to a four-year, $86 million contract extension last month. The Celtics simply had no answer for the Indiana product, who dropped 35 points while going 7-for-12 in 3-pointers. Hield also drilled a key 3 late in the fourth quarter to help Sacramento come out on top.

3. Semi Ojeleye is the new Steph Curry.

Verdict: Not an overreaction

OK, fine, it may be a SLIGHT overreaction. Still, Ojeleye surprised everyone by going 3-for-4 from beyond the arc and tallying 11 points off the bench. He was one of the bright spots in the Celtics' disappointing loss.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Kings Takeaways: C's 10-game win streak snapped in Sacramento

Getty Images

Celtics-Kings Takeaways: C's 10-game win streak snapped in Sacramento

So. Close. 

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winning floater as time expired hit seemingly every part of the rim, paused for a moment before rolling out as time expired in Boston’s 100-99 loss to Sacramento. 

‘It was a good look in that moment,” Boston’s Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss. 

The loss snapped Boston’s 10-game winning streak, in addition to preventing them from being the first team in NBA history to win 11 in a row after dropping the season opener.

Sacramento (5-7), after dropping their first five games this season, have now won five of their last seven with the lone losses being a road game at defending NBA champion Toronto and a controversial defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.  

After spending most of the first half playing catch-up, the Celtics — in all-too predictable form — swung the game’s momentum in their favor in the third quarter to take a 75-71 lead into the fourth quarter despite the offensive fireworks put on by Sacramento’s Buddy Hield (game-high 35 points). 

In the fourth, Boston’s slim lead didn’t last long with the Kings tying the game at 75 less than a minute into the quarter, only for Carsen Edwards to drain a 3-pointer to put Boston back on top, 78-75.

Things remained close for the rest of the game before Smart’s potential game-winner rolled out as time expired.  

Here are some takeaways from Boston’s one-point loss at Sacramento.


We have come to expect the best from Kemba Walker when the game matters most: the fourth quarter. That was not the case on Sunday, with Walker going scoreless in the fourth quarter to finish with just 15 points. You certainly love the season-high nine assists he tallied, but Walker’s greatest impact on this team night-in, night-out is his scoring down the stretch.


The Kings gave Hield a four-year contract extension worth as much as $106 million, and he showed on Sunday why he's worth every penny. Time and time again, he came up with one big shot after another while often being draped by Boston's best perimeter defender — and one of the best in the NBA — Marcus Smart.  Hield led all scorers with 35 points on an efficient 14-for-24 shooting performance from the field.


One of the biggest keys to the Celtics’ fast start to the season has been their ability to limit their mistakes. They came into Sunday’s game averaging a league-low 11.7 per game. On Sunday, the Celtics committed 12 of their 15 turnovers in the first half alone.


Ojeleye hit a big 3-pointer in the second quarter, capping off a 7-0 Celtics run to bring Boston within four points (36-32) with 6:30 to play in the first half. He would finish the day with 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field, including a career-high-tying three 3-pointers. It was indeed a breakout scoring game for Ojeleye who came into Sunday’s game having scored just 14 points in Boston’s 11 games this season. 


While his play doesn’t necessarily find a home on the Celtics’ highlight reel, there’s no getting around the impact that Daniel Theis continues to make on this team. Usually he does it by excelling at intangibles such as setting screens, boxing out and rolling to the basket. But on Sunday, Theis’s impact was made in the more traditional sense: getting points. He finished with a season-high 14 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double this season. It was also the second time in the last three games Theis has reached double figures scoring. 


The Celtics did not shoot the ball well against the Kings, but their aggressive play offensively led to a number of trips to the free throw line, which was a huge difference-maker in the game’s outcome. For the game, the Celtics were 21-for-24 from the line, compared to the Kings who were just 10-for-12 at the free throw line, which included Richaun Holmes’ game-winning free throws with 13.3 seconds to play. 

How Tacko Fall, Tremont Waters fared for Red Claws Sunday>>>>>

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Suns, which tips off Monday at 8 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 9 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.