Celtics

Tom Thibodeau on Celtics: 'They're going to be dangerous in the playoffs'

Tom Thibodeau on Celtics: 'They're going to be dangerous in the playoffs'

As a former Boston Celtics assistant coach, Tom Thibodeau was one of the chief architects behind a Celtics defense that ranked among the best in the league.

That defensive mindset remains strong in Boston, although you wouldn’t know it by the way the Celtics have been playing at that end of the floor recently.

Fired in January by the Minnesota Timberwolves as their head coach and president of basketball operations, Thibodeau has been making the rounds, visiting former colleagues and organizations that he has worked with previously.

He was in town recently to catch a Celtics shoot-around and later a game against the Miami Heat.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about having the defensive-minded Thibodeau around and getting his take on the team’s defense.

“He’s probably so mad at watching it,” Stevens said.

While there’s no question Boston’s defense has undergone some slippage the past couple of months, you can count Thibodeau among those who believes they will be fine at that end of the floor come playoff time.

“They have length defensively, with multiple guys that can defend multiple positions at a high level,” Thibodeau told NBC Sports Boston. “They have great leadership at that end of the floor with Al (Horford), (Marcus) Smart and Aron Baynes. They have all the pieces that are necessary. They have great talent, great coaching, management, ownership, everything they need is here… they’re going to be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.”

That’s the goal of course, even if their regular-season play suggests otherwise.

After spending the early stages of this season ranked among the top two or three teams in the league defensively, the Celtics are now sixth in the league with a defensive rating of 105.1.

But since the All-Star break, Boston’s defense has taken a major nosedive to rank 20th overall with a 109.4 defensive rating.

Even though Boston’s defense is trending in the wrong direction, Thibodeau wasn’t in town offering up any kind of defensive elixir to what ailed the Celtics.

Quite the opposite of that, actually.

Thibodeau’s time in Boston was about him picking up tips for himself going forward, as much if not more than anything else.

“You always look to see if there’s something you like that you can add to what you’re doing,” Thibodeau said. “Is there a way to do something better? We always pick each other’s brains to see what we can add. So, this is a great place to do it. There’s a number of great coaches on this staff besides Brad, who is a great coach."

Thibodeau added, “Like I said, we’re always looking at what everybody’s doing. You’re always trying to learn and grow.”

And for Thibodeau, that growth will likely include a return at some point to coaching.

“We’ll see,” he said. “Just whatever your circumstances are you want to make the best of those. For me now it’s traveling around, relaxing, enjoying the time off, recharging and see what happens down the road.”

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Kyrie Irving was mulling Celtics exit in December, Spencer Dinwiddie says

Kyrie Irving was mulling Celtics exit in December, Spencer Dinwiddie says

In early October 2018, Kyrie Irving stood in front of a TD Garden crowd and said he planned on re-signing with the Boston Celtics the following offseason.

Two months later, he already was plotting a move elsewhere.

That's according to Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who told The Athletic's Shams Charania that Irving contacted him in December about the possibility of playing in New York for the Knicks or Nets.

"The first time he reached out was maybe like December, in terms of loosely talking about it, because he was still focused on his season and everything," Dinwiddie said.

Dinwiddie had befriended Irving in September when the two attended a Harvard Business School course together. And when Irving contacted him, the Nets guard got the sense he may be open to leaving Boston.

"You could just tell from the conversation that it was a little bit different," Dinwiddie said. "... Actually, it definitely was December because he made a comment to me, he was like, 'New York might be real fun next year,' because I hadn't signed yet. ... That's when I was first tipped off to the whole thing."

Dinwiddie had yet to sign his contract extension with Brooklyn at the time, but after landing the deal on Dec. 13, he embarked on a campaign to convince Irving and Kevin Durant to come to the Nets instead of joining the Knicks.

The 26-year-old said he spoke to Irving "a ton" about Brooklyn's style of play, a family-oriented organizational mindset under general manager Sean Marks and a top-notch training staff.

"Of course I'm going to be like, 'Bro, it's perfect for you,' " Dinwiddie added. " ' And (head coach) Kenny (Atkinson) gonna let you rock.' "

Irving apparently managed to keep his intentions from the Celtics for a few more months, as president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he didn't get the sense his point guard was leaving until March or April.

But Dinwiddie's revelation is proof that Irving either soured on the C's very quickly or was simply being disingenuous in October.

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Grant Williams confirms new Celtics jersey number on Instagram story

Grant Williams confirms new Celtics jersey number on Instagram story

The Boston Celtics' roster is starting to take shape, which means one thing: It's time for the rookies to pick their real jersey numbers.

Grant Williams, who originally was assigned No. 40 with the Celtics, had digit decisions on the mind early Monday morning -- and may have settled on a choice.

Here's a screenshot from the No. 22 overall' pick's Instagram story:

Williams wore No. 2 at Tennessee, but that's not an option in Boston, where No. 2 is retired for legendary team president and coach Red Auerbach. It sounds like Williams is intent on taking No. 12, though.

That number is certainly available after Terry Rozier signed with the Charlotte Hornets in free agency this summer. No. 12 has gotten quite the use, too: 33 players have worn the number -- including Jerry Sichting, Dominique Wilkins, Chris Herren and Ricky Davis -- making it the most-used number in team history.

Williams played well enough in NBA Summer League to earn himself an official contract with Boston, and it seems he's ready to become a "real" member of the team by snagging the uniform of his choosing.

UPDATE (Wednesday, July 17, 3 p.m. ET): Williams indeed will wear No. 12 for the Celtics this season, according to the latest update on his Instagram story.

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