Celtics

What does the Pelicans' dumping Demps mean to the Celtics in their pursuit of Anthony Davis?

What does the Pelicans' dumping Demps mean to the Celtics in their pursuit of Anthony Davis?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The news that the New Orleans Pelicans’ embattled GM Dell Demps was fired doesn’t come as a shock.

But the timing? Yeah, that’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

While it’s too soon to say how the process of trading Anthony Davis will play out now, getting rid of Demps isn’t necessarily a good thing for the Celtics. Remember, it was Demps who shunned multiple offers for Davis leading up to the trade deadline, including a massive package from the Los Angeles Lakers (Davis’ preferred landing spot).

What’s not clear is whether Demps simply didn’t like the package the Lakers and other teams put together, or whether Danny Ainge had convinced him and the Pelicans brass to hold off on doing a deal until this summer when Boston could enter the fray and potentially offer a deal that would include Jayson Tatum.

That may have very well been the final straw for ownership, which may have seen the Lakers’ offer -- pretty much every young prospect with a pulse who could play -- as being one they should have accepted.

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According a tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans ownership group is hell-bent on getting the most bang for their buck in moving Davis.

Former Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry has been named interim GM in New Orleans, according to Wojnarowski.

It has been a well-established fact that when it comes to blending young, superstar talent with multiple draft picks -- a given for just about any team hitting the reset button the way the Pelicans now have no choice but to do -- the Celtics have the ability, more than any other franchise, to meet their asking price on all platforms of preference.

But the Lakers’ offer included young talent such as Kyle Kuzma, who is one of the better young scorers in the NBA, and Lonzo Ball, who has exceptional court vision and a jump shot that while not a thing of beauty, will likely get better as he grows and matures.

That's two, high-impact rotation players still on their rookie deals with loads of potential.

However, the Lakers' offer did not have the draft pick dynamic that a package from Boston could provide. The Lakers’ picks would be tied to their respective success (which would presumably be greater with Davis and thus make those picks weaker), while Boston has multiple picks from other teams whose future on many fronts aren’t as rosy. Those picks have the potential to be of greater significance in helping jump-start the Pelicans reboot in a what will soon be an Anthony Davis-free era.

Here’s where the waters get muddier for all involved.

Multiple league sources have confirmed that Tatum will be a key talking point in any serious conversations the Celtics have with the Pelicans on a deal for Davis. But with Demps being fired and Davis’ camp continuing to say that his focus remains to still be a Laker come 2020, teams -- including the Celtics -- are going to be even more reluctant in putting together a massive package for what would essentially be a one-year rental.

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The thinking for Boston of course, is that Davis will arrive, enjoy the success he knew would never come his way in New Orleans, and sign on for the long haul along with Kyrie Irving who will be a free agent this summer.

And if the Lakers stick to their guns and don’t put forth an offer similar to the one they presented earlier, that clears a much smoother path for Davis to become a Celtic.

But with Demps out of the way, don’t be surprised if the Pelicans re-engage the Lakers and a comparable deal to the one presented to Demps, is offered up. And that will put Boston and Los Angeles the likely last two teams standing, with a potential trade for Davis that could dramatically affect the course of each franchise’s future for years to come.

The Celtics knew who they were dealing with when it came to negotiations with Demps, and that was something that clearly worked in their favor. Otherwise, Demps would have quickly taken the Lakers offer, moved Davis, and most likely be criticized and fired.

Now the Celtics are dealing with a greater unknown in getting a Davis deal done, something no Celtics fan should feel good about.

Boston has the kind of assets to put together a deal that meets most if not all of what the Pelicans presumably are looking for.

But will that be enough?

Stay tuned . . . 

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

For Day 3 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our panel to take a trip to the hardware store and predict which Celtics player might bring home some of the NBA’s hardware by winning a postseason award.

Outside of maybe only Most Valuable Player, there’s an argument to be made that a Celtics player, coach, or executive could muscle their way into the conversation for the league’s other top honors. Alas, you’d have to rewind to the 2007-2008 season to find the last time the Celtics found themselves in that spotlight when Kevin Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.

Celtics players haven’t muscled their way into the voting much in recent seasons. Last year, only Marcus Smart charted on an award while finishing eighth in Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017-18, while Al Horford was fifth in Defensive Player of the Year balloting that season. Isaiah Thomas was fifth in both MVP and Most Improved voting for the 2016-17 campaign.

But if the Celtics are to outkick most prognosticator’s expectations this season, they’ll need someone on their roster to at least vault into the conversation for these awards.

So who is most likely to earn themselves a shiny trophy?

Our vote went to Marcus Smart for Sixth Man of the Year. With the glut of wing depth this season, we believe there’s a strong chance that Smart will initially shuffle back to his familiar bench role, allowing coach Brad Stevens to trot out a versatile starting lineup featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and a big (with Enes Kanter the early favorite to hold that starter job initially).

Stevens has long preferred to deploy Smart in a reserve role, allowing Smart to set the tone for the second unit while also providing another ball-handler for the second group. The Celtics went away from that last season when Smart elevated from a bench role in November and started 60 games overall. Kyrie Irving routinely advocated for Smart, noting how much he enjoyed playing alongside him at the start of games, which only solidified Smart’s spot with the first unit.

A similar script could certainly unfold this season. But it would be the most Marcus Smart thing if he’s the player that embraces shuffling to the second unit and allows Hayward, Tatum, and Brown to play with the first group.

Yes, the Sixth Man award tends to honor a high-scoring player on one of the league’s top teams. But if the Celtics overachieve this season, there will be extra attention on the player(s) that spearheaded the second unit. Smart, with his All-Defense pedigree and improving offensive efficiency, could dive into the conversation for Sixth Man the same way he pounces on a loose ball.

Abby Chin: Gordon Hayward, Sixth Man of the Year

I believe Hayward will be almost — if not fully — back to his Utah self this season. But, with the glut of talent on the wing, and Hayward's ability to facilitate the offense on that second unit, it might make the most sense for him to come off the bench again. I think Hayward will finish games on the court, he just may not start there.

 

Sherrod Blakely: Brad Stevens, Coach of the Year

The Celtics will finish with a record that exceeds the expectations of many, and will include wins over East favorites Philly and Milwaukee.

 

Max Lederman: Gordon Hayward, Most Improved

Hayward has been in the lab all summer working on getting back to the player he was before the injury. He had a few flashes last season, but was a shell of his former self. I know this award tends to go to a young breakout player but I think a really strong start to the season could make some folks consider taking a different approach with their votes.

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Isaiah Thomas out 6 to 8 weeks after latest injury for ex-Celtics star

Isaiah Thomas out 6 to 8 weeks after latest injury for ex-Celtics star

Isaiah Thomas just can't seem to stay healthy since leaving the Boston Celtics two years ago.

Thomas underwent left thumb surgery Wednesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks as he recovers, the Washington Wizards announced.

Thomas suffered the injury -- a rupture of the radial collateral ligament in his thumb -- during "routine workouts" Monday, according to the team.

It's another tough break for the 30-year-old point guard, who's appeared in a total of 76 games over the last three seasons due to a nagging hip injury that required surgery last March.

Thomas' hip injury, which he sustained during his career season for the Celtics in 2016-17, essentially derailed his career to date, as he's bounced between the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets since then.

Thomas finally appeared healthy after signing with the Wizards in July, but it appears his Washington debut will have to wait. The Celtics' first matchup with the Wizards isn't until Nov. 13 -- exactly eight weeks from Wednesday -- so there's a chance Thomas can return for a Boston reunion.

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