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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Celtics injuries: Kemba Walker (knee) out Sunday vs. Lakers

Celtics injuries: Kemba Walker (knee) out Sunday vs. Lakers

The Boston Celtics will have to take on the Los Angeles Lakers without Kemba Walker on Sunday afternoon.

The C's guard will miss his second straight game due to a sore left knee, the team announced Saturday. Head coach Brad Stevens revealed earlier this week Walker's knee swelled up and had to be drained. Walker also had his knee injected with Synvisc, a pain relief treatment used for knee soreness.

Robert Williams remains ruled out with a left hip bone edema, though there is hope the big man will return to the court after the Celtics wrap up their road trip.


LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Celtics-Lakers tips off Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. When these two teams last faced off on January 20, the C's cruised to a 139-107 victory.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Celtics' Brad Stevens the rare college-to-the-pros coaching success story

Celtics' Brad Stevens the rare college-to-the-pros coaching success story

LOS ANGELES — No matter what Brad Stevens does from here on out, he'll be remembered as one of the winningest coaches in Boston Celtics history. 

At 309 victories (and counting) after Friday’s 127-117 win over Minnesota, only three men — Red Auerbach (795), Tommy Heinsohn (427) and Doc Rivers (416) — have won more games pacing the Celtics sideline than Stevens. 

Making the milestone even more impressive is that Stevens came directly from the college ranks, where success has been a rarity. 

The most recent college-to-the-pros coach to struggle with the adjustment is Cleveland’s John Beilein. The former Michigan coach stepped down as the Cavs' head coach to assume a yet-to-be-determined job within the franchise. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Figuring out the secret sauce to Stevens’ success isn't easy.

He’ll be the first to tell you that a number of factors have come into play that allowed him to find success where so many of his college-to-the-pros brethren struggled. 

One of the reasons college coaches get opportunities to lead NBA teams is because of the track record of success they build up at the college level. Stevens led the Butler Bulldogs to a national runner-up finish in back-to-back seasons (2010 and 2011), a remarkable accomplishment for a mid-major program. 

For Stevens, preparing for the worst when it comes to wins and losses, was challenging at first. The lack of success Cleveland (15-40) has experienced this season was a major factor in Beilein’s decision to no longer coach the Cavs. 

“I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected,” Beilein said in a statement. “I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family's well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff."

Indeed, Stevens recalls how difficult dealing with all the losing in that first year was for him. 

As a rookie head coach with the Celtics, Stevens’ squad finished 25-57. To put that in perspective, Stevens won more games at Butler in five of his six seasons than he did in Boston as a rookie, and did so in less than half of an 82-game NBA season. 

“That first year was hard,” Stevens told NBC Sports Boston. “I remember being miserable because I never lost like that. But that’s part of it. You learn a lot about yourself, so when you get to that second year you feel a lot different.”

Those early struggles did not catch Stevens off-guard.

“Our first year was expected to be really hard,” Stevens said. “It was expected to be hard for a couple years.”

But a series of trades during the 2014-2015 season gave Boston just the jolt of confidence and talent needed to make a late-season charge. That ended with them getting the eighth and final playoff seed, where they swept in the first round by the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Sure, getting swept was disappointing. But that balanced out with the fact that Boston had found a brand of basketball that would serve as the foundation for the team’s future success. 

“We found a team that competed well together,” Stevens said. “We were able in year two to find our way, at least establishing a little bit with that group, how we wanted to play.”

Stevens is quick to credit the Celtics’ front office, ownership and his assistant coaches for providing the kind of support on and off the court, that a college coach making a jump of this magnitude, absolutely has to have. But maybe more than anything, a college coach making the jump to the NBA has to trust that the process of establishing a comfort level and a culture takes more than just one season. 

For Stevens, that’s the great disappointment in how things have played out with Beilein. While there’s a certain element of uncertainty that comes with making the jump to the pros, Beilein did his research in advance. Stevens was among the coaches he spoke with prior to taking the Cavs job. 

Beilein also spoke with Oklahoma City’s Billy Donovan, who also made the jump from a successful career in college to the NBA. 

"I talked to Billy the year before at length," Beilein told reporters earlier this season. "For like an hour on the phone. He encouraged me that he really liked (the NBA). He liked the pace of it. He really liked the coaching. He also said, ‘It’s a long season. You gotta be able to stay in there and hang through the tough times and just keep coaching.’ He encouraged me to do it." 

So did Stevens, who felt Beilein’s strength in working with young players, coupled with his innovative style of play, would make him an ideal head coach for a young Cavaliers squad. 

There’s a fairly high amount of trial and error that first year as well. 

“When I first got the job, I’m watching film of the Celtics from the year before and nobody is going to be back. This doesn’t make sense,,”Stevens recalled. 

Shortly before Stevens accepted the job, the Celtics traded away cornerstone players Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, leaving Rajon Rondo as the only starter with the team at that time, from the 2008 NBA title squad. 

But with each passing season, Stevens became more comfortable with the NBA. 

“You are in front of the media, in front of the cameras and you have to answer and do that every single day while preparing your team to play their best,” Stevens said. “It’s just a really challenging gig.”

And now in his seventh season, there’s little doubt that Stevens is comfortable with the league, its players and his role in moving Boston closer towards Banner 18.

I asked Stevens if there were one or two tips he had for a college coach who was contemplating a move to the NBA as a head coach. 

“What I always tell the college guys that are interested is, the summers are great,” Stevens said. “The middle of the season is going to throw a bunch of storms at you. That’s part of it. But that’s ... it’s a lot of fun if you keep the right perspective.”

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App