Celtics

Why the Boston Celtics won't sign your favorite buyout possibility

Why the Boston Celtics won't sign your favorite buyout possibility

The Boston Celtics’ bench contributed a measly 21 points over the first two games of the team's current four-game road trip out west and a particularly vocal group of fans used the anemic output to renew both their laments that Danny Ainge didn’t make a deadline deal to bolster Boston's second unit and that the team hasn’t yet landed help on the buyout market.

It’s absolutely fair to question Boston’s depth, if only because of the health woes they’ve perpetually endured this season. Kemba Walker’s absence on this trip has forced Marcus Smart to elevate to the first unit and, combine that with rough stretches for Brad Wanamaker and Enes Kanter, and suddenly Boston has had to lean even heavier on rookies like Romeo Langford and Grant Williams.

If the Celtics can get healthy by mid-April, and especially if Robert Williams can emerge as a reliable presence in the center rotation, then the Celtics can confidently trot out an 8-man playoff rotation and lean lightly on rookies in spot minutes.

But even a single injury to Boston’s top 5 puts the team in a tough spot. All of which has some Celtics fans scanning the buyout scrapheap daily and pondering whether there’s an upgrade to be found.

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Championship favorites like the Bucks (Marvin Williams) and Lakers (Markieff Morris) swooped up some of the more intriguing options while the Clippers elected to roll the dice with Reggie Jackson. The remaining buyout pile is paper thin, especially among players with size that Boston might covet to supplement its perimeter depth.

Ainge has admitted that nothing currently on the market has left the Celtics tripping over themselves to cut a player from their full 15-man roster in order to add a free agent. Any player currently on an NBA roster must be bought out by March 1 in order to be playoff-eligible for another team. Which means that Boston will pretty much know what’s available by week’s end (playoff-eligible players can be signed any time before the end of the regular season).

Let’s comb through some of the more popular names, some that have been bought out and others that Celtics fans still have their fingers crossed for, and evaluate the possibilities:

TRISTAN THOMPSON

Maybe the only player that could truly alter a top contender’s playoff chances, Thompson remains under contract in Cleveland and it’s not likely he’ll hit the open market. The Cavaliers can use Thompson’s Bird rights this summer to both pay him a more lucrative contract than he’d otherwise find on the free-agent market and then facilitate a sign-and-trade that could bring back valuable assets for a rebuilding team.

ISAIAH THOMAS

It’s the made-for-Hollywood moment, right? Beleaguered former star returns to a beloved former home and rekindles the magic. Those romanticizing what Thomas did with those 2016-17 Celtics are blinded by the limitations of both player and team. The Celtics prefer spot-up shooting and defensive versatility from any addition but Thomas needs the ball in his hands and his defensive limitations are well-documented. Yes, it’d admittedly be fascinating to see if the Celtics and IT could catch lightning in a bottle again but it’s simply not the right fit, the right circumstances to run it back again.

DEMARCUS COUSINS

The Lakers cut Cousins knowing it was unlikely he could get on the court this season (he tore his ACL back in August, this after working his way back from an Achilles tear). Yes, the Celtics could use pure size given the daunting big men in the East. No, it’s not fair to think that Cousins could get healthy quick enough to help them this year. Cousins seems content to continue rehabbing around the Lakers and explore a second chance with the team this summer.

EVAN TURNER

Speaking of beloved old friends, Turner got dealt from Atlanta to Minnesota at the trade deadline and seems to be waiting to see if a buyout is in his future. A Brad Stevens favorite, Turner would provide a steady ball-handler with playoff experience. The downsides: He doesn’t provide much-needed shooting (he hasn’t made a 3-pointer in 251 minutes of floor time this season) and , when healthy, the Celtics are well-stocked on the wings.

THE WILDCARDS

There simply isn’t a lot of intriguing names currently on the buyout market. Journeyman Tim Frazier knows the Celtics system a bit after his time in Maine but that feels like it would be an overreaction to Wanamaker’s recent hiccup. Same with Trey Burke, who has virtually no playoff experience. Nene has size; he’s also 37 year olds and couldn’t get on the floor for the Rockets this season. Dion Waiters is subtraction by addition. Maybe others will pop onto the market before Sunday. The Celtics would be especially intrigued by someone with size, especially if that person can consistently knock down 3s. But if the upgrade is marginal over what they’ve got, the Celtics will be content to roll with the current mix. Boston can also examine the G-League or overseas for a potential wildcard addition. 

Ultimately, Boston's playoff 8th man might already be in-house. Williams will get a final scan on his balky hip this week and, barring a setback, the team can start easing him back into game action. Romeo Langford has seen an uptick in minutes with Walker sidelined. Semi Ojeleye’s muscular frame could help in series against teams like Milwaukee. 

Health would be Boston’s best late-season acquisition and it’s far more important to the overall success of the team than anyone Boston could add for the final weeks of the season.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Jazz, which begins Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10:30 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

BOSTON -- We should have seen this coming from Jaylen Brown. 

It’s not like he didn’t clue us in to how he was built differently than most players coming into the NBA. 

His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Brown showed absolutely no nerves, anxiety or fear of James as he went on to score a then-career-high 19 points in what was his fifth game as a pro. 

From there, Brown continued to show flashes of being an above-average talent, displaying an innate ability to successfully transition to whatever role he’s cast to play. 

With the NBA season at a standstill now, it provides us an opportunity to take in what Brown has done thus far. 

More significantly, it allows us to take inventory on what Brown’s body of work thus far tells us is on the horizon. 

The 23-year-old Brown is on course to establish himself as an All-Star whose strength lies in his versatility to impact the game at both ends of the floor. 

This season, Brown is averaging 20.3 points per game, joining teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker as part of the only trio of NBA teammates this season with each averaging at least 20 points per game. 

Of that threesome, Brown’s inclusion is the most surprising when you consider it wasn’t a given that he would start, let alone drop 20 points a night, at the start of the season. 

A legit case could be made that Brown should have been an All-Star this season, with some surmising a top-two record by the Celtics prior to the break would have been enough to get him in along with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. 

But it’s fitting that Brown’s time to shine will have to wait. 

Because on many levels, that’s been the narrative surrounding his NBA career. 

And while it would have certainly deterred some and disappointed others, it only drove Brown to continue working on his game, proving his naysayers wrong - including those who booed Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck when he announced that Boston had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

“Oh, I remember,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston recently. “I definitely remember.”

But instead of dwelling on what has happened, Brown is more locked into what the future holds for both him and the Celtics. 

“Just keep getting better, keep grinding, keep working on all parts of my game,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done, to get where I’m at. So why stop now?”

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Want to witness one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history? Just tune into NBC Sports Boston on Sunday night.

Our "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals on Friday night -- continues Sunday with a throwback: Game 2 of Boston's 1986 NBA playoffs first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.

That April 20, 1986, game at TD Garden was a defining moment for then-23-year-old Michael Jordan, who went off for an NBA postseason-record 63 points.

But Celtics fans can appreciate Jordan's masterful performance knowing that Boston outlasted Chicago 135-131 in double overtime and swept the series en route to an eventual NBA title.

The broadcast begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and as an added bonus, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- who scored 24 points in this game while defending Jordan -- will join Brian Scalabrine to provide real-time commentary throughout the game.

Other reasons to watch:

- A vintage performance from Celtics star Larry Bird, who scored a team-high 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

- The 1980s Celtics at their peak: Bird, Ainge, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton all scored double figures.

- Jordan hitting two free throws in the final seconds of regulation to force the first overtime.

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