Celtics

Why Pelicans' handling of Anthony Davis could open door for Celtics

Why Pelicans' handling of Anthony Davis could open door for Celtics

For all the Anthony Davis trade chatter, the ball still is in the New Orleans Pelicans' court.

After all, Davis is under contract through the 2019-20 season, and the Pelicans are expected to offer him a supermax contract extension this offseason. The 25-year-old also has insisted publicly he's committed to New Orleans through the end of his contract, at the very least.

So, why all the buzz he'll skip town to join the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics?

It starts with the Pelicans.

In a column Thursday for NBC Sports, NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh made a case for why New Orleans has "failed" Davis since drafting him in 2012. Among Haberstroh's revelations: That the Pelicans aren't the top priority for their owners, the Benson family, which also runs the New Orleans Saints.

"The organization only cares about the Saints," an NBA executive told Haberstroh.

Per Haberstroh, that issue manifests itself on the Pelicans' medical staff, which is "filled with football résumés." The team's head physician, Dr. Misty Suri, actually served dual roles with the Pelicans and Saints until 2017, when the Saints fired him. He still has a job with the Pelicans, though, a squad whose players have missed the second-most games due to injury or illness in the entire NBA over the last five seasons.

Other execs don't think that's a coincidence.

"This pattern isn’t a total anomaly if you ask rival team executives, who have long chided the Pelicans’ medical team for being run by 'football guys' instead of those who have experience in the NBA," Haberstroh writes.

The Pelicans' laundry list of injuries combined with poor personnel decisions have resulted in New Orleans reaching the playoffs just twice in the last seven seasons. Davis recently admitted he's concerned more about legacy than money, so with the Pelicans enduring another rough season -- they're 14th in the Western Conference at 17-22 -- it's worth wondering whether Davis finally will request a trade.

"It’s becoming harder and harder to blame Davis if he decides to try his luck somewhere else," Haberstroh writes.

If that's the case, the Celtics certainly would come calling. Boston reportedly has been eyeing Davis for years and arguably has the best assets to land the superstar big man in a trade.

Then again, the Los Angeles Lakers may have a leg up on the C's, considering LeBron James shares Davis' agent. But the prospect of Davis even being available is good news for Celtics fans.

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.

 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Forsberg: A year later, these Celtics don't crack from adversity

Forsberg: A year later, these Celtics don't crack from adversity

After the Boston Celtics’ 20th game of the 2018-19 season, Marcus Smart was speechless. And not in the good way.

On that night in late November, the Celtics lost for the fourth time in five games while dropping to 10-10 overall. A smoldering Smart, who had already bristled after a rough road trip out west earlier in the month, considered his team’s general lethargy and fumed, “Until we [change our ways], we’ll continue to get our ass whooped.” Kyrie Irving wondered if the team was near, “rock bottom."

Fast forward a year and, no longer encumbered by the heavy burden of expectations, it’s all sunshine and puppy dogs in CelticsLand. The 2019-20 Celtics are 15-5 and, despite being pegged a Tier 2 team in the East, they have asserted themselves as a legitimate East contender even while playing at less than full strength for nearly the entirety of the season.

And therein lies the biggest difference between last year’s Celtics and this year’s squad. When last year’s team encountered adversity, or things started to go sideways, that group splintered and cracked. When this year’s squad hits bumps in the road, the players stick together.

Take Wednesday night against the Heat as an example. Boston, playing without two starters, fell behind early by double digits. Last year’s team probably would have packed it in; this year’s team ripped off a late first-half run and controlled the rest of the game against a team that had been ahead of them in the standings.

That resiliency is a particularly endearing trait of this year’s team. This year’s Celtics squad competes every night. Take away a jagged opening-night loss in Philadelphia and Boston has stuck close in every other game this season, their other four losses coming by a combined 13 points.

It’s almost certainly unfair that we keep comparing and contrasting last year’s Celtics team to this year’s version. This year’s version has stressed a desire to focus on the now. Alas, the juxtaposition is undeniably stark and you can’t acknowledge where the Celtics are now without remembering what they went through.

Last year’s team internalized their struggles, which caused unnecessary friction and things always seemed tense around the team. This year’s squad gets contributions throughout the roster, celebrates each other’s successes, and then engages in a playful team snowball fight.

How this year’s team reacts to large-scale adversity remains to be seen. Boston’s longest losing streak is two games and, even then, the Celtics came away encouraged with the fight they showed while losing to the championship-favorite Clippers out west and fighting back after Kemba Walker’s injury scare in Denver.

The next few weeks will tell us a lot more about this year’s team and its resiliency. A rematch with the Nuggets looms Friday night and then a challenging Indiana-Philadelphia back-to-back highlights next week’s schedule. A visit to Toronto awaits on Christmas day.

Boston could soon be back at full strength, with Gordon Hayward seemingly trending toward an early return as he rehabs from a left hand fracture. Jaylen Brown has been so good in his absence that the only question is whether there are enough shots to go around for four star-caliber players the way Walker, Hayward, Brown, and Jayson Tatum have all performed this season.

That visit from Philadelphia could help answer the question of whether Boston truly needs to make a move for another big, the sort that could engage in hand-to-hand combat with the likes of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Games against Indiana and Toronto will tell us if Boston is definitely a top-tier team in the East or part of the pack trying to get on Milwaukee’s level.

But even with the question marks that remain, the outlook is a lot rosier than it was a year ago through 20 games. Last year’s Celtics squad actually played their best ball after that 10-10 start, performing so well in the stretch that followed that Danny Ainge kept the roster intact the rest of the season.

The next few weeks will tell us if Ainge needs to make any changes for this year’s squad. We’ll get a better idea of where this team stands. And, maybe most importantly, we’ll see just how long these positive vibes can persist fr the 2019-20 Celtics.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

How Tremont Waters, Vincent Poirier fared for Maine Red Claws vs. Wisconsin Herd

How Tremont Waters, Vincent Poirier fared for Maine Red Claws vs. Wisconsin Herd

Tacko Fall (knee) remains out for the Maine Red Claws, and Romeo Langford suffered another ankle injury, so that put Tremont Waters and Vincent Poirier in the spotlight on Thursday.

Waters has been sensational to begin his tenure in Maine. So good, in fact, that he earned NBA G League Player of the Month honors for November. 

For Poirier, Thursday night marked his first game playing alongside Waters with the Red Claws.

Here's how the two Celtics rookies performed in the 123-118 loss:

TREMONT WATERS

Waters filled the stat sheet again with a double-double as he notched 13 points (5-for-15 shooting) and 10 assists. The Celtics' No. 51 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft knocked down 3 of his 9 3-point attempts.

VINCENT POIRIER

Poirier made an instant impact in his first game in a Red Claws uniform. The Frenchman contributed 14 points while going 6-for-9 from the field and bringing down nine boards.

Next, the Red Claws will take on the Delaware Blue Coats on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. You can tune in to that matchup right here on NBC Sports Boston.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Kings, which tips off today at 3 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.