Celtics

You may not see these young Celtics studs in NBA Summer League playoffs

You may not see these young Celtics studs in NBA Summer League playoffs

BOSTON -- After crushing the Memphis Grizzlies 113-87 to cap off the NBA Summer League “regular season” with a perfect 4-0 record, the Celtics go into the playoffs as the top seed.

With only the top eight teams advancing to the playoffs, the Celtics begin their run toward a summer league crown Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET against the very same Memphis Grizzlies.

But here’s where things might get interesting for the Celtics. 

It’s not unusual for teams to hold out some of their key players at this point in the summer to ensure they avoid getting injured and negate the strides they have made this summer. 

Looking up and down Boston's roster, there are plenty of candidates who could be given the rest of the summer off, or short of that, be held out of Saturday’s quarterfinal game. 

ROBERT WILLIAMS III

Coming off his best game of the summer with a 16-point, 16-rebound performance against Memphis, Williams has already had a “load management” game off and responded Thursday with his best effort of the summer. 

He is the only player on the summer league roster who has a shot at potentially being in the Celtics’ starting lineup. 

Williams has played in a total of three games, averaging a near double-double of 11.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while dishing out 2.3 assists with 1.7 blocked shots. 

After he battled knee tendinitis at times last season, it would not be all that surprising if we saw Williams shut down the rest of the summer to keep him as fresh as possible for the start of the season, when he’ll be among a handful of players battling for the vacant starting job at center. 

CARSEN EDWARDS

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has already pointed out how Carsen Edwards, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft, is a player he believes can contribute to the team’s success right away. 

Edwards has been a star from day one for Boston this summer, averaging a team-best 18.0 points in just 23 minutes per game while connecting on 52 percent of his shots. 

There’s very little at this point left for Edwards to prove. 

Edwards was scoring as a starter the first couple of games, while the last two Celtics games have seen him come off the bench and deliver a comparable offensive punch. 

While Edwards hasn’t played nearly well enough to enter the conversation to potentially start, he has done more than enough to validate Stevens’ belief that he’ll be in the rotation and play off the bench this season. 

GRANT WILLIAMS

The No. 22 pick in last month’s NBA draft, Grant Williams has been as good as advertised. 

He was billed as a solid player whose greatest skill appears to be impacting winning, and thus far he has not disappointed. 

Williams has appeared in all four summer league games and ranks as the team’s No. 2 scorer (13.5 points per game) and rebounder (6.8 per game) while shooting a solid 50 percent (18-for-36) from the field.

He too has played well enough to where he’ll be in the scrum to play minutes off the bench this year, showcasing a high basketball IQ in terms of his passing and decision-making out of the post while boasting a 3-point shot that has been better than what we saw in college. 

While Boston may be tempted to shut Williams down, more likely than not he’ll continue playing his usual minutes, which the Celtics will need if they are to continue on their winning ways. 

TREMONT WATERS

Another one of the Celtics’ summer league stars, the 5-foot-11 Waters has been Boston’s best playmaker as well as one of its top defenders. He’s averaging 10.0 points per game along with a team-best 5.3 assists.

Having already agreed to a two-way contract with Boston, there’s little left for him to show the Celtics coaching staff that would impact their views on him as a player. 

That said, there’s still a sense that Waters will continue playing if for no other reason than to keep reminding the C's of just how impactful he can be in games despite his small frame. 

Right now, the Celtics look pretty stacked in the backcourt with Marcus Smart, Carsen Edwards and Brad Wanamaker all vying for minutes, not to mention Gordon Hayward will at times slide over and facilitate the offense, too. 

That all means that Waters’ best shot at staying on the Celtics’ radar while still playing probably will come as a member of the team’s G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

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Gordon Hayward wishes Kyrie Irving good luck, 'excited to welcome... the other guys'

Gordon Hayward wishes Kyrie Irving good luck, 'excited to welcome... the other guys'

BURLINGTON, Mass. — The role that a healthy Gordon Hayward will play next season is a big deal for the Boston Celtics. 

But it becomes even more significant with the Celtics being among the teams that got swept up in the sea of change that engulfed the NBA this summer during free agency. 

In addition to losing Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn) and Al Horford (Philadelphia), the Celtics traded away Aron Baynes to Phoenix to free up salary cap space, and lost Marcus Morris who signed with the New York Knicks. 

“The interesting part of the league is the drama that happens every offseason,” Hayward told reporters following the Boston Celtics and Arbella Insurance Home Makeover Program. “I don’t know if there’s any league like that, where you have major guys moving teams.”

But the talk around these parts centers heavily on Irving, who left Boston despite back in October proclaiming he would re-sign with the Celtics

Hayward, who has the same birthday (March 23) as Irving, said the Celtics would miss Irving’s talent for sure. 

“I wish him the best of luck as he goes to Brooklyn. As a team we’re excited about who we have coming in,” said Hayward, who was commenting publicly for the first time since Irving's decision to not re-sign with Boston. “I’m more than excited to welcome Kemba (Walker) and Enes (Kanter), and all the other guys that are new for us.”

Hayward has been a regular at the Celtics practice facility this summer and has been pleasantly surprised to see the Celtic newcomers in regular attendance. 

But as good as they may look, Hayward knows all too well that success for Boston this season will hinge heavily on his play as well as his four teammates — Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — who are currently bonding down under in Australia as part of Team USA. 

“That’s really cool for us to have four guys on the team, to represent the US,” Hayward said. “For sure, early stages for some bonding and chemistry building. I hope they bring back the gold.”

Hayward was on the list of participants last year to be part of Team USA, but he said his focus this offseason has been on working out in Boston in preparation for next season. 

“I wanted to just stay here, have a whole summer where I could train,” Hayward said. “Try to get myself feeling pretty good.”

As much as this summer has been about building up his body, Hayward admits it has also been good boost to his confidence, too. 

“More than anything, just building back some confidence; being able to do everything that I’m used to doing,” he said. “Reps is what gives you confidence, being able to do things over and over and over and not worry about how my ankle is feeling or having to be cautious with it, has been really good for my confidence.” 

The addition of Walker and Kanter along with the continued growth of Tatum and Brown will certainly bode well for Boston’s chances at success this year. 

But for them to have a special season, one in which they defy the odds and finish at or near the top of the NBA standings, the play of Hayward will go far in determining how far this team can go. 

Last season, Hayward showed flashes near the end of the season of being All-Star Hayward. 

But as defenses tightened up on Hayward, his impact scoring-wise significantly decreased and defensively, he struggled at times keeping himself between the basket and defenders.

The 29-year-old appeared in 72 games for Boston, averaging 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists while averaging 25.9 minutes per game — his fewest since he averaged 16.9 minutes per game as a rookie with the Jazz. 

Hayward should improve most if not all of those numbers this season, especially coming off a summer when he was able to return back to his pre-injury offseason regimen.

“That has felt really nice; being able to train how I’m used to training,” Hayward said. “Not having to worry about doing stuff for only 10 minutes, only doing a certain amount of reps. It’s been really good from that standpoint, I’ll say.”

NBA rookies vote Williams, Edwards among biggest steals>>>>>

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Kemba Walker happily joins NBA players in roasting Kyle Kuzma's outfit

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USA TODAY Sports

Kemba Walker happily joins NBA players in roasting Kyle Kuzma's outfit

By all accounts, Kemba Walker sounds like he's getting along well with Team USA ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

But that won't stop him from piling on teammate Kyle Kuzma.

It all started when the young Los Angeles Lakers forward and Team USA member posted an Instagram photo of himself wearing a pretty hideous outfit.

Kuzma immediately took heat for his wardrobe choice -- Isaiah Thomas: "Cuh that ain't it!!!! Come on bro;" Anthony Davis: "Man what the hell you got on!" -- and inadvertently sparked a new trend in the #kuzchallenge.

And guess who joined in with Kuzma standing right next to him during a Team USA photo shoot in Australia?

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown also shared a video on his Instagram story of Walker mocking Kuzma (and getting a pretty good rise out of teammate Jayson Tatum).

This is quality trolling from Walker, and it didn't go unnoticed, as Kuzma fired a playful shot back in the Celtics guard's direction on his Instagram story.

Kuzma and Walker probably won't be as chummy when they meet as rivals during the regular season, but at least the two can have some fun at each other's expense.

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