The Celtics have one of the NBA’s better backcourts, …

The Celtics have one of the NBA’s better backcourts, a nice blend of offense (Isaiah Thomas), defense (Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier) and a burgeoning star capable of both (Avery Bradley). It’s also one of the league’s most affordable, with Bradley ($8.3 million) and Thomas ($6.6 million) making well below market value, and Smart and Rozier on rookie deals. That will change soon. Smart is eligible for an extension in 2017. A $10 million-plus offer will be the starting point of negotiations. Thomas and Bradley will be free agents in 2018, eligible for max salaries of $32.4 million per season. Neither will likely come near that, but understand: This is the ballpark Boston is playing in. The Celtics won’t pay all of them. They can’t pay all of them, not if they want to continue to pursue another impact player. If the Celtics make a significant trade, it will undoubtedly include one or more of their star guards.
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Ja Morant: 'I'm a Top 5 point guard'

Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.
What do you think of Dillon Brooks as a defender and as a player overall for this team? Ja Morant: Dillon is an important piece to this team offensively and defensively. I’ve been saying a lot now that I feel like he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his defense, especially against some of the top guys. Some of them probably won’t admit it, but I feel like most of the games when they struggled, Dillon was guarding them. Soon, that’ll come that he gets his respect for that. Offensively, how he’s able to score the ball from all three levels is big-time for us.
Speaking of locker rooms, what are the expectations in the locker room for the Grizzlies this season? Where do you guys think you can compete on what type of level? Ja Morant: I feel like we can compete with the top teams in this league. We all have that mindset, and this chip on our shoulder we go out and play with each and every night. Now, it’s continuing to buy in and keep gelling as a team and getting better with chemistry. Having more guys step up and talk who’ve been in the game for a while to help the young guys come along. Our goal this year is to continue to be better in all areas and better than we were last year.