That could be the first layer of this team to be scrubbed away. The second, and more consequential, would come over the course of the following year. That starts with All-Star Isaiah Thomas, whose name has lately been the subject of trade speculation. But league sources indicate that any talk of dealing Thomas is strictly speculation at this point — the Celtics have had no such discussions. Not yet, at least.
The Celtics’ president of basketball operations appeared Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich” and was asked to address a report from ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan that he considered trading his All-Star point guard to obtain another lottery pick ahead of the 2016 NBA Draft. Ainge not only shot down that rumor, but he also detailed why such a move would be foolhardy. “We had eight draft picks and were trying to consolidate our picks to move up or out of the draft,” Ainge said, via CBS Boston. “We were also making plans to go get (free agents) Kevin Durant and Al Horford, so why in the world would we go there without Isaiah Thomas and try to have our best player traded for a lottery pick? It just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
GM Danny Ainge wanted to acquire another lottery selection in addition to the team’s top-3 pick and he dangled everyone on the team in trade discussions, including Isaiah Thomas, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan reports. “Before the draft last year, Danny was trying to get two picks, not just Jaylen Brown,” ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan told Bob Ryan on his podcast (h/t Comcast Sportsnet). “He was on the phone with everybody from coast to coast, and he was offering everybody. That includes Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas, and anything else they needed to get where he wanted to go. There were no untouchables on that team last year.”
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.
January 28, 2023 | 9:39 pm EST Update
On the heels of James Dolan publicly declaring his playoff expectations for this season, Knicks’ coach Tom Thibodeau said he doesn’t feel pressure to reach the owner’s goal. “I never feel pressure because I know what I put into each day,” Thibodeau said. “I think anybody who puts everything they have into each day, you never feel pressure.” Dolan told WFAN on Friday that he “fully expects” the Knicks to reach the playoffs and “that will definitely be a benchmark.” Left unsaid was what would occur if the Knicks fail, but coaches are often the first on the chopping block when an owner is displeased.
Callie Caplan: Luka Doncic (left ankle sprain) took the court during his usual pregame warm-up window to do a watered-down version of his typical shooting routine. No pivots, stepbacks or high impact, but has worked for about 20 minutes on midrange, 3s and free throws. pic.twitter.com/QPig0A8pff
January 28, 2023 | 8:32 pm EST Update
“As I’ve gone through free agency this time around, of course I’m thinking of where I can compete for my third championship, but the words home and family are what I kept coming back to … I need to be there for my daughter, for my son, for my wife,” Parker posted. “I can’t be without them for parts of the season when Lailaa is in school and I won’t miss her volleyball games or school dances simply because of distance. Lailaa starts high school in August and I need to be there for her, just as she’s been there for me. “After evaluating the landscape together with my family, we’ve decided the Las Vegas Aces are the right organization for us at this point in our lives.”