Brad Stevens stepped down as head coach, and Danny Ainge stepped down as president of basketball operations. Sources said the team will keep Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but Walker will be a part of the shakeup. And the feeling is mutual between Walker and the organization.
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Tatum and Brown are as close to being untradeable as you will find, according to multiple league executives.
Jordan Schultz: #Celtics are not willing to trade Jaylen Brown, per sources. Brown is a budding superstar and excellent human being to help build your organization around. I’m told Danny Ainge has been pleased w/Jaylen’s overall improvement and increased role – which he asked of JB b4 the season
Though the Hawks’ demands for Collins have been similar to Orlando’s Gordon price tag, Atlanta’s initial response to Boston’s pursuit of the 23-year-old forward was to build a larger deal around Jaylen Brown, league sources tell The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. Since the 24-year-old All-Star plays the most valuable position in the game and just started a below market four-year deal, that was not going anywhere unless Atlanta was looking to include Trae Young and DeAndre Hunter, their two main building blocks.
Though the Hawks’ demands for Collins have been similar to Orlando’s Gordon price tag, Atlanta’s initial response to Boston’s pursuit of the 23-year-old forward was to build a larger deal around Jaylen Brown, league sources tell The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner. Since the 24-year-old All-Star plays the most valuable position in the game and just started a below market four-year deal, that was not going anywhere unless Atlanta was looking to include Trae Young and DeAndre Hunter, their two main building blocks. Trades for young top picks with long-term control like this are exceedingly rare, especially once they have hit the All-Star threshold.
The good news for Brown? It appears Celtics ownership, management and coach Brad Stevens feel the same way. That was evident during the Harden saga, when sources say Boston’s level of interest and involvement far surpassed what Ainge was willing to admit to when he addressed it publicly. Ironically, that deal — as opposed to a possible trade for Barnes — likely would have required Brown to be dealt.
Brian Robb: A league source tells @bostonsportsbsj that the Rockets’ asking price for James Harden from the #Celtics included Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and draft compensation. More: bostonsportsjournal.com/2021/01/14/dan…
Of course, Boston is a potential player in any trade negotiation because of its two young wings, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Tatum is likely untouchable, but with Brown entering a contract year and playing a similar position, he could be the centerpiece of a deal for Beal or Love. Even without those two, a package such as the Memphis pick, Boston’s own first and either Grant Williams or Romeo Langford would be a compelling asset package, one that would potentially tempt teams to swallow the rest of Hayward’s deal and send the Celtics a high-level starter.
The Boston Celtics were serious about trading for Davis, as well. They were willing to discuss young, talented players such as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, according to sources close to the negotiations. But the Celtics were never going to give up as much as the Lakers.
If the Celtics are pushing for trades this offseason, the question of how other teams value Tatum and Brown relative to each other is important because the team figures to make one or the other – but not both – the centerpiece of an offer for a superstar this summer. “Between Jaylen and Jayson,” one general manager told SN, “it’s probably closer than you’d think.”
Now Tatum has been placed in trade scenarios publicly along with Jaylen Brown, just as more than half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster went through for two weeks before the deadline. Tatum, who turns 21 on March 3, has the silky smooth game that had scouts comparing him to Kobe Bryant as early as the McDonald’s All-American week in Chicago in 2016. Wherever Tatum plays, he understands his potential.
BSJ: Danny has talked openly about the fact that he does not plan to make any big moves ahead of the trade deadline and wants to make a run at it with this core group. When he provides that vote of confidence publicly, does that provide any kind of a boost or help make you feel better about the situation? Jaylen Brown: It kind of feels the same. It doesn’t make a difference. We just have to come out and play basketball. We know this game is a business. We understand that. We’ll see what happens after the All-Star break. Like Danny said, this group is the group that we have. That’s great. Let’s continue to move forward and try to build towards a championship.
“I’ve talked to Danny about a lot of stuff throughout the years,” Brown said. “But he’s said the same stuff every year. ‘It’s a business. Rumors are just rumors.’ It’s the same stuff every year. Control what you can control and protect yourself.” Brown said he avoids most of the drama by logging off, letting his support team handle the infrequent posts on his social media accounts. Nothing productive came from scrolling his phone and checking for likes, so he mostly checked out. “I’m disconnected from the media world because, no offense, some of it is just trash,” Brown said. “I started to recognize how much time I spent on stuff I didn’t need to spend it on. I started spending my time elsewhere.”
Chris Forsberg: Danny Ainge on @Toucherandrich said he reached out to Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to discuss their names being in trade rumors. Wanted to be honest with them about the “business side” of basketball and all the noise of trade season.
The Celtics could float Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown on the trade market, but league sources tell NBCSports.com they are likely to sit sight and hope both bounce back to last season’s levels. With the chances of a midseason Anthony Davis trade lessening by the day, the Celtics have good reason to hold pat.
DeRozan as a centerpiece is a disappointing return, but also one that reflects market realities. Gregg Popovich does not want to finish his career in a rebuild. The Spurs never showed interest in packages — including Boston’s — heavy on picks and unproven players, sources have said. The Celtics would not swap any of their core guys, including Jaylen Brown, perhaps the most interesting Leonard trade chip in the league, without some assurances about Leonard’s health and future plans, sources have said.
Boston hasn’t included Jaylen Brown, sources say. As I wrote here, it might make more sense to offer Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward before Brown, but I don’t see either happening. Boston is confident it can re-sign Irving despite chatter — credible chatter — that Irving and Jimmy Butler would like to play together, per league sources. They’ve earned such confidence.
Sources told Sporting News that the Celtics are approaching the situation with trepidation. They have no intention of trading Tatum whatsoever this offseason, even in a deal for Leonard. The Spurs would want Brown as part of any trade package, but even there, Boston is wavering.
After giving Thomas his physical, the Cavs weren’t convinced that the Celtics were fully forthcoming about the extent of Thomas’ hip injury, so they’re looking to restructure the trade with added assets. We don’t know exactly what assets Cleveland is asking for, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowki reported on SportsCenter on Sunday that they’ll definitely ask about rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year wing Jaylen Brown.
“Boston is resisting, and will initially at least, resist this idea,” Wojnarowski said. “Boston believes that it was completely transparent with Cleveland about where Thomas was physically, his rehab. Cleveland’s version of this is that they didn’t realize how long Thomas could potentially be out this season, he’s in the final year of his contract, and obviously, that matches up with what will likely be the final year of LeBron’s current deal, and so there’s going to be a showdown between these two teams that may last a couple more days.”
Adam Kaufman: Per @Chris Mannix on @CSNNE, #Celtics will draw line in sand. May part with a 2nd Rd pick to complete #Cavs deal. No firsts/Brown/Tatum.
One NBA executive said he could see a blockbuster deal between the Celtics and Knicks. His proposed trade: Porzingis to the Celtics for Boston’s No. 3 pick, a future No. 1 pick and a player, perhaps Jaylen Brown. Can you imagine a Celtics’ frontline of Porzingis, Al Horford and perhaps Gordon Hayward? One word: wow.
Chris Mannix: I don’t think, for my understanding, that Boston has any desire to put Jaylen Brown in that deal. They’re big believers in Jaylen Brown’s future out there.
Antranig Kzirian: Noel for Jaylen Brown straight up. Both teams needs are addressed. – Steve Kyler: No chance. Danny Ainge loves Jaylen Brown.
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June 23, 2021 | 5:32 am EDT Update
Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
Matt Sullivan: “Let me give you guys a little news, I’m not sure that’s been out there. I’ve heard that Nets ownership was quite upset with Kyrie’s ‘pause,’ especially that maskless party that turned his psuedo-paternity leave into more like a COVID suspension. And in the last week I’ve heard rumblings – whispers, really, because cracking the Nets is kind of like breaking into the Kremlin, that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks would maybe, possibly, apparently be willing to at least listen to a trade offer for Kyrie this offseason. Now, I’m not sure what the market for Kyrie is at this point. It’s not like Ben Simmons giving you the headache on the court. It’s that complex personality that comes from off the court. I think it’s been annoying some people in the franchise. I can’t speak to his teammates, who obviously want to play with one of the world’s best and get him back there.”
Deandre Ayton couldn’t stop smiling after the Phoenix Suns’ 104-103 win on Tuesday gave them a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals over the LA Clippers. The big man wore a permagrin as he basked in the joy that came from dunking home the go-ahead bucket in the game’s final second, finishing one of the most dramatic alley-oops in NBA playoff history, but he didn’t want any of the credit. “I’ll start off by saying that’s definitely Jae [Crowder’s] game winner, making a great pass for a 7-footer,” Ayton said after his dunk with 0.7 seconds left lifted his final line to 24 points on 12-for-15 shooting and 14 rebounds.
No wonder Ayton said he completed the best play of his three-year NBA career after finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and one memorable lob that gave the Suns a 2-0 series lead. “I never played so hard from the jump ball to the end, 150%,” Ayton said. “Usually it’s like 110%, but tonight it’s 150% and it’s 150% mentally. Just the level of focus and the things you have to really pay attention to, it’s really intense.”
And the production has been eye-popping. Per Elias Sports Bureau research, this postseason Ayton is the first player in the shot clock era (since 1954-55) with a 70% or better field goal percentage in any 12-game postseason span. He has had five 20-point, 10-rebound games this postseason, the most by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. “I’ve never played so hard from the jump ball to the end,” Ayton said. “A hundred and fifty percent. Usually, it’s like 110, but this is 150%. And it’s 150% mentally, too. Just the level of focus and the things you really have to pay attention to. It’s really intense, man.”
The cloud of the 2018 draft doesn’t follow Ayton. He has admitted in the past to being sensitive to perception and criticism, but put all of it behind him. “At the end of the day, we’re all different players,” Ayton said of comparisons to Doncic and Young. “I’m a 7-footer, big man, and they’re two point guards. I don’t know what you can compare. But me, I play as hard as I can. This is my team. I dominate the best way I can for this team and try to take this team as far as I can. Other than that, I trust my work, I trust my work ethic, I trust my craft.”
But with a chance to give them a three-point lead with 8.2 seconds left, George surprisingly missed both free throws despite coming into this game making 89.2% from the free throw line this postseason. “I’m not going to put too much on that,” George said afterward. “Obviously it was an opportunity that was missed. Pat made an unbelievable play that put me in position to extend the lead. I’m always confident at the free throw line. I’ve always been very successful in clutch moments at the free throw line.”