Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The NBA has increased its presence in Africa. The NBA Africa Game, which features first-generation, second-generation, or players of African descent against a team of selected NBA players, is a landmark event in a country that is growing in basketball knowledge. Many of the players have found themselves overwhelmed by being in a part of the world many have never visited. Brown, who turns 21 in October, brought his mother, Mechalle, on the trip.
“To be honest, I really couldn’t stop smiling for some reason,” Brown said. “I was just waving at people incessantly, just smiling. I came off probably a little weird to the people but I was happy to be here. I didn’t come here with any expectations. I came here with empty spaces, hoping to see what Africa was about. I wasn’t really surprised but I was pleased with a lot of different things. A lot of the stereotypes don’t apply to Johannesburg, South Africa.”
The growth of Jaylen Brown is going to be fascinating. His goals really do go beyond basketball.
“I got this quote from Isaiah Thomas, ‘If I die, if I’m known as just a good basketball player, then I didn’t do my job, I failed as a human being,’ ” Brown said. “That says a lot. He lives by that and I kind of hold myself to the same standard. If you’re just remembered for being a good basketball player, I didn’t do enough while I was here.
As Rich discussed yesterday, Jaylen is going to be pretty good at this game. He showed off a little bit of that in yesterday’s game.
But for Jaylen, this trip to Africa was about a lot more than basketball. This game is clearly a vehicle for him to do much more with his life.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Brown retired early and turned to some sort of charitable endeavor with the rest of his life. He’s not a guy who will be defined by basketball.
That’s not a knock on lifers who would shrivel away and disappear without the game. Some people are happy to be in basketball forever.
But of course, for now, we’ll just try to enjoy the basketball… and Jaylen’s emergence in the NBA.
The Celtics will be looking for ways to make up for the departure of Avery Bradley on the defensive end. Jaylen could end up being a guy who picks up some of that slack.
I won’t pretend that he’s the one, single defensive answer here, but between the team defensive scheme and some individual effort from guys like Jaylen, they might be able to do a good enough job.
Related links: Herald: Jaylen Brown leads World past Team Africa | MassLive: Jaylen Brown plays in NBA Africa Game: Highlights from Boston Celtics wing’s performance
Page 2: Abel Nader knows what he needs to do
“They know I can shoot; I can handle, do a lot of things with the ball,” Nader told CSNNE.com. “But my role next year, I need to be a 3-and-D guy. Hit wide open 3’s and defend at a high level. I’ve taken that really personal.”
In talking with scouts this past season and at the G-League All-Star game in February about Nader, they all agreed that his defense has to improve if he wants to stick in the NBA.
“There’s a lot about his game you like,” one scout told CSNNE.com.
Abdel Nader has a lot of promise… but so do a lot of players at this stage of their careers. The big question now is… are you willing to do the work to add to your skills and rise above those guys (like Jae Crowder did) or do you think so highly of yourself that you don’t figure it out until it might be too late (like James Young did).
Nader has a lot of work to do and a lot of guys in front of him to beat. But if he can show that ability to be a 3-and-D guy then he’ll either (a) make a good enough impression to get some minutes, (b) make a big enough impact to get value back in a trade, or (c) be so good that a guy like Crowder is expendable and Nader becomes the high-value guy on a cheap deal.
Trust me, I’m not saying this in anticipation of anything happening or hoping to get rid of Crowder. I’m just being realistic in the possibilities. If Ainge can get the same production with the same defensive acumen out of a much cheaper deal, then he’ll keep the cheap deal so the sting of paying Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart isn’t as bad.
Again, that’s a long way off and very unlikely. But if Nader wants to stick, that’s the bar.
…. speaking of paying IT… here’s a case for paying him max money
The Celtics can use a suddenly stricter market to play hardball with Thomas at the risk of disgruntling him. But there isn’t a strong “for the good of the team,” argument given the overall inflexibility of adding another franchise player via free agency over that time.
A three-year full max or a lesser annual cap hit over a longer time might be a feasible compromise from both sides and the Celtics should certainly strive for any concessions it can extract without turning the negotiations hostile, but it makes little sense not to pay Thomas if it becomes a sticking point.
Boston has the ability to develop its next generation of players in a winning culture now and there are worse ways to wait out LeBron James or the Golden State Warriors.
The NBA is a business, but it isn’t exclusively a championship business. Unless viable alternatives present themselves, retaining Thomas and keeping this core intact—despite the numbers—just adds up.
It’s a pretty well-reasoned case that the Celtics should pony up some dough for Thomas. I’m good with a 3-year max OR a longer deal with a lesser average annual value. If he wants the security, then something in the 5-year range with lesser money could work.
I think Danny Ainge will go for that 3-year deal. That would put Hayward and Thomas’ contract up at the same time… one year after Horford is up. If the Celtics want the option of moving on from the Hayward/Thomas/Horford core, this is the way to do it. Thomas gets his Brinks truck in this situation and everyone is happy.
He opted not to have surgery, so he’s been resting for two-plus months. He recently got back in the gym as he tries to get into shape for the season.
“The hip is great,” said Thomas, who didn’t seem bothered by it as he played with campers yesterday. “It’s a real slow rehab process, but it’s getting better and that’s what it’s all about.”
If this hip stays healthy, the Celtics will be more than happy to pay him.
Related links: CSNNE: Isaiah Thomas: ‘The hip is great…I should be ready by camp’