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.
He heard the comments about his shot, his ball-handling, his perceived lack of elite basketball skill coming into the 2016 NBA Draft. He knew there were those who thought the Celtics reached when they took him No. 3 overall.
He couldn’t escape the statistical comparisons to some of his fellow lottery picks that left out the fact they were playing on lottery teams when he was fighting for minutes on the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
“I put too much energy into trying to prove other people wrong instead of trying to prove it to myself,” the second-year wing player said after Saturday’s practice. “All of my energy is focused on me right now. It’s on me getting better instead of putting energy out to change people’s mindsets and all that.”
He calls it The Unbothered.
“This year I’m so unbothered, it’s crazy,” he said. “This year I am just trying to be the best version of me. I know Celtics fans have high expectations and I am OK with that.
“I am unbothered, coming out and playing, knowing that I have abilities not a lot of people in this world have. I am going to show that this year.”
Providence Journal – Jaylen Brown sports new mindset heading into 2nd season
As stated on “Game of Thrones,” and elsewhere, lions do not concern themselves with the opinions of sheep.
Most athletes – in fact, most public figures – have the ability to not give a damn what anyone thinks about them. It’s not necessarily from arrogance; it’s more about confidence. A famous person who’s insecure will spend all of his/her time beefing with critics, probably getting into Twitter wars, and that’s a bad look. It’s not difficult to think of an example.
So it’s a bit surprising that Jaylen Brown let that stuff get to him. Maybe it was just part of being a rookie. Maybe it was from playing in front of Boston’s ultra-demanding fans and media. Whatever the reason, I hope he’s truly over it.
As a possible starter, and as something of a big brother to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen needs to play with the utmost confidence. Expectations are high, especially from Brad Stevens.
“Jaylen has put in a lot of time,” Stevens said. “You can see that. He’s just more comfortable than he was at this time last year. I think one of the biggest challenges for guys in their first through fourth years is that these guys are still trying to work to move on to the next role. It’s really just about doing what you do better.
“He’s doing that. He’s making open shots. He’s doing a good job defensively. Nobody will be harder on him on that end than I will be because ultimately I think that’s a huge, huge part of our team with what he does defensively for us.”
On Page 2: Extension would be Smart
Smart and the Celtics have until Oct. 16 to hammer out a potential extension. Otherwise, Smart will be set for restricted free agency next summer after playing out the final season on his rookie contract.
“To be honest, I haven’t even put any thoughts about that right now,” Smart said Saturday after practice. “My main focus is to come in here and get ready for the season. We’ll handle that when that comes and worry about that, and control what we can control.”
Where Smart falls money-wise with the Celtics is unclear, but there’s no question Smart will land a multi-year, eight-figure payday whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.
Taken with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, it has been slow motion for players in his draft class to get extensions completed.
The top overall pick in 2013, Andrew Wiggins, is reportedly close to getting a five-year, $148 million extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Phoenix forward T.J. Warren, selected with the 14th overall pick by the Suns in 2013, has agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract.
Some of the bigger names eligible for extensions include Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Utah’s Dante Exum and Rodney Hood, Chicago’s Zach LaVine, Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon.
On media day, everyone claims, “I’m in the best shape of my life.” And when any player is in line for a new contract, he always asserts, “I’m not thinking about that now.” Coincidentally, Marcus Smart said both things recently.
We may have to wait a couple of weeks before we know how Danny Ainge is going to handle this, but there’s one clue. As we all know, Smart is one of only four players who remain from last season’s roster. Ainge thought Smart was a keeper. Literally. That suggests Danny will open the checkbook to make sure Smart sticks around.
Because the salary cap factors into everything, there may be financial reasons to wait on the extension until after the season. But waiting will be more costly in the long run, because Smart is about to earn his payday.
With Avery Bradley gone, Smart will have a bigger role on both ends of the court, and it looks to me like he’s ready to deliver. After losing 20 pounds, Smart really is in the best shape of his life; with more quickness and athleticism added, his defense should be award-worthy. If he can improve his shooting even a little, he could become a better version of Tony Allen. Finally, Smart knows he’s now seen as a veteran, and he needs to provide leadership. If he can draw charges without resorting to flopping, that will be a long-awaited sign of maturity.
Smart is going to get paid. I hope it happens sooner than later.
And, finally: NBA suggests teams send messages of unity
Readers who remain in the “stick to sports” mindset should skip this section. But it’s Sunday and NFL players will surely be kneeling, so here’s a quick look at how the NBA is handling pre-game protests.
True to form, the Association is taking a progressive approach: Reminding players of the rule that requires standing for the national anthem, while also suggesting “non-kneeling” ways to send a message.
The NBA sent a memo late Friday to teams reinforcing its rule that players and coaches stand for the national anthem, suggesting other ways in which they might address the recent protest movement sweeping across the NFL and other sports.
In the memo, [Mark] Tatum suggests teams might address the current political climate by having players and coaches give a joint pregame address at their first home games.
“This could include a message of unity and how the team is committed to bringing the community together this season,” the memo states.
The memo also suggests teams might prepare a video tribute or public service announcement featuring “team leadership speaking about the issues they care about.”
The memo comes a day after commissioner Adam Silver said he expects players to stand for the national anthem.
This makes complete sense, because it will remove the focus from the act of kneeling and place it back on the message. As we’ve seen in the NFL, the original reason for taking a knee – to protest racial injustice – has been forgotten and protesters have been painted as unpatriotic. This has not been lost on NBA players.
[Draymond] Green said that just because his team is not following the NFL players’ method of bringing attention to social injustice doesn’t mean he disagrees with their action.
“I think people make what they want out of [kneeling],” he said. “I think it’s at a point now where everybody knows. The conversation started. It’s about capitalizing on that and trying to make things better now. Kaep made the statement a year ago. I don’t knock anybody for doing what they do or what they feel they need to do. But I think the conversation has started at this point. The more you make gestures or this and that, that becomes the conversation, and that’s beside the point.”
It also helps that Silver is by far the best commissioner in U.S. sports and, unlike his NFL counterpart, has the wisdom to speak thoughtfully on this topic.
“To me it’s a unique issue in this league because 25 percent of our players are not American,” Silver said. “But it’s always been an opportunity in our arenas for both teams to come together and have a moment of reflection. Clearly for the non-American players, it’s not necessarily a moment of patriotism for the United States, but it’s about respect. It’s about respect for the country they play in. It’s about respect for the principles that underlie this country. It doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone agrees at any given point with what’s happening in their country.”
“It’s my hope that our players will continue to use that as a moment of unity,” said Silver. “For example, last year many of our teams locked arms during the anthem, which I felt was a respectful show of unity. Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem. And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now.
“But let me say these are highly complex and nuanced issues. One of the core principles of this country is freedom of expression, as well. It is my hope, though, that with NBA players, that given the platform that they have, whether it’s the regular engagement they have with the media, whether it’s social media, whether it’s other opportunities they have to work in the communities, that they have those opportunities for their voices to be heard. Then to act on those voices, meaning to engage in constructive activity in their communities, as they always have.”
I like the idea of a brief video, prior to the anthem each game, in which a player or coach encourages unity in his own words. Support that message by locking arms during the anthem. Give the fans something to think about, rather than a reason not to think.
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