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.
I know it’s technically my job to sift through and synthesize Celtics news and then put it right here into each morning dump, but Adam Kaufman did that for me this morning — thanks, Kaufman! I’ll do a little bit of the work, though, and throw in some details about the Grizzlies’ ask for number four:
According to sources, the Grizzlies don’t anticipate the most serious proposals to arrive until they are on the clock Thursday, shortly before 8 p.m. ET. While contingent deals can be made earlier, the Grizzlies and other teams might want to see which prospects are available at No. 4 before deciding on a deal.
In such a trade, the Grizzlies hope to move back a few spots rather than move out of the lottery altogether, sources told ESPN. The organization wants to add talent even as it potentially trades its biggest free-agent acquisition ever to get out from under the $49.2 million remaining on Parsons’ contract over the next two season.
That is a brutal pill to swallow… Though I work right across the street from Scholars and that totally seems like a douche-y bar that Chandler Parsons would chill at during his 12-month rehab next season, so I could probably get him to sit down for a tell-all interview after work one day.
Anyways, Parsons aside, HERE.WE.GO! It’s draft day and while the Celtics aren’t picking at the top of the draft, they are still a preeminent candidate to jump into almost any spot in the lottery that they choose, given the horde of assets still possessed by Danny Ainge.
It’s hard to say how much of the above rumor mill is just smoke and how much of it is actually fire. Let’s also remember that there are a bunch of other teams mentioned in some of these reports, and those teams already have lottery picks. As John mentioned yesterday in addressing Russillo’s initial rumor about the Celtics friskiness around moving up, the Cs would likely have to make a series of moves to get up into the rarified air of the top eight players. This isn’t the NFL, where trades are often comprised of future high picks going out for a high pick in the current year’s draft — NBA teams want more immediate ROI. The Cs will have to either give up something of true value that sits on the roster now, or make an incremental move(s) up the board to be in position to offer draft capital that will entice a current lottery team. Rumors are great, but I’ll believe the Celtics picking in the top eight of this draft when I see it.
At the same time, I’d be more than ok with doing what it takes to get there. This seems like the first year in a long time where people aren’t clamoring for Danny Ainge to get off his pile of assets and improve the team.
There’s good reason for that, too, the team is really good! It’s as good as it’s been since Danny started asset-collecting in the summer of 2013, and so there’s a case to be made to just let this next set of assets (the Kings pick, the Grizz pick and the Clips pick) just play themselves out. As the Celtics aim to be competitive well into the 2020s, they’ll hope that those picks end up as high ones and that they make at least one selection on par with that of Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown (heck, another Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier would do, too).
But this is a deep draft, and given the number of assets the Celtics have, you better believe they’ve scouted the top. If the Celtics are showing up in this many rumors close to draft day, it has to be because they think there’s a guy in this draft that feels as can’t-miss to them as Tatum and Brown did in the last two years. If the Celtics can move up by using only picks and role players, not disrupting the top five guys, they might as well do it.
I obviously have no inside information, but there’s a part of me that thinks that guy is Luka Doncic. Jonathan Givony was on Zach Lowe’s pod earlier this week, and said that competitive teams really love Doncic, while struggling teams picking near the top of the draft don’t. While the Celtics have been linked to Bamba, he feels like more of a project, and given the Cs desire to win now in addition to winning later, I don’t know if they want to bring a guy like that along.
But Doncic? Maybe you go a year or two with no first round picks, and sure, you won’t get to lottery watch again for a long time, but if you can transition from a Kyrie/Horford/Hayward trio of max guys to a Tatum/Brown/Doncic trio for the next 8 or so years, do you care? Again, this is assuming both that Doncic is the guy Danny covets and that he ends up being really freaking good, but I think there’s a good chance of both. Just a hunch (from the same guy who wanted the Cs to take Kelly Oubre in the Terry Rozier draft, so maybe don’t listen to me, ok?).
As rumor season often goes around the draft, especially as we get closer to 7:00pm tonight, this will likely be much ado about nothing. The Cs are too far down the draft board and the first few picks will have to fall in a very particular way for them to get incredibly aggressive with the Hawks, Grizzlies, or another team. But like it’s been since 2013, it’ll shape up to be a fun night, and one you won’t want to miss as a Celtics fan. We get the best of both worlds: a top four team in the league competing for a championship, and a team that is always picking at or sniffing around the top of the draft.
Whatever happens, I’m sure we’ll have a lot to talk about tomorrow.
On page 2, would you give up Jaylen in a Kawhi trade?
It might sound ridiculous, but Boston will be wary including Brown, even if they get to speak with Leonard about re-signing. The Celtics are set up to contend for at least 10 years. The Irving/Hayward/Horford trio should carry them now. Brown and Tatum take over later.
Flipping Brown for Leonard tilts Boston more toward the present, and chips away at what looks like a bright future stretching well beyond 2025. To maintain that present-future balance, it makes more sense to use Hayward or Irving as the centerpiece of any Leonard trade. Boston does not appear inclined to go that route — at least not now. If the Spurs deal Leonard, they should enter full rebuild mode and chase picks and younger players, anyway. (Also: A Boston defense featuring Brown, Leonard and Horford is one spicy meatball.)
Swapping Brown (and lots of other stuff) for Leonard would leave Boston with four players earning fat max contracts, including three — Horford, Irving and Leonard — who can negotiate fatter ones in 2019. If four such deals prove too much to bear, Boston might have to sell low on one. Meanwhile, Brown isn’t eligible for a new deal until 2020-21, and his maximum salary starts at least $5-6 million below those of Hayward and Irving.
There’s also this: What if Brown is on a path to becoming the next Kawhi Leonard?
Pretty fun when we get to go from a series of reports referencing the Celtics interest in the top of this year’s draft, to the merits of trading for one of the five best players in the league (when healthy) who is still in his prime.
There’s no one better suited to break down the merits of centering a Kawhi offer around Jaylen Brown than the inestimable Zach Lowe.
And break down does he ever. He alludes to and shows clips of the Kawhi that already exists in Jaylen’s game:
Both proved almost immediately they could bully smaller guards in the post. Both obliterated expectations as spot-up shooters by the end of their second seasons; Brown is ahead of where Leonard was.
More than two-thirds of Leonard’s 3-point attempts in his second season came from the corners; he hit 43 percent of those, but just 13-of-53 non-corner 3s. Brown has hit almost exactly 43 from the corners for his career, but he’s much more accomplished on above-the-break 3s than young Kawhi; Brown hit a very solid 69-of-184 (37.5 percent) on those longer 3s last season.
But he also admits that Jaylen Brown isn’t Kawhi Leonard now, and may never be — Kawhi is a special talent:
Brown is not Leonard now, and might never be. Skeptics wonder if his 3-point shooting uptick will sustain. Kevin Pelton’s SCHOENE scores peg Leonard and Brown as only mildly similar through two seasons. Leonard in 2012-13 was already swiping steals at alarming rates, snaring more rebounds than Brown, and posting better advanced numbers. He is more physically imposing, enveloping victims with a crazy 7-3 wingspan (compared to seven-feet flat for Brown) and those frying pans with fingers. He is the best perimeter defender since Scottie Pippen.
To be an MVP candidate with average passing skills in the pace-and-space era, a perimeter player has to be off-the-charts fantastic at every other part of the game — not just good, or even very good. Leonard got there.
Most executives around the league consider it a no-brainer for Boston to toss Brown into any Leonard trade, provided the Celtics get the requisite assurances about Leonard’s health and willingness to re-sign. It’s not — not given Brown’s youth, salary and potential to grow into something like 90 percent of prime Leonard.
But that last 10 percent is why you probably do it. It is the 10 percent that separates the very best players. It wins championships. Every one of those 10 percentage points is exponentially harder to find than the one below it.
And finally, if the Celtics stay put, they should take Bruce Brown
But he loved the game anyway. He used to get upper-deck seats at Celtics games and dream about what it might be like to play for them someday, or even to just sit in a better seat. He remembers the time he saw Kobe Bryant and the Lakers come to town. He remembers how electric it all was.
Brown sprouted 6 inches prior to his freshman year at Wakefield High School, and before long he was an athletic, 6-foot-5-inch combo guard who could do a little bit of everything, and do it all quite well. He went on to the University of Miami, where he spent two seasons before entering this year’s NBA Draft.
Brown has worked out for 13 teams during the predraft process. The Celtics were his first, and likely his last, as he was summoned to Boston for a second session Wednesday. The Celtics have just one pick in this draft, the 27th overall choice.
“It’s crazy, because I’m from Boston,” Brown said. “It’s crazy I can possibly play for the Celtics. Growing up and being a Celtics fan, even when they had down years with Ricky Davis and Gerald Green, I was still a huge fan, and now I can possibly go to them? It’s amazing.
Boston Globe — NBA draft could be Bruce Brown’s ticket home to Boston
It’s fun to dream about a monster trade, but safe money has the Cs picking at, or close to 27th. If they do, it’d be hard not to read this story and root for someone other than Bruce Brown. Who’s the last hometown dude to play for the Cs? Dana Barros? Chris Herren? Am I missing someone obvious?
Great story from Adam Himmelsbach — he’s won me over, and with two workouts in Boston, perhaps he’s won Danny over as well.
The rest of the links:
Boston Herald — Danny Ainge has all angles covered for tonight’s draft
Mass Live —