Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
After the team went dark for the week as at least one COVID-19 infection and contact tracing forced games against Miami, Chicago and Orlando to be postponed, the Celtics finally returned to practice Thursday. It appears they have enough active players to move forward with Friday’s home game against Orlando. The Celtics had eight players participate in practice in addition to Kemba Walker, who is nearing a return.
Grant Williams and Tristan Thompson will clear their seven-day contact tracing quarantine in time for Friday’s 7:30 p.m. tip off, while Jaylen Brown, Javonte Green and Semi Ojeleye have been upgraded from out to questionable. As long as they continue to register negative tests ahead of the game Friday, they should be eligible to return to the floor and give the Celtics 11 active players.
I’m not expecting great things from tonight’s game–at least not the first quarter or so. These guys are probably going to look pretty rusty. NBA basketball is for the elite of the elite, and even young guys like Jaylen Brown are going to lose a bit of stamina and speed after as little as a week of forced inactivity. However, it’s good to see a semblance of normalcy returning to the C’s, given that they were doing pretty well right up to the quarantine.
The quarantine has set back Kemba’s return, though:
Brad Stevens said last week that Walker wasn’t far away from returning. The next step in the Celtics guard’s return-to-play plan was some five-on-five basketball in practice to see how he felt, how his stamina was and how his knee responded. But since Stevens’ comments, nine different Celtics have been unavailable to play due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols. From Sunday until Thursday, the only allowable workouts were one player and one coach in the Auerbach center at a time, mostly shooting.
As John pointed out in a post yesterday, comments by and about Kemba sound a lot like what was said before the bubble, but he was clearly not himself.
“His strengthening has gone fantastic. He’s put in a ton of work,” Stevens said. “I felt this way in the bubble but the bubble was constrained more by time, with regard to how quickly the playoffs were at hand. This has been a planned out, day-by-day, well-executed deal by our training staff and by Kemba. When he comes back, it’ll be because he’s ready and because he feels great and he’s ready to be Kemba.”
This is a story Celtics fans have heard before, though. Walker has said he felt good before.
“The way I’m feeling right now is different from the way I felt before I went into the bubble. I’ve just been able to take my time, really just attack my rehab from Day 1,” Walker said. “I wanted to get healthy, I wanted to stay healthy, try my best to not have any setbacks. So that’s the plan. I don’t know. Whenever I’m feeling good, and whenever I’m mentally ready and comfortable to get out there, I will.”
Honestly, as with Gordon Hayward–but not to the same extent–Kemba probably tried to push his recovery faster than his body was capable of handling heading into the bubble. That hasn’t been the case with this recent timeline, which may well have been extended in order to reverse damage that Kemba may have done by rushing his recovery last summer. There’s no reason to rush. If the C’s are the best team in the East, it really doesn’t matter where they’re seeded. And if they’re not the best team in the East, it really doesn’t matter where they’re seeded.
Page 2: Where the Rockets [reportedly] wanted a king’s ransom for Harden
One league source told BostonSportsJournal.com that the haul the Rockets demanded from the Celtics for Harden included Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and multiple first round picks
Ultimately, the Rockets landed Victor Oladipo, four picks and three pick swaps for Harden. They probably would’ve wanted a similar package of picks from Boston–as they probably consider Oladipo equal to Brown and Smart (they shouldn’t, but they probably did).
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
[N]o occurrence is sole and solitary, but is merely a repetition of a thing which has happened before, and perhaps often.
Seven and a half years ago the Nets sent three first round picks and a pick swap to the Celtics in exchange for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. As a result, the C’s got Jaylen and Jayson. The move backfired and turned Billy King into the butt of various NBA in-jokes.
His successor, Sean Marks, managed to make chicken salad out of the other chicken stuff that he inherited from King, and then added Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant to the mix. Now I, myself, thought that was not a smart move, given Kyrie’s mercurial disposition and the nature of KD’s injury, but the broader NBA community seemed to think it was a masterstroke.
Now, however, he’s probably pulled his own Billy King maneuver.
When Ainge said, “The price was really high for us”, I think he was talking about more than just the picks and players that the Rockets were seeking.
Harden, having forced his way to Brooklyn, and having forced Brooklyn to mortgage an entire decade for his services, has enough leverage with the team to wrap them around his finger. The C’s are a well-structured organization, and that structure would not be amenable to the person that Harden has become. If Kyrie’s periodic moods were problematic enough for the C’s, imagine what it would be like to exchange two high character guys for a spoiled brat.
The rest of the links
Boston Herald: Walker inching closer to return for shorthanded Celtics