The Boston Celtics appear to have taken a good step forward with the acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon from Indiana (for Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan and a 2023 first round pick). The key may be keeping him on the active roster.
Brogdon has dealt with a series of injuries throughout his career, playing just 36 games last season due to Achilles’ tendon and hamstring injuries. The Celtics are hoping to deal with this issue by lessening his load. He is set to come off the bench after starting every game he’s played since his third season in the NBA (2018-19).
“The knock against him coming out of college is that he had terrible knees,” a rival general manager told Heavy. “I mean, some of the examinations were really suspect in terms of how long his lower body would be able to take NBA pounding. So that’s why he ended up going in the second round, because he was damn near red-flagged.
“So the fact of the matter is he’s probably better off coming off the bench with limited minutes, trying to be impactful in 18 rather than trying to play 30 and always being injured. The question becomes how he’ll accept that.”
Another source noted the opportunity that awaits Brogdon if he embraces a new role, citing the possibility that less could be more — a lot more.
“There have been some issues with coaches before, but now he’s in a really big situation with a team that has a real chance to win everything,” he said. “I hear he’s been putting the right things out there, and I hope he realizes that this is his big opportunity. He doesn’t have to be a big star there — a major minutes guy — to make a big impact. Malcolm Brogdon at his best, if they can keep him on the floor, can make a huge difference in that rotation.
“You know how good Boston’s starters are, so what happens if they can go to the bench and keep the hammer down? Who’s going to be able to keep up with that kind of depth if they lose that stupid one-on-one, stagnant s— and play the right way? If they’d done that consistently against Golden State, they’d be getting rings.
“We’ll see if adding this kind of quality depth makes the difference. It should, but we’ll see.”
Will Celtics Get in the Mix for Kevin Durant?
The Celtics are certainly a longshot in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, though they’ll make their trade pitch to Brooklyn. KD has reportedly stated he’d like to be dealt to either Phoenix or Miami, but the Nets will be acting in their own best interests, not his (in this regard, don’t sleep on Toronto).
And while the Celts may not be atop Durant’s wish list at the moment, there was a time six years ago when they were one of just six teams he agreed to meet with as he decided his free agent fate. Sources told me at the time that Boston’s agreement with prized free agent Al Horford in that summer of 2016 put the club on his dance card.
He, of course, eventually decided on Golden State, but soon after that announcement, I spoke to him at a U.S. Olympic Team practice in Las Vegas and asked how the Celtics had gotten into the running.
“I just like the way they play,” Durant said. “I like their coach [Brad Stevens at the time]. I feel they have some good pieces.”
The Celts pulled out all the stops for their July 2nd meeting in the Hamptons, bringing along one of his favorite athletes, then-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with Danny Ainge and C’s ownership.
Asked his reaction to Brady’s presence and recruiting pitch, Durant said, “I was ready to just say, ‘All right. Let’s go. I’m ready to go,’ seeing Tom Brady there. Just seeing someone so successful at his craft and just a great ambassador for the game of football and the city of Boston, it was just great to be in the presence of greatness.
“But at the same time, I knew I couldn’t let that distract me. But he was great. It was great to see him.”
Six years later, Brady plays in Tampa and Brad Stevens works in the front office. But the Celtics, though now in the championship mix, are still trying to get Durant.
The Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns Pairing in Minnesota
There are high measures of both risk and reward for the Timberwolves in their trade for Rudy Gobert.
Bottom line: After sending Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and four first-rough draft picks to Utah for the 30-year-old center, the move better work. If the pieces don’t fit, it could set the Wolves back for years. Then again, that’s relative, because Minnesota has been to the playoffs just twice in the last 18 years, losing in the first round on both occasions.
But pairing Gobert with the 6-foot-11-inch Karl-Anthony Towns is an interesting hoop mixture when the league is generally going smaller. (The Celtics started Robert Williams and Al Horford, but both are versatile defenders.)
“It changes who they are drastically, that’s for sure,” a coach from one close competitor of the Wolves told Heavy.com. “We’ll see if those two guys can work together. I’m sure Towns is going to love being able to play out on the perimeter more on offense; the question is can he guard anybody out there?
“We know Gobert can’t go out there and defend. There’s more rim protection, but that won’t mean much if all of us are just standing out there open and shooting over them.”
A basketball ops exec from another club took the Gobert question deeper.
“We saw Dallas isolate Gobert in the playoffs to where he wasn’t very productive, and he wasn’t productive because he couldn’t defend out on the floor,” he said. “And, of course, he can’t move the needle at all down at the other end. He can’t offset not being a defensive force by providing offense. So if you eliminate him from being a defensive force by spreading it out on him, you’ve eliminated him.
“If that happens — if the playoffs come and someone starts to isolate Gobert, he’s going to do what Steven Adams did against Minnesota. He’s going to have to go to the bench and be OK with it. Adams didn’t bitch. He supported his team. Gobert has to. If he doesn’t go along with it, then you’ll be in the middle of the playoffs and it’s just… the trade didn’t work. It can be something just like that that decides how this works out. It can be all situational. But if you’re here to win — and win in the playoffs, not just regular season — you have to think about those things. Those things have to work when you need them to.”