Celtics Mailbag: Ime Udoka Should Fix Mistake on Key Young Player

Ime Udoka, Celtics coach (center)

Getty Ime Udoka, Celtics coach (center)

Welcome to the latest installment of Heavy Sports’ NBA mailbag.

Insider Steve Bulpett will answer your questions — those pertaining to current league issues and even some off-beat perspective and opinion from his 37 years covering the NBA. (Want to know what former league city he misses most? Want to know about the Celtics’ first ever trip to Sacramento?)

We’ll try to tackle it all here in the Heavy mailbag.

Leave your questions in the comments section below, send them on Twitter to @SeanDeveney or email them to sean.deveney@heavy.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Payton Pritchard’s Limited Minutes & Melo Chase

I don’t understand why Payton (Pritchard) doesn’t get more play. I am sure he would get more consistent in his 3’s, but they do have to set him up more.



I think one of the Celtics’ problems early last season was the underutilization of Pritchard. And I think part of that was first-time head coach Ime Udoka’s comfort with going with the veteran Dennis Schroder rather than a second-year guard.

Pritchard didn’t do so well with the limited playing time, but that’s understandable. Shooters need touches to stay in rhythm, and he certainly proved his worth when his court time increased. And it’s not a coincidence that Pritchard fell off in the Finals when his minutes and shots were cut.

As one source pointed out in a recent Heavy Sports story, the Celts should have been letting people like Pritchard push the ball up the floor against the Warriors rather than letting Jayson Tatum get tired out bringing the ball up against pressure.

The only real issue with Pritchard is his size and, thus, ability to switch effectively onto bigger people in the Celts’ defensive scheme.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Pritchard fits in this season after the acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon.


Carmelo Anthony news?

The Prodigy


I’m hearing nothing solid on this front, but if, after getting further word on Danilo Gallinari’s timetable post-surgery, that spot is open, I’d be in favor of bringing Anthony in.

Carmelo’s mindset is miles away from the guy just racking up numbers in New York. I believe he’d fit in well with a team that could need some veteran minutes in the playoffs. And, as far as criticism for his defense, well, Gallinari was not exactly expected to be a stopper.

What the Celts were looking for from Danilo — and can get from Anthony — is a shooter with a steadier hand.

It would be nice if Sam Hauser can come in this season and play so well he forces the Celtics’ hand and makes Melo superfluous, but at this point they can’t count on that. And if the club truly believed that would happen, it wouldn’t have acquired Gallinari in the first place.

Is Grant Williams the best defensive player on the Celtics? Should he get more money than Marcus Smart?

Brian T.

North Reading, Massachusetts

Grant Williams is a very versatile and effective defender, but his name is not Marcus Smart or Rob Williams, so therefore I do not believe he is the Celtics’ best defensive player. Grant has a key role in the Celts’ scheme at that end of the floor, but those other two dudes can have a far deeper impact on the game.

The financial part is hard to quantify because it’s mainly about timing. Grant Williams is still on his rookie deal, so he won’t be able to get a better payday until he signs an extension now or as a restricted free agent after the coming season.

But in terms of their value around the league, Smart is seen as being worth more.

Fond Memories of Reggie Lewis

I’d be curious to hear any fond memories of Reggie Lewis.

Ryan Alston


Have you got a few hours?

I always loved how Reggie’s easy-going demeanor belied his deep confidence and competitiveness. And he was the easiest laugh in the Celtics’ dressing room when we’d crack our dumb jokes. For example, he’d have a bad shooting night and you’d ask if he’d joined the ironworkers union. Reggie would respond with a wide smile and quiet laugh — then bust out the next night, look over to the writers’ table and grin.

Years ago, the Celtics had a golf and tennis outing/tournament for charity. I wasn’t yet a golfer (friends would say I’m still not), and Reggie and I would up playing with different groups in the tennis event. In the usual trash talk, we decided to play a singles set when it was through. Problem was, you had to win by two games, and it went on and on. Celtic people were coming by telling Reggie that he was late for the dining program, but with the barbs and laughs and trying to win the damn set, he was having too much fun.

The last story I’ll share, one I’ve written a few times, isn’t really a fond memory at all. On June 19, 1986, at the end of my first full year on the Celtics’ beat, I was awakened by my editor with news that Len Bias had died and that I’d been booked on an 11 a.m. flight to D.C. That night, exhausted as I sat in my room at the Quality Inn in College Park, Maryland, I said to myself that at least I’d know this was the most difficult thing I’d ever have to cover.

I never should have said it. Seven years later, Reggie passed away.


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