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Kyrie Irving reportedly ‘disengaged and detached’ from Celtics

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Winning locker rooms have energy — players are laughing and joking with each other, they talk about plans or places to eat, they throw jokes in as media members interview the guy in the next locker stall over.

The Celtics locker room is quiet. Seemingly every night, according to reports.

The chemistry problems are evident on the court, particularly defensively, as the Celtics have dropped 5-of-6 out of the All-Star break. The issues may start with the guy at the top of the pecking order, Kyrie Irving, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

Sources around the team told me that Irving’s persona has changed, too: He’s become disengaged and detached from those around the team. There is talk that Irving’s friendships on the team start and end with Tatum, with whom he shares an agent. Two sources peg Irving’s change in demeanor to early February, around the time he was asked about the possibility of joining the New York Knicks next season. That’s when Irving infamously said he’d make the best decision for his family and that he didn’t “owe anybody s***.”

Irving joins Kevin Durant and a long line of NBA players who do not like the volume of public speculation around their futures. Which is both understandable and part of the job in today’s NBA. Like it or not. Irving forced his way out of LeBron James‘ shadow in Cleveland but doesn’t seem to like the direct spotlight on him now.

Irving has not been able to lead this Celtics team, one that was a preseason favorite to win the conference and now may not even have home court in the first round of the playoffs (Boston is the five seed, 2.5 back of four seed Philadelphia, and 3 back of the three seed Pacers). All the blame does not fall on Irving — Danny Ainge, Brad Stevens, Al Horford and every player in green gets a share of the blame — but if you’re the leader it’s your job to help break through this.

Irving seems more like a guy with one foot out the door.

That may not happen, and as O’Connor suggests he could sign a one-plus-one with the Celtics if they can secure Anthony Davis via trade. One way or another, the Celtics roster is going to look very different next season.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
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Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.

Kyle Lowry flings in wild 3-pointer (video)

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Kyle Lowry had the ball in his left hand when he felt contact. Not only did he try to sell a foul by flailing his arms, the right-hander tried to draw a shooting foul by hurling an off-balance 31-footer toward the basket.

No continuation. No whistle at all.

But Lowry made the shot, anyway.

Lowry and the Raptors will take it, but they didn’t need a break like that against the Wizards’ dismal defense last night. Toronto won, 140-111.