Another report Jaylen Brown still ‘all-in’ on Boston Celtics

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Jaylen Brown was unhappy to see his name in the middle of the Kevin Durant trade rumors.

Did Boston fracture its relationship with one of the core players that led it to the NBA Finals (and, one could argue, was the Celtics’ best player against the Warriors)? A guy who could leave as a free agent in a couple of years?

Apparently not. This has been reported before, and now Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com quotes a league executive who thinks everything is still good between the Celtics and Brown.

“I think Jaylen IS long term,” this latter source told Heavy. “If they want him long term and they’re going to pay him the contract he deserves, I think he’s all-in on Boston. From everything I’ve been told, Jaylen’s a loyal guy. I know frustration can happen when things aren’t going well, and I think we saw some of that earlier in this past season.

“But when you take a step back and look at things, I think he wants to be there. And any problems that could ever happen with that relationship would probably have to come from him getting the idea that they’re not in on him. And right now I don’t see that from the Celtics. I think they know what they have in Jaylen — now and for the future — and they want to keep that going.

“But, like I said, it’s Kevin f****** Durant, and you know Brooklyn is going to want to talk about Jaylen. Even if stuff about trade talks wasn’t getting leaked and reported, anyone with a brain would know that Jaylen’s name is going to come up at some point if they’re talking to Boston.”

That last point is key: All the reputable reporting on Brooklyn and Boston trade talks said things had fallen apart a couple of weeks before the report leaked to the public. Things have not changed between the Nets and Celtics since. So why all the drips of new news to keep trade talks in the headlines and on the front burner? Because it benefits the Nets and Durant. (The Celtics appeared to finally counter leak with the report the Nets first ask was for Jayson Tatum and Brown.) It’s not unlike Durant’s ultimatum to Nets owner Joe Tsai — Durant’s camp made the request, knowing Tsai would never go for it, then leaked it just to put pressure on Brooklyn. If Durant really wanted (and thought he could get) a regime change in Brooklyn, he would have made that demand to Tsai in April/May, not August.

Celtics president Brad Stevens has likely been in touch and been transparent with Brown through this process. Brown also understands, as the best player mentioned as on the table in a Durant trade, that it is in the Nets’ interest to keep the story alive. Even if the trade itself is not.

More and more, the Durant saga appears like it will drag out into training camp, when commitments will get tested. Is Durant, a guy who has built the reputation of a superstar who puts the game first and just wants to play, willing to hold out? Will the Nets have the stomach for the drama and intense media spotlight that will come with a training camp where questions about Durant (and Kyrie Irving) hang over them?

The drama is not near over in Brooklyn, which means it’s not over for Brown, either.

Celtics lock-up Al Horford with two-year, $20 million extension

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Brad Stevens has locked up the core of this Celtics team — the one that reached the Finals last season and has the best record in the NBA to start this one — through the summer of 2025.

They did that with a two-year, $20 million extension (that kicks in next season). The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the Celtics.

Horford, 36, is making $26.5 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $109 million deal he signed in Philadelphia. While he never fit well as a stretch four next to Joel Embiid, he has worked well as a role player in Boston’s front line. The Celtics have locked him up at a deal closer to the league average and about his value now, at an average of $10 million a season (both years are fully guaranteed). It’s a fair deal for both sides, and a low enough number that if Father Time starts to win the race it doesn’t hurt Boston much.

With Robert Williams still out following knee surgery, Horford has seen his minutes increase to start this season but he has handled it well, averaging  10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, shooting 55.5% overall and 48.8% from 3-point range. Joe Mazzulla will likely try to get Horford some rest down the line when he can, but for now he’s leaning on the veteran.

And the team has rewarded him.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.