Celtics owner calls team ‘overrated’, gives ‘green light’ for luxury-tax spending

2022 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Miami Heat
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Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck wasn’t mincing his words.

In a recent interview with Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe, Grousbeck described Boston’s team as “overrated” going into the 2022-23 season:

I really loved being part of the Celtics throughout that run [to the Finals] … The other side of the coin is I think that we’ve now been overrated … [We were] a finalist and two wins away from winning it, but when you look back, Brooklyn was a tough series, and then we had to go seven games [vs. Milwaukee and Miami]. Then we lost [vs. Golden State]. So, we’re not a hands-down team to repeat as Eastern Conference champions. I think we’re a quality team.

Grousbeck is strategically tamping down expectations for his “quality team,” which boasts impressive roster continuity, studded with elite talent on both ends of the court.

Offensively, the Celtics finished last season top-10 in Effective FG% and True Shooting %. They continue to revolve around one of the league’s ascendant stars in Jayson Tatum, plus the luxury of a secondary 22+ point scorer in Jaylen Brown.

On the other end of the court, they finished last year with the best Defensive Rating in the league. They’ll bring back the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart, the player with the third-best-odds to win 2022-23’s DPoY award in Robert Williams, and the versatility and vocal leadership of veteran Al Horford.

They also bolstered their depth by adding reliable playmaker Malcolm Brogdon as a sixth-man. Their lone offseason setback was new arrival Danilo Gallinari tearing his left ACL while playing for Italy’s national team.

It’s easy to see why current betting odds on PointsBet have the Celtics as the NBA Championship favorites at +550, ahead of the Warriors (+650), Bucks (+650), Clippers (+700) and Nets (+800). But that isn’t preventing Grousbeck from opening his checkbook for further roster improvements. He said team president Brad Stevens has a “green light” to improve the team however he can, even if Boston goes deep into the luxury tax.

I think we’re spending about $200 million on the roster this year, and Brad has the green light to spend more … And we’re in the mode right now of completely adding on. Are you going to trade future draft picks and young players under 30? Hopefully not. But money is not a consideration whatsoever, and this roster shows that.

As for why Grousbeck is noisily downplaying his team’s odds to win it all in 2022-23? He gave it away later in the interview. “Now there are huge expectations and we’re favored to win,” he said. “And we crumbled last fall with less pressure. So, I am apprehensive.” The betting markets, however, are not.

Report: Draymond Green facing potential discipline after fight with Jordan Poole

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Warriors practice got heated on Wednesday and Draymond Green reportedly escalated some chest bumping with Jordan Poole and punches were thrown. The team is now considering internal disciple, according to The Athletic.

When a heated interaction with guard Jordan Poole escalated, Green forcefully struck Poole and needed to be separated swiftly, sources said. Green and Poole came chest-to-chest, with both players pushing and shoving each other prior to Green’s escalation of the physical altercation, those sources said.

There aren’t details of the incident beyond that description (at least so far), although several reporters have confirmed the was a fight and the two had to be broken up. Poole was seen getting up shots after practice when the media was allowed in and reportedly was joking with teammates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Tweeted out what feels like the Draymond Green camp spin on the incident.

Poole is on the verge of an extension to his rookie contract, one where Tylyer Herro just set the market.

There is a history of tension between Green and Poole, including a public flare-up between the duo early last season, but the two talked after and smoothed things over. At least for a while.

What punishment Green will face from the team remains to be seen.

Green had hoped for an extension from the Warriors this offseason but there were limited discussions between the parties. Green can opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.

Wizards’ Kispert likely to miss start of season due to sprained ankle

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The Washington Wizards made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league last season. They didn’t take a lot (second fewest) and didn’t make the ones they took (fifth lowest percentage). One goal for Wes Unlseld Jr. this season was to change that dynamic, and second-year player Corey Kispert was a big part of that plan.

Now Kispert is out through at least the start of the season, sidelined 4-6 weeks by a sprained ankle, the team announced Wednesday.

The injury happened on a fluke play in Japan against the Warriors, but Kispert shouldn’t miss much time once the real games start. The Wizards are a little short on the wing right now with Kispert joining Deni Avdija (groin injury) in the training room.

Kispert took 62% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and hit 35% of them, both solid numbers but ones Wizards hoped would improve for the 6’6″ wing this season.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.