Enes Kanter

Jayson Tatum Orlando
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No, Jayson Tatum will not sit out Orlando restart due to injury concerns

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Jayson Tatum is going to get a max contract extension this offseason.

So is Donovan Mitchell in Utah. There are big paydays coming fall for Bam Adebayo in Miami, De'Aaron Fox in Sacramento, and Kyle Kuzma with the Lakers. Which is why the five of them spearheaded a negotiation with the NBA to set up some injury insurance for the restart in Orlando.

This led to a report the Celtics’ Tatum was “reluctant to return” and might sit out the restart. That is not the case, he’s playing reports A. Sherrod Blakely at NBC Sports Boston.

Jayson Tatum is not considering sitting out the restart of the season due to contract concerns, according to two league sources familiar with the Celtics All-Star’s plans…

“Not true,” a source told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s concerned like every other player about returning to play. There’s a lot … going on in the world that players need to be more concerned about. But sitting out because of the contract? Hell no!”

Another league source indicated the concern over the coronavirus and the league’s plans on addressing it within the bubble-like atmosphere of Orlando, Fla. whose positive test results for the COVID-19 virus have been on the rise, were the bigger concerns for the 22-year-old.

Those latter two issues — Black Lives Matter/social justice issues, and the rise in coronavirus cases in Florida and the Orlando area — exist for a lot of players, as well as for the NBA.

Boston may be the team in the East best poised to knock off Milwaukee. With a balanced and switchable 1-4 or Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Tatum, plus Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter at the five, the Celtics are a dangerous offensive team that was top five in defense this season before the interruption. Tatum knows that and he will be back to play.

He’s just got concerns. Like a lot of players.

Brad Stevens letter to Celtics players: ‘Every decent person is hurting’

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BOSTON — Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes the best way he can be helpful to his players right now is by listening to them.

Boston players including Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier have been among several NBA players to participate in recent protests following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis last month after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck as he begged for air.

Demonstrations have taken place in cities around the country in response to the incident, which was captured in a widely seen video that has mobilized protesters. A medical examiner ruled Monday that Floyd’s heart stopped as police restrained him and compressed his neck.

It all prompted Stevens to write a letter to his players over the weekend in which he expressed his support for them.

“I think the thing that I wanted them to know is that every decent person is hurting,” Stevens said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “Every decent person feels the pain of the African American community. But I also don’t want to pretend like I know the exact, distinct pain. So what I wanted them to know is that I’m with them.”

The Celtics were among several professional sports teams to issue statements in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, saying in part that it and other similar incidents “have left the entire Celtics organization struggling with grief and anger.”

The resulting national dialogue has reminded Stevens of the discussions he had with players prior to the 2016-17 season during the height of Colin Kaepernick’s protests when he took a knee during the national anthem prior to NFL games to protest police brutality. Stevens said those protests prompted players to share their own experiences with racial profiling and discrimination.

Brown, who grew up outside of Atlanta, drove 15 hours from Boston to

It’s the kind of action Steven has come to expect from the 23-year-old.

“I’m not surprised with him taking a leadership role,” Stevens said. “That’s who he is.”

Floyd’s death and the resulting demonstrations come at a time during which NBA leadership is trying to formulate a plan to possibly resume the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stevens said the proposals are promising, but that most talk about basketball has taken a backseat in recent days.

Several Celtics players did begin to take part in voluntary, individual workouts at the team’s practice facility Monday. The team is also having regular meetings via video conferencing.

But Stevens said they have mostly been focusing on the mental well-being of athletes since the start of the pandemic and that’s continued during the demonstrations.

NBA coaches use break to prepare for possible playoff matchups

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With NBA games indefinitely on hold, there has been a lot of discussion about postseason possibilities — including by coaches around the league.

They’re preparing for what a resumption of the season that was shut down March 11 could look like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse said he’s trying to prepare for every possibility that would allow the Raptors a chance to defend their title.

“We’re ready for whatever is thrown at us,” Nurse said recently during a conference call with reporters. “I don’t think it really matters. What matters is that we attack the title in whatever format it’s going to be presented in and we go for it.”

No one knows what will be thrown at the NBA or the rest of the sports world. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising against large gatherings make the calendar a major factor in how the league could resume its season.

The ideas are many, from a shortened version of the remaining schedule played without fans to the very real possibility of jumping straight into the playoffs to ensure a season is completed before the end of summer.

Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said he has spent part of this hiatus studying the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets — the Bucks’ two most likely first-round playoff foes — as well as other Eastern Conference teams.

Nurse had already begun thinking postseason before the season was suspended.

“When we hit March 1, we’ve got a kind of playoff prepping plan thing that kicks in,” the Raptors coach said. “We spread the teams around our staff members and they prepare a pretty detailed couple of hour video sessions.

“They would normally come into my office and start showing that to me one-on-one. It’s a two-hour video that we go through probably in about three hours on certain teams in the East and then a handful of them in the West as well.

“The coaches were started in on that already and they’ll continue on that. The only difference is there’s no real one-one-one time with me yet. They’ll probably just have to send me their edit and then I’ll just have to watch them and talk to them on the phone.”

If the NBA resumes the season with the start of the postseason, Nurse and Toronto would be the No. 2 seed in the East and would host No. 7 Brooklyn. Other matchups would be: No. 1 Milwaukee vs. No. 8 Orlando; No. 3 Boston vs No. 6 Philadelphia; and No. 4 Miami vs No. 5 Indiana.

In the West: No. 1 LA Lakers vs No. 8 Memphis; No. 2 LA Clippers vs No. 7 Dallas; No. 3 Denver vs No. 6 Houston; No. 4 Utah vs No. 5 Oklahoma City.

As good as the matchups look on paper, the play could be sloppy.

Celtics center Enes Kanter estimates it would take at least two to three weeks for players to get their bodies in game shape. Part of the reason, he said, is the time players have had away from the court.

Kanter believes a training camp-like period would probably be needed.

“You can’t just say ‘OK, we’re going to play the games a week later.’ Some players are doing some things. Some players are in their apartments not doing anything,” Kanter said during a conference call. “We need to make sure everybody is doing their stuff and is in good shape to go out there and compete if we jump straight into playoffs.”

Kanter said a training camp setting would also help players refocus. He said while he’s staying in shape, he’s also spending time reading, watching documentaries and teaching himself to cook and play the piano.

It’s clear time is not the NBA’s friend.

Monday marked the 26th day of the shutdown, a stoppage that has already cost the league more than 100 games. And the CDC is recommending that no in-person events involving 10 or more people be held through the end of April as the U.S. fights the spread of the pandemic. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday the league would not make any decisions about resuming the season until May at the earliest.

Kanter said if a decision is made to jump straight to the postseason, he hopes the length of the series won’t be affected.

“We’re competitors, man. We want to go out there and push through and finish the season,” he said. “It’s crazy because we have a really good chance to go out there and get a championship. So, it’s like for sure you want to go out there and compete.”

Enes Kanter: It will take a minimum of 2-to-3 weeks for players to be ready to play games

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In a recent conference call with the media, Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter says it will take NBA players a minimum of two-to-three weeks to be ready to play games.

Kanter said the reason is the amount of time players have been away from their regular practice and workout routines. Kanter said he believes a training camp-style period is needed. He says it would help players re-focus after being away from the game for so long.

“You can’t just say ‘OK, we’re going to play the games a week later.’ Some players are doing some things. Some players are in their apartments not doing anything,” Kanter said. “We need to make sure everybody is doing their stuff and is in good shape to go out there and compete if we jump straight into playoffs.”

NBA trainers also believe there will need to be some ramp up time. Otherwise, player could face injuries due to jumping right back into playing.

The NBA suspended operations on Wednesday, March 11. This coming Wednesday, April 8, will be four weeks since the NBA put the season on pause.

Initially, the league allowed players to still use practice facilities to stay in shape. That practice was ended shortly thereafter, as many cities and states went to a mandatory shelter-in-place.

Mock NBA expansion draft: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, Raptors

Mock NBA expansion draft
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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division. Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Atlantic:

Boston Celtics

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 7

Ineligible – 0

Analysis: Boston’s decisions are fairly cut and dry. Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams are all on their rookie-scale contracts. Jaylen Brown will be starting a four-year contract extension. Kemba Walker was just signed to a max contract. Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are good values and key rotation players.

The toughest decision was on Gordon Hayward. Carrying a salary over $34 million, the Celtics are betting he’ll go undrafted and will return to the team. Everyone else was a fairly easy decision to leave unprotected.

Brooklyn Nets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: The Nets are keeping their big four in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen is still on his rookie-scale contract, so that’s an easy decision. With over $101 million on the books for just Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie and LeVert, Nicolas Claxton and Rodions Kurucs help bring some low-cost upside to the back-end of the roster.

DeAndre Jordan will likely go unselected, given his age and $30 million-plus owed through 2022-23. If Jordan is selected, Brooklyn can bank some potential luxury tax savings down the line. Taurean Prince was on the fence, but given his disappointing play this season, and lack of fit in a lineup featuring Durant, the Nets will take their chances he’ll be selected.

New York Knicks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 6

Ineligible – 1

  • Maurice Harkless

Analysis: The Knicks are clearing the decks for a run at free agency this summer. The expansion draft could only help along that way. New York is protecting their young players with upside, as well as Julius Randle, last year’s big free agent addition. The Knicks are also protecting Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. Not out of fear of losing them, but in hopes that either of the expansion teams will select a bigger salary and take it off the New York cap sheet.

Dennis Smith Jr. was the only questionable player to leave unprotected, but $5.7 million is simply too much for a player out of the rotation. The other five players aren’t part of the future in New York, so that decision was easy.

Philadelphia 76ers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: Philadelphia’s decisions make themselves. The highly paid players are key rotation players. Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton are steals on minimum contracts. Matisse Thybulle is only entering year two of his rookie scale deal. Zhaire Smith was on the bubble, but he’s young enough, and under team control, that he’s worth protecting.

Al Horford is very unprotected. His signing simply hasn’t worked out for the Sixers. He’s a player Philadelphia is open to talking about a trade with either of the expansion teams. With an extra first-round pick, the 76ers hope to dangle it to entice a team to select Horford.

Toronto Raptors

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: The Raptors don’t have to expose any of their core rotation players in the expansion draft. Up front, Pascal Siakam just inked his contract extension, and OG Anunoby is still on his rookie scale deal. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all free agents. In the backcourt, Toronto can protect Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, along with undrafted find Terence Davis. And Fred VanVleet is a free agent.

The leaves just a handful of players who don’t have a role for the Raptors. Toronto could even entertain offering a second-round pick to entice either expansion team to select Stanley Johnson and take his $3.8 million off the cap/tax.