No longer the little team that could, Celtics may need time to jell

No longer the little team that could, Celtics may need time to jell

Fireworks have been ablaze in the NBA all summer long, with the latest electrifying salvo being tossed by the Boston Celtics in trading for Kyrie Irving from Cleveland in exchange for a package of playerscentered around Isaiah Thomas and a first-round pick centered around Isaiah Thomas. Without question the Celtics were among the biggest winners this offseason as they went about transforming their roster significantly despite having the best record in the East while advancing to the conference finals. But good wasn’t good enough, a similar mantra by a number of teams in the NBA. We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin!

BOSTON – Expectations for the Celtics this season are the highest they've been in the Brad Stevens Era.
 
The past couple of years, Stevens’ crew was seen as a scrappy bunch.
 
That all changed Tuesday night when the Celtics pulled off a blockbuster trade in acquiring Kyrie Irving from Cleveland for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

MORE ON THE KYRIE IRVING BLOCKBUSTER:

 
Acquiring the four-time All-Star would have made this offseason one of the best ever for the Celtics. But prior to landing the 25-year-old point guard, Boston was able to sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $127.8 million contract after he spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz.
 
The new guys join a Celtics team that returns just four starters, a group led by Al Horford, who stands as the lone returning starter from last season’s squad which finished with the best record in the East (53-29) while advancing to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in five games to Cleveland.
 
Adding a pair of All-Stars to the mix will certainly benefit the Celtics for this upcoming season. But for their continued growth, they will also need to get more from their youngsters.
 
Second-year forward Jaylen Brown had a strong offseason and is poised to build off of a rookie season in which he was named to the All-Rookie second team. Boston will also look to get quality play from rookie Jayson Tatum who was selected by Boston with the third overall pick in the NBA draft.  
 
For Boston, the biggest concern has to be chemistry.
 
There’s no question there’s more talent on this roster from top to bottom.
 
But with this being the first go-around for most of the players, it remains to be seen just how long it will take for all of the core players to get on the same page and find success.
 
That challenge won’t be easy, especially with the Celtics opening with seven of their first 11 games on the road.

Even with all the new faces and a challenging schedule out the gates, that won’t diminish the heightened level of expectations for a team that will surely have a bull’s-eye on its back all season for a journey that should result in yet another deep playoff run.
 
Key free agent/trade additions: Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland); Gordon Hayward (from Utah); Aron Baynes (from Detroit); Marcus Morris (from Detroit).
 
Key losses:
Avery Bradley (traded to Detroit); Amir Johnson (Philadelphia); Jonas Jerebko (Utah).
 
Rookies of note:
Jayson Tatum; Semi Ojeleye.
 
Expectations:
60-22 (First in the Atlantic Division, first in the East)

Grousbeck: Irving is 'a transcendent player'

Grousbeck: Irving is 'a transcendent player'

BOSTON – When it comes to winning, all NBA teams try to straddle that fine line between racking up victories in the present with nurturing success for the future.

Achieving both was among the many reasons why the Boston Celtics pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal Tuesday night to acquire Kyrie Irving from Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to an unprotected 2018 first-round pick from Brooklyn.

MORE CELTICS NEWS

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck spoke about the trade on Wednesday at a Topping Off Ceremony for the Auerbach Center at New Balance World Headquarters.

“He’s a transcendent player,” Grousbeck told reporters, referring to Irving. “We are excited to put him together with Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Marcus Smart.”

Grousbeck didn’t hesitate to make it absolutely clear why the trade was made.

“We want this team to go for Banner 18,” he said. “We need to get the best possible players. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

In Irving, the Celtics add a 25-year-old point guard who has already been named to four all-star teams which includes being a starter, not to mention Irving is also a gold medal-winning Olympian who also has an NBA title to his long list of accolades. 

Having won more games last season (53) than any team in the East, there was a tremendous amount of pressure on the Celtics to be even better this season before the trade.

They signed Gordon Hayward, one of the top free agents available after having spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz. 

Boston had the number one pick, but traded down two spots with Philadelphia for the No. 3 pick and a future first-round selection, and still managed to get the player they wanted all along - Jayson Tatum. 

Now with Irving on the roster, expectations for the Celtics will be even greater.

But you won’t find Grousbeck making any bold predictions, especially when asked about whether the trade puts his Celtics ahead of the Cavaliers who knocked Boston off in the Eastern Conference finals in just five games. 

“I’m not going to make any predictions about that,” Grousbeck said. “I think we’re in a good position to represent Celtic pride well. We have a strong team, an up and coming team, a young team with more youth on the way. We want to be good for a sustained period of time and it starts now.”

CSNNE SCHEDULE

Tatum on Duke reunion with Irving: 'Just as surprised as everyone else'

Tatum on Duke reunion with Irving: 'Just as surprised as everyone else'

BOSTON – You can add Jayson Tatum to the list of folks who were shocked by the news that four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving was coming to Boston.
 
The Celtics engineered a trade with Cleveland Tuesday night that sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick, to the Cavs for Irving.
 
“I was just as surprised as everyone else,” Tatum told reporters on Wednesday. “I saw my name come up. I didn’t know if I was going to get traded.”

MORE ON THE KYRIE IRVING BLOCKBUSTER:

 When Boston and Cleveland talked earlier about a possible trade, the Cavs had indicated they wanted to do a deal but wanted Tatum included, according to a league source.
 
The Celtics refused, which led to the Cavs trying to pursue a deal with teams out West.
 
When that didn’t pan out, sources said they re-ignited talks with Boston who remained committed to getting a deal done that would not involve Tatum, who was selected with the third overall pick by Boston in the NBA draft. 

While most of the Celtics will spend the coming weeks getting to know Irving, that’s one area where the 19-year-old Tatum is ahead of the game relative to his older, more seasoned teammates.
 
Both he and Irving left Duke after just one season – Irving in 2011, Tatum in June of this year. In addition, the two are also represented by the same agent.
 
It doesn’t end there.
 
Both were in the Bahamas vacationing together this summer, although Tatum said the two had no idea at the time that they would soon become teammates. 

Tatum acknowledged that the two are close, and credits Irving for jump-starting the run of Duke players who left after just one season which includes himself, Harry Giles (first round, 20th overall) and Frank Jackson (second round, 31st overall) this year, as well as top 10 picks Austin Rivers (2012), Jabari Parker (2014), Jahlil Okafor (2015) and Brandon Ingram (2016)
 
“He definitely started that wave of one-and-done guys at Duke,” Tatum said.
 
Spending time with Irving and talking with him, that’s one thing.
 
Playing with him?
 
“I’m pretty sure it’ll be a lot of fun,” Tatum said. “He’s a tremendous player, a superstar in this league.”

CSNNE SCHEDULE