|10.25.16 at 8:08 pm ET|
WALTHAM — The battle of Craig Sager has been one that has touched nearly everyone in the NBA.
The most colorful broadcaster in sports is again battling acute myeloid leukemia.
After practice and before speaking with reporters, coaches and players put on multi-colored spotted shirts, symbolic of the bright and colorful suits only Sager could wear. The team then took a picture and shouted the words “Sager Strong!” to a camera for the purpose of sending get-well wishes to the man who has become an institution on NBA sidelines over his long and successful career.
The shirts are for sale for $29.99 at the SagerStrong Foundation website, with proceeds going to benefit the foundation’s mission of cancer research and education.
For Sager, who announced in March that his cancer had come out of remission, the prognosis is not great, and that was evident again on the face of Isaiah Thomas Tuesday after Celtics practice.
“These [shirts] are Craig Sager. A guy that means a lot to this game of basketball,” Thomas said with a heavy heart. “A guy who means a lot to the NBA, the NBA family. And we just wish him well, and we’re praying for him and his family daily. The shirts are nice. They look like something he would wear. I wouldn’t wear them but I know he would.”
Sager’s son, Craig Jr. helped save Sager’s life as he was a match for the bone marrow transplant needed to push Sager into remission in 2014. But in March, doctors had told him that he had 3–6 months to live without treatment. On July 29, Sager underwent bone marrow surgery.
|10.25.16 at 3:40 pm ET|
WALTHAM – Isaiah Thomas is well aware of the lofty expectations of most Celtics fans this season.
The All-Star guard from a year ago has his own goals heading into the 2016-17 season opener Wednesday against the Nets.
“To be another All-Star. All-NBA. Win a playoff series and go from there. That wasn’t in order, but those are definitely goals of mine. And first off, I definitely want to win a playoff series. So that’s the most important. But individual things, I have a lot of goals I want to achieve.” Thomas said after Tuesday’s final practice before the opener.
The Celtics are coming off a 48-34 season in Brad Stevens’ third year with the team. What is the next step? What is the potential of this Celtics’ unit?
“If we can put it all together, we could be special,” Thomas said, before hedging. “I’m not going to say we’re going to go to the NBA Finals or do none of that, but like I said before teams know we can be really good. We just have to put it together and find our identity, which is on the defensive end. And if we do that everything else will take care of itself.”
Thomas was asked if he’s going to be paying any attention to the season of his opponent Wednesday night, the Brooklyn Nets. If the Nets finish with the worst record in the league, the Celtics will have a very good chance of the top overall pick.
“I worry about scoring the ball, getting my teammates involved and winning games,” Thomas said. “I don’t know nothing about those first-round picks. And I wasn’t a first-round pick so I don’t care about first-rounders.”
What Thomas has seen so far in practice and the preseason gives him plenty of reason to be optimistic.
“We played pretty well. I think overall as a group we’re ahead of the curve. We showed glimpses of how good we can be, and then we also showed glimpses of we’re not that great at the same time. But that happens in preseason. So hopefully we got all the kinks out and we can be perfect [Wednesday].”
Thomas sounded anxious to get past the preseason and the practices and start playing games that count.
“They’ve been important,” he said of preseason games. “Paying attention to detail more. Just trying to lock in on the things we do well and get better at the things we don’t do as well, and worry about us. Now it finally means something to play. So, we’re ready. I’ve been ready. I’ve been ready for the preseason to be over and things to start counting.”
|10.25.16 at 2:57 pm ET|
WALTHAM – When Marcus Smart went down with a left ankle injury against the Knicks in the preseason finale, he knew the timing was bad.
Smart has been working hard ever since the end of Game 6 of the Hawks series to be the leader of a Celtics team ready to take that next step. Then he took a wrong step against the Knicks last Wednesday and his season has been put on hold for at least two weeks, as he announced after Tuesday’s practice.
“A couple weeks. That’s the projection that they gave me, really just not trying to rush anything and just trying to make sure that we can limit this from happening again,” Smart said. “We’re taking every precaution we can with it.”
But that means Smart, the projected sixth man for Brad Stevens, won’t be suiting up against the Nets when the season tips off Wednesday at TD Garden.
“It sucks. It does suck just because you work so hard and, especially with these guys out here, you’ve been in the battles in practice and the fighting, and preseason,” Smart lamented. “I mean, the last game of preseason you get hurt, everything’s going wrong for you. But I’m optimistic about it and this team is. I’m just waiting to come back and get on the court with those guys.”
The best sign Tuesday was the sight of Smart on the sideline, chirping at his teammates and not wearing a boot on the injury foot.
“I’m feeling better. The swelling’s going down,” Smart said. “I’ve been in the training room, working with those guys and trying to help strengthen the ankle and get all the fluid out. It shouldn’t be too long. But like I said, better safe than sorry.”
Marcus Smart says he's out 2 weeks with ankle sprain. Opener definitely "off the table" pic.twitter.com/c20QXGcwCd
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) October 25, 2016
|10.24.16 at 1:20 pm ET|
The Celtics have trimmed their roster for the start of the regular season, and former first-round pick R.J. Hunter was the final casualty, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed on Monday.
The team’s decision came down to Hunter vs. James Young, a pair of shooters who have thus far underachieved.
“James won the job,” Ainge said. “He played well. Day in, day out for the last six weeks, James was there.”
“I really like R.J.,” Ainge added. “He’s a great kid. He’s a good player and he had a good training camp also. So yeah, it’s disappointing. I think R.J. will get a chance somewhere. He’s a good player.”
The Celtics selected Hunter 28th overall in 2015, but he never cracked the rotation or established himself as a consistent marksman. He shot just .367 overall and .302 on 3-pointers.
His dad, Ron Hunter, told the Boston Globe that R.J. will move on. Hunter turned 23 on Monday.
“He’s disappointed,” Ron Hunter said. “For a kid to get waived on his birthday isn’t the best way to celebrate your birthday. But he understands this is a business and there will be another opportunity for him.”
The Celtics drafted Young, 21, with the 17th pick in the 2014 draft. He has averaged 2.2 points in 60 career games.
|10.21.16 at 6:01 pm ET|
In the effort to trim the roster down to the maximum 15 players by next Wednesday’s opener against the Nets, the Celtics have said goodbye to another draft pick.
The team announced Friday that Ben Bentil, the second round pick out of Providence this June (51st overall), has been released while veteran swingman Gerald Green will make the final roster to begin the season. Bentil does receive a $250,000 guarantee after signing his rookie deal after the draft. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg was the first to report the news.
Bentil appeared in three preseason games for the Celtics, averaging 5.0 points, and 4.3 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.
Friday’s move means the Celtics roster stands at 16, one above the roster limit to start the season. Ainge indicated that former first-round picks James Young and R.J. Hunter are likely to battle it out for that last spot, unless he can swing a deal with a team, exchanging a player or two for a future draft pick. That would free up a roster spot and allowed the Celtics to finalize their opening night roster.
Ainge indicated that he and the organization would likely take the weekend to consider all possibilities before making a move on Monday. Green said Friday he had not been formally told he had made the team and said he was still trying to prove himself after missing time at the start of camp with a hip flexor injury.
Friday’s move means the Celtics have just two of eight picks left on their roster from June’s draft: No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown and No. 45 selection Demetrius Jackson out of Notre Dame.
On Thursday, the Celtics began their roster trimming by releasing camp invites Marcus Georges-Hunt, Damion Lee and Jalen Jones. All three players are expected to land with the team’s D-League affiliate in Maine, a possible destination for Bentil as well.
|10.21.16 at 1:48 pm ET|
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Celtics are trying to use a trade in order to find their final piece on the roster.
As cutdown looms, the Celtics continue to offer James Young or RJ Hunter for a second-round pick, league sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) October 21, 2016
The decision to finalize the Celtics’ roster is Oct. 26. Hunter and Young are considered the two candidates vying for the one spot. For more on that battle, click here.
|10.19.16 at 10:19 pm ET|
The Celtics ran into their first bump in the road, Wednesday night.
With 48 seconds left in the first half of the Celts’ preseason game against the Knicks, guard Marcus Smart injured his left ankle. Smart was helped off the floor and into the locker room, not putting any weight on the ankle.
According to multiple reports, Smart’s injury almost certainly will keep him out of next week’s opener against Brooklyn.
— Celtics News (@CelticsNewsNBA) October 20, 2016
Smart has experienced shooting problems throughout the preseason, going 3-for-22 from beyond the 3-point stripe. The guard was 1-for-5 from the floor in his 16 minutes before his injury in the preseason finale.
#Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the severity of Marcus Smart's ankle injury will have no impact on final roster spot decisions.
— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) October 20, 2016
Marcus Smart leaves Garden on crutches with boot on left ankle… He was more than a little frustrated.
— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) October 20, 2016
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