Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White get important injury updates after playoff exit

The Boston Celtics had a very disappointing end to their season with a dud in Game 7 against the Miami Heat. To make matters worse, key guys like Jayson Tatum, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all enter the offseason with injuries they are going to have to tend to, reports The Athletic’s Jared Weiss.

According to Brad Stevens, Jayson Tatum will be dealing with a nagging ankle sprain, although he feels better already. Malcolm Brogdon might need surgery on his arm and will be determined amongst his camp this summer. Lastly, Derrick White has a small strain in his knee. None of the injuries are excuses for their playoff exit, but it sure is a testament to how much professional athletes put their bodies on the line.

In the end, Celtics fans couldn’t care less if players were injured or not; Boston was a true contender and the only expectation this season was an NBA Finals ring. After the Milwaukee Bucks were outed early in the postseason, the opportunity was golden for the Celtics to return to the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons. Albeit the opportunity, the Heat were simply a more determined team when the series defining moments arrived.

The Celtics in general will be facing a lot of questions this offseason. Number one will be what the future looks like for Jaylen Brown, as rumblings have long been heard that he is ready to branch out and relinquish his spot in Jayson Tatum’s shadow. As key Celtics players tend to injuries this offseason, there will certainly be more news out of Boston regarding the future of the Celtics roster.

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Brad Stevens addresses the surprising factor that disrupted playoff run for Celtics

The Boston Celtics finished the regular season off with the second-best record in the association at 57-25 and held homecourt advantage throughout their time during the playoffs. Unfortunately, these factors proved to have no real impact on their postseason endeavors, as they still wound up falling short of their ultimate goal of attaining banner number 18.

Though there were many reasons for why the C’s were ousted one game shy of the NBA Finals, during his exit interviews held Thursday afternoon, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens revealed what he believes to have played the biggest role in the club’s shortcomings.

“If we’re over .500 at home (in the playoffs) we would have had rest and we’d be in the finals,” Brad Stevens said, via The Athletic’s Jay King.

The Celtics struggled to take advantage of their games held at TD Garden during this year’s postseason. In 11 total contests in front of their home crowd, Boston boasted a highly underwhelming record of 5-6. Interestingly enough, however, while on the road they went on to accumulate a record of 6-3.

The team’s lowly performance in the playoffs despite being a heavy favorite to win it all this season has left a sour taste in the mouths of the franchise’s faithful followers. With this, many have gone on to call for the removal of Joe Mazzulla from his head coaching duties.

However, despite said desires, Brad Stevens noted during his exit interviews that he views the rookie headman as being the best coach for the Celtics moving forward.

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Joe Mazzulla’s Celtics future gets confirmation by Brad Stevens

Since the Boston Celtics were officially eliminated from postseason contention following their forced ouster by the Miami Heat, the subject of Joe Mazzulla’s job security has seemingly been a hot talking point. The first-year head coach showed signs of struggle throughout his inaugural season in Beantown, and both fans and media pundits alike put them on blast during the club’s recent playoff run.

However, though no official word has been made regarding his future with the organization, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reported on the morning of July 1 that, from what he’s been hearing, Joe Mazzulla’s job seems to be safe for the time being.

“Not a huge surprise, but everything I’ve heard the last few days points to Joe Mazzulla being back with the Celtics next year,” Himmelsbach said of Joe Mazzulla.

President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens also chimed in on Mazzulla’s status with the organization, as he essentially confirmed that he would remain with the team heading into the 2023-24 campaign.

However, though it seems that stability is expected to remain present at the head coaching position, Joe Mazzulla’s staff is rumored to be heading toward a major overhaul, as Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic report that many of his assistants could be poached by the club’s former headman Ime Udoka, who now runs the show on the sidelines with the Houston Rockets.

“Then there is the coaching staff, which is widely expected to add a veteran with head coaching experience at the very least. Some of Udoka’s hires, such as Ben Sullivan and Miles, will likely be recruited by Udoka and the Houston Rockets, but sources told The Athletic it’s too early in the process to know what will happen,” King and Weiss reported.

Despite his up-and-down inaugural season leading the charge for the Celtics, Joe Mazzulla still managed to help guide the club to their fifth Eastern Conference Finals appearance in seven seasons and came within just one win of advancing to their second straight NBA Finals before ultimately being bounced by the Heat in a do-or-die Game 7.

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1 big disconnect between Celtics players, Joe Mazzulla in 2022-23 season

The Boston Celtics reportedly were all-in on Joe Mazzulla’s leadership stype, but the roster did not agree with his shift away from a defensive identity that got the team to the NBA Finals in 2022, according to Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

“His leadership is second to none,” a Celtics source said, via King and Weiss. “From speakers to events, he hit all the buttons to galvanize the group. Throughout the season, the things he did to call out (Jayson Tatum) and (Jaylen Brown) all the time, he was super hard on them. When they needed to be called out, he was the first to call them out. When the role players needed to be called out, he called them out too. He shot it straight how he saw it and didn’t care about how it should be done. I thought he developed great relationships with guys because of that.”

Joe Mazzulla’s approach to accountability was different from Ime Udoka’s. Ime Udoka would criticize players through the media, while Mazzulla’s approach was to save criticism behind closed doors.

In the year when the Celtics went to the finals, Robert Williams and Al Horford often started. Mazzulla went with a smaller lineup, usually starting Derrick White and Robert Williams, according to King and Weiss.

It seems likely that Mazzulla will be retained for the 2023-2024 season. The Celtics have big questions to answer otherwise. Jayson Tatum will undoubtedly be back, but will the team offer Jaylen Brown the contract he is eligible for, or will they move off of him? It will be intriguing to track the changes the Celtics make to their roster this summer.

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The demand Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown made to Joe Mazzulla late in regular season

Boston Celtics star wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown may not be the team’s vocal leaders — that title belongs to Marcus Smart and Al Horford — but they are the Celtics’ two best players, and thus, their words carry weight in the locker room.

Tatum and Brown used their influence to demand a rotation shake-up from head coach Joe Mazzulla late in the regular season — specifically, they wanted forward Grant Williams back in the rotation, per a recent article from The Athletic’s Jay King and Jared Weiss:

“The coaching staff believed in Hauser’s offensive production and felt that because opponents were going out of their way to target him and abandon their own offense, his ability to hold up decently in isolation made him impactful. Mazzulla also wanted to get Hauser more experience to prepare him for the playoffs, believing Williams would be ready to go if his number was called. But the team’s veterans believed Williams would be crucial in the playoffs, so Tatum and Brown met with Mazzulla in early March to implore him to put Williams back into the rotation, team sources told The Athletic.”

Grant Williams, 24, has played four years in the NBA, all as a member of the storied Boston Celtics franchise. He averaged 8.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.4 blocks, 1.0 turnovers, and 2.4 personal fouls per game across 79 appearances this season (23 starts).

The former Tennessee star shot the ball with great accuracy from behind the three-point arc in the 2022-23 campaign — Williams’ 39.5% three-point percentage was the second-highest of his pro career.

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RUMOR: Celtics’ Payton Pritchard hopes to be traded this offseason

Just one year after making it to the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics find themselves beginning their offseason earlier than expected. The Celtics lost in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat and they now enter an offseason where they will have to make key decisions pertaining to their roster. All-Star Jaylen Brown is up for an extension, Grant Williams will be a free agent and former first-round pick Payton Pritchard may be ready to take his talents elsewhere.

Pritchard has previously made the notion of him being open to a trade public and now, The Athletic’s Jay King and Jared Weiss are once again shedding light on the 25-year-old guard’s future in Boston. As King and Weiss state, Pritchard has “made it clear he hopes to be traded this summer,” which means current Celtics executive Brad Stevens could be very busy this offseason.

When looking at the Celtics roster, one of their main strengths lies in their backcourt depth. Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all held prominent roles for Boston throughout the 2022-23 season, leaving very little minutes to be had for a player like Pritchard.

While he is a skilled player and a very underrated scorer given his size, Pritchard just isn’t going to see time over the likes of the three lead guards in front of him on the team’s depth chart. This is one of the main reasons why he is wanting a trade and this offseason, he will be entering the final year of his rookie deal.

At this point, it would be in the Celtics’ best interest to trade Pritchard and see what they can get for him, especially since he would undoubtedly leave in free agency next summer. With the league’s new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) rules coming into effect soon, Boston will not be able to keep everyone on their roster. Decisions will need to be made about who stays and who goes, which is why this decision should be an easy one.

Entering his fourth season in the league, Pritchard has played in a total of 185 games for the Celtics, averaging 6.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game while shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range. He had arguably the best game of his young career late in the year, as Pritchard exploded for 30 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists in the final game of the regular season against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Celtics cannot afford to keep Pritchard around on a new contract should they want to hold onto the likes of Brown, Williams and others. This is one of the main reasons, from Boston’s point of view, why they should explore a trade for Pritchard this offseason.

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The major departure that left a ‘void’ in Celtics’ leadership structure

Even with the 2023 NBA Finals beginning tonight, as Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat take on Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, all eyes are on the Boston Celtics.

Perhaps even before the Milwaukee Bucks were eliminated by the Heat in the First Round, the Celtics were looked at as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

Why not? After all, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were both All-Stars and All-NBA selections. The Celtics, led by Tatum and Brown, had reached the NBA Finals just last year.

Despite the chaotic nature of Ime Udoka’s departure from Boston and the learning curve that his replacement Joe Mazzulla had to get through, the Celtics were supposed to beat the Heat. Not fall behind 3-0 and certainly not to lose in a blowout in Game 7.

Interestingly, according to The Athletic’s Jay King and Jared Weiss, “multiple team sources both on the roster and the staff said [Damon] Stoudamire’s departure to lead Georgia Tech in March left a significant void in the team’s leadership structure.”

Stoudamire, a popular player during his 13-year NBA career, “was known for having a good feel for when and how to talk to players, understand their motivations, and pull from his own experiences when making recommendations for how the team should operate.”

“It’s not like Damon had a certain power, but players really respected him,” King and Weiss report. “Joe used Damon to have a guy that’s been here that’s played that can speak to them. Damon could speak their language and no one else on the staff can do (it).”

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Celtics owner’s shocking message to team after falling in big hole vs. Heat

The Boston Celtics dug deep in the Eastern Conference Finals only to still come up short against the Miami Heat. They looked destined to pull off the 3-0 comeback before flopping in Game 7 at home. Boston started the series as badly as they finished it, leading to a stern talk from team owner Wyc Grousbeck.

After Game 3, Grousbeck came into the locker room and sent a harsh message to the team after they fell down 0-3 to the Heat, according to Jared Weiss and Jay King of The Athletic. Among other things, he urged them to simply play harder.

“With the season on the line following a 128-102 Game 3 loss to the eighth-seed Heat, Grousbeck came in hot. After Grant Williams asked everyone to clear the room so the players could have some space, Grousbeck went off,” writes Weiss and King. “His message to the effect that he has been building this franchise for over 20 years and the players need to play with some balls left the locker room stunned, several team sources who were in the room told The Athletic.

Blake Griffin went on the record to say that Grousbeck was right but that the Celtics shouldn’t have needed a pep talk like that. He’s right — they should have met the moment more and came out with more fire. Although their efforts to climb the mountainous deficit were commendable, not getting to that deficit in the first place would have given them a much better shot to make the Finals.

The Celtics now have an offseason full of uncertainty, especially around the future of Jaylen Brown. He’s one of the team’s most important players but with one more year on his contract and with no extension in place, the possibility of him leaving could lead to a trade. Joe Mazzulla’s spot is not totally secure, either.

Although the Celtics and their fans touted the 2004 Boston Red Sox as motivation, their story did not have a happy ending. And instead of kickstarting a run of great success like those Red Sox did, this loss from the Celtics could be a breaking point for this iteration of the team.

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‘I don’t need it’: Heat star Jimmy Butler reveals what he decided to do with ECF MVP trophy

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Eastern Conference Finals MVP title. In the end, it was Jimmy Butler who took home the trophy after leading the Miami Heat to an epic series win over the Boston Celtics. There were some folks who were campaigning for Caleb Martin to bag the title, but in the end, Butler did enough to edge out his Heat teammate.

As it turns out, however, Jimmy could care less about winning the MVP trophy. When asked where the piece of silverware is right now, the Heat talisman got brutally honest with his response:

“With my dad. I gave it to him. I don’t need it,” Butler said.

Jimmy Butler isn’t being disrespectful here. He appreciates the honor of being named the MVP of the series but in the end, it doesn’t really matter to him. This dude is all about winning, and up and until he gets his hands on an NBA title, Butler still wouldn’t have reached his ultimate goal. And so, this is exactly what he intends to do now that he has another opportunity to bag that elusive first championship.

Of all people, however, Jimmy Butler is well aware of the challenge that lies in front of them. Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets are considered the heavy favorites to win it all this season and as always, the Heat are the underdogs again. Butler and Co. have gotten used to this role and in fact, they have relished it.

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Heat’s Max Strus takes savage shot at Celtics after surviving epic 7-game war

Apart from the fact that Jimmy Butler has been playing like the best player in the entire league, the Miami Heat’s amazing NBA Playoffs run has also been characterized by the emergence of their undrafted sensations. Max Strus is one of them, and for those that don’t know, the 6-foot-5 forward actually started off his career with the Boston Celtics — the same team that the Heat just eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Strus played a key role for Miami in what turned out to be an epic seven-game series against the Celtics. At this point, the Heat swingman just wants to send a not-so-friendly reminder to everyone that Boston once decided to waive his services three years ago:

Max Strus even had a two-word caption in his post, which made it even more savage. “ECF CHAMPS,” he wrote.

Obviously, the Celtics did not believe at that time that Strus deserved a spot on their roster. He then signed a two-way contract with the Chicago Bulls — another team that the Heat eliminated in this NBA Playoffs run — where he ended up playing just two games in the 2019-20 season. Strus then signed with Miami the following season, and the rest, as they all say, is history.

Whichever way you put it, there’s no denying that Max Strus has a bit of ill will against the Celtics. He probably has nothing against the players or the organization, but it is clear that he hasn’t forgotten about their decision to cut him three years ago. For Strus, the revenge narrative is real.


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