The 300s 2018 Celtics Summer League Update

Editor’s Note: I’m sure you’ve all seen him on The 300s Podcast with such hot takes as “Uncle Drew was good,” but this is the first of many posts for the one and only Mattes. Lets gooo!

Now that we’ve reached the end of the 2018 NBA Summer League “regular season,” ya boy Mattes is here to update you on what’s been going on with the Boys in Green on the day of their MUCH ANTICIPATED (catch the sarcasm?) matchup with the New York Knicks’ summer squad in the first round of the league’s playoff tournament.

New Bird in Town

Larry Legend he is not, but youngster Jabari Bird has continued to make a name for himself this summer. I say that he has “continued” to do so because this guy isn’t actually entirely “new” – Bird was selected by the C’s with the 57th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and has already made his NBA debut, which came as early as last October.

Bird then snuck onto the court quite a bit at the end of last season as well, averaging 16.0 minutes, 6.8 points, and 3.0 rebounds per game over the team’s final five regular-season contests, on 63 percent shooting from the field.

As if those numbers aren’t impressive enough, I was actually there, in the flesh, at the TD Garden on April 6, when Bird went off for 15 points in 24 minutes against the Bulls – with three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block, to boot. Bird was freakin’ relentless with his energy and intensity throughout the entire game, wowing the crowd with his quickness and INSANE athleticism (seriously, this kid can FLY and throws down some pretty gnarly dunks!), leading me to keep looking over at my nephew and asking the question: “Seriously, WHO THE FUCK IS THIS KID??!!” (Relax. He’s 14. He’s heard profanity before, all right??!!)

Though he didn’t receive any burn in the playoffs, Bird has undoubtedly been one of the stars of the summer league, averaging 18.0 points and almost five boards per game through three contests. Coach Jay Larranaga, Brad’s top assistant who was chosen to lead the team’s summer league squad, has continued to rave about Bird’s play and seemed to imply the other day that the 23-year-old could potentially see some more action this fall if he works a bit more on his defense.

That is…if Bird is actually on the roster.

Bird is currently a restricted free agent this summer (that was fast!) and has already garnered some interest from teams like Minnesota and Philadelphia, per the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. The Celts, though, may be unwilling to pony up anything more than the $77,250 qualifying offer they’ve already extended to Bird earlier this summer.

Also, particularly if Marcus Smart does return, there may not even be a whole lot of minutes available for Bird in the rotation this upcoming seasonRegardless of what happens, this kid deserves some recognition, and here’s to hoping he can be a nice end-of-the-bench secret weapon for the Green in 2018-19.

Bad Start for Bob

If you listened to Sunday’s podcast, you heard Red and I briefly discuss the Celtics’ newest member and only 2018 draft pick, Robert Williams, to whom I am affectionately referring as “Bob” for the time being.

You see, Bob is super talented. He is a 6’10”, 240-ish-pound athletic freak who could really serve as a force the team has been lacking down low for quite some time. In fact, ESPN thought so highly of Williams as a player that he was ranked as their 12th overall prospect (ESPN Insider subscription required) in the draft, which is amazing because the Celtics got him with the TWENTY-SEVENTH pick in the first round, leading many to believe Danny Ainge has duped the league again and obtained the steal of the year.

But, Mattes, why would a guy who supposedly should’ve been a lottery pick fall all the way to the end of the first round, just three picks away from missing out on being drafted in the first round entirely?

Well, my friends, that is because perhaps we should be more aptly referring to him as “Fred,” or rather “Forgetful Fred,” as the kid seriously needs to start getting his shit together.

After already being flagged by many scouts for effort and motor issues – hence the fall from grace on draft night – he then missed what was supposed to be his first conference call as a Celtic the very next morning after he was drafted because he overslept. Oh, AND THEN he missed the team’s flight out to Vegas a week later, subsequently missing the team’s first summer league practice.

Way to start off with a bang, Bob!

He was able to play in the team’s first summer league game on July 6, piling up four points and two rebounds in seven minutes of action…before exiting the game in the first quarter with what is being considered a knee contusion. Williams then sat out the rest of that game, and he was not able to play in either of the team’s two other summer league contests so far.

NOW, we get the news, first reported by Fred Katz at MassLive, that the rookie has an artery condition in his legs which can cause cramping, fatigue, and calf pain when being active. It’s being described as “not too serious,” and apparently the team was aware of the condition on draft night. However, it’s still not the most comforting thing to hear about your 20-year-old rookie stud.

Woof!

Look, I’m not saying to sound the alarm yet. I’m just saying it hasn’t been the most glorious start for the young fella.

But hey, I wasn’t completely ready to start adulting at 20 years old either, and at least he’s not getting in brawls or being a creep off the court. Also, the team doesn’t seem too worried about the other health-related stuff, so I won’t sweat it too much yet either.

You got the talent, Bob, and we’re all sure as hell rooting for ya. It can only go up from here.

Smart STILL Waiting

After a WHIRLWIND first few days of free agency throughout the NBA – which included the King choosing to flee Cleveland for the Land of Angels, Paul George deciding to stay put in OKC, and DeMarcus Cousins effectively ending the point of even watching the NBA next year by joining the damn Warriors – it seems as though some of the other premier free agents slipped through the cracks a bit, which includes our friend Marcus Smart.

I, for one, am a BIG Marcus Smart fan, and I believe his tough, grit-and-balls style of play WILL win us a championship in the next year or two. While his offensive numbers don’t pop off the stat sheet – and while he has taken maybe one-too-many three pointers (or 90) in his career – there are very few players in the league that can make as much of an impact on a game defensively as Smart. The guy gives a MILLION-percent effort every night, every play, and I think people are really overlooking the value he brings to this team.

Alas, the NBA is a business, as they say, and poor Marcus feels a bit slighted that he isn’t receiving the type of offers he expected to get once he hit the market as a restricted free agent this summer. Even worse, he claims the Celtics have barely tried to work with him at all throughout the negotiation process, and now he feels unwanted. (Considering the fact that Dante-FREAKIN’-Exum received a three-year, $33 million deal for being pretty mediocre on the bench in Utah for the past four seasons, one of which he missed entirely, I can’t really blame Smart for being so butthurt.)

It seems as though the Celtics aren’t willing to offer anything more than a one-year qualifying offer at this point, and if Smart wants to remain in Green this year then that’s what he’s going to have to accept. He could then simply play his balls off this year and hope that the market’s better for him next summer, when he’ll also be unrestricted and have way more freedom to go wherever the hell he wants.

However, per NBC Sports Boston’s A. Sherrod Blakely, perhaps Sacramento is interested in paying up for Smart after offering Zach LaVine almost $80 million this offseason (barf!), only to see Chicago match the offer and bring LaVine back to the Windy City. If the Kings were to offer the same, or even $20 million or $30 million less than that, for Smart, the Celtics would have a very difficult time matching and would most likely end up losing a key rotation piece.

I understand that money rules the world, and if the Kings offer that much money then the Celts are going to need to let Smart walk.

But come on, Danny, figure something out. And quick. We can’t lose this guy.

So there you have it! Your mid-summer report on the Green. Be sure to keep checking in with The 300s for more updates throughout the rest of the offseason, and subscribe to The 300s Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and now Spotify!

Till next time…

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About Mattes

Pronounced like the general. I'm all about the Celtics, Pats, Sox, and fantasy football...and dogs. Former editor who's back on that writing flow, chiming in on all of the above, with perhaps some comic book news and conspiracy-fueled personal manifestos along the way.
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