Danny Ainge Doesn’t Think Kyrie Irving Deserves To Be Booed In Boston Return
You probably can bet your 401k on Kyrie Irving getting booed in his return to Boston. But for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, he doesn't want to see Irving get jeered. The now-Brooklyn Nets guard, who, of course, spurned the Celtics after verbally committing to re-signing is set to make his return to TD Garden next week (poetically, it will be on the eve of Irving's favorite holiday, Thanksgiving). It's no sure thing that he'll play, but if he does it's certain he's not going to be received well by the Boston crowd.
The 2018-19 Celtics came into the season with high hopes of competing for the Eastern Conference crown. Instead, Boston underachieved, and GM Danny Ainge wishes he would have made more changes.© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
“I think that in hindsight, we should have cleaned out the roster a little bit to make it easier for [coach] Brad [Stevens], more joy for him to coach,” Ainge told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.
Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward re-joining a young squad that had just reached the Eastern Conference Finals caused a disruption of sorts within the organization. Younger players felt like they had already accomplished more than they had, and reinserting the veterans into the rotation—giving both top roles—caused a rift.
Curry, Will Arnett developing NBA-related comedy for TV
Curry seems to be following in the footsteps of fellow NBA superstar LeBron James, who has become a major player in Hollywood over the past few years.According to Variety, Curry is partnering with Will Arnett of “Arrested Development” and “BoJack Horseman” fame on a comedy titled, “Second Half.
“It just didn’t mesh,” Ainge said. “You know, it just didn’t, and I knew, and we talked about it.”
Ainge said that he didn’t make any major trades because the Celtics got off to a nice start, winning 37 games before the All-Star break. This season’s Celtics are again off a hot start with 12 wins in their first 16 games.
Referring to last season’s team. Ainge admitted that he would be “a little bit more careful … building another team that had such equal depth” while also making it clear that Irving should not be scapegoated as the problem in Boston last season.
“I think it’s silly that Kyrie is targeted as the guy just because he’s not with us this year,” said Ainge, who thinks he was also part of the problem. “I’ll blame all the players and I’ll blame myself, and we’ll go from there.”
Zach LaVine, Jim Boylen meet after LaVine was benched Friday night
Coach and player met on Saturday after LaVine was benched early in Friday night's game against the Heat.In comments relayed by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, LaVine believed he was being singled out when Boylen removed him from Friday’s game after Miami built a 13-0 lead in the first 3:27. It was the latest in a series of slow starts that have contributed to Chicago’s disappointing 5-11 record.
Related slideshow: The most surprising developments of NBA season so far (Provided by Yardbarker)
The most surprising developments of NBA season so far
If you’re the type of basketball fan who yearns for offseason drama to continue through the start of a campaign, the first month of the 2019-20 NBA season didn’t disappoint you. Followers of the Boston Celtics may believe the team is enjoying addition by subtraction after it won 11 of its first 13 games. The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, lost only a pair of their initial 14 contests thanks to two MVP candidates. Meanwhile, disaster struck the franchise at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, so much so that all seems lost for that side before Thanksgiving. Perhaps the biggest NBA development of the season, thus far, is one that’s not all that surprising. As Bobby Burack of The Big Lead explained, national television ratings for NBA contests declined for multiple reasons, including the fact that LeBron James is playing home games when would-be East Coast viewers are asleep. Burack added: “The regular season is an irrelevant display that is a waste of everyone's time." He’s not wrong, and that harsh reality isn’t changing anytime soon. Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Carmelo Anthony is back
If Carmelo Anthony is the answer in November 2019, we’re not sure we want to know the question. The 5-9 Portland Trail Blazers started the 35-year-old for a Nov. 19 contest vs. the New Orleans Pelicans, a game Portland dropped, 115-104. Anthony went 4-of-14 from the field, and he finished the evening with 10 points and a Portland-worst minus-20. ‘Melo made 10 appearances for the Houston Rockets before the club decided it was better off without him around, in general, last November. One has to assume a similar scenario will play out in the Rose City if the Trail Blazers lose more than they win through the holiday season. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Portland Trail Blazers aren't good
Portland Trail Blazers fans shouldn’t panic over the team losing 66.66 percent of its first 15 games. The Houston Rockets sat at 1-5 after six contests last fall, and they were just fine by springtime. Since Nov. 10, guard CJ McCollum has provided multiple signs that he’s coming out of an early-season shooting slump. Maybe Carmelo Anthony can provide a needed spark to a Portland side that underwhelmed over the past month. There are, however, some serious concerns regarding a potential Portland turnaround. Forward Zach Collins is out until March following shoulder surgery. Hassan Whiteside isn’t a replacement for the injured Jusuf Nurkic. Portland could already be exploring a blockbuster trade for a star. Kevin Love isn’t getting any younger, Trail Blazers. Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Wiggins is breaking out
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, the same Wiggins known for accumulating empty-calorie points, was the leading candidate to win Most Improved Player after the first month of the 2019-20 NBA season. Over 11 appearances, the 24-year-old posted career marks in PPG (25.9), AST (3.6), REB (5.1), BLK (1.1), three-point shooting percentage (36.1) and field goal percentage (47.8). His improved shot selection following the regular-season opener led critics and observers to ask if this version of Wiggins can stay around for longer than a month. “Watching Wiggins play his first few seasons, it made sense to wonder if he actually enjoyed playing basketball, or if it was just something he fell backward into because of his height and athleticism,” wrote Micah Wimmer of Real GM. Wiggins seems energized and filled with purpose during games, which is the strongest indication that he won’t revert to his previous ways once the winter months arrive. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
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The Toronto Raptors are elite
Maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising the Toronto Raptors aren’t going to miss Kawhi Leonard until the playoffs. Toronto began its championship defense a perfect 5-0 at home, and the team’s only losses came in road games against the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. The 2018-19 Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam, is on pace for a second consecutive career season. Guard Fred VanVleet averaged personal bests in PPG (17.2) and AST (7.6) across 13 starts. As Joel E. Stephens of Raptors HQ explained, the club once again had a “bench mob” that created difficult matchups for multiple opponents. At this rate, the Raptors will be buyers instead of sellers ahead of the trade deadline. Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The Philadelphia 76ers slumped
After a dynamic 5-0 start to the season, the Philadelphia 76ers lost five of their subsequent eight games. Philadelphia was then lucky to escape with a one-point win over the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 12 after Kevin Love missed a late wide-open three-pointer. Days later, Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports pointed out center Joel Embiid looks no better than he did when he was dealing with a knee problem last spring. Ben Simmons still can’t shoot from distance. The Sixers were 21st in team three-point shooting on Nov. 20. Too bad JJ Redick isn’t coming back through Philly's door. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Are the Charlotte Hornets decent?
The Charlotte Hornets lost Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb for nothing last offseason. Supposedly, the tank was on. Someone forgot to tell guard Devonte' Graham and others inside the Charlotte locker room that the club was phoning in this season, as the Hornets began the year with a respectable 6-8 record. After making only 46 appearances in his rookie season, Graham led the Hornets in scoring (18.3 PPG), AST (6.9) and MIN (32.0) over the team’s first 14 contests, and the second-year pro drained 41.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc across those games. We remain unconvinced the Hornets have a playoff roster, but Charlotte was watchable over the first month of the season. Few predicted that’d be the case back on Oct. 1. Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Cavaliers are watchable
The Cleveland Cavaliers losing seven of nine games brought the once 2-2 Cavs back down to earth. The scrappy Cavaliers showed fight in a handful of those defeats, though, and the debuting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland is fun to watch even if it isn’t producing victories on a nightly basis. Both Kevin Love (18.2 PPG, 12.1 REB) and Tristan Thompson (14.5 PPG, 10.1 REB) averaged double-doubles over Cleveland’s first 13 contests. With each loss that dropped Cleveland down power rankings and the conference standings, it became glaringly obvious Love and Thompson are worth more to the Cavs on the trade block than on the floor. Head coach John Beilein deserves additional young pieces to mold in his system. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
David Levy out
The Brooklyn Nets were one of the big winners of the offseason after the team landed both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Brooklyn generated headlines for business reasons in November when it announced the departure of CEO David Levy. Recently, NetsDaily reported Levy’s relationship with ownership wasn’t clicking “on a philosophical level.” Levy’s exit shouldn’t affect Brooklyn’s win-loss record, but it was nevertheless an unexpected development. Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Deandre Ayton suspended
Had somebody convinced you that perennial league laughingstocks the Phoenix Suns would begin the season with a 7-6 record, you likely would’ve believed center Deandre Ayton would be a significant part of the team’s turnaround. Ayton averaged 16.3 PPG and 10.3 REB his rookie year, but he made only a single appearance in October before the NBA suspended him for 25 games for violating the Association’s anti-drug program. Aron Baynes stepped up in a big way following Ayton’s ban, meaning the 21-year-old may have to do more than earn the trust of head coach Monty Williams to immediately return to the lineup once he’s reinstated. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Phoenix Suns won more than they lost
Other than (maybe) Andrew Wiggins, the Phoenix Suns were the most positive surprising development of the NBA season after 13 games. Guard Devin Booker is once again a volume scorer, but he’s also shooting a career-best 53.4 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range while making those around him better. Notably, Aron Baynes remained hot since his stellar FIBA World Cup showings. In his first 12 Phoenix appearances, the 32-year-old averaged a career-best 14.5 PPG, and he shot over 44 percent from distance and 56.1 percent from the field. Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
John Collins also banned
While the Atlanta Hawks weren’t supposed to compete for a playoff spot this season, one hope was that Trae Young and John Collins would build upon the chemistry they formed during their first year together. Collins averaged 17.0 PPG and 8.8 REB his first five games of the campaign, but he, like Ayton, earned a 25-game league suspension during the fall. Per Sekou Smith of NBA.com, Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce told reporters Collins “was not in a good place” after news of the ban went public. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks may be over David Fizdale
For the New York Knicks, the 2019-20 NBA season was always more about head coach David Fizdale developing young players than it was about winning games. Why, then, did the Knicks figuratively throw Fizdale “under the bus" (Stephen A. Smith's words) after the Knicks suffered a blowout loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 10? The Knicks remain dysfunctional from top to bottom, and Fizdale may eventually welcome his firing before springtime arrives. Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Boylen is already on the hot seat
Ahead of the Chicago Bulls’ tipoff game of the campaign, David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune declared Jim Boylen, promoted by the team to head coach last December, could return the Bulls to winning ways. Fast-forward to the week before Thanksgiving, and the Bulls were 4-10 with victories over the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks in their recent past. Boylen isn’t the franchise’s main problem (*cough* GarPax and the front office *cough*), but his Bulls tallied only 21 wins in his first 72 games. This latest Chicago rebuild isn't working. David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Kristaps Porzingis went cold
As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon wrote, even Kristaps Porzingis couldn’t blame Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle for sitting him late in his side’s loss to the Boston Celtics on Nov. 11. There was always bound to be some rust, considering a torn ACL sidelined Porzingis from February 2018 through the fall of 2019, but the 24-year-old hasn’t yet been his former “Unicorn” self in his new uniform. He scored 10 points or fewer in two of his first 12 Dallas appearances. According to John Tan of the International Business Times, Porzingis recently admitted he’s felt pressure after signing a $158 million contract with the Mavs last summer. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Gregg Popovich may be out of magic
A San Antonio Spurs lineup featuring DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and other non-superstars wasn’t built to hang with the Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers in a postseason series. Still, the belief that coach Gregg Popovich could get the absolute best out of his squad existed because Pop always gets the job done and guides the Spurs to the playoffs. San Antonio sat at 5-9 in the standings after 14 games, and the Spurs seem more likely to blow things up and start anew than win one more title with Popovich leading the charge. The five-time champion coach turns 71 years old in January, even he appears to recognize the end of his career is fast approaching. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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The Russell Westbrook-James Harden experiment is working
We don’t want to call anything a success after 14 games. After all, Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook are still in the honeymoon phase of the 2.0 version of their on-the-court relationship. One can’t ignore the Rockets won eight straight to improve to 11-3 overall, though, or that Harden is playing better than ever while averaging 39.2 PPG. “I think that a lot of people like to normalize greatness when you see it over and over again, but it's not normal because there's nobody else that can do it,” Westbrook said of Harden, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Westbrook doesn’t seem to mind that he’s not averaging a triple-double or that he's no longer the MVP of a team. Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander may already be a star
After beginning a rebuild that included trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George last summer, the Oklahoma City Thunder currently own 15 draft picks from 2020 through 2026, per Sports Illustrated. While those picks could be used to acquire any number of proven stars, OKC may already have one for the future in guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The 21-year-old who appeared in all 82 games for the Los Angeles Clippers his rookie season led the Thunder in scoring (19.4 PPG) after 14 contests. He’s shooting better from three-point land (38.3 percent) than he was at the conclusion of his debut campaign (36.7 percent). Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t a direct replacement for Westbrook, which isn’t necessarily a negative considering Russ never won a title with the franchise. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics started out the best Eastern Conference team
The Philadelphia 76ers stumbled out of the gates, and the long-term future of reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to be a monthly topic up through next summer, at least. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics began the season the most consistent and stable club in the Eastern Conference, winning 11 of 13 and 10 consecutive games. Kemba Walker, who averaged 23.4 PPG in his first 13 Boston appearances, proved to be an ideal replacement for Kyrie Irving on the court and behind the scenes. Forward Jayson Tatum is making an expected leap toward stardom his third pro season. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wondered if the Celtics remain one trade away from toppling the Sixers or Milwaukee Bucks in a playoff showdown. Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Luka Doncic may be better than we thought
Even those who watched Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic torch opponents throughout his rookie year may struggle to believe how well he played over his first 13 games of the 2019-20 season. Doncic nearly averaged a triple-double over that month, as he tallied 29.5 PPG, 10.7 REB and 9.3 AST. Charles Curtis of USA Today's For The Win named Doncic the MVP favorite over LeBron James. According to Jack Maloney of CBS Sports, Doncic and James are the only two players in history to record 40-point triple-doubles before their 21st birthdays. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Is Kendrick Nunn Rookie of the Year?
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant led all rookies in scoring as of Nov. 20 and played up to, if not beyond, expectations as the second overall selection of the 2019 NBA Draft. Undrafted Miami Heat guard Kendrick Nunn wasn’t far behind in the scoring category after 12 appearances, all starts. The 24-year-old became the first NBA rookie to score over 100 points in his first five games since future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant accomplished the feat over a decade ago. Nunn averaged 17.8 PPG, good for second on the Heat in scoring behind only Jimmy Butler (18.4), across a dozen contests. The Golden State Warriors got so much right over the 2010s. How did the club let Nunn go in October 2018? Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving already moody?
During the second half of the decade, guard Kyrie Irving ditched the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, and the one-time champion was hardly a favorite among Boston players during his final days with that club. Eventually, a reliable source such as ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan was going to report that Irving lapsed into “funks” at some stage of his Brooklyn Nets career. Brooklyn fans probably didn’t expect that story to come before Halloween. A shoulder injury slowed Irving in mid-November, and the Nets were outside of the conference playoff spots after 13 games. Brooklyn is going through a redshirt season with Kevin Durant sidelined until October 2020. That’s a long time for Irving to become irritable for whatever reasons. Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Curry is out...
Situations often change quickly in the Association. At the start of last June’s NBA Finals, individuals within the Golden State Warriors likely expected Kevin Durant to leave after the series but also believed the club could compete this fall with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in the lineup. Then Thompson suffered a torn ACL in Game 6 of the Finals, and Curry underwent surgery on Nov. 1 to repair a broken hand. Theoretically, Curry could return three months after surgery. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr may need to protect his star guard from himself. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
...and the Golden State Warriors are the worst team in the NBA?
Should the 2019-20 Golden State Warriors tank? It’s a question we didn’t expect to ask three weeks into November. Curry and Thompson are out indefinitely. A sprained thumb will cost D'Angelo Russell playing time ahead of Christmas. The Warriors plummeted to 3-13 and the bottom of the conference standings. Kerr should turn the rest of the campaign into a long training camp in preparation for 2020-21. Golden State is going through the motions ahead of winter. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James is back to an MVP level
LeBron James recently added to his Hall of Fame resume when he became the first player in NBA history to notch a triple-double against every franchise. It was a fitting end to a 14-game run that included the three-time champion averaging a double-double (25 PPG, 11.1 AST) and leading the Los Angeles Lakers in player efficiency rating. James lost out on multiple NBA MVP Awards during the 2010s because of voter fatigue. Would writers vote for Anthony Davis ahead of James if James averages a double-double for an entire season at 35 years old and leads the Lakers to home-court advantage throughout the playoffs in the process? Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Zion Williamson hasn't played
ESPN and TNT executives are living through a nightmare that involves those networks featuring the New Orleans Pelicans in games that don’t include Zion Williamson. The most hyped rookie to enter the league since King James required an operation to fix a torn meniscus in October, which pushed his regular-season debut to December at the earliest. The Pelicans missed the 19-year-old over the season’s first month, during which the club dropped nine of 14 games. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Why TIME Chose Greta Thunberg as the 2019 Person of the Year .
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