When was the last time you heard of a pro team reach the final four of its league tournament, then by its own choosing, completely overhaul its roster so that by the time it held training camp the following year, nearly three-quarters of the players on hand were not there the season before?
Go ahead, pick a team — any team, any sport. It doesnt happen often, and if it does, it rarely results in an improvement for the organization.
Karl-Anthony Towns: It was scary. You never want to see a player go down. No matter who it is. It could be a starter. It could be the end of the bench. Its a brotherhood. We look out for each other regardless of which affiliation or team you are on. You feel for him. Prayers go out to him.
Celtics Bench Continues To Crush The Oppositions Soul
After all, what youve done is taken what would be perceived as a highly successful team and completely decimated it, leaving just a handful of players who played in a league or conference final. For a general manager, this would not be a recommended strategy in which to improve a team that probably didnt need to be tweaked all that much.
Celtics Brown leaves game after hard landing
But thats what the Boston Celtics did, from last years squad to this years. Of the 15 players who collectively lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers in five quick games last spring, only four were still on the roster when the squad reconvened in September for training camp.
Video: Jaylen Brown – terrible fall / Celtics vs Timberwolves
Celtics Jaylen Brown has nasty fall on dunk, says he has headache
Among the departed was a player, Isaiah Thomas, who finished in the top five in last years MVP voting, and who had received more votes than Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, and Kevin Durant.
The Celtics got rid of that guy? And not through free agency, but by trading him away? You heard that right. They traded away one of the top MVP candidates in the NBA for someone who didnt get a single MVP vote. They also dealt another one of their starters, Jae Crowder, who averaged nearly 14 points a game.
Oh, and one other thing: they also traded away in the same deal a first-round draft pick that right now is attached to a team that has the third-worst record in the league (the woebegone Brooklyn Nets), and will likely yield a top-three pick in this years draft.
He felt pretty good leaving the arena, but he went to get a CT scan and whatever else, Stevens told reporters. Our trainer said when he left the locker room, he was moving and feeling OK and left in good spirits.
Video: Brad Stevens gives update on Jaylen Brown after scary fall | ESPN
Of course, if that blockbuster deal means you get a player of the caliber of a Kyrie Irving, the mercurial point guard who two years ago hit the biggest shot in Cavaliers history, lifting the long-cursed franchise and city to its first-ever NBA championship, well, deal me in. The former No. 1 overall draft pick from 2011 is also only 25 years old (26 in a couple of weeks) and has averaged around 22 points a game despite playing the last few years in the shadow of perennial MVP candidate LeBron James.
The Irving trade was the culmination of a wildly entertaining offseason for the Celtics, who as the top seed in the East last season probably didnt need to do too much, especially with the specter of that Nets pick from 2016-17, which turned out to be the top pick overall in last years draft, and the fact that they still held the Brooklyn pick for this season as well.
Kyrie Irving returns, Celtics beat Timberwolves 117-109
But it would have been a complicated season this year if Boston had merely maintained its status quo, because Isaiah was entering his free-agent season, would be looking for a hefty new contract, and was also damaged goods, as he had been shut down during the middle of the East Finals last season with a significant hip injury.
The Celtics, as constituted, were obviously on an upswing. In four seasons, head coach Brad Stevens had gradually taken the team from a 25-win squad in 2013-14 to the surprising 53-29 record it earned last year, and in a weak conference, that was good enough for the top seed. But once Cleveland ran roughshod over Boston in that conference final, and then the Cavs themselves got steamrolled by Golden State in the Finals, the Celtics brain trust understood that if it wanted to truly compete for an NBA title anytime soon, there were two choices: be patient with the stockpile of draft picks that would likely yield, ahem, green talent but also high-quality top-10 draft pedigrees, or completely overhaul the roster and pretty much start from scratch.
Kyrie Irving: It was a scary fall, from everyones perspective. You never want to see a guy go down like that.
Video: Kyrie Irving Leads The Cs To Victory Over TWolves
They chose the latter, and heading into Sundays matchup with the Pacers, the Celtics have already clinched a playoff berth and stand at 46-20 with 16 games remaining in the regular season, and project to top the 53-win total of last seasons edition. Right now theyre a couple of games behind Toronto for the conferences best record, but they also sit a remarkable seven games ahead of the Cavaliers, who recently implemented their own significant reconfiguration of their roster at the trade deadline.
So how did the Celtics pull this off without skipping a beat? As mentioned, they held on to four players from last years team, including: forward Al Horford, who signed a huge max contract at the beginning of last season; Marcus Smart, the former top-six pick from 2014 who is a defensive wizard but can be mind-numbingly inconsistent offensively; Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 overall pick from the 2016 draft; and super-sub Terry Rozier, another first-round pick (2015) who showed glimpses of brilliance in a limited role over two seasons.
The 21-year-old tweeted he was OK early Friday morning and expressed appreciation for the support.
None of the departures was noteworthy or even unexpected, except for the August trade with Cleveland that sent Thomas and Crowder to Believeland in return for Irving.
Visions of sugarplums were already dancing inside the heads of Celtics fans a month earlier, when the team landed free agencys biggest fish, Utah forward Gordon Hayward, but the Irving trade changed everything. Other signings and lower-round draft picks have also contributed to one of the NBAs deepest rosters this season.
Jaylen Brown tweets he is OK after hard fall on head, neck area
Boston GM Danny Ainge orchestrated the 2017 drafts biggest surprise back in June, when he traded that No. 1 overall pick he fleeced from the Nets to the 76ers, who gave Boston the third overall pick in addition to a future pick — a convoluted scenario that will likely result in the Celtics getting the moribund Sacramento Kings first-round draft choice in the 2019 draft.
Celtics Jaylen Brown says hes okay after terrifying spill on dunk
For fans, the trade didnt make much sense at the time, until it was revealed that Ainge all along preferred Dukes Jayson Tatum, the projected third player chosen, over the consensus top pick, Washington guard Markelle Fultz.
So how did that trade work out? Tatum got off to a sizzling start offensively, and though he has tailed off recently, he is widely viewed as a viable Rookie of the Year candidate and a superstar-in-the making. Fultz, meanwhile, has been beset by a shoulder injury and has played a grand total of four games this season for the Sixers.
Yet with all that optimism heading into this season, the bloom came off the rose barely five minutes into the Celtics season opener in Cleveland when Hayward came down awkwardly on a dunk attempt and suffered a gruesome knee/ankle injury and was done for the year.
Celtics Jaylen Brown leaves game after scary post-dunk fall on his neck and back
Not surprisingly, a shaken Boston roster lost that game, along with the home opener the next night, but then the team went on a stunning 16-game win streak, and while the Cs have gone a respectable 30-18 since then, one cannot help but wonder how a healthy Hayward could have boosted the fortunes of the team even further.
Well find that out next year. For now, the Celtics inherent upswing lies in its defense, which has improved its rebounding from 27th in the NBA last year to eighth this season, and enhanced its team defensive rating from 12th to first overall.
Toronto may be a better team come playoff time (although the Raptors are typically early exiters), and the Cavaliers with James are always an imposing foe, but for the immediate future and beyond, the team that Ainge has constructed and Stevens has molded looks to be a franchise built for success, completely deconstructed, and now likely the Beast of the East for years to come.
Celtics Jaylen Brown OK after scary fall in win over Timberwolves (video)
Chris Youngs column appears Saturday in the Sun Chronicle s Weekend Edition. He can be reached at [email protected]
VIDEO: Jaylen Brown lands on head, gets up dazed after dunk
The Boston Celtics shook off a scary fall for swingman Jaylen Brown to punch their ticket to the NBA playoffs with a 117-109 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 8.
Kyrie Irving, back from a one-game absence with a sore knee, scored 23 points with eight assists and seven rebounds and Al Horford added 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Celtics won for the sixth time in seven games.
They remained two games behind Eastern Conference leaders Toronto – who booked their playoff berth on March 7.
The Celtics led by as many as 18 points early in the third quarter. But they got a jolt with 1:31 left in the period when Brown drove for a dunk and upon letting go of the rim fell hard on his shoulders, neck and head.
He lay on the court for several minutes as medical staff attended to him and the Timberwolves Target Center arena went quiet.He lay on the court for several minutes as medical staff attended to him and the Timberwolves Target Center arena went quiet.
When he finally rose from the floor – passing on the stretcher that had been rolled out – fans stood and cheered.I was right there,
Horford said of Browns fall. It was tough to see. I was just happy he was able to get up and walk off because that was one of the worst falls Ive seen.
Teammate Marcus Smart said he was terrified when he saw Brown fall.
But Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game that Brown felt pretty good as he left the arena for a CT scan in hospital. Brown was able to travel with the team back to Boston.
Leading 86-74 after three quarters, the Celtics managed to repel the Timberwolves rally bid.
Celtics Jaylen Brown walks off court after hard fall on dunk
Minnesota pulled within five points at 88-83 with 9:12 left in the fourth, but would get no closer. Nemanja Bjelica led the Timberwolves with a career-high 30 points, including six of nine from the three-point range. He added 12 rebounds, but it wasnt enough for a Timberwolves team without injured All-Star Jimmy Butler.
In Oakland, Kevin Durant scored 37 points and Draymond Green notched a triple-double of 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Golden State Warriors shook off the early exit of Stephen Curry with an ankle injury to beat the San Antonio Spurs 110-107.
Curry turned his right ankle after a drive to the basket early in the first quarter and didnt return. The Warriors said only that Curry tweaked the ankle, the same one he sprained on December 4, leading to a total of 13 missed games.
Jaylen Brown Injury Update: Celtics Swingman OK After Scary Fall
Authorities seized on March 13 hundreds of exotic pets smuggled into the Philippines, which is a regional hub in the illicit animal trade.
The Turkish Lira continued to decline against both the U.S. dollar and the euro on March 13 amid a series of negative developments.
Serena Williams return to the WTA Tour came to an abrupt end March 12 as she crashed out of Indian Wells with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to her sister Venus.