Celtics notebook: Trio of injuries forces summer league lineup changes
SALT LAKE CITY — With Jaylen Brown (hyperextended knee), R.J. Hunter (sore right wrist) and Jordan Mickey (sore shoulder) all on ice last night, the next-man-up principle was very much in play for the Celtics summer league team.
Undersized in the extreme, the C’s held on for an 89-82 win against the Utah Jazz entry, with Terry Rozier driving with 45 seconds left to put a floater over Trey Lyles for a six-point lead. James Young followed on the next possession with his fourth 3-pointer of the night from the right corner to put away the second win as many games.
Contributions from free agent Malcolm Miller (eight points) and rookie Guerschon Yabusele (13 points, eight rebounds), in particular, helped pick up some of the slack up front.
After leading the Jazz by five points after three quarters, the Celtics nearly fell prey to a player who is clearly a level above the rest of his fellow summer leaguers. Lyles’ 26 points and 11 rebounds came largely at the expense of the smallish C’s.
Young, heading into his third year and playing in his second summer league, turned in one of his better all-around performances. He led the Celts with 17 points, including a particularly smooth 4-for-5 from downtown.
Options come due
The Celtics appear on the verge of picking up the option on at least one and probably both of their veterans in Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko.
Though the team indicated it’s still sifting through the free agent market before making a decision before tomorrow night’s deadline, a league source said yesterday that the C’s have held discussions about returning Johnson to his starting role. That would mean an opening night front line of Johnson, free agent addition Al Horford and Jae Crowder, a fairly imposing defensive combination, with Horford a clear offensive upgrade over what the team had to work with in the paint last season. .?.?.
On his way up to Boston, Horford tweeted the following message to his legion of fans in Atlanta: “This was one of the most difficult decisions for me and my family, but I will cherish my nine years in Atlanta. From the bottom of my heart to each and every Hawks’ fan, thank you.”
Thomas in big role
Everyone in the organization has been heavily involved in the C’s free agent work, with coach Brad Stevens one of the main talking points in the recruiting pitch. But Stevens had to admit that Isaiah Thomas has been a force of nature in this process.
“He’s been great. Isaiah has a passion for the game, but he’s also got a passion for life,” Stevens said. “He enjoys being around people. He’s a person that gets a lot from that. He enjoys helping others. He’s fun to work with. He’s excited to work. He’s got all those things. I know he was in Boston last week at the end of the week and he was doing some events, then he shows up at 5:30 and he wants to work out. That’s kind of who he is. That’s how he bides the time until the next season, I guess. That’s good.
“Everybody in our group has been involved. And that’s important. But I think obviously he’s really passionate about being a Celtic. And really passionate about selling the Celtics.”
Stevens said an MRI taken of Mickey’s shoulder Monday was negative, likely meaning he will rejoin the summer league action, possibly once the team flies to Las Vegas on Friday to begin the second leg of the schedule.
“From everything I’ve been told, the MRI looks good. it doesn’t sound like it was a subluxation like we talked about with Kelly (Olynyk),” Stevens said. “It sounds like he’s going to go through a light workout today, probably another workout tomorrow and then, if all goes well, he’ll be on a plane to Vegas.”