Celtics’ Brown ‘mad’ Over LeBron Joining the West
By Steve Bulpett
LAS VEGAS -- Two things were abundantly clear from a halftime chat with Jaylen Brown Thursday as the Celtic entry dueled with the Knicks here at summer league: He’s upset that LeBron James has left Cleveland, and he very much wants Marcus Smart to remain in Boston.
The basketball cognoscenti has largely awarded the 2019 Eastern Conference title to the Celts now that James has left for the Lakers, and that bothers Brown.
“To be honest, I wanted him to stay,” Brown said. “I was kind of mad. I wanted to be the team to go through him, you know what I mean?
“I felt like we could have had it last year, but we fell a little bit short. But I applaud somebody doing what’s best for him. He did what’s best for him and his situation.
“I wanted him to stay in the East. I don’t like when people say, you know, now that LeBron’s gone, y’all are the favorite. You know, that irks me. A lot of us, we feel the same, because we feel like whether he was there or if he wasn’t there, we was coming out (of the Eastern Conference).”
Sitting courtside with Kyrie Irving and Danny Ainge among the Celtic contingent, Brown said he took the opportunity to put in a word for Smart, the restricted free agent who has yet to get things resolved with the C’s (or get an offer sheet from another club).
“Absolutely,” said Brown. “You know, Marcus, what he brings to the table is second to none. The analytics, all of that, throw that away. What Marcus added to a team and a franchise, everybody knows. And I think Danny knows that, and I feel like something will come, and the best situation will happen for both parties. But, I mean, I would love to play this next year with Marcus Smart, and I feel like everybody feels the same way.
“You know, when it gets into the politics and the money and the business of it, I can’t do nothing but respect and understand it, because at the end of the day, that’s what it is. So you can’t really get too emotional about it. It’s a business. You know, I mean, a lot of guys get caught up because they get their heart in the mix of it. But at the end of the day it’s business.
“So I would love to have Marcus on the team. He makes my job so much easier defensively, what he does. And we need him. But we’ll figure it out.”
Brown noted how he and Smart attend each other’s events and have grown tight as teammates.
“We started off like a rocky relationship, but throughout the years, we’ve definitely grown closer and respected each other,” Brown said. “I mean, what we do, we have similar mindsets. There’s two types of players. You’ve got guys that kind of sit back and let the game develop and let the game come to them, and there’s guys that take it to you and throw the first punch. And me and Marcus throw the first punch.
“I just wish the best for him. I hope the right situation manifests for him and his family, and I’m sure it will.”
Part of the courtside discussion with Irving was about the immediate future and what the Celtics can accomplish in this coming season. It’s clear they don’t like to speak too boldly about it, but there’s also no doubt the Celts believe they can make a good run at winning everything.
“It’s hard when you put expectations on things,” Brown said. “We just want to be the best team that we can be. Right now, that’s what we think. We want to continue to get better. We don’t know what the final roster is. Right now we’re just trying to be the best version of ourselves and bring that to the table.
“We’ve got a lot of great talent on this team with a great coach, so, you know, we’re thinking we’re trying to raise a banner, but we’ve got to make sure that we take care of ourselves, be healthy and for the long haul we’ve got to start thinking now rather than start thinking later.”
In a personal sense, Brown has been going through workouts, including some time with Brad Stevens here in Vegas.
“Just been working on my game overall,” he said. “Just adding different components to my game -- even if they don’t get utilized during the year because we’ve got so many talented guys. So I’m just trying to be the best version of myself and bring that to the team.”
Brown also got a chance to see Celtic draftee Robert Williams work out Thursday morning. The two spoke for a while.
“I’m just breaking the ice, getting to know the kid. I didn’t know him prior to getting drafted, so nothing much really, just getting to know him, watching him work out. I was working out right after him. He seems like a great kid.”