The Celtics probably need to find a third star to become title contenders, but they may not have the assets to acquire one, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes in an extensive look at how the franchise arrived at its current position. Boston has been on a hot streak this month, winning eight of its last 11 games and putting up the NBA’s best defensive numbers during that stretch. But as Bontemps talked to team officials around the league, he found skepticism about whether the Celtics are built to win in the playoffs.
“They probably need another guy,” an Eastern Conference scout said. “I love Al Horford, but he’s getting older. And I love (Marcus) Smart. But once you get past (Jaylen) Brown and (Jayson) Tatum — and especially past (Horford and Smart) — every guy is a question mark for me. They’re down to two legitimate stars, (and) you normally need three (to win).”
Bontemps traces Boston’s misfortunes over the past three years, including the losses of Horford, Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris in free agency and draft picks acquired from the Kings and Grizzlies that both fell to 14th, which was much lower than initially expected. Center Robert Williams has been the only full-time rotation player the Celtics have drafted in the past four years.
There are also concerns about whether Brown and Tatum are good enough to lead the team to a championship.
“Jaylen and Jayson aren’t making anyone better,” a Western Conference scout said. An Eastern Conference assistant coach added, “Jayson Tatum is about Jayson Tatum. I don’t think he cares about winning now, and if he does, it is on his terms. He doesn’t want to score 15 and win. He wants to score 39 and win.”
There’s more from Boston:
- Brown was cleared to play tonight, but coach Ime Udoka said he will be considered questionable for every game for the next week or two as he works his way back from a strained hamstring, Bontemps tweets.
- Williams was thrilled to receive an extension during the offseason that will keep him in Boston for four more years, he said in an interview with Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “I told my agent as soon as the season was over, I want to go back. I want to be back,” Williams said. “I feel like we’ve building something great here with a young core getting stronger and stronger every day. And I want to be a part of that celebration when we get to the chance where we raising that banner, I want to be a part of it. To be able to say we went through it all together. It was a big emphasis on me staying.”
- Nets owner Joe Tsai is the latest target of criticism from Celtics backup center Enes Kanter, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. In a Twitter post, Kanter calls Tsai a coward and a puppet of the Chinese government.