East Notes: Wizards, Kyle Kuzma, Celtics, Cavs

Wizards

Forward Kyle Kuzma is undoubtedly on the brink of becoming an All-Star, though he indicated he doubts it will happen this season.

“To become an All-Star, you’ve got to win,” Kuzma said, via Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. “If you’re the 14th seed in the East and you’re killing, you’re not going to be an All-Star unless you’re an all-time great. So it’s a blessing, but I’m just working my way up.”

Kuzma has had to carry the Wizards on many nights, given that leading scorer Bradley Beal has been in and out of the lineup with injuries.

“This is all new for me. This is the first time in my career I really am having a role [with] this high of a usage, so I’m learning on the fly — I’m learning pretty fast, too,” Kuzma said, via Wallace. ” … I played with some great players, so watching them, understanding how teams guarded them, I’m kind of seeing those things now — especially when we have guys hurt.”

Celtics

  • The Celtics are among the teams with trade interest in Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic.
  • That said, the Celtics are more likely to try to land another reserve in a smaller trade if they do anything at the deadline, Weiss noted.
  • The Warriors are among the teams that have expressed interest in Celtics guard Payton Pritchard, per Brian Robb of MassLive.
  • Former Celtics player and coach Chris Ford died after suffering a heart attack at the age of 74, the team announced. Ford made the first 3-pointer in NBA history. He also spent time with the Pistons as a player.

Cavs

While much of the talk has been about newcomer Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs remain pleased with the progress being made by point guard Darius Garland.

It remains to be seen how much time Mitchell will miss with a groin strain — but no matter how long it is, Garland will be counted on to carry a heavier load.

“He’s still young — more years ahead of him than he has behind him,” guard/forward Caris LeVert said of Garland, via Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “But I think he’s done a great job of feeling it out and not being afraid to put his voice out there, not being afraid to make mistakes even with communication. I think for us to just hear his voice is huge because, obviously, we all respect his game. So just for us to hear his voice is huge.”

Center Jarrett Allen agreed.

“(Garland is) definitely a lot more confident in his role, telling us where to be, making sure his bigs are in the right spot so they can help him out,” Allen said, via Russo. “He’s sorta taken the offense. Timeouts, he’s talking. He’s just obviously an amazing player on the court, but off the court, there are a lot more things that are elevated.”

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