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adam himmelsbach | beat writer's notebook

Thoughts on the Celtics draft prep, the NBA season start, and Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas (left) and Kyrie Irving squared off back in February, but recently have been rehabbing injuries together.Nick Wass/Associated Press

Even though the season ended just two weeks ago, the NBA is ready to rev back up again, perhaps as soon as late December. Here are a few Celtics-related notes and thoughts about where things stand.

▪ It’s hard to believe that the NBA Draft is just three weeks away. The virtual event is scheduled for Nov. 18. There is a chance it could get pushed back if the league and the Players' Association are unable to agree on tweaks to the collective bargaining agreement, but that appears unlikely.

For the Celtics, the unique setup has led to unique draft preparations. There is currently a rolling virtual NBA combine taking place. Prospects who were invited by the league have the option of completing recorded combine drills and undergoing medical testing at an NBA facility closest to their home base.


There are no Boston-area prospects taking part, so the Auerbach Center has not been used, according to a league source. Still, Celtics executives have been monitoring these workouts from afar.

Teams also have the option of visiting prospects in person. As of this week, the Celtics had not done that, but they are looking into scheduling a few visits. For now, they have been deep in film study, which is their preferred approach anyway because there is only so much to glean from a one-person workout.

▪ Former Celtics All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas recently posted an interesting picture on Instagram of himself working out with another former Celtics All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving. The two players were traded for each other in the 2017 deal that brought Irving to Boston. Now, they are both rounding back into form after undergoing surgeries.

Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving have been spending time together.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Thomas, 31, had another procedure on his troublesome hip, and Irving underwent shoulder surgery last month. Irving, 28, is expected to be healthy and ready to join Kevin Durant in a powerful Nets starting lineup whenever the season begins. Thomas, meanwhile, is still hoping to latch on with another team. He averaged 12.2 points over the course of 40 games with the Wizards last season, but he was waived after being traded to the Clippers in February.


▪ Celtics point guard Jaylen Brown revealed during an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week that he considered skipping the NBA’s restart after his grandfather, Willie, was diagnosed with cancer. He said that the two ultimately made a deal that Willie Brown would continue fighting his disease while Brown took care of business with the team.

As COVID-19 began to surge last spring, Brown and his mother brought Willie from his home in Georgia to live with Brown in Boston. Willie Brown, a former truck driver who said he used to spar with champion boxers such as Muhammad Ali, became Brown’s quarantine trainer, and Brown credited him for getting him into the best shape of his life.

Jaylen Brown's grandfather Willie sparred against the greats –  Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Sonny Liston.Courtesy/Jaylen Brown

▪ The NBA last week expressed to team owners that it would like to start next season Dec. 22. The plan still needs the approval of the National Basketball Players Association, but given the expected economic advantages of starting that soon — particularly ensuring a full Christmas slate — it seems likely that the players will come on board.

The Celtics are one of the few teams that could be at a disadvantage by returning so soon, though. They lost to the Heat in the conference finals less than a month ago; if games resume Dec. 22, training camps would have to open soon after Thanksgiving. That’s not a lot of time.


Also, Daniel Theis (knee) and Romeo Langford (wrist) have undergone offseason surgeries, and the Celtics were surely hoping Kemba Walker could get extra time to rest and strengthen his left knee.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.