OKLAHOMA CITY — Jayson Tatum is generally a man of few words, very rarely changing expressions. Yet, when he was asked about losing friend and teammate Javonte Green, who was traded Thursday to the Chicago Bulls, he couldn’t disguise his disappointment.
Green, the second-year forward who signed as a free agent prior to the 2019-20 season, was popular with his teammates and had improved enough to become a useful reserve. He had also bonded with Tatum.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Tatum said. “He’s someone I’m super, super close with. Loved having him around. So that was tough, all of us, especially myself. He’s somebody I got real close with as friend.”
The Celtics moved Green to clear a roster spot for Evan Fournier, and he was added to the trade with the Bulls that included Daniel Theis. The Bulls threw center Luke Kornet into the deal while the Celtics acquired forward Moe Wagner from the Washington Wizards in a three-team deal.
The Theis move was a salary dump to get the Celtics under the luxury tax and Green was thrown into the deal. In 73 career games with the Celtics, Green averaged 3.7 points and 2 rebounds. In 25 games this season, he averaged 4.2 points on 31.8 percent shooting from the 3-point line (7 for 22).
Celtics coach Brad Stevens used Green as a defensive ace and energy reserve.
“He helped us in the time he did get out there,” Tatum said. “When he got his opportunity but I guess that’s just part of it.”
No Al sighting in OKC
Former Celtics center Al Horford did not get a chance to face his former team Saturday as the Thunder decided to shelve the 34-year-old former All-Star for the rest of the season as the organization seeks an offseason trade. Horford was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers in the offseason in a trade that sent Danny Green to the 76ers and Dennis Schroder to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Horford opted out of the final year of his contract with the Celtics to sign a four-year, $109 million contract with the 76ers. But Horford never fit into Philadelphia’s system and had trouble playing with franchise center Joel Embiid. Horford played 28 games with the Thunder, averaging 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 36.8 percent from the 3-point line. Horford is signed through 2022-23 and has $53 million remaining on his contract, making it challenging to move Horford. And with two years left on his contract, Horford was an unlikely buyout candidate.
“When I arrived, I understood the direction of the team, we had a great individual plan in place for me, and I feel like as a result I’ve played really good basketball for the Thunder,” Horford said in a statement. “At the same time, I know what it’s like to be a young, aspiring player, and at this point in the season I understand how important playing meaningful minutes is for their careers and their development.
“I also understand how important it is for the organization to give them that opportunity. I’m looking forward to supporting the guys who supported me, watching them continue to play the right way and play together as we have throughout the season, while still being around the team and continuing my training.”
Ready for action
Wagner not only got to Milwaukee on Friday to join his new teammates, he made his Celtics debut against the Bucks, hitting a 3-pointer in a 122-114 win. Wagner was part of the Theis deal and comes to Boston as a high-energy stretch-four type that could get playing time.
“It was nuts,” he said of being traded. “It’s not my first time getting traded, so I know how it works. I wasn’t sad, I know what to expect with the trade deadline. It’s crazy but I’m very happy to be here. The dynamics of the team, who is leading who has what emotional role. Defense is the most important thing, getting the terminology right. With a coach like coach Stevens, it’s very important to understand the offensive script too.”
Fournier on hold
Fournier missed Saturday night’s game as he had not cleared healthy and safety protocols . . . Tatum left the game briefly Friday because he bumped knee with a Bucks player. He went to the locker room to have a pad placed on the left knee and he eventually returned. He said he felt fine . . . Celtics guard Kemba Walker, center Tristian Thompson, and forwards Semi Ojeleye and Romeo Langford were listed as out, as was Fournier, whom Stevens said was listed “in the health and safety protocols.” Stevens did not elaborate on the duration of Fournier’s absence . . . Newly acquired Austin Rivers is likely to never play for the Thunder while backup center Tony Bradley was unavailable.