BOSTON — Brad Stevens, the president of basketball operations, has added some insurance to the Boston Celtics’ frontcourt.

Twenty-four hours before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, the Celtics acquired Grizzlies big man Xavier Tillman for two second-round picks. The Celtics also sent backup forward Lamar Stevens to the Grizzlies, which helps them maintain an open roster spot.

The Celtics traded a 2027 second-round pick (via Atlanta) and 2030 second-round pick (via Dallas) to Memphis in the deal.

Stevens said last month that any addition for the Celtics – who boast the league’s best record at 38-12 – would not be a game-changer given the team’s talent, depth, chemistry and financial limitations. But with an open roster spot available, he struck on a deal to add some solid depth to the frontcourt.

Tillman, 25, a second-round pick in the 2020 draft, has played all four seasons of his career in Memphis, where he’s carved out a role off the bench. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound forward has a limited offensive game – he’s a career 26.4% shooter from 3-point range – but is a strong, versatile defender.

Tillman is on an expiring $1.9 million contract but the Celtics will continue to hold his rights. The team also will keep its $6.2 million traded player exception (via the Grant Williams trade) because Tillman’s salary fits into a smaller exception, and there’s opportunity to use it with the open roster spot still available after trading Stevens.


POLLARD HOSPITALIZED: At 6-foot-11, Scot Pollard’s size helped him play more than a decade in the NBA, earning him a championship ring with the 2008 Boston Celtics.

Now it may be killing him.

Pollard needs a heart transplant, an already dire predicament that is made more difficult by the fact so few donors can provide him with a pump big and strong enough to supply blood to his extra large body. He was admitted to intensive care at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center on Tuesday, and he will wait there until a donor surfaces who was big enough to be a match.

“I’m staying here until I get a heart,” he said in a text message to The Associated Press on Wednesday night. “My heart got weaker. (Doctors) agree this is my best shot at getting a heart quicker.”

At nearly 7 feet tall and with a playing weight of 260 pounds, Pollard’s size rules out most potential donors for a heart to replace the one that – due to a genetic condition that was likely triggered by a virus he contracted in 2021 – has been beating an extra 10,000 times per day. Half of his siblings have the same condition – as did his father, who died at 54, when Scot was 16.

“That was an immediate wake-up call,” Pollard said in a recent telephone interview. “You don’t see a lot of old (7-) footers walking around. So I’ve known that my whole life, just because I had that seared into my brain as a 16-year-old, that – yeah, being tall is great, but I’m not going to see 80.”


Although Pollard, 48, has been aware of the condition at least since his father died in the 1990s, it wasn’t until he got sick three years ago that it began to affect his quality of life.

“It feels like I’m walking uphill all the time,” he said on the telephone, when he warned a reporter that he might need to cut it short if he got tired.

TRADE: The Detroit Pistons acquired Simone Fontecchio from the Utah Jazz for a 2024 second-round pick, according to a person familiar with the deal.

Fontecchio gives Detroit a desperately needed outside shooter and the Jazz landed a second-round pick for a player with an expiring contract. The 28-year-old Italian small forward averaged nearly nine points and made 39.1% of his 3-pointers for the Jazz in 34 starts and 16 games as a reserve this season, his second year in the NBA. Utah signed Fontecchio to a two-year, $6.3 million in 2022.

• Minnesota struck a deal to address its bench scoring needs, acquiring guard Monte Morris from the Pistons for Troy Brown Jr., Shake Milton and a second-round pick.

The second-rounder is the Timberwolves’ own in 2030.


MAVERICKS: Kyrie Irving took a vaccine-related shot at New York Mayor Eric Adams during his first game back in Brooklyn.

Amid Irving’s 36-point performance at Barclays Center on Tuesday, a fan sitting near the court asked the Dallas Mavericks’ point guard why he didn’t play as well during his time with the Nets.

“Thank Mayor Adams for that, bro,” Irving replied, as seen in footage posted on X by the account @Courtsidenets.

His response referred to New York City’s former COVID-19 vaccine mandate, under which Irving was not eligible to play home games throughout much of the 2021-22 season because he declined to get vaccinated. The Nets kept Irving out of road games, too, during that season’s first two months.

Irving didn’t play in Brooklyn until the Nets’ 75th game after Adams exempted athletes from the mandate. Irving appeared in only 29 games that season, his third with Brooklyn. The Nets granted Irving’s trade request last February and sent him to the Mavericks, ending a tumultuous tenure in which he, Kevin Durant and James Harden only won one playoff series.

“Obviously I fell short in terms of the championship aspirations, but for me, I think it was bigger than a championship here,” Irving said after his Mavericks beat the Nets, 119-107.

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