Morning sports update: Jaylen Brown wanted LeBron James to stay in the East so the Celtics could go through him

"I was kind of mad."

LeBron James Jaylen Brown
LeBron James controls the ball against Jaylen Brown during Game 4 of the 2017 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. –Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Mookie Betts fouled off seven pitches before hitting a grand slam to lead the Red Sox over the Blue Jays 6-4 on Thursday night. Betts went 2 for 4, increasing his league-leading batting average to .352.

Here’s what else you need to know as you get caught up on sports headlines this morning:

Jaylen Brown wanted LeBron James to stay in the East so the Celtics could go through him

Jaylen Brown wanted another shot at LeBron James.

The Celtics rising star said last year as a rookie that he had “no fear whatsoever of LeBron” — an eye-opening claim considering Brown was 13 years old the last time James lost an Eastern Conference playoff series. Boston was unable to break that streak in the conference finals last season, but that doesn’t mean Brown was happy to see the Celtics’ toughest opposition head out West.

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“To be honest, I wanted [James] to stay,” Brown said Thursday at summer league in Las Vegas, per The Boston Globe. “I was kind of mad. I wanted to be the team to go through him. I feel like we could have had it last year, but we fell a little bit short. But I applaud someone doing what’s best for him. He did what’s best for him in that situation. I wanted him to stay in the East.”

The immediate reaction around the NBA when James announced his decision to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers was that the move cleared the way for Boston to reach the Finals. According to Brown, the Celtics were representing the East with or without James in the conference.

“I don’t like when people say ‘Now that LeBron’s gone, y’all are the favorite,’” he said. “That irks me. A lot of us, we feel the same, because we feel that whether he was there or wasn’t there, we was coming out [of the East].”

Although the third-year forward is not participating in this year’s summer league, Brown was sitting courtside alongside Kyrie Irving as the Celtics beat the Knicks in their first-round playoff game. He noted his teammates must start preparing for the upcoming season now because Brad Stevens’s team is “trying to raise a banner.”

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One of those teammates faces an uncertain future in Boston. Marcus Smart, a restricted free agent, received a qualifying offer from the Celtics but has yet to sign the $6 million deal. As Smart waits for another team to extend an offer sheet, or for president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to re-sign him to a different contract, he has the support of his peers in the locker room.

“Marcus, what he brings to the table is second to none,” Brown said. “The analytics, all of that, throw that away. What Marcus adds to a team and a franchise, everybody knows. I think [Ainge] knows that. And I feel like something will come and the best situation will happen for both parties. But I would love to play this next year with Marcus Smart, and I feel like everybody feels the same way.”

Robert Williams’s high school coach explains what type of player the Celtics are getting: Ron Meikle, the former varsity basketball coach at North Caddo High School, told Nicole Yang that the Celtics’ first-round pick was “the Bill Russell of high school basketball.” Meikle noted that he was surprised by Williams’s rocky start in Boston and expects the “country kid” to thrive in Boston’s system. (Boston.com)

Where J.D. Martinez’s season stacks up against the best in Red Sox history: Chad Finn examined the similarities between J.D. Martinez’s incredible start to the season and some of the finer performances in Boston history. Alongside Manny Ramirez and Jim Rice, Martinez is in good company. (Boston.com)

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Isaiah Thomas agrees to one-year deal with Denver Nuggets: The free agent reportedly agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. Thomas will be reunited with head coach Michael Malone and have a chance to re-establish himself for free agency next summer. (Boston.com)

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