|09.27.16 at 10:27 am ET|
WALTHAM — The Celtics have an abundance of options in their backcourt.
Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley come into camp as the two players projected to be the starting backcourt, with Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter and rookie pick Demetrius Jackson in the wings.
Then there’s Marcus Smart. The 22-year-old point guard in his third year out of Oklahoma State could be in store for a breakout season.
One reason the Celtics let Evan Turner leave for greener pastures in Portland is because they think they have the perfect sixth man candidate to step in and take his place. It would appear Smart will get a chance to fill that role early on in the season. There’s been rumors that the Celtics are shopping Avery Bradley, which might or might not impact Smart’s role.
Along with Bradley, Smart is considered one of the best and most physical perimeter defenders in the East. He also has shown the ability to handle bigger bodies in the low post (like when he was called on to slow down Atlanta’s Paul Millsap in Games 3 and 4.).
This could be the year Smart takes that next step. But as it stands now, he’ll still likely be doing it as the first man off Brad Stevens’ bench. And that’s OK with him.
“If that’s what this team needs me to do, then that’s the role I’ll take,” Smart said Monday during media day. “With the absence of Evan, he’s going to be missed here. The things he brought to the team, he created his own jump shot. He created for others. Everybody else understands the role that he left us with and we have to step up as a team, I have step up as an individual, but this team has to step up. And there’s a lot of players.
“We’ve got guys coming off the bench like Terry Rozier, who’s been real good in the offseason. And as you guys saw in the summer league, he’s been playing his butt off. Everybody has to step up and everybody understands that.”
|09.27.16 at 9:51 am ET|
WALTHAM — Brad Stevens knows there’s a ton of work to be done between now and the beginning of April.
That’s why he laughs when he’s asked about what his expectations are for making the playoffs and advancing this season.
Entering his fourth season, Stevens has taken his team from 25 to 40 to 48 wins and playoff berths in each of the last two seasons. The natural assumption, with the additions of free agents Al Horford and Gerald Green and first rounder Jaylen Brown, is that a 50-win season with a deep playoff run is in store.
Then the Celtics coach, on media day on Monday, reminded everyone of what he told his team before the media session began.
“See, I’m a basketball coach so I don’t really – I know certainly I want to do my job as well as I can to make sure that we are improving every day and are striving for that ultimate objective. We have a long way to go to be considering talking about any of that stuff.
“And to be quite frank as I told our team real briefly before we walked out here, there was not a lot of room between finishing 10th and second last year in the East. Ultimately we want to be the best, we want to be among those considered the best. There’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, and it’s day by day. I don’t feel any more pressure from what ultimately happens. I’m making sure that practice tomorrow is structured right.”
To Stevens’ point, the Celtics finished tied with the Hornets, Hawks and Heat with 48 wins. The ninth place team were the Bulls with 42 wins and the tenth-place Wizards won 40. The 40 wins would’ve been good enough for seventh seed two seasons ago, the spot the Celtics found themselves in. But not last year. And the East is quickly improving.
“My expectations never change,” Stevens said. “It’s all about getting tomorrow and making sure we’re as good as we can be. It’s a very simple, boring process but it’s the way that I go about it. And I think that the results take care of themselves.”
What would be a successful season?
“Being better the next day. That’s my perspective,” Stevens said in his best Bill Belichick tone. “The one thing I’ve been asked about – last week I got asked about a number of wins goal, I got asked about a playoff goal or a playoff rounds goal or whatever the case may be – right when you define something as success and you reach it, you don’t go any further. You set the limit for your team.
“And I’m certainly not into setting ceilings. And I think that’s why you focus on what you can do and try to put your best foot forward. And go into that next game, and if you do that you can win the game. And that’s my job.”
|09.27.16 at 8:29 am ET|
WALTHAM — Isaiah Thomas has been in the NBA long enough to know just how important health and conditioning is during the offseason. At Monday’s media day, he told reporters how the changes he’s made will make him a better player this year.
Entering his sixth season, Thomas sounded like a seasoned veteran in discussing the changes he’s made in his eating habits and sleeping pattern as he aims to extend his career to the age of 40.
“I changed my diet,” Thomas said. “I hired a personal chef back home, and I’m eating vegetables for the first time since when my dad used to make me. I eliminated fast food. You guys have heard it before — I want to play until I’m 40, and I know it starts with little things like that. Last week I got in contact with Dr. Z [Charles Czeisler] over there at Harvard, the ‘Sleep Doctor.’ I’m trying to learn how to sleep longer and sleep more. Not only am I going to eat healthier, I’m going to get a lot of sleep. Instead of watching TV and playing video games, I have to learn to get more sleep. That will help me be a better basketball player. Those are the little things I am trying to figure out. The older I get, the more I’m trying to figure those little things out to be a better basketball player. It’s not all on the court.”
Thomas also admitted that he’s still bitter over last year’s first-round playoff exit against the Hawks. He explained how he’s never given so much effort on the basketball court like he did in the playoffs, and that he’s using last season as motivation heading into the 2016-17 season.
“Whole offseason that’s all I thought about,” Thomas said. “Losing that series left a bad taste in all of our mouths. We want to get past that first round. I do, I know that. I want to go further. We have a good team, and people to make that happen. Last season hurt me especially because that’s the first time I can say I gave everything I had. I had no more left in me, and that’s why I hurt so much. Having everybody back for another year, we’re looking for bigger and better things. What that may be we don’t know, but hopefully we can jell faster than we did last year with the additions we have on this team.”
|09.26.16 at 10:46 pm ET|
WALTHAM — All the Celtics of recent memory have heard is that they’re just missing “that” piece. There’s no exact definition of what that piece is, but there is belief that Al Horford is said piece.
He can run the floor, play defense in the low post, step out and shoot 3-pointers, play strong around the rim and grab rebounds in the process — nearly all things the C’s needed to address this offseason. And while his addition came at the cost of $113 million over four seasons, it appears that if he continues the trend that has defined a successful nine-year career, he will help the Celtics take another step forward.
“He’s going to open the floor for everybody,” Avery Bradley said at Celtics media day Monday. “He’s a great player on the offensive end, defensive end. He knows how to play the game of basketball. To have him be a part of this team, I’m just happy about it.”
Added Celtics president Danny Ainge (who was exceptionally giddy throughout his press conference): “As much as anything he’s been very consistent over his career. Shooting the ball, playing multiple positions. He’s a guy that fits in with our system with big guys handling the ball a lot.”
With the hefty contract Horford signed, and the track record he’s had in his career, the 30-year-old Dominican is being fancied as the shepherd to take the Celtics to the promised land. And while it may be steep to put that all on Horford — especially on a team-centric squad like the Celtics — his all-around skill should fit into the C’s system.
“We’re not asking Al to be anything more than him,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s a good fit for how we play on offense. He’s a good fit for how we play on defense. He’s a professional. He has a routine. He works hard at his craft. He’s a guy that guys can follow by example.”
|09.26.16 at 6:09 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Danny Ainge had the chance to pay tribute to a pair of all-time greats that combined to bring home one title to Boston and nearly another.
Hours before Monday’s media day in Waltham, 38-year-old Paul Pierce announced that this season would be his last in the NBA after 19 seasons.
“Well, first of all, I think Paul could play for a few more years, but I’ll believe it when I see it,” the Celtics president of basketball operations said. “Paul loves the game. He loves basketball and I think that it’s hard to see him walking away. I know there will come a time when he will. He’s one of the great Celtics of all-time, he’s a great competitor.
“The thing that stands out more to me than anything about Paul — after all the great shots and great plays and everything else he did here — was just watching him, sitting right outside my office, seeing him come in at midnight and work on his game, work on his conditioning. He really loved the game and took it very seriously.”
Ainge was also asked about Kevin Garnett, who announced his retirement last week.
“I think I said in a statement that KG had as big an impact as anybody that I’ve been around in an organization,” Ainge said. “I think the thing that stands out the most to me about KG is just his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG. He never wanted his individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice, and that’s something that I’ll remember about him.”
Will the numbers 34 and 5 wind up in the rafters?
“That’s for future discussion,” Ainge said. “I won’t answer that yet because we haven’t really discussed it internally. That’s a decision that Wyc and Rich will ultimately make. You guys know the answers to those anyway. We’ll just let the other people make those decisions, make those calls.”
|09.26.16 at 5:48 pm ET|
Kelly Olynyk "it's been a long haul of rehab" from May shoulder surgery pic.twitter.com/bPPBgtr3PM
— Mike Petraglia (@Trags) September 26, 2016
WALTHAM – Kelly Olynyk is pretty psyched that Tom Brady is coming back to the NFL after next week.
The Celtics center said one of the highlights of his summer of rehab from shoulder surgery was listening and talking to Tom Brady as the Patriots quarterback spent time on Long Island trying to lure Kevin Durant to Boston.
“Brady’s an unbelievable individual,” Olynyk said during Monday’s media day. “He’s really, really smart. Just to be able to pick his brain for a half-hour, an hour, going down there was awesome, his philosophies, the way he lives his life. How professional he is, the way attacks every single game, every single moment and just kind of year-round, 24/7, it was awesome to see through his eyes, and hear it through his mouth, what he does and what it takes to be great.
“He’s really exemplified that at a lot of different stages so I’m excited to see him get back in the action, too, man.”
As for his shoulder, the seven-footer said he’s getting better and better but still hasn’t been cleared for contact following surgery on the right shoulder on May 16.
“Shoulder’s doing well. It’s coming along,” Olynyk said. “It’s been a long haul of rehab but it’s getting stronger and improving every day. Seeing visual improvements now. It’s doing well. It just needs to get a little bit stronger so that muscles can protect it and take a hit.”
Olynyk re-aggravated the shoulder in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Hawks after suffering the initial injury in the final game before the All-Star break in February against the Clippers.
|09.26.16 at 12:30 pm ET|
With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.
33 games with Texas A&M: 27.3 minutes, 15.3 points, 42.5% FG, 7.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals
Jones was one of the Aggies’ go-to scorers his senior year. His long frame helped him score baskets at an efficient rate. Jones began his college career at SMU but sat out of the 2013-14 season after transferring to Texas A&M. He became a starter almost immediately after the start of his junior year and put together his best season last year.
Projected role in 2016-17
Jones will be one of four players without guaranteed contracts at training camp and was the last man added to the 20-man roster. He most likely will spend his season in the D-League.
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