|09.16.16 at 10:08 am 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.
76 games: 33.4 minutes, 15.2 points, 44.7% FG, 2.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals
The 25-year-old was one of the most indispensable members of the team last season — as apparent by the noticeable void when the seventh-year pro went down with a hamstring injury in the first game of the postseason. Prior to that, however, the now-longest-tenured Celtic’s defense was stout as ever, leading to a spot on the NBA’s All-Defense first team, while still being a reliable shooting source from the wing.
Projected role in 2016-17
Don’t expect Bradley’s role to change much this season. Of the 76 regular-season games he appeared in last season, he started 72 and was one of the most reliable defenders and shooters, and he should do much of the same this season. The Celtics don’t have much shooting help from 3, and Bradley likely will continue to fill the 3-and-D role for coach Brad Stevens as a result. It’s also safe to expect him to be one of the premier defensive forces in the NBA, and as long as he is at full health — which he says he is — then expect him to be a night-in, night-out starter netting 35-plus minutes per game.
|09.15.16 at 3:27 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated recently released its annual list of the Top 100 players in the NBA, and for the Celtics, it was merely affirmation of what they already believe: this team looks to be pretty good.
Five Celtics landed in the top 100, led by Al Horford at No. 18. Isaiah Thomas is 45, Jae Crowder 53, Avery Bradley 72 and Amir Johnson 86.
Horford was praised for his ability to fit into essentially any system and make himself a threat defensively regardless of who he’s up against. He can play in the low post, he can pick and roll, he can shoot if needed. Defensively, of course is his strength. Concern was mentioned about his rebounding troubles against top rebounders — something that has routinely plagued the Celtics — as well as his occasional interest to shoot a below-average 3-pointers.
In last year’s ranking, Thomas came in at 88, and he had something to say about it.
Sports illustrated Rankings are a JOKE lol. Feels like back in HS when those POLITICAL rankings would come out & we would just laugh it off
— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas) August 31, 2015
This year, SI gave him a little bit more respect, specifically with his reliability and durability. The article noted his ability to drive (he was second in the league in points off the drive last season) but also the fact that as a result of his interest in driving combined with a smaller stature, he is prone to getting his shot blocked.
The focal point of Crowder’s assessment was how unlikely it seemed that he would be as adored and successful in Boston as he is when he was part of the long-awaited trade of Rajon Rondo. On top of that, his ability to steal the ball (he ranked second in the league in steals) was looked favorably upon while his reticence to routinely pull the trigger from deep was criticized.
Bradley was lauded for his abilities as a two-way player, as he won accolades for defense while being a knockdown shooter periodically last season. However, the article was critical of his inability to run an offense for extended periods of time and his injury concerns.
For Johnson — arguably the biggest surprise to make the list — the focus was on what he brings to the table defensively. A case could be made he is one of the most integral parts of the Celtics defense, which is saying a lot given how solid the C’s defense is. His drawbacks included the fact that he is not exactly a threat offensively, getting most of his points from putbacks. Even still, his impact is massive given he is the first one to the bench in most games.
|09.14.16 at 12:14 pm ET|
Isaiah Thomas surprised 14-year-old Robbie McNulty for the second straight week by inviting him to an upcoming Celtics game as the two appeared via video on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
After joining McNulty for a surprise shooting session at a Cambridge park last week, Thomas stunned the teenager again by inviting him to a game at TD Garden.
“Thanks for letting me shoot hoops with you the other day,” Thomas said in a video taped at the Celtics’ Waltham practice facility. “Keep working on that jumper. I know we talked about this upcoming season, and I’d like to invite you to one of my games as my guest. See you at the Garden.”
McNulty is a diehard Celtics fan and Thomas is his favorite player. After his first day at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, McNulty went to the basketball court by himself after none of his friends wanted to join him, but he wasn’t alone for long. Thomas saw McNulty playing alone and headed toward him.
“It was just so nice of him to come over and play with me,” McNulty said. “I bet he didn’t even think it would be that big of a deal to me, but for me, like, it’s crazy. He’s an NBA All-Star and he’s just looking at you and talking to you.”
|09.14.16 at 11:56 am ET|
The Celtics signed a pair of undrafted free agents Wednesday in Jalen Jones and Damion Lee, bringing their training camp roster to 20, the maximum number a team can bring to camp. The deals was first reported by RealGM.
Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward, spent two seasons at SMU before transferring to Texas A&M for his final two seasons. During his senior year with the Aggies, Jones averaged 15.3 points per game with 7.2 rebounds alongside a 42.5 field goal percentage. Jones spent the summer league in Las Vegas with the Raptors.
The 6-foot-6 guard Lee finished his college career at Louisville for a season after beginning with Drexel. His senior season with the Cardinals, Lee averaged 15.9 points per game, with 1.5 steals, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He played for Miami in both the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues.
Per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the deals are not guaranteed, which now makes four non-guaranteed deals for the Celtics, with Ben Bentil and Marcus Georges-Hunt sharing similar contract situations. Bringing all four to camp will entitle the Celtics to the players’ D-League rights.
Here’s a look at the roster the Celtics will take to training camp when it begins on Sept. 26, barring a trade or a cut.
Guards: Avery Bradley, Marcus Georges-Hunt, R.J. Hunter, Demetrius Jackson, Damion Lee, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, James Young
Forwards/centers: Ben Bentil, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Gerald Green, Al Horford, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Jalen Jones, Jordan Mickey, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller
|09.08.16 at 12:39 pm ET|
Despite the seemingly constant drama surrounding the Celtics this offseason, head coach Brad Stevens has been surprisingly quiet. At the ABCD Hoops for Hope event at the TD Garden on Tuesday, Stevens opened up about a number of things that defined this offseason.
And though he’s been quiet, it hasn’t stopped him from planning constantly and paying mind to the outlook of the upcoming season.
“I think as a coach, you get away a little bit, but at some point you’re antsy to get back at it,” Stevens told reporters. “So maybe re-writing the third version of what you’re doing? I don’t know. You think about it all year. I’m just going to be ready for September 27th. Ever since the end of July I’ve had a pretty good idea of what we’re going to look like as a team and who’s going to help us in what way. It’s just a matter now of putting the pieces together and hopefully playing well”
The Celtics that fell in the first round of the 2016 postseason, though similar, will have some major changes. There was the addition of big man Al Horford, former Celtic Gerald Green, as well as No. 3 draft pick Jaylen Brown.
With such additions, there’s been incessant changes to the outlook of the roster and thus the approach the team will have to take.
“I think you’re always tweaking and changing and you’re always making adjustments,” he said, “But I think you have to put a lot of time and thought into what your new guys have done well, how that plays within what you’ve done or if you need to change some of what you’ve done to fit them better. You go through that, and you make sure you come up with a plan that fits everybody the best to bring out all of their best strengths.”
Defense was never an issue for the Celtics in 2015-16.
|09.07.16 at 3:32 pm ET|
With the new look of the Celtics beginning to mold, the “Big Three” era is more and more quickly starting to feel like a thing of the past. And that’s not just a figment of the imagination.
The only player on the current roster to have played with Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce is now-seventh-year pro Avery Bradley.
Who else was on that roster in 2011-12 Celtics who haven’t quite survived? Try E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Marquis Daniels among others.
But now 25 years old and the longest tenured member of the Celtics, Bradley has become one of the most prominent leaders on the team, despite his generally quiet disposition.
“Lead by example,” said Bradley in an interview with Celtics.com’s Marc D’Amico when asked to describe his leadership role with the C’s. “I don’t really speak that much. I just try to be professional on and off the court, and hopefully everybody follows.”
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard has already taken on quite a role on both ends of the court for the Celtics. He averaged 15.2 points per game last season and was stout on defense, averaging 1.5 steals per game while shutting down some of the league’s top offensive players in the process.
Bradley played two seasons with “The Big Three”, taking notes along the way at just 18 and 19 years old during that time frame. With that experience now, he knows that the remarkably young team that will be around him this season is in a sense looking in the same thing from him that he did seven seasons ago.
“I was just able to listen to them,” said Bradley. “KG and those guys, they told me what I needed to do to be successful and I would listen to those guys because I wanted to be like them. I knew what it would take for me to stick in the NBA, and that was making sure I was always on time and all of those things.”
Added Bradley: “I can’t preach something that I’m not doing,” he said. “That’s the thing about it – all of my teammates see me being professional, so I hope they’ll do the same.”
|09.07.16 at 11:27 am ET|
Paul Pierce has not yet solidified his plans for the upcoming season, but if retirement is that decision, Pierce’s most recent (and most familiar) coach is encouraging him to do so as a member of the Celtics.
At Tuesday’s annual ABCD Hoops Dream fundraiser at TD Garden, Clippers coach Doc Rivers spoke to ESPN’s Chris Forsberg about the future of arguably the most prized player to wear green since the turn of the millennium, and he said Pierce should sign a one-day contract with the Celtics when he decides to hang up his sneakers.
“I think it’s important. I think we have to do that. And I think we will,” Rivers said. “Danny [Ainge] and [assistant GM] Mike [Zarren], we’ve already talked. The day he retires, he’s going to retire a Celtic. He has to. Paul’s a Celtic. So when he retires, he’s got to retire as a Celtic. I don’t think anyone disagrees with me.”
Should he return, Pierce will be playing in his 19th NBA season, 15 of which were with the Celtics. Last season with the Clippers was an underwhelming one, as the 38-year-old averaged just 6.1 points over 18.1 minutes per game.
“Paul didn’t have the best year last year. I don’t think he wants to go out that way. So I think that’s why he’s working to try to come back,” Rivers said. “But he still may change his mind next week. So we just have to wait. I told him if I see him at training camp, I’m assuming he’s playing.”
Rivers, who coached the Celtics from 2004 until 2013, when he left for the Clippers, said Pierce could still play at a high level should he come back.
“If I don’t think they can play, then I tell them that. But I think Paul can play,” Rivers said. “I don’t know how much he’ll play, but he can play. I’ve always thought it’s easy for someone else to tell you to retire; I think that’s something that the player has to come to by himself.”
In his frequent discussions with Pierce this offseason, Rivers said he’s heard different things about Pierce’s plan for 2016-17.
“Depends on the day I talk to him. Paul has had the summer, he’s gone back and forth,” Rivers said. “I think he has a right to do that. I really do.”
Rivers said he plans to speak with Pierce later this week but is not expecting a definitive answer.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Austin Ainge Offers Window to C's Pre-Draft Process
- Trade Possibilities for C's with Draft Approaching
- Latest Buzz Surrounding Jamal Crawford, Kristaps Porzingis, Celtics'...
- Latest NBA Trade Rumors, Buzz
- Ranking Celtics' Biggest NBA Draft Needs
- Buzz Surrounding Ty Lawson, Celtics Draft Plans and More
- Realistic Targets for Celtics to Chase During Offseason