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With international play behind him, Kelly Olynyk looks for bigger leadership role on Celtics

09.29.15 at 12:18 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk speaks at Celtics media day in Waltham before taking off for Europe. (Mike Petraglia/

Kelly Olynyk speaks at Celtics media day in Waltham before taking off for Europe. (Mike Petraglia/

WALTHAM — Kelly Olynyk had quite the summer as he tried to get himself ready for the 2015-16 season with the Celtics.

The third-year big man out of Gonzaga starred for his home country Team Canada in the both the Tuto Marchand Cup (a preliminary to the FIBA Olympic qualifying tourney) and the FIBA tourney itself. Olynyk had 34 points and 13 rebounds in a 79-78 loss to Venezuela in the semifinals of the Olympic tourney, outshining fellow Canadiens Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett (both young stars for Minnesota). Had Canada won, they would have directly qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, along with the U.S., Argentina and Venezuela.

Instead, Canada must now qualify in the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. A lot was at stake but Olynyk looks at the loss as good experience, from a team and personal standpoint.

“It was definitely a tough game, especially for us,” Olynyk said. “We had gotten better every game as a team. We played so well, really night-in and night-out pretty much dominated that tournament. So it’s really a tough break for us to go out like that. Credit to Venezuela. They played a great game. They played tough, they played strong. They made shots. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only game we didn’t make very many shots. They showed up and played and then they went back to back night and beat Argentina. It was something pretty special for them. Right now, we’ve got another chance next summer and we’ve got to look forward to that and make sure we’re ready to play.”

Olynyk averaged 11.5 points a game in 10 games in the FIBA Americas championship. There was a scary moment when he dinged his left knee in an 85-80 win over Argentina on Aug. 23 in the Marchand Cup in Puerto Rico. But Olynyk bounced back quickly and was able to play at full strength in the Olympic qualifying tourney, which involved playing 10 games in 12 days in Mexico City.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Kelly Olynyk, Team Canada,

Jae Crowder reacts to being called “Bae Crowder”

09.28.15 at 3:01 pm ET
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The Celtics held their annual Media Day on Friday and this reporter/blogger was there to ask the important questions. Jae Crowder, who the Celtics signed this off-season to a five-year contract worth $35 million, appears to have no qualms with being called Bae. In fact, I would characterize his fist pump and use of the phrase “Right On” as a ringing endorsement. I have been a fan of Crowder’s game ever since he was acquired from Dallas in the December trade of Rajon Rondo and I started referring to him as Bae shortly after his arrival. If he can develop a consistent jump shot to pair with his ability to defend multiple positions, I expect him to quickly emerge as Celtics fan’s collective “Bae” and one of the major reasons why the team wins the Atlantic Division.

Follow Sam Packard on Twitter @WEEICeltics

Brad Stevens: ‘I have one goal at this job and that’s to win an NBA championship’

09.27.15 at 12:57 pm ET
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WALTHAM — Brad Stevens has a lot to think about on his flight over to Europe to begin training camp.

First and foremost, who on the roster is going to step up and prove they deserve the most playing time – or any at all – in preseason and possibly the regular season.

That’s a question that needs to be answered before Stevens can even make decisions on who will fill out the backend of a roster that is nothing if not deep.

The forwards are David Lee, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller and Perry Jones. The guards are Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Evan Turner to go with rookies Terry Rozier and RJ Hunter.

That’s a lot of options but a lot of decisions for Brad Stevens to wade through.

“I’m excited. Anytime you’ve got a group that you can work with and you feel that way headed into the season, you’re focused on basketball,” Stevens said. “Even though we’ve got to figure out who’s going to play and at what times, I think we’ll be able to focus on all the right things.”

But then Stevens was pressed about how he’s going to deal with players like Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner, all veteran guards who will be fighting for playing time in a crowded backcourt that added rookies RJ Hunter and Terry Rozier.

“Every good team, you’re going to have discussions like that,” Stevens said. “Every good team that is challenging to be better is going to have depth. We’re going to have good players on our team that aren’t going to play. That’s the reality of it. That’s hard part of the job in some ways but you just try to be really frank and talk about it. I’m not here to predetermine anything. That’s why I think sometimes we should probably have media day two weeks in because I don’t know yet. We’ll find out.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA,

James Young improves defense, gains weight

09.26.15 at 8:08 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

In preparation for the 2015-16 NBA season, James Young spent the majority of the summer working on his body and his one-on-one defense.

At Friday’€™s annual media day at the Celtics‘ Waltham practice facility, Young talked about gaining weight over the summer and how he’€™s entering his second season feeling more confident about his defense.

“€œI just got in the gym and worked out harder,” said Young. “This season is going to be special for the team and me. I just want it to be great — got in the gym every day, [twice] a day.

“€œJust to absorb the contact from bigger and stronger guys, you can’€™t just go in the lane and be at 200 pounds; you’€™re going to get pushed over. €œSo, you [have to] add weight, and that’€™s what I did. I want to add more — not done yet.”

Young split his rookie year between Boston and Maine. He played 17 games for the Red Claws, averaging 21.5 points and shooting an impressive 44.2 percent from behind the 3-point arc.

Young finished his rookie campaign with the Celtics averaging 3.4 points in 10.7 minutes per game. While adding weight to his frame to improve his offense, Young says he has a better understanding of what to do on the defensive end.

“€My footwork is a lot better,” he said. “I know what to do now. Pulling over, communicating, everything is working a lot better now. I know what to do now. I didn’€™t know then, but now I know.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens also discussed Young’€™s progress at Friday’€™s media day.

“He’€™s really improved his defensive abilities,” said Stevens. “€œHis defensive awareness was great in summer league, and he’€™s a guy that we know offensively has some skill and some talent. The other thing about James that I’€™m excited about is he’€™s bigger and stronger, and he’s only 20 years old.”

Read More: Brad Stevens, James Young,

Avery Bradley upgrades playoff goal to championship

09.25.15 at 9:23 pm ET
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Among the cliches about taking the season one game at a time, Celtics guard Avery Bradley‘€™s stated goal for 2015-16 stood out during the team’€™s annual media day.

‘€œTo get back to the playoffs and hopefully use all the experience we gained from last year to get further and have a chance to play in the championship,’€ said Bradley. ‘€œObviously, that’€™s our ultimate goal, and we’€™re going to try to prepare so we can get to that level.’€

The championship? Really?

‘€œI feel like it’€™s definitely realistic,’€ added the 24-year-old Bradley. ‘€œA lot of people laughed when I said we were going to make the playoffs last year, and we did.’€

Well, he’€™s got a point there. Believe it or not, Bradley is the longest-tenured player of the Celtics, and as the lone remaining member of the team that reached the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, he should know what it takes.

‘€œI know that I want to take that role to help my teammates become the best players on and off the court,” said Bradley. “I’€™m going to try to speak up more this year. I’€™m definitely going to lead by example, no matter what, but I definitely want to try to be a role model for the younger guys and push them every single day so we can be the best players we can be, so we can achieve our ultimate goal — and that’€™s winning a championship.’€

So, the goal really is winning a championship, then. (As it should be for every team worth its salt, by the way.)

‘€œIf we continue to work hard, anything’€™s possible,’€ said Bradley, who started for the 2014-15 team that got swept in the first round. “If you buy into what the coach is trying to do and this Celtics culture, I feel like anything is possible and we can definitely have a chance to make it to the championship if we do those things.’€


Read More: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, NBA,

Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades: 7. Goodbye, Rajon Rondo

09.24.15 at 10:24 am ET
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Over the next month, we’ll chronicle the 25 most consequential trades of Danny Ainge’s tenure as Celtics president of basketball operations. When we’re done, we’ll have a better understanding of Ainge’s philosophy and success rate on the trade market. Perhaps by the end of this exercise we’ll even feel better about the future of this rebuild. At the very least, we’ll have something interesting to debate while we wait for training camp to open.

With that out of the way, here’s No. 7 on the list of Danny Ainge’s 25 most consequential trades.

Dec. 18, 2014: Goodbye, Rajon Rondo.

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Read More: 25 most consequential trades, Danny Ainge, Jae Crowder, NBA

Celtics boss Danny Ainge explains why he considers Stephen Curry, not Larry Bird, best shooter of all time

09.24.15 at 1:06 am ET
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Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Danny Ainge spent nearly eight seasons alongside Larry Bird, the man many consider the greatest shooter in NBA history, so he doesn’t say the following lightly: Stephen Curry is the best shooter he’s ever seen.

Ainge made the observation on Twitter during the playoffs, which ended with Curry’s Warriors claiming the title, and he explained himself earlier this week in an interview with from his Waltham office.

“I think Larry was as good a shooter as I’ve ever seen before Steph. And Ray Allen is up there, too,” Ainge said. “If anybody were to come in and tell me, ‘Larry Bird‘s the best shooter of all time,’ I wouldn’t have much argument. Same with Ray. I probably wouldn’t argue. It’s really close.

“The reason I think Steph is the best shooter of all time is simply the variety of shots he hits. Left-handed running hook shots, reverses, floaters, 3-point shots off the dribble, behind screens. It’s the variety and the degree of difficulty of the shots he hits.”

Ainge, who was no slouch in the shooting department himself (.378 lifetime on 3’s and .846 on free throws), got an up-close-and-personal look at Bird’s ability to score while surrounded by multiple defenders, but for sheer creativity, he’s going with Curry.

“That’s why I think Larry was always my first guy of being the best shooter of all time, up until Steph,” Ainge said. “To me, it was the difficulty of shots he made. I mean, Larry could shoot with two guys draped on him, and I used to play Larry one-on-one often before practice. I would be right on him and turn around, and the ball would be going in the basket. That’s what was always amazing to me, how he was able to create that shot and get that shot off with very little space. I see the same qualities in Steph.”

Read More: Danny Ainge, Larry Bird, Steph Curry, Stephen Curry
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