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Practice Notes: Green sighting, KG on his future & mentoring, Opening tip looms

WALTHAM — Less than a week after finding out he would need season-ending surgery to deal with an aortic aneurysm, Jeff Green [1] was taking jump shots after practice.

The Celtics [2] are insistent that Green is still part of the organization even though he will not play this season. “Jeff doesn’t have to be here,” coach Doc Rivers [3] said. “Jeff wants to be here. He is part of our culture and our family.”

Green is scheduled to have surgery January 9th. Kevin Garnett [4] was happy to see Green at practice, but asked that people respect his family’s privacy. “What he’s about to go through, none of us have been through,” Garnett said. “It’s definitely life changing. We don’t know what the future holds in all of this, but it’s good having him around as a young brother that he is to us. We wish him the best.”

The Here & Now

Garnett is still mum about whether or not his own life will be changing. The former league MVP admitted he is still unsure about his playing future beyond the upcoming season. “I don’t like anticipating the future,” Garnett said. “Things aren’t set in stone. I’m not someone to go back on his word.”

Although he wasn’t definitive about his career beyond the 2011-12 season, Garnett said he has gained an appreciation for the present and has been active in helping younger players improve their game. “I’m cherishing [playing] a lot more, no matter what the future is,” he said. “I’m embracing the younger guys that want to work.”

Last week Rivers said Garnett had been mentoring JaJuan Johnson [5]. It appears Greg Stiemsma [6] has earned his way into Garnett’s camp as well. “A lot of the stuff I’m showing the young guys are things I had trouble with [as a young player],” Garnett said. “I try to be a [positive] influence and teacher”.

The 14-time NBA All-Star was showing the two young big men defensive techniques following practice Thursday, something Rivers said has become a daily occurrence. “[Garnett] likes Greg and JaJuan,” Rivers said. “All you have to do is watch, and if you see him still talking to them — then they’re still listening.”

Rajon Rondo [7] said Garnett’s leadership is best displayed on the court. “He works hard and talks a lot, but backs it up,” Rondo said. “To have him as a mentor or leader is a great addition to any team.”

Rondo also said his relationship with Garnett has grown significantly since Kendrick Perkins [8] was dealt during the trading deadline last season. “We got into [fights] a lot,” Rondo said of their relationship early on. “Kevin is one of my best friends on the team right now. [Perkins] leaving made us a lot closer.”

Rondo joked that his disputes with teammates were not confined to Garnett, and said that the two stars were often at odds because of their similar personalities. Rondo also said his growing friendship with Garnett is an ongoing effort that will ultimately benefit the team. “We’re trying to talk a lot to stay on the same page,” Rondo said. “We’re both working on our attitudes for the better of the team.”

Opening Day Notes

Rivers said Saturday afternoon trainer Ed Lacerte will determine whether captain Paul Pierce [9] will play against the Knicks on Christmas Sunday. Pierce will not participate in practice until Lacerte’s evaluation. However, Pierce was the lone player left on the floor doing shooting drills on Thursday after practice.

Garnett said he feels fortunate to have the opportunity to play on Christmas, “When you’re playing on Christmas it says the league considers you one of the best [teams] or most entertaining [teams],” he said. “To be in Madison Square Garden on Christmas is pretty exciting,” Garnett said.

While Rivers said he would rather be spending Christmas with his family, he called playing on Christmas a privilege for players, and is excited for Boston to be part of the showcase.

On the other hand, he knows working means the holiday starts late for his squad, “At the 3:30 p.m. [on Sunday}, Christmas begins.”