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Brad Stevens on D&C: Rajon Rondo ‘really, really intelligent, insightful,’ will be a Celtics leader

07.12.13 at 10:43 am ET
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Brad Stevens joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, and the new Celtics coach made sure to clear up a couple of big question marks about the organization moving forward: Yes, he expects Rajon Rondo to be on the team, and yes, he expects the point guard to be one of the leaders.

Stevens has spent much of the last week meeting with members of the organization — both staff and players — and Rondo is no exception. The two met up in Louisville, Ky., when Stevens made the two-hour drive from Indianapolis.

Aside from giving a quick talk at Rondo’€™s youth basketball camp, Stevens spent some time getting to know his point guard.

‘€œI just enjoyed spending time with him, asking him questions about not only his time with the Celtics but his time before,’€ Stevens said. ‘€œI found him to be really, really intelligent, really, really insightful. I thought he had great ideas. I’€™m really looking forward to working with him.

‘€œI think [Rondo is] eager for that challenge [to be the leader] and I’€™m looking forward to that. I’€™ve talked to a lot of guys that are on this team already, and I think we have a good, young group that has been great to me. They seem eager, they seem excited, and they all speak very highly of playing with him.’€

Another one of the players Stevens spoke with during his time in Orlando — where he watched some summer league action — is first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk, who has gotten plenty of headlines during his first taste of professional action.

While Stevens was wary of putting grand expectations on the 22-year-old, he is expecting big things.

‘€œI sat down with him the other day, and I just told him, a lot of people will use their rookie year or their second year or their third year as an excuse for not being the best that they can be because they have this transition/grace period. And then there’€™s other guys that make the All-Rookie team. And I think that certainly should be a goal, and he’€™s certainly capable,” Stevens said.

‘€œHe’€™s a very good player, he’€™s a very skilled player. He has a great feel for the game, and I just like him. I like him as a person. He’€™s a very driven young man, so I’€™m looking forward to coaching him.’€

Stevens also mentioned that he is working on completing his staff and has two positions open. He expects both roles to be filled by people with ‘€œa great deal’€ of NBA experience, be it playing or coaching.

Having someone with that experience could help the rookie NBA coach, who is making the jump to the pro ranks after serving as Butler’€™s head coach for seven seasons.

That said, he considers himself ‘€œfortunate’€ to have found himself in the right situation. He had long contemplated the switch but didn’€™t want to force anything.

‘€œIt’€™s certainly something I had been thinking about for a while, but maybe more so recently as a reality,’€ Stevens said. ‘€œAgain though, I was more important to be in the right situation than to coach in the NBA. For me it was all about obviously the tradition and history of the Celtics, but also the people in that room. I felt comfortable with Danny [Ainge] and the leadership team and the ownership. That made it more appealing, and you add the history and tradition on top of that and it’€™s a wonderful opportunity.’€

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

On what he has done during his first week on the job: ‘€œNumber one was get a chance to meet and spend time with the staff and players that I could, and quite a few of them worked out in Orlando, so that was great.

‘€œI wanted to really sit, learn and listen. I spent more time taking notes and more time listening and asking questions than anything else. And then when I get back to my hotel room, spend a lot of time on film and generic philosophy and getting myself up to speed on some of the things the Celtics have done in the past on both sides of the ball, so if there are some similarities I can be the one that adjusts instead of making all the players adjust.”

On what he wants the hallmark of his Celtics teams to be: ‘€œBeing a tough group, and when I say tough I don’€™t mean necessarily physically stronger than the guy next to you, but more so focused on doing the right thing and doing your job on both ends of the court. And then again, striving to do that for the collective good rather than for your individual glory.

‘€œIt’€™s great to have personal ambition and personal drive, but at the same time ‘€¦ I think the best teams play just as that, they play as a team.’€

On what he considers to be his most important rule: ‘€œAt the end of the day, what I want all of our teams to do is really be all-in together. Any time you’€™re coaching a team of 15 individuals, no matter what industry you’€™re in, everybody has ambition and goals and personal drive. But at the same time, being able to agree on a common goal and really strive for a common goal is obviously a critical part of success, but also makes for a better experience. The most important thing would be committed to the collective good.’€

Read More: Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, Rajon Rondo,
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