|With international play behind him, Kelly Olynyk looks for bigger leadership role on Celtics||09.29.15 at 12:18 pm ET|
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.
|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|
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.
|Danny Ainge on not moving up: ‘Maybe we were going too hard at it’||06.26.15 at 1:17 am ET|
In the end, moving up into the prized Top 10 of the 2015 NBA draft was not in the cards for Danny Ainge.
“I’m not disappointed,” said the Celtics president of basketball operations. “We tried. It just didn’t happen.
“We tried hard. We tried hard to trade up. We spent the last couple of weeks trying to move, and really today was the only time we had any indication that we could move up. But we were trying. At the end of the day, it’s like Red used to say, sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make. Maybe we were going too hard at it. And there was a time when I thought, ‘Whoa, this is getting a little out of control. We’re putting a lot of eggs in one young player’s basket.’
“So, I’m not frustrated. And, in the long run maybe it’ll be the best.”
The “one young player’s basket” may be a reference to the rumor of the Celtics’ effort to move up to No. 9 earlier in the day, trying reportedly to nab small forward Justise Winslow of Duke. There were reports that the team was going to part with Jared Sullinger and ship him to Charlotte. Sullinger had reportedly even followed the Hornets on Twitter and stopped following the Celtics.
Ainge could only laugh.
“The fans feed into what’s being written and said a lot, too,” Ainge said. “I did say we would try to move up. The price was way too high. There’s so many rumors out there. There are so many things are being said and written that aren’t even close to being true, that are just made-up stories. No sources and fake sources and people get caught up in these rumors and their expectations grow even higher. Don’t you think?”
Did he come close? “Yeah, we thought we were close,” Ainge said.
Instead, Ainge stayed put and made selections at all four of his spots going into the night. He took Terry Rozier at No. 16, R.J. Hunter at No. 28, Jordan Mickey at No. 33 and Marcus Thornton at No. 45. Three of them, Rozier, Hunter and Thornton are guards, adding to an already crowded and jumbled backcourt.
“Listen, it all comes down to how good the players are that we have,” Ainge said. “It doesn’t matter what I say about it. We’ll just wait and see how good they are. We like the guys we have and I think our fans are going to enjoy them.”
Ainge had said he was looking for quality over quantity, and was not likely to make all four picks. He reiterated Thursday that he won’t be able to keep all four picks on the active roster, instead will try to stash them in Europe.
“No, we don’t have room on the roster for all four guys, most likely,” Ainge admitted. “We probably don’t have room for them so we’ll work out deals where guys can play overseas in some of the situations.”
|Terry Rozier knows Celtics fans are ‘crazy about basketball,’ pledges willingness to compete for spot||06.26.15 at 12:47 am ET|
Terry Rozier will have his hands full to make the Celtics crowded backcourt.
But listening to the 21-year-old product of Louisville, the guard is more than up for the challenge.
“I came in for two workouts so I had a pretty good feeling about it,” Rozier said during a conference call after being selected with Boston’s first of two first-round picks. “It worked out well. Danny Ainge is a great guy. Stevens is a real great guy. He’s really interactive with his guys. It was just amazing.”
With names like Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart already on the roster, Rozier will have to battle with those veterans and fellow rookies R.J. Hunter (Georgia State) and Marcus Thornton (William and Mary) to make an impression.
“I’m very excited,” Rozier said. “I know the tradition. Fans are crazy about basketball. And I’m just to excited to be a part of something like this. I’m just to ready to bring something to the table.
“It’s kind of the same thing I went through with a lot of guards when [Louisville] won the national championship [in 2013]. I just want to come in and bring the Celtics the same kind of defense, find my way to fit on the floor and compete. That’s my thing. I’m not worried about who’s there. I’m worried about how can I get on the floor and things like that.”
One of the big influences, naturally, has been his coach at Louisville and former Celtics coach Rick Pitino.
“He was a big help,” Rozier said. “He helped me relax. He knows the area [in Boston]. He talked to me every day. He was a guy in my corner, in my ear, just giving me the confidence.”
|Danny Ainge is ‘hopeful’ he can move way up in NBA draft Thursday||06.23.15 at 12:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Apparently, where there’s smoke, there’s fire with Danny Ainge and the rumors of his interest in moving way up in the draft Thursday night.
“Yeah, we’re having discussions with both of our picks in the first round, trying to move up with at least one of them. I think there’ll be some movement,” Ainge said at a pre-draft media availability at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday.
Ainge’s comments come as the Los Angeles Times reported that the Celtics offered Marcus Smart and a package of picks to the Philadelphia 76ers for center Nerlens Noel and their No. 3 overall pick on Thursday.
The Celtics have picks No. 16 and 28 and could package a deal to move up.
Is Ainge optimistic that he can pull the trigger?
“Yeah. Hopeful,” Ainge said, before adding an important qualifier. “Nobody wants to. You have to be enticed to. Nobody wants to move down. A lot of that just depends on who’s drafted ahead of us and what our position is. If we move up the chances are very good that we did not have them in for a workout. We saw a lot of workouts, mostly out in LA. I went out to LA for a week and watched, and maybe saw 70 or 80 guys workout.”
|Darrun Hilliard shows Celtics he has ‘right attitude’ in pre-draft workouts||06.11.15 at 8:55 am ET|
WALTHAM — The NBA pre-draft workouts are probably the best medicine for Darrun Hilliard.
The star shooting guard from Villanova visited the Celtics Wednesday for his 10th NBA pre-draft workout. He still has a bitter taste in his mouth from the way his season, and brilliant college career, ended in the NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats finished the regular season and their conference tournament with a flourish never before seen in the rich history of Villanova basketball. They won 16 straight games, won the Big East tournament for the second time. They blew out Lafayette by 41 points in their first NCAA game. They were 33-2 and one of the very hottest teams in college basketball, ranked No. 2 in AP behind only undefeated Kentucky.
Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for Hilliard and the No. 1 seeded Wildcats to make a deep run. Then it all came to a crashing halt against North Carolina State, losing in stunning fashion, 71-68. The dreams of a national title or even a run to the Final Four ended before the Sweet 16.
“It’s kind of sucks that loss overshadowed what we did in the regular season, going 33-3 is a pretty good record for anybody,” Hilliard told WEEI.com Wednesday. “It was a great run. Unfortunately, we lost but it was a great run. We got better every year we were there. I will miss playing with those guys forever. It was a great run and I definitely enjoyed it.”
“When we first lost, I thought about it every day, every single day, every single second. I put a lot on myself. I should’ve had 30 points. But that’s how it went. It just wasn’t our night that night. N.C. State was the better team that night. It happens in the game of basketball.”
|Pat Connaughton ready to prove himself ready for NBA: ‘I think I look pretty good in green’||06.10.15 at 3:32 pm ET|
WALTHAM — Pat Connaughton didn’t lack confidence when he was setting school records at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, and he didn’t lose that swagger while leading the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame to within a breath of the Final Four this spring.
The Arlington resident always has had a swagger about him, and a wicked good sense of sarcasm and wit for a 22-year-old.
Maybe it’s the fact that he is a legit two-sport pro prospect. As a sharpshooter, he was a key part of Notre Dame‘s ACC basketball title this spring. He also can throw a baseball consistently in the mid-90s, which made him an MLB prospect, drafted by the Orioles last year in the fourth round while making his professional baseball debut with the Aberdeen IronBirds of the Class A-Short Season New York-Penn League. His fastball was clocked at 96 mph.
“The way the baseball draft works is if you don’t sign someone you draft in the first 10 rounds, you lose that slot money. I was very clear before the baseball draft that I wanted to go back to school to play basketball,” Connaughton said. “So, whoever drafted me had to know I was going to do that. I think both the Orioles and myself weren’t sure how far basketball would go. I think they were hoping it would end after college. I was just playing it every single day like I normally do and taking it day-by-day because that’s the only thing you can do with two sports. I found myself here and excited to pursue the opportunity.
“I had a great time in Aberdeen. I thought that down the road, whether it’s after a 10-year NBA career or a two-year NBA career, when I put my mind to baseball I can succeed at it. But I wasn’t ready to give up one of the sports. I’ve been harping my whole life that you can do two sports at the highest level, to kind of be a role model for those kids that are pressured into choosing one. It would be kind of hypocritical of me to just be like, ‘By the way, there’s some money in baseball. I think I’ll go do that.’ ”
At the end of July 2014, he informed the Orioles that he was indeed going to leave the IronBirds to return to the Fighting Irish basketball team.
On Wednesday, after working out for the Celtics, he explained why his priority now is focused on the NBA, not MLB.
“For me, I try to take it like I may not get drafted,” Connaughton said after his workout. “I try to work as hard as I can every single day. It’s been such a whirlwind over the last few months. I hope to be drafted. I’m working as hard as I can. I have some confidence in myself that I have a chance to, but we’ll see what happens on June 25. Read the rest of this entry »
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