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Celtics Player Preview: Isaiah Thomas 09.24.16 at 2:16 pm ET
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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.

ISAIAH THOMAS

2015-16 season

82 games with Celtics: 32.2 minutes, 22.2 points, 42.8% FG, 6.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals

The point guard certainly earned his first career All-Star appearance last season, and as a result had his name rightfully being tossed around with the top point guards in the league. He started all but three games and proved he could do it all on both ends of the floor. He could force turnovers on defense and be a stout defender. He could be a ball distributor or score off the dribble and drive. Whatever Brad Stevens asked of him, he answered the call, all the while always seeming to know his role in late, intense situations, whether it was making a key pass, taking the big shot or playing lockdown defense.

Projected role in 2016-17

Don’t expect anything to change for Thomas. He almost certainly will be the starting point guard and will have to do it all for Stevens, and he should be able to do just that. He’ll have to continue to be a defensive threat, but he’ll still need to serve as one of the best ball distributors in the league but be willing to shoot at the same time — something that shouldn’t be an issue for him.

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Celtics Player Preview: Tyler Zeller 09.24.16 at 10:07 am ET
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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.

TYLER ZELLER

2015-16 season 

60 games with Celtics: 11.8 minutes, 6.1 points, 47.6% FG, 3.0 rebounds

Zeller saw his minutes cut in half last season but made the best of his situation by stepping up in moments when the Celtics needed him. After losing his starting job to Amir Johnson, Zeller saw his role further diminished as Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger shared minutes at the center spot. But Zeller did have a few memorable performances. In a 124-109 win over the Bucks in early April — a game with playoff implications — Zeller had his best game of the season, finishing with 26 points on 9-of-15 shots and four blocks. It proved to Stevens that he always has a backup plan in Zeller — a player who can score in double figures on any given night.

Projected role in 2016-17

Behind Al Horford, Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk, there aren’t a whole lot of minutes for Zeller this season. However, when opportunities are present Zeller will provide instant offense. There’s a reason the Celtics signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal this past summer. He may be an insurance policy for Johnson and Olynyk (who is expected to miss the start of the regular season after having surgery on his right shoulder) but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of taking on big minutes. There just aren’t enough minutes for Zeller. His offense is inferior to Olynyk’s and Johnson is a much better defender — thus making Zeller the Celtics’ third-string center this season.

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Kevin Garnett announces retirement via Instagram, ending storied 21-year career that included title with Celtics 09.23.16 at 7:52 pm ET
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Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

After 21 years, Kevin Garnett’s NBA career is over.

The 40-year-old announced his retirement via an Instagram video on Friday, hours after accepting a buyout from the Timberwolves, which was first reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Had Garnett returned this season, he would’ve become the only player in league history to play 22 seasons.

Garnett’s career ends after a second stint with the T-Wolves, who drafted him fifth overall out of high school in 1995. He spent 12 years in Minnesota before being traded to the Celtics in July of 2007 as part of the C’s formation of the Big Three with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

He won the only championship of his career with the C’s in 2008, memorably screaming, “Anything’s possible!” in the moments after the win.

His career took a disappointing turn, however, when he was dealt to the Nets with Pierce prior to the 2013 season. He spent 1 1/2 seasons with Brooklyn before waiving his no-trade clause and heading back to Minnesota.

The 15-time All-Star left quite an impression with the Celtics, earning All-Star honors all but one season in Boston while averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds with a stellar 52 percent mark from the field in his 396 games over six seasons.

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Celtics Player Preview: Damion Lee 09.23.16 at 3:01 pm ET
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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.

DAMION LEE

2015-16 season

30 games with Louisville: 33.6 minutes, 15.9 points, 42.8% FG, 2.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals

In his first and only year as a graduate student, fifth-year transfer with Louisville after playing with Drexel during his undergrad years, Lee played a big part in Louisville’s success, but he never made it to the NCAA tournament due to the Cardinals’ self-imposed postseason ban. He was far and away the Cardinals’ top scorer and was named to the All-ACC second team. The Celtics signed him earlier this month after he went undrafted.

Projected role in 2016-17

Lee has the potential to be an explosive player, but don’t expect to see that explosiveness in the NBA this season, as he’ll likely be destined for the D-League.

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Celtics Player Preview: Abdel Nader 09.23.16 at 12:01 pm ET
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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.

ABDEL NADER

2015-16 season

35 games with Iowa State: 12.9 points, 48.7% FG, 5.0 rebounds, 1.1 steals

After transferring from Northern Illinois to Iowa State before his junior year, Nader became a starter his senior year and doubled his scoring average — earning All-Big 12 honorable mention accolades. He also shot 37.1 percent from deep for the Cyclones. 

Projected role in 2016-17

Nader isn’t going to have an opportunity to help the Celtics this season. He’ll spend the regular season developing with the Red Claws. Offensively, the C’s would love for him to flourish into a 3-point shooter with high-level defensive capabilities.

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Celtics Player Preview: James Young 09.22.16 at 3:24 pm ET
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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.

JAMES YOUNG

2015-16 season

23 games with D-League’s Maine Red Claws: 28.3 minutes, 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 steals

After a decent rookie season in the D-League, Young had a rough sophomore campaign — one that had Celtics fans questioning his future in the NBA. In 29 games with the Celtics, he managed to only score 29 points, grab 68 rebounds and dish out nine assists. Young still has a ways to go in reaching his full potential as the 21-year-old heads toward his third year in the league. But after seeing rookies like R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier earn more playing time than Young last season — especially in the postseason — it raises the question: Is there space for Young on the 2016-17 Celtics?

Projected role in 2016-17

Young’s scoring will make or break his chances of making the team this year. If he can hit 3-pointers at a high level throughout the preseason, he will have a spot on the back end of the 15-man roster. The Celtics are always looking to improve on their outside shooting. Young has shown glimpses of stellar 3-point shooting, but he’s going to have to piece it together and soon.

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Celtics Player Preview: Marcus Smart 09.22.16 at 9:03 am ET
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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.

MARCUS SMART

2015-16 season

61 games with Celtics: 27.3 minutes, 9.1 points, 34.8% FG, 3.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals

Smart found his role last season, establishing himself as a top defensive force on the Celtics with routine shutdown defense. When Avery Bradley went down in the postseason, Smart made a near-seamless transition into the role of a defense-oriented guard. Offensively, however, he was lacking, as noted by his abysmal sub-35 percent field goal percentage. He did show some potency at times, however, scoring 20-plus points on three occasions. Between Nov. 22 and Dec. 26, he missed 18 games with an injury to his lower left leg.

Projected role in 2016-17

Presumably, his role will be somewhat similar to last year, serving as a second option at the two after Avery Bradley. However, should his scoring continue to improve, he may find himself in a position to start more than just the 10 times he did last season. His defense will never be an issue, which makes him a reliable late- and close-game asset, but to get more minutes this season the scoring will need to improve.

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