|Delonte West gets some really good news about his right wrist||01.03.11 at 11:16 pm ET|
When Delonte West fell after a made lay-up against New Jersey on Nov. 24 at TD Garden, he and the Celtics feared the worst about his right wrist. It was a nasty fracture that appeared to – at the least – end his regular season.
But that perspective changed on Monday.
Calling it a big step, West had the hard cast protecting his healing right wrist removed on Monday, the first step of what he hopes could be a return on or shortly after the All-Star break. It was replaced with a brace to allow him some ability to start moving it for light rehab.
“It’s feels stiff but it’s not painful,” West said. “I got great news from doctors. They said maybe three weeks [then] rehabilitation. I’ve already started out conditioning, ball-handling. I’m left-handed anyway. Fortunately, I’m left handed anyway so I able to get shots on my left hand. It’s just a matter of time before I gain game strength in this one.
“Today is Day 1. I got a lot accomplished,” he said of Monday’s milestone in recovery.
“I can’t wait to get back out there,” West said. “It’s killing me sitting back here and rooting from the sidelines but we all have a position to play and right now mine is getting healthy and getting ready to contribute.”
The initial timetable called for West to return in time for the playoffs but West said he’s hopeful for a return after the All-Star break.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” West admitted before sounding a hopeful but realistic tone. “I’m praying and I’m trying my best to get back before then. But the trainers and the coaching staff, they’re really trying not to rush me but I think I’m really rushing myself right now.”
As for his biggest test, that will come after his rehabilitation, which is still three weeks away.
“I guess it would be lifting but first I have to regain movement but picking up weights and catching a basketball,” West said. “I think right now the biggest fear is falling and having to extend [the wrist]. Today is Day 1, the cast is off. It’s a good day and it’s all uphill from here.”
|The education of Avery Bradley||12.17.10 at 3:25 pm ET|
Avery Bradley is a good listener. That may not seem that important, but to the veteran Celtics it is a very big deal. They have a tendency to notice things about the young players who join the team. Not so much on the court, although that is obviously an important part of the equation, but about how they conduct themselves.
Do they pay attention during the huddle, even though they have less of a chance of getting in the game than Lucky the mascot? Do they ask questions when they don’t understand something? Do they listen?
“I really like the kid, actually,” Pierce said after the Celtics beat the Hawks Thursday night. “I see how he works and soaks up so much in practice and you can see him wanting to get better. He’s always asking questions and he’s always in the huddle.”
For Bradley, this is a no-brainer. When the vets talk, he listens and tries to absorb whatever lesson he can.
“Seeing their success, I would feel dumb if I didn’t listen to those guys,” Bradley said. “They know what they’re talking about. When they tell me those things I want to listen so I can become a better player. They’re trying to help me all the time. When I do something wrong, they pull me aside and that just shows that they care about me and want the best for me.”
For the first time in his career, Rajon Rondo is the elder statesman at his position. In past years the Celtics brought in vets like Sam Cassell and Stephon Marbury to play behind him. It’s the endless circle of life in the NBA and now Rondo is the mentor. It’s a role he has taken an interest in with Bradley, often staying after practice to watch carefully as he plays in 2-on-2 games with fellow rookie Luke Harangody, Von Wafer and assistant coach Ty Lue.
Those games happen after every practice and it’s a way for them to stay active. Bradley, in particular, seems to use those runs as a way to test out in-game situations. Rondo will usually watch intently from the sidelines and then offer his wisdom in private.
“He’s a great listener,” Rondo said back in November. “That might not sound like much, but that’s big for a young guy to come in. He’s very humble. He works extremely hard. He’s going to be a great player in this league someday when he gets his opportunity. I always tell him to stay ready.”
With Rondo out for a few weeks, his opportunity is coming sooner than anyone imagined, and truthfully a little sooner than Doc Rivers had envisioned. But with only 10 healthy bodies, opportunity is here.
“You don’t try to put too much in his head,” Rondo said. “You just try to let him learn for himself, but he can always ask me or Nate [Robinson] or coach Rivers. So he has some good guys in front of him who are willing to teach him the game.”
Those lessons come the hard way in the NBA. Take Thursday night’s game when Hawks guard Jeff Teague went off on Bradley. Bradley had barely checked in when Teague stripped him and soared in for a dunk.
“You have to have a short memory,” Bradley said. “People make mistakes, you’re going to make mistakes, especially at this level. You got to go to the next play.”
Things didn’t get much better for Bradley as Teague continued to dominate him. But late in the first quarter, Bradley dove into a scrum and came up with a loose ball leading to points for the Celtics on the other end. It wasn’t much, but it was something positive for Bradley to take into the next game and validation that he wasn’t going to back down.
“You can talk all the trash to him in practice and when you look up he’s staring you right in the eyes and he’s going nowhere,” Rivers said a few weeks ago. “I think our veterans really appreciate that in him.”
Even with all the injuries, nothing is guaranteed for Bradley. The Celtics have options, not necessarily ideal options but options nonetheless. Marquis Daniels has done spot duty as a backup point guard and Pierce and Ray Allen are more than capable of bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense. So, the onus is on Bradley to take advantage of this opportunity.
In the end, everyone agrees that he has a bright future. He is a tenacious on-the-ball defender who is not afraid to get up on his man and force the action. “He’s very physical,” Rondo said. “He gets through the picks, he gets up into you, he turns you, makes you dribble with your back to the basket.”
His offensive game is still developing and while his size — 6-foot-2, 180 pounds — says point guard, he may be better suited playing off the ball where he can work his mid-range game. The comparison has been made to a smaller version of Tony Allen, without the turnovers, and if he reaches that point this season the Celtics would be thrilled.
But all of that is in front of him. He missed valuable time this summer after undergoing ankle surgery, which kept him out of the Orlando summer league and the majority of training camp. Once the season began, he rolled over Pierce’s foot in practice, which caused him to miss another week.
The learning curve will be steep, but the best thing Avery Bradley has going for him is that he’s willing to learn.
|Three point play: Time for Plan B||11.29.10 at 4:25 pm ET|
Barely a month into the season, Doc Rivers is already seeing his plans go up in smoke. The hoped-for scenario, with all the accumulated talent on the roster, was to employ a 10-man rotation, almost in a platoon style. Now that Jermaine O’Neal and Delonte West are out, Rivers is forced to scramble a bit. The Celtics are down to a dozen able-bodied players and three of them are rookies.
“You come into the year with one plan and you got to change the plan sometimes and that’s something we’re doing as a staff,” Rivers said after the team conducted practice Monday. “The 10-man thing is not going to work right now. I believe it’s really important for us to have one because that allows [the starters] to get rest.”
Rivers said the injuries will force him to sub differently and you may see him go to his bench earlier in an attempt to jumpstart the minutes rotation. At the same time, he’s reluctant to leave all of his starters on the bench at any one time without veterans like West and O’Neal to take charge of the second unit.
“I’m just going to have to sub differently,” Rivers said. “It’s not what I wanted to do. The way our starters play, logically, I’d rather extend their minutes together. It’s just not going to work out that way.”
Rajon Rondo is already logging 39 minutes a night and Ray Allen checks in at 38 per game. Allen, Paul Pierce (36 minutes) and Kevin Garnett (33) have all seen their playing time increase from the previous season. Garnett said the veterans are ready for it.
“Everybody on here they’re going to have to be extended, not just us three,” Garnett said. “Guys have to anticipate playing more minutes.”
One player who has suddenly found himself with an unexpected role is Von Wafer, who has seen the court in small doses. Wafer is ahead of rookie Avery Bradley because of his experience, and also his shooting ability. “Obviously we need Von more than Avery in some ways,” Rivers said. “We need the guy to play the 2-spot. Avery can help us.” As for his defense, Rivers said that Wafer is working on it.
West is scheduled to have surgery on his wrist Tuesday and the Celtics will have a better idea how long he will be out after the procedure is performed. As for Jermaine O’Neal, his status is still up in the air. Rivers said that he was out for all of this week and that’s as far as they were willing to look.
Everyone knew injuries would be a part of this year’s team and now it’s time for the first of what could be many Plan B’s.
More practice notes after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »
|Danny Ainge on Delonte West injury: ‘We’ll stay with our roster’||11.25.10 at 9:59 am ET|
‘We like our guys, and Avery [Bradley] is starting to get healthy and Avery and [Von Wafer] are going to have to step up and play,’’ Ainge told the Globe. ‘In order to make a move we’d have to let someone go and we like our guys. It’s tragic for Delonte. Basketball is a very important part of his life. I hate to see this happen. But Delonte will be able to return late in the season to help us.’’
West missed the first 10 games of the season, during which the Celtics went 8-2. However, the team’s depth at point guard has been further depleted by the absence of Rajon Rondo, who missed his third straight game on Wednesday and, according to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, could miss Friday’s contest as well.
“We like those guys when the season started and I like them even more now with the work they are putting in and this league is a league of opportunity,” Ainge said. “So we’ll stay with our roster for now and see what we got.”
|Avery Bradley returns to practice||11.15.10 at 4:16 pm ET|
Rookie guard Avery Bradley won’t turn 20 until later this month and everyone around the Celtics thinks he has a bright future. But it’s been a slow start to his professional career after the Celtics took him with the 19th pick in the draft.
He had surgery on his ankle after the draft, which kept him out of summer league and also limited his time in training camp and in preseason. Then, he rolled his surgically repaired ankle on Paul Pierce’s foot and the team shut him down for two more weeks. He returned to practice Monday and is happy to be back on the court.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” he said after a spirited 2-on-2 game with Von Wafer, Luke Harangody and assistant coach Ty Lue. “Just anxious to get a chance to get in there and practice with my team again.”
Bradley didn’t travel with the team, but said players and coaches were texting him with information from the games.
“That’s the good thing about this team,” Bradley said. “They want me to get better. The older guys want me to help me out all the time.”
“Avery’s a talented young man,” West said. “He can do good things in this league. He’s big strong guard. He’s physical. He’s athletic. The biggest thing is he has heart. He reminded me of myself a little bit as far as getting after people defensively.”
|Celtics put Kendrick Perkins, Avery Bradley and Semih Erden on inactive list||10.25.10 at 8:36 pm ET|
The Celtics had already trimmed their roster to the league limit of 15 players, but their opening night roster is now official as they placed three players on the inactive list: Kendrick Perkins, Avery Bradley and Semih Erden. The Celtics will have to play the first 10 games of the NBA with just 11 active players because of Delonte West’s suspension. League rules dictate that suspended players must be carried on the active roster.
The inactive list is not like injury lists in other sports. Players don’t actually have to be injured to be on it and there is no mandatory amount of time that a player has to stay on it once he is deemed inactive. It can also change from game to game. There were no surprises for the Celtics. Perkins and Bradley are rehabbing injuries, while Erden is dealing with a shoulder injury.
|Meet Tiny Gallon||10.20.10 at 8:07 pm ET|
The Celtics newest player wasted little time ingratiating himself into the Celtics locker room. After sweating through a pregame workout, Tiny Gallon started talking trash to anyone and everyone about his alma mater, the University of Oklahoma. No one was spared including Nate Robinson who tried to give the rookie an education about the University of Washington.
It was all in good fun, and despite being here for little more than 24 hours, Gallon has long-standing relationships with Kendrick Perkins and Avery Bradley. “I’ve been playing Avery since ninth grade,” Gallon said. “Avery’s been the same way. Me and him are real close, like brothers.”
Gallon, who is listed at 6-9, 290 pounds wasn’t in uniform Wednesday night when the Celtics closed their preseason slate against the Nets at the Garden, and he’s really not sure how things are going to go for him in Boston. He doesn’t have a realistic chance at landing a roster spot with the Celtics, but the team could take advantage of the new rules on D-League allocations by sending him to Maine, provided he signs a D-League contract.
The Celtics wouldn’t hold his rights, but if he does play for Maine it would be for Austin Ainge, Danny’s son. Danny Ainge said that the C’s liked Gallon during the pre-draft process and this is a chance to get a longer look at him.
“It’s just been a learning experience for me being around these vets,” Gallon said. “It’s been fun for me.”
Gallon was drafted by the Bucks in the second round, but didn’t stick with the team. He said he wasn’t surprised that they released him.
As for his game, Gallon said, “I’m a versatile big. I can shoot the ball, play inside. I really don’t label myself as having a position. I just play basketball. People say I’m a power forward or something like that. I just play basketball.”
Gallon’s number is 63 and he said that made him feel like an offensive tackle. He’d like to change it if he stick around, but that seems like a mighty big if right now.
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