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Brad Stevens on Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack: ‘I love competing against them’ 02.29.16 at 8:36 pm ET
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Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) has been a thorn in side of Brad Stevens. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward (20) has been a thorn in side of Brad Stevens. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Brad Stevens doesn’t like coaching against his former players.

In the first quarter he was reminded why. Gordon Hayward, most famous for nearly beating Duke in the NCAA championship game with a half-court buzzer-beater in 2010, had eight points and fellow Butler alum Shelvin Mack had six points as the Jazz took a 29-23 lead.

The two were recently re-united thanks a trade that sent Mack from Atlanta to the Jazz. Mack was placed immediately in Utah’s starting lineup. His first game with the Jazz was against old coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics.

What does he think of coaching against his former players twice in two weeks?

“It stinks,” Stevens said only partially tongue-in-cheek. “I love being out there. I love competing against them. If I was coaching the blue team in practice and they were on the white team a few years ago, I would try to do the very best I could to not let them have a good day. Shelvin has started off great for Utah, as we thought he would. As we’ve seen many times, it’s about opportunity and fit as much as anything else in this league.

“And Gordon has established himself as one of the better young players in the league, and that’s been a great growth process for me to watch because when he committed to Butler, he was a tennis player that played basketball and was growing into his body, and wasn’t near what he is now. Just to watch him the last eight or nine years has been pretty incredible.”

The Hayward story is well-documented but Stevens provided a refresher course before Monday’s game.

“He wasn’t heavily recruited until after he committed to us,” Stevens said. “It was that type of deal. He was great. He really wanted to be there. He really worked. He was always working. He was always in the gym. He was probably one of our bigger gym rats that we had over that time. He’s also a really relational guy, he really enjoys team, he really enjoys people.

“They pounded us last week. They’ve had some great moments, and those two guys are going to continue to have great moments as part of that organization. I just think you should grow, you should get better, you should improve. If you’re stagnating or if you think you’ve got it figured out, you’re going to get caught. I feel bad that those guys had to be coached by a guy that young and that dumb.”

Mack thinks the self-deprecating Stevens might just be a little hard on himself, considering the fact he became the youngest head coach in history to guide his team to back-to-back NCAA championship games. 

“I wouldn’t say that,” Mack said when told of the ‘dumb’ reference. “He was very smart, very mature. I’d say he handled the situation great at Butler.

“He’s a player’s coach. He can adapt to his players. I think the NBA is all about, or mostly about, the players. If you adapt to a player and make it easy, I think you have a chance to be a great coach. He’s able to do that, connect with his players, on and off the court. Off the court might be easier than on the court.” 

Read More: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Butler Bulldogs
2014 NBA free agent point guards available to Celtics 06.27.14 at 10:57 am ET
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With NBA free agency opening Tuesday, we begin our annual examination of the options available to the Celtics at each position. Today’s focus: point guards. Unlike recent seasons, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is expected to have more flexibility than any summer since 2007 when the league’s moratorium on free agent signings is lifted and the salary cap (an estimated $63.2 million) is officially set on July 10.

The Celtics have eight players under guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for $48.5 million (Rajon Rondo $12.9M; Gerald Wallace $10.1M; Jeff Green $9.2M; Brandon Bass $6.9M; Joel Anthony $3.8M; Vitor Faverani $2.1M; Kelly Olynyk $2.1M; Jared Sullinger $1.4M) as well as $4.1 million in cap holds for first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young. Pending decisions on or by Kris Humphries, Avery Bradley and Jerryd Bayless, the C’s could have as much as $10 million in cap space — or more if they use the stretch provision on Wallace.

While the Celtics still have an All-Star point guard on the roster, Rondo’s name will continue to be mentioned in trade talks for the remaining year on his deal. The addition of Smart combined with Phil Pressey‘s non-guaranteed contract gives Ainge inexpensive solutions behind Rondo. Should the C’s anticipate Rondo’s departure or envision a significant upgrade over Pressey, they could still chase any free agent floor general not named Kyle Lowry.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at their options, separating the current free agents into three categories.

THE RAJON RONDOS

A four-time NBA All-Star at just 28 years old, Rondo already has helped steer the Celtics to an NBA title and could do so again with the right talent around him. Without that talent on the roster, though, Ainge could trade his captain, and the free agent market offers a number of options who could help fill the void left by his departure.

RICH MAN: ERIC BLEDSOE

Status: Restricted

2013-14: 1,416 min, 17.7 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.6 spg, 57.8 TS%, 19.6 PER

Why? Ainge has eyed Bledsoe since 2013, when the Clippers nearly traded him and DeAndre Jordan for Kevin Garnett. In short, he’s a 24-year-old stud.

Why not? It’s hard to imagine the Suns letting a player of Bledsoe’s caliber walk, and even if he does leave Phoenix, word is he’ll be seeking a max contract offer.

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Read More: 2014 NBA Free Agency, Boston Celtics, Marcus Smart, Rajon Rondo
NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Butler G Shelvin Mack 06.13.11 at 11:35 am ET
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WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Shelvin Mack

Position: Guard

School: Butler

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 215 pounds

Stats: 16.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.4 apg

What he brings: Two years ago, it would have been surprising to say the least that one of the draft’€™s most popular names would come from Butler of all places. But after two consecutive NCAA championship game appearances, that’€™s what we have in Mack, who enters the draft after three years in school. At 6-foot-3, he’€™d be well-sized for an NBA point guard but with his score-first skill set, he might project more as a small shooting guard, a la Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry in Golden State.

As he took on more responsibility in the Butler offense last season, his efficiency numbers took a small hit (field goal percentage dropped from .454 to .408, 3-point percentage from .391 to .354) but he would not be asked to take as big of a load in his first few NBA seasons. On the defensive end, his height and strength allowed him to cover bigger small forwards in college, but he is not believed to have the quickness to cover professional point guards.

Where the Celtics could get him: Second round

What they’re saying: ‘€œHe’€™s a guy that can handle the ball, he can dribble, pass and shoot. He has great strength, he has an NBA body, and he’€™s going to be able to play throughout the course of an 82-game season. He also performs at his best against the highest level and always has.’€ ‘€“ Butler coach Brad Stevens

Notes: Mack played second fiddle to Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard in college, so demanding the ball so that he might put up points shouldn’€™t be an immediate problem. Mack acknowledged in an Associated Press story that he is prepared to play as few as two minutes in the NBA or even head to Europe if he were to go undrafted.

Video:

Read More: 2011 NBA Draft, Potential Celtics, Shelvin Mack,
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