- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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SALT LAKE CITY — Entering his third season with the Boston Celtics, Kelly Olynyk is at the stage of his young NBA career where participating in summer league is no longer a necessity. But presented the opportunity to accompany Boston's youngest players out west, Olynyk elected to make the trip to Utah for some extra work.
Olynyk joined Boston's summer squad on the court at Energy Solutions Arena Sunday in advance of Monday's opener versus the Utah Jazz in summer league. Olynyk won't play in the games, but found value in simply being around the team.
"I've been in Boston the last month and a half. I obviously knew they were coming out here and they said if I wanted to join [I could]," Olynyk said. "I was doing some stuff with them [at Boston's training facility in] Waltham during practices -- doing defensive stuff, drills with them, going through some offense. It's all good to do. I thought I would come out here for a few days at least and stay with it."
Olynyk can utilize the team's morning shootarounds as a chance to engage in full-team drills and he said there's value in being around the team's coaches and training staff.
Olynyk's presence isn't lost on the coaching staff.
"Kelly's going to take part in some of our defensive drills. I think it's the culture Coach [Brad] Stevens is creating here is we like having guys around," said Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, who is in charge of the summer squad in Utah. "We have a lot of guys at the practice facility this summer working on their games, coming back just to say hello. Hopefully, we will get some guys here in Utah and in Vegas.
"We saw Kevin Durant [on Sunday] supporting his summer league team. It's the right example to set. Kelly is one of our younger guys, but he's on the right path in that way."
The 24-year-old Olynyk averaged 10.3 points and 4.7 rebounds over 22.2 minutes per game last season. He opened the season as Boston's starting center, but shuffled back to a reserve role for much of the season.
The two key areas that are often referenced when Olynyk's development is discussed are eliminating his offensive hesitation and improving his defensive abilities.
"I'm just working on getting my shot a little bit quicker, consistency, taking a lot of shots off closeouts and stuff," Olynyk said. "Drives and closeouts. It's all similar stuff you work on the whole time, just fine-tuning and making sure, defensively, you are as a mobile as you can be."
A couple of other notes on Olynyk this offseason:
Olynyk takes a lot of pride in participating with the Canadian men's basketball team, though minor injuries have limited his participation the past two summers. Olynyk said Sunday he is unlikely to compete for Canada in the Pan Am Games this summer, though he might spend some time with his countrymen.
"We talked about it. I don't think Pan Am Games is something I'll be taking full participation in terms of all the games," Olynyk said. "For me and Canada right now, it's about qualifying for the Olympics and I think that's the biggest key. We want to make sure that if we have certain games or times that they want us to be with them, it has to be at that time. I don't think the Pan-Am Games are completely out of the question, but I don't think I'll be playing in the games there."
Pressed on restrictions that the Celtics might have set on his participation, Olynyk added, "We are definitely working together, making sure that when the season comes and when September comes that I'm as healthy and ready to go for the season as I can be, with the least wear and tear on my body. It's a long season, as everyone knows, so you don't want to get into February and March and be worn down. Making sure you are fresh and ready to go."
Olynyk noted that, outside of an ankle injury sustained when he landed awkwardly on an opponent's foot in January, he was otherwise healthy and fresh all of last season.
Nothing but Love
Love needed shoulder surgery after getting tangled with Olynyk during Cleveland's Game 4 victory that completed a first-round playoff sweep.
"Back in May, [Love] reached out to me, I reached back out to him," Olynyk said. "He said, 'Best of luck this summer, keep working. No hard feelings going forward.' I said, 'I realize it's a tough situation. Thank you. Good luck.'"
A quick look at Olynyk's mentions on Twitter reveal that Cavaliers fans are still not happy with him for what some believe was a dirty play with Olynyk pulling on Love's arm as they chased a rebound. For his part, Olynyk laughed off the vitriol, saying he hasn't looked at what's written about him.
ESPN Boston correspondent Brian Robb contributed