James Young set to grow in the NBA

October, 25, 2014
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BOSTON -- Before members of the Boston Celtics took the stage at the Westin hotel as part of the team's glitzy tip-off gala on Thursday night, player development coach Ronald Nored, who has spent much of the past two months shadowing James Young, was asked if there was anything he had uncovered about the rookie that the casual observer might not know.

[+] EnlargeJames Young
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesJames Young possesses an exciting skill set, with the ability to finish above the rim as well as step out and hit the 3-pointer.
After a minute to ponder the question, Nored shrugged and apologized while noting, "He's a pretty laid-back, quiet kind of guy."

About an hour later, there was Young in the middle of the rookie skit, performing the Carlton dance -- hips swinging, arms flailing -- as the veteran players behind him roared with laughter and Nored could only shake his head.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens would later opine that Young has "got some moves; he's got some ability on the dance floor." Now, with only a limited glance at his basketball moves since June's draft, the Celtics must determine if Young has the ability to get on the basketball floor.

If other teams were leery of Young because of his age and a car accident that cut short his pre-draft workouts, the Celtics were the beneficiaries and they left Grantland's Bill Simmons pumping his fist after they snagged Young at No. 17 in June's draft.

Young's injuries, including whiplash and concussion-like symptoms, prevented him from participating in basketball activities with the team at summer league in Orlando. In the aftermath, the Celtics elected to pair Nored with Young and have the two spend additional time together over the summer months to help accelerate Young's acclimation process at the NBA level.

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"It's interesting because when I first started working with him, it was the first time he'd ever done anything as a Celtic, because he didn't play summer league, he didn't practice with us, any of that," said Nored, who spent time in New Jersey with Young in August. "So this is the first experience I really had, except watching him on film, and I was impressed just how he knew how to play basketball. That was great to see. I knew there was some things, specifically, that we needed to work on, right away, like college to the NBA -- because he didn't have that experience.

"So when I was with him, we were working on attacking the pick-and-roll, working on coming off downscreens at an NBA level, working on defending different positions, different pick-and-rolls. That was sort of the basis for the things that I wanted to do, so that when he came in August for our voluntary workouts, he was ready and he wasn't behind. I think he did a good job of that."

Young impressed the coaching staff during those summer workouts and positioned himself to compete for a potential role at training camp. But before his NBA preseason debut, Young felt a series of pops in his hamstring. With the help of adrenaline, he scored 10 points over 20 minutes in the exhibition opener, but was forced to shut himself down for the next two weeks -- missing six games in the process -- while rehabbing the injury.

Young leaned hard on Nored during that stretch to help the rookie absorb what he was missing on the floor.

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November pain in Celtics' forecast?

October, 25, 2014
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics were getting set to reconvene for training camp when Brad Stevens huddled his coaching staff in mid-September to finalize plans for the upcoming season. Amid the excitement and anticipation of the new campaign, the conversation kept reverting back to one word, one month: November.

[+] EnlargeBrad Stevens, Jared Sullinger
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty ImagesBrad Stevens needs to get everything he can out of Jared Sullinger this season.
If you include Wednesday's season-opener against the Brooklyn Nets, Boston's first full month of action features 14 games over a leisurely 33 days, including nine games at home, and only one back-to-back. That's where the good news ends. That slate includes 13 potential playoff teams, headlined by teams that might be dubbed championship-caliber opponents like Chicago (twice), Oklahoma City, Cleveland, and San Antonio.

Stevens often downplays the schedule, even recalled the famous Larry Bird quote -- "41 home, 41 away, looks right to me" -- and suggests that no game is more important than the next one.

But Stevens isn't naive. These young Celtics, coming off a 25-win season, are getting thrust right into the fire and it won't take long to figure out what they are made of. It's a dangerous slate, particularly because losses could potentially be deflating for a team whose confidence has been refreshed by the onset of a new season.

"We're just going to have to play really well," shrugged Stevens. "But we can't get too high or too low. That's going to be huge early on.

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What will the Celtics' record be at the end of November?

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"It's something that, ever since we had that full staff meeting in the middle of September, right when we had that, we knew it. We can't get too high or too low. We get a big win, we're going to have to stay the course, because there's a lot of tough ones coming. We get beat in a close game that we play really well in, we gotta analyze it for what it is."

Celtics brass has steered clear of setting goals for this team. No good can come from setting the bar too low or too high. Everyone from Stevens to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has encouraged players to draft their own expectations -- and hope always springs eternal in the NBA this time of year -- but it's still impossible to know what this team is capable of.

Point guard Rajon Rondo missed the entire preseason slate after undergoing hand surgery (though he might be back for opening night). Rookie Marcus Smart displayed NBA-ready defense, but few are immune to the rookie roller coaster. Can Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk take the next step in their developments? What can we expect from Jeff Green? How will newcomers like Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton, and Tyler Zeller impact Boston's rotation?

(Read full post)

Notebook: Celts evaluating Eddie

October, 24, 2014
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics signed rookie Jarrell Eddie on Thursday and will evaluate him in advance of Monday's mandatory roster trimdown with a likelihood that he will land with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.

[+] EnlargeJarell Eddie
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images
Eddie, an undrafted 6-foot-7 swingman who spent much of training camp with the Atlanta Hawks, was with the team on Friday, but simply observed the start of practice alongside Maine first-year coach Scott Morrison.

The Celtics have the ability to funnel as many as four training camp cuts to their D-League affiliate. The team has already waived camp invites Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder, and Christian Watford with the expectation that they will land in Maine. Erik Murphy, acquired last month from Cleveland was also waived and had potential to also join the Claws, but the addition of Eddie could indicate that one of the recently waived players will seek another opportunity.

"[Eddie is a] player that we’ve watched in college at Virginia Tech and he’s a player that we watched in his exhibition games with Atlanta," said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. "He’s always been a player that’s been intriguing to us. We’re just going to evaluate him before training camp ends. He obviously won’t learn our stuff that quick, but we’ll put him through some workouts after practice and just evaluate him over the next couple days. That’s really all it is."

Added Ainge: "We’ll continue to evaluate him, wherever he plays, but we just want to take the time to evaluate him while we have some time right now."

The Celtics now have 17 players on their roster with Eddie the only deal that's nonguaranteed. Rosters must be trimmed to a league maximum of 15 players by Monday afternoon.

Ainge said he had no further update on recently acquired Will Bynum, who remains a likely casualty of a bloated roster if the team cannot otherwise maneuver before Monday.

Some other notes from Friday's session:

Faverani of Seville: Ainge said he expects second-year center Vitor Faverani to return stateside with the team on Thursday. Faverani underwent a second knee surgery in Spain earlier this month and has done the initial part of his rehab there. Ainge said Faverani is being accompanied by a team trainer and Ainge's son, Austin, the team's director of player personnel (who doubles as a translator). "We’re trying to make the transition for [Favearni] easy coming back here and seeing what they are doing from a rehab standpoint over there," said Danny Ainge, before quipping, "I think they are enjoying the sunshine in Seville." Ainge wasn't certain on Faverani's timeline moving forward, but estimated that he'd need another two weeks to a month of rehab before being ready to return to practice.

Playing it Smart: Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart missed a second day of practice due to illness. Coach Brad Stevens said the training staff noticed Smart catching some sleep before Wednesday's game and they believe the illness might have started then (though he starred in the first half that night). "He played a great first half being sick, but we want him to get better," said Stevens. "It’s a long season and the most important thing is to be healthy on Monday." Stevens has suggested that Smart could start at point guard if Rondo is not healthy enough for Wednesday's opener.

Morrison's Maine men: The Red Claws announced the hiring of two assistants on Morrison's staff on Thursday in Seth Cooper, a former assistant at Indiana University, and Nathaniel Mitchell, a graduate assistant at Fresno State last season.


WALTHAM, Mass. -- Four weeks after undergoing hand surgery, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo participated in his first full-contact practice Friday as he continues to make strides towards playing in the team's season-opener next week.

Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonRajon Rondo on the practice court Friday.
Rondo, who underwent a surgical fixation for a fractured metacarpal bone late last month, wore just a shooting sleeve over his left arm as the Celtics went through light shooting and conditioning drills that were open to the media at the start of Friday's practice. Rondo, who was decked out in the green jerseys typically worn by starters, was expected to put on additional padding when the team launched into full-contact work, but coach Brad Stevens expected no limitations from the point guard.

"He’ll go through the whole practice today," said Stevens. "It’ll just be a matter of, again, how big that pad is. I think that’s the biggest thing moving forward. It’s really about getting hit or not. So, seeing how he feels after this, then we’ve got Saturday and Sunday off, so Monday [or] Tuesday we should know more [about his game availability]."

Rondo is expected to have the bone reevaluated by team doctors early next week and could gain the necessary clearance to participate in Wednesday's season-opener against the Brooklyn Nets.

"It's not my call, that’s the way I look at it," Stevens said Thursday. "When [team trainer] Ed [Lacerte] tells me that someone is ready to play, that’s the go-ahead to let them play. And I wouldn’t rush it. I would not be up here and say, ‘We really need this person on Tuesday night.’ It’s just the way it goes. I’m the son of a doctor, I get it. I realize I don’t know a lot when it comes to medicine. I let them do their job and they do a great job."

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he knows Rondo is anxious, but the team won't hesitate to put him on the floor once he's cleared medically.

"I think he’ll fit right in," Ainge said Thursday. 'I think Rajon is in a great spot, mentally and physically. I can’t wait to see him play. He has a lot to prove; I see it in him. He’s just really dying to get out there and play. I’m excited for him, [that] he’ll probably be able to come back quicker than he thought originally."

Rondo was expected to miss 6-8 weeks following surgery, but has maintained a desire to return as soon as opening night.

For more on Rondo's final hurdles to game action, hop HERE.

Rondo steals show at Tip-Off Gala

October, 24, 2014
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BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics' annual Tip-Off Gala -- a formal-wear event that both raises money for the Shamrock Foundation and previews the upcoming season -- has turned into a bit of a fashion show for the team's players.

Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonRajon Rondo (left) and Marcus Thornton (right) highlighted the night for Boston's fashion.
Gone are the days when the team had to remind players not to wear jeans and (opposing team's) hats or jerseys (cough, Rasheed Wallace, cough). The event is now a chance for players to showcase their best duds and that left second-year coach Brad Stevens lamenting that he might be deemed the team's worst-dressed for the evening.

Before the majority of his team's players had arrived Thursday at the Westin Hotel in Boston's seaport district, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked who the best dressed player on the team was. He sagely noted, "[Rajon] Rondo’s pretty tough to beat. But there’s some new guys that I haven’t seen."

Newcomer Marcus Thornton made a strong bid and was maybe the early leader in the fashion clubhouse thanks to his derby. But Rondo, the final player to arrive, swiped the award with help from designer wear featuring a black bowtie, blue blazer, and an accent scarf.

"[Fashion has] always been inside of me," said Rondo. "From Day 1, I’ve always been particular about my clothes. I can remember going to middle school, I would iron my clothes the night before, try to put my look together. [My fashion sense] is growing more and more each year, and now being exposed to going to GQ events, going to Fashion Week, and meeting a lot of new designers or top designers, have helped my inspiration grow even more."

Asked who the best dressed player on the team was, Rondo quipped, "Besides myself?" before complimenting teammate Brandon Bass.

When the topic swung to basketball and whether we'd see Rondo in uniform on opening night next week, the point guard said, "Hopefully I’ll be able to play very soon."

Ainge maintained the company line when asked about Rondo's potential to play on opening night saying, "[We're] not sure yet. We’re hopeful, but not sure."

Asked about reintegrating Rondo, Ainge said that wouldn't be an issue.

"I think he’ll fit right in," said Ainge. 'I think Rajon is in a great spot, mentally and physically. I can’t wait to see him play. He has a lot to prove; I see it in him. He’s just really dying to get out there and play. I’m excited for him, [that] he’ll probably be able to come back quicker than he thought originally."

The team initially set a 6-8 week recovery following hand surgery late last month, but Rondo is already engaging in contact activities after less than four weeks removed from surgery. The team has said that, if the bone is healed and he can perform all activities, Rondo could be back on the court for opening night on Wednesday against the Nets.

For more on Rondo's quest to return to action, hop HERE.

Celtics second-year big man Kelly Olynyk was honored with the Community Champion award.

Players, coaches, and team executives were all smiles at the event.

"I think there’s a lot of purposes of tonight, the most important purpose is raising money for the Shamrock Foundation, which does so many great things for so many charities," said Ainge. "But I think it’s also good to have the team all together and in a different setting with some of our sponsors and fans and partners. I think it’s a good night all-around."

Healing will dictate if Rondo plays opener

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens was talking Thursday about the ways the team was helping point guard Rajon Rondo stay sharp while rehabbing from a broken hand when Stevens noted how skeleton work and conditioning drills would help "expedite [Rondo] being ready on Wed..."

Then Stevens caught himself. It might have been a simple slip, but Stevens quickly changed what might have been "Wednesday" -- as in Boston's season-opener against the Brooklyn Nets -- to "whenever" while noting that he hoped Rondo's return was, "hopefully sooner rather than later" and that the point guard is "more ready to roll than not."

Rondo is ramping up his contact activities this week and the team has not ruled out the potential that their All-Star point guard could be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season. Ultimately, that call lies with the team's medical staff, who are expected to reevaluate how the bone in Rondo's left hand is healing early next week.

"It's not my call, that’s the way I look at it," said Stevens. "When [team trainer] Ed [Lacerte] tells me that someone is ready to play, that’s the go-ahead to let them play. And I wouldn’t rush it. I would not be up here and say, ‘We really need this person on Tuesday night.’ It’s just the way it goes. I’m the son of a doctor, I get it. I realize I don’t know a lot when it comes to medicine. I let them do their job and they do a great job."

Appearing on Boston sports radio WBZ-FM earlier on Thursday, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge echoed that sentiment noting that Rondo's ability to play on opening night, "all depends on if his hand is healed. If the bone is healed, then he will go."

After Rondo underwent a surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture late last month, the Celtics suggested a 6-8 week recovery timeline. Rondo has hinted a desire to return quicker and has worked towards that goal, culminating with his integration into contact activities this week.

Rondo is wearing additional padding over the injury during practice with hopes of minimizing the risk of aggravation. As Stevens joked, "He’s got almost a baseball mitt on there, it’s pretty well padded." The team is going to check with the league on what exactly can be worn when Rondo returns to game play, whether that's Wednesday or a bit further down the road.

But Stevens stressed again that Rondo has positioned himself to jump right into action when cleared physically.

"Now it’s just a matter of getting clearance, really," said Stevens. "Because everything else, from a skill standpoint, from an understanding standpoint -- he’s been running our offense in 5-on-0, up and down the court, for 10 days now. And he picks it up pretty quickly anyways. And we spent some time watching film, whether it’s of the team when he’s not on the floor, or just simple stuff that he’s been able to do in practice to just try to expedite being ready."

(Read full post)

McCarty pleads not guilty to larceny

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
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WALTHAM Mass. -- Boston Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty was arraigned Thursday in Framingham District Court court on a larceny charge.

McCarty, who played 10 seasons in the NBA, including eight with the Celtics, is accused of bouncing checks to a contractor putting in $39,000 worth of cabinets in his home, according to WCVB-TV.

McCarty, now in his second season as an assistant coach, pleaded not guilty. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Dec. 11.

"This matter stems from ordering some kitchen cabinets for a home that my family and I are building," McCarty said in a statement released by the Celtics. "We hope to resolve the matter soon, but I simply cannot comment further while the case is pending."

McCarty's lawyer, Glen Tagliamonte, told WCVB that he plans to file a motion to dismiss the charges.

Sullinger growing into bigger role

October, 23, 2014
Oct 23
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BOSTON -- Every team needs a leader. And on a roster filled with youth, the Boston Celtics are putting a lot on the shoulders of third-year forward Jared Sullinger to grow into that role.

Does that create any added pressure? Sullinger doesn’t seem to think so.

“I grew up with pressure,” Sullinger said. “I’ve got an older brother named James that puts a lot of pressure on me. My older brother Julian, he puts the most pressure on me. I’m used to pressure. Pressure either is going to make you or break you. Just got to go with it.”

Still just 22, Sullinger is looking forward to his first season-long opportunity at a starting role. And after Wednesday night’s preseason finale in which he scored 15 points and recorded 17 rebounds in the team’s 100-86 win over the Brooklyn Nets, Sullinger’s focus largely was spent looking forward to next Wednesday’s season opener.

[+] EnlargeJared Sullinger
Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesJared Sullinger concluded a strong preseason with 15 points and 17 rebounds against the Nets.
It’s worth taking a look back at Sullinger’s preseason body of work as a whole, though. As he showed Wednesday night, Sullinger has emerged as a consistent threat both offensively and defensively. In his eight preseason contests, Sullinger surpassed the 20-point mark three times and registered double-digit totals in rebounds four times. Such is just a hint toward major improvements on his averages from last year (13.3 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game).

“I think he’s gotten better,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s worked hard to improve his skill. He’s worked hard to do a lot of things, especially on the defensive end of the floor that he’s just improved from a technique standpoint.”

For that, Sullinger credits the critique of his play alongside his father during last year. And while he feels in better position to succeed this season, there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

“He’s got to continue to improve his ability to guard multiple positions,” Stevens said. “And then offensively, I think you’ve always got to tone your game up as far as being able to score on the interior off drives and post and also just continuing to knock the shot down with regularity. He’s done it all the way through the preseason, I just hope it continues.”

Prior to Wednesday’s game, Stevens described Sullinger as the one of the team’s best scorers, if not its best. However, Sullinger isn’t ready to say that it’s his team moving forward.

“No, not really,” Sullinger said. “But, at the same time, there’s going to be times where I’m going to have to show leadership.

“It’s nobody’s team. We’ve just got to play hard and play together.”

Smart decisions: His final preseason game being his best so far, rookie point guard Marcus Smart said after Wednesday’s game that his confidence is much higher than it was at the start of the preseason.

“I didn't shoot the ball very well [in the preseason opener],” Smart said. “I didn't really feel like I belonged out there. Kept playing and my teammates kept me up.”

In that first game, Smart missed all eight of his shot attempts. Wednesday night was a positive turnaround, with Smart hitting five of his eight attempts, including all three of his two-point shots. He went 2-for-5 from behind the arc.

“Coach has been telling me to be more aggressive, attack the rim, and then take the three ball once you get warm and take what the defense gives you,” Smart said. “They gave me driving lanes and forced the 3-point line tonight.”

Stevens was impressed with what he saw in Smart’s shot selection.

“He’s always aggressive, so you can live with a bad shot here or there,” Stevens said. “He was good.”

And while Stevens said the two have discussed Smart’s decision making on a daily basis, he added that he’s much more focused on making Smart a leader on the court first and foremost.

“The thing that I’d err on the side of is talking less about shot selection, and talking more about running offense and understanding that you’re out there directing,” Stevens said. “Because the last thing you need somebody to do is be unconfident. And I want our guys to be confident when they raise up and shoot, not second-guessing whether it’s a good or bad shot.”

For his part, Smart seems ready to handle the role.

“So far it’s been very comfortable,” he said. “Staying in college those three years, and running the team, and running the point guard position helped me a lot to prepare to run the team in the NBA. So far, so good.”

Young returns: Playing in his first game since straining his hamstring while warming up in the team’s first preseason contest, rookie James Young returned to the court Wednesday night.

“I thought he was pretty good,” Stevens said. “He did a pretty good job at times and there were other times where he can improve. All in all, I’d say it was a positive game for him. And he’s only played in two games, but I think both of them were positive.”

Young scored five points and collected four defensive rebounds. His 25:42 played led the team.

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 100, Nets 86

October, 22, 2014
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BOSTON -- Prior to Wednesday’s preseason finale against the Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens described his team’s play thus far as a healthy dose of both good and bad.

Rookie Marcus Smart’s all-around performance in the game that followed would fall in the former category.

Smart saved his preseason best for last, pacing the Celtics with 16 points and shooting 62.5 percent in the team’s 100-86 win over the Nets. Smart added four assists and two steals in 15:38 played, all in the first half.

While Smart’s defense has mostly proved NBA-ready this preseason, his offensive performances have been lacking. Entering Wednesday having hit just 19 of his 52 shots (36.5 percent) -- 44 of them coming from behind the arc -- Smart hit two of his five 3-point tries and all three of his 2-point field goals.

He added a 4-for-4 performance at the free throw line for his preseason high in points despite the limited minutes. Jared Sullinger was the only Celtics starter to appear in the second half, while Nets coach Lionel Hollins opted to keep the majority of his projected opening night starters off the court for the entire game.

Nitty gritty: Following a 19-rebound performance on Sunday against the Nets, Sullinger pulled in 17 boards Wednesday night. He also scored 15 points. Still managing his knee following surgery last season, Gerald Wallace put together a strong game, including two back-to-back fast-break scores in the second quarter. He posted 12 points off the bench. Mason Plumlee (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Mirza Teletovic (15 points, 3-for-6 from three) led the Nets.

Feeling Young again: Celtics rookie James Young returned to action for the first time since straining his hamstring while warming up Oct. 6. Young checked in midway through the second quarter, nailing a 3-pointer on his first shot attempt. He finished with five points and four rebounds in 25 minutes of play.

Loose balls: After finishing the first quarter tied at 25, the Celtics ran away with a 33-19 advantage in the second quarter. Their largest lead of the night was 23 points. ... Every player present for the Celtics took the court, including Tim Frazier, who was told by Stevens Tuesday that he was going to be waived. ... The Celtics finish their preseason having allowed more than 100 points to an opponent in only one of their eight games (a 116-109 loss to the Toronto Raptors Oct. 10).

What it means: Their preseason schedule over, the Celtics (5-3) will get ready to face the Nets again next Wednesday at the Garden for each team’s season opener. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Rondo participates in contact drills

October, 22, 2014
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BOSTON -- Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said Wednesday that injured point guard Rajon Rondo has begun participating in contact drills but is still relegated to wearing a large pad on his left hand in order to do so.

"He's progressing well," Stevens said. "He'll continue to do a little bit more in practice. Did a little bit more yesterday. Anytime that it's even close to a contact-esque drill that he's been allowed to do, he has a nice-sized pad on his hand. Still not fully fully good to go but certainly working that way."

In speaking with reporters at the Celtics practice facility Monday, Rondo said he had yet to begin practicing with contact. He noted that his hand felt fine dribbling and catching the ball but expressed skepticism toward how it would feel hitting the floor or making contact with other players on a regular basis.

He also said he wasn't looking to target the season opener Oct. 29 against the Brooklyn Nets as his goal to return, choosing to focus on the health of his hand instead.

Stevens mentioned Monday that there's a possibility Rondo could be available for opening night.

Rondo is less than four weeks removed from undergoing a surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture. The team initially estimated Rondo's recovery time as six to eight weeks.

Raising their mental game?

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- A day after the Boston Celtics overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat the Brooklyn Nets in a preseason game, Jared Sullinger offered an eyebrow-raising reaction to the rally.

[+] EnlargeJeff Green
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports
"Last year, this team would have laid down and given up. Game's over," suggested Sullinger. "Now, we're just fighting."

Laid down? Given up? A Brad Stevens-coached team? That sounds a bit like basketball blasphemy.

Heck, there were times last season when deadline-leery reporters would sigh as Stevens called a series of late-game timeouts to draw up plays with his team facing seemingly insurmountable deficits. Stevens practically wore a trench in front of the Boston bench while going offense/defense on late-game substitutions. These Celtics rarely rallied all the way back from big deficits, but they sure had a habit of making things interesting.

Did Sullinger really feel like this team gave up at times last season?

"If things were not going our way, we really weren't playing well," Sullinger clarified before Tuesday's practice. "I think that's the biggest thing. When things went bad, we didn't respond well. This year, we want to learn how to fight through that."

You can understand where Sullinger is coming from. The Celtics went 6-21 after the All-Star break last season, and there were certainly times when the team seemed defeated when games simply started to slip away. There's no denying that Boston struggled to respond to adversity.

And that's one area where the Celtics absolutely must make strides in this season. Stevens wants his players to remain composed when the road gets bumpy and find ways to keep the bus on course even when the wheels come off.

Which is why the second-year coach seemed to take an extra bit of satisfaction from Sunday's win in Brooklyn. Oh sure, it was just a preseason game, and an experimental 44-minute one at that, but his players twice showed the sort of resolve that escaped them last year.

"There's a lot of things that we can do on both ends of the floor to get better, but I was happy with how we responded [Sunday]," said Stevens. "Being down 17, coming back, taking the lead, then [the Nets] take the lead and we respond again. That showed some growth."

(Read full story)
Grantland.com ranked all 30 NBA teams based on watchability on NBA's League Pass and the Boston Celtics checked in at 24th overall. The back-and-forth between Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe:
Simmons: Our most shocking League Pass Rankings moment other than us nearly getting into an online fistfight about Charlotte -- you gave the Celts more League Pass points than I did! I gave them 21, you gave them 23. I lost some major homer cred here.

Lowe: This is called “Bill comes to his senses.” You rated Boston above the Spurs last year.

Simmons: You promised me you’d never bring that up again.

Lowe: Honestly, it was hard to forgive you. But, hey, Boston looks kind of feisty in the preseason, with all the perimeter defense, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk gunning 3s, and some other fun things! Add Rondo, a great court, and the right dose of Tommy Heinsohn, and they could be watchable, right?

Simmons: It’s an endearingly bad Celtics team. Brad Stevens truly cares — he will absolutely try to win all 82 games, even if that makes no sense whatsoever. Marcus Smart is a badass who will become a fan favorite in Boston. I’d buy a Smart jersey if I weren’t in my mid-forties. That Smart-Bradley defensive backcourt will be a nightmare for certain guards. The whole Rondo soap opera is going to be riveting — not only is he playing for a new deal, he hasn’t played in a relevant NBA game since Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern finals, and that has to be gnawing at him. Sullinger has three fun games a month. I can’t wait to watch The Steal of the 2014 Draft. And I think Kelly Olynyk is going to surprise a ton of people. (Did I win my homer street cred back yet?)

Lowe: You earned it back. I read that and thought for a second that Boston might win 50 games. Bradley proving that his 3-point percentage last season wasn’t a fluke would be huge, because the backcourt is going to feature a ton of guys who can’t shoot. Toss in a lack of rim protection and the C’s have two fundamental flaws. But they will still be semi-entertaining!

Simmons: No shooting and no rim protection … ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 NBA lottery winners, the Boston Celtics!

[Read full League Pass Rankings]

Young ready to make up ground

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
1:00
PM ET
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics rookie James Young participated in his first full-contact practice in more than two weeks Tuesday and is expected to play in Wednesday's exhibition finale against the Brooklyn Nets.

[+] EnlargeBoston Celtics
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
Young strained his left hamstring while warming up for his NBA debut on Oct. 6, but played on adrenaline (scoring 10 points over 20 minutes of action) before the injury flared in the aftermath. The team shut him down for most of the next two weeks, and Young returned to non-contact practice on Monday, going through shooting and conditioning drills with his teammates.

The 19-year-old rookie, the 17th overall pick in June's draft, participated in a full practice Tuesday and is now working from behind a bit trying to show that he deserves an immediate role at the NBA level.

"He’s got some ground to make up," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Tuesday's practice. "More so from a standpoint of us just evaluating him and seeing how he can perform in these environments and in these games. He did well in Game 1 on a bad hammy. He hasn’t had a chance to play or practice as far as competing yet. [Tuesday] will be the first day and [that practice] is as important as [Wednesday's game] for him because he’s going up against Jeff Green or he’s going up against Avery Bradley or Marcus Thornton. Those are guys that he needs to measure himself against right now."

Young, sweating as he chatted with reporters after a pre-practice workout on Tuesday, said he's not 100 percent yet, but is getting closer ("Somewhere in the 90s," he suggested). Young is excited to simply be back on the floor with his teammates.

"[Monday] felt really good to not just sit and watch and actually go through the actions with the team and not just sit there," Young said. Asked if it's been difficult to be patient, Young added, "I’m so young, so I try just not to think about things too much and sit there and wait. When my time is right, my time is right."

Young spent time after recent practices going over what he was missing on the floor with player development assistant Ron Nored, who also shadowed Young for much of the summer. Stevens said that the playbook for Boston's shooting guards and small forwards is interchangeable, so Young shouldn't be overwhelmed playing catchup at two positions.

The hardest part for Young might simply be taking it slow on his return. He didn't initially mention the hamstring injury to team doctors before his game debut, but has been reminded to alert the staff if he experiences any discomfort in the early stages of his return.

"The training staff, if I feel like my leg is fatigued during practice, they’ll sit me down for a little bit and have me drink some water and just get back out there," he said. "If I’m getting tired or if my leg is getting weaker, I’ll just come right out."

But he's hoping to be on the floor for an extended period during Wednesday's game.

"I want to get back into the flow of things," he said. "Try not to think about things too much and act like I’ve been on the floor for a few games and try to do what everyone else is doing."

Celts begin trimming roster

October, 21, 2014
Oct 21
12:30
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The practice floor was a little less crowded for the Boston Celtics on Tuesday.

The team has started the process of trimming its roster, informing Erik Murphy and camp invites Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford that they will be waived.

Frazier gets a minor stay of execution as he'll remain with the team through Wednesday's exhibition finale against the Brooklyn Nets and could help fill minutes as coach Brad Stevens plans to reduce the workload for his top rotation players.

"I just sat down with Erik Murphy, with Christian Watford, with Rodney McGruder, and Tim Frazier," Stevens said before Tuesday's practice. "We’re going to keep Tim through [Wednesday] night, and he knows that, because of potential minutes [against the Nets]. But all four of those guys will be waived and they’ve been great. I wish I didn’t have to waive them, they’ve been great teammates, they’ve put in extra work, they’ve come back in small groups and worked. But a couple of them had made mention that they’ve gotten better and that makes me feel good. They were all real professionals about it. I will root for them for sure."

Frazier, McGruder and Watford were brought to camp with the expectation of being funneled to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League as affiliated players. They've worked countless hours over the past month with Maine's new coach, Scott Morrison, in preparation for the likelihood they'll land with the Claws.

The Celtics can assign up to four players to Maine as affiliated players, which means Murphy also could explore that opportunity if he's not enticed by another opportunity, including what's likely to be more lucrative overseas offers.

None of the four players set to be waived were expected to make the regular-season roster. Murphy was acquired as part of last month's swap with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his contract was only $100,000 guaranteed, an ignorable amount for a team that's currently hovering about $2 million below the luxury tax line with a total commitment of $74.8 million.

Once those four players are formally waived, the Celtics will be down to 16 players and must make an additional move to get to the regular-season limit of 15 players before the start of the season.

Recently acquired Will Bynum remains away from the team as the Celtics examine potential avenues to avoid simply eating his $2.9 million contract, though waiving Bynum remains the most likely scenario if the team cannot otherwise clear space.

[Additional reading: Roster reset: How C's can trim to 15]

On the mend, Gerald Wallace stays flexible

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
3:14
PM ET
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Whatever this season holds, it’s all uncharted territory for Boston Celtics forward Gerald Wallace.

He underwent his first surgery -- arthroscopic procedures on his knee and ankle -- in early March last season. And now, with the start of the regular season nine days away, Wallace is trying to completely move on from his injury.

“It’s a tough progress,” Wallace said. “The little things that you take for granted are kind of difficult and hard to do after surgery. You don’t realize it until you have surgery. This is my first surgery so not being able to do the little things is kind of hurtful for me, especially on and off the court.”

During practice on Monday, Wallace sported a sleeve on his left knee while taking his normal turns during small-group drills run by head coach Brad Stevens. And while Stevens said he’s still trying to determine Wallace’s role on the team, the two are on the same page with regard to what will be expected from Wallace as a veteran surrounded by younger players.

[+] EnlargeGerald Wallace
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaWallace says he'll do anything the Celtics ask of him -- even allow Jared Sullinger to help prep him for a media spot.
“Obviously with his knee injury, that set him back a little bit,” Stevens said. “I already sat down and talked with Gerald earlier this year, he shared the same sentiments with me that he’s shared to all of you. He’s willing to do whatever to help this team and that’s a great thing. He’s been a great veteran and that’s a real positive. Nothing is guaranteed from a time standpoint, but we have a ton of depth one through three.

Wallace concurred.

“Whatever the coach needs me to do, we’ve already talked about it,” Wallace said. “I’m in a position where I’m comfortable with it. Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m willing to do it.

“If they need me, they need me. If they don’t, then they don’t. But I’m here, I’m always prepared and I’m ready to go whenever he calls my name.”

Despite being used sparingly this preseason as a result of his knee injury, Wallace has been OK with the reduced role. In fact, he’s been appreciative of the time, noting that it’s been easier than years previous seeing that he still feels he’s “a work in progress” getting back to being 100 percent.

“I’m still trying to get my knee back to where I want it to be at,” Wallace said. “At this point I don’t feel like I could go out and play 30 or 40 minutes right now with my knee where it is.

“Just the pain -- pushing off, exploding off of it. It’s my most dominant leg so I’m not able to do the things I’m used to doing without discomfort. I want to get to the level where I don’t have discomfort when I do them,” he said.

When he gets to that level, Wallace will provide welcome depth for a team looking to carve a new identity after last year’s difficult campaign. And while the team still figures to endure growing pains as their young players continue to develop, Wallace remains optimistic about their prospects as a whole.

“I feel good about our team,” he said. “I think they’re young, they’re hungry. We play aggressive. I think our main thing is we play aggressive and play more physical than a lot of teams. We can make up for a lot of the [faults] that we have.

“We’ve just got to continue to get better as a team and continue to get better as a unit.”

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9