On the mend, Gerald Wallace stays flexible

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
3:14
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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.”

Notebook: Young eyes Wednesday return

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
1:45
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics rookie James Young emerged from a pre-practice strength session Monday to find some teammates had already launched into shooting drills. "They started without me?" Young cracked. Welcome to the life of a rookie.

Young has been sidelined since Boston's exhibition opener with a strained left hamstring. The 17th overall pick in June's draft was expected to participate in Monday's non-contact session then ramp up again on Tuesday with the goal of playing in the Celtics' exhibition finale on Wednesday night against the Brooklyn Nets.

"[Young will] play Wednesday if he’s able to go," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "And obviously we’ll have to balance that appropriately, because the last thing you want to do is re-injure a lingering issue. But as long as he’s cleared and gets a couple days under his belt -- he’ll be sore if he goes full hard [Monday], even though we’re not going contact, because of how much we are moving. Then that will be good [for ramping him up]."

Young injured his hamstring while stretching before his preseason debut, but played on adrenaline and scored 10 points in 20 minutes of action. He's missed the last six games while recovering.

Young's absence could force him to distinguish himself in practice. When healthy, Boston has quality depth at the perimeter positions and Young will likely have to claw his way up the depth chart despite some encouraging glimpses to this point.

For now, simply getting back on the practice floor is a start in that process.

ROSTER MOVES AHEAD

Stevens said that Boston's trim to 15 regular-season players is likely to occur "in the next couple days." The team's three training camp invites -- Tim Frazier, Christian Watford, and Rodney McGruder -- would seem likely to be waived in the aftermath of Wednesday's exhibition finale with the Celtics hopeful they'll land with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League as affiliated players.

Newly acquired Will Bynum was not at the team's practice facility on Monday. The Celtics can waive him in order to help drop to 15 if no other roster moves can be made to create additional space. Read more on Boston's impending trim down HERE.

LOOSE BALLS

Coming to America: Vitor Faverani, who underwent knee surgery last week in Spain, should be back with the Celtics soon to continue his rehab here. "I think the end of the week is what I’ve been told, but I don’t know exact date," said Stevens. "I think Thursday or Friday is what we were anticipating and what we were told last."

Split practice: The Celtics have four practice sessions scheduled this week sandwiched around Wednesday's exhibition finale. To break up the monotony, Stevens split up Monday's non-contact session. "We’re doing two small group sessions instead of one big practice, just to do something different and get a little bit more attention on individuals," said Stevens. "[Tuesday] we’ll do a normal practice and Wednesday will be probably a little less minutes for some of our main rotation players as far the guys who are going to get the most minutes. But just continue to play the same way we’ve been playing. Continue to strive to get better. There’s a lot of things that we can do on both ends of the floor to get better."

Rajon Rondo not ruling out opener

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
1:00
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens said there's a possibility that Rajon Rondo could be ready for game action on opening night later this month, but the point guard cautioned against setting a firm timeline while he recovers from a fractured left hand.

Rondo underwent a reevaluation last week that showed encouraging progress, but he has not been cleared for contact with nine days to go before the Celtics host the Brooklyn Nets to open the 2014-15 season on Oct. 29.

"I don’t know. I still haven’t had any contact yet," Rondo said when asked about the potential to play on opening night. "The opener is a little bit over a week away. I don’t want to set goals; I just want to go as my hand heals."

Rondo noted that he's little more than three weeks removed from undergoing a surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture and that the bone has not healed completely yet. The team set a recovery timeline of 6-8 weeks, but Rondo has hinted at times that he’d like to return sooner.

Once cleared for contact, which could come later this week, Rondo's comfort level with getting hit could dictate how soon he's game-ready.

"It doesn’t bother me at all when I dribble the ball, catch the ball," said Rondo. "But it’s night and day from trying to brace myself hitting the floor or going into the lane and somebody smacks my hand."

(Read full story)

Gamebook: All about that Bass

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
9:35
PM ET
Bass 3-pointer

Brandon Bass has carved out a nine-year NBA career in large part because of a reliable mid-range jumper. But the league has discovered a great value in moving players such as Bass back a couple of feet to beyond the 3-point arc, so he has been encouraged this offseason to explore the occasional trifecta.

Behind the scenes, we've seen Bass working on his 3-point shooting, but he's hesitated to pull the trigger during game action this preseason. Entering Sunday's tilt in Brooklyn, Bass had attempted just one 3-pointer -- and missed it -- last week against the New York Knicks.

You can understand his hesitation. Before last season, Bass had never made a 3-pointer in his NBA career. He had attempted only 15 of them over his first eight seasons in the league. But a couple fell last season and it must have made coach Brad Stevens wonder if Bass could learn to add the random 3 to his repertoire.

Maybe that's why most of the Celtics bench rose in unison Sunday when Bass caught the ball wide open in the corner during the final seconds of the third quarter. A driving Phil Pressey had drawn Bass' man away, and the clock ensured that Bass had to put up the shot.

Bass actually crashed to the floor after the attempt, but made the shot as jubilant teammates pried him off the ground. The triple capped a monster third quarter that saw Boston outscore Brooklyn by 19 points while helping it post a 95-90 triumph at the Barclays Center.

"We watch too much European basketball, man," Bass joked, according to MassLive.com. "No, but I just think the game is growing, and I think that's the direction everybody's going."

The 29-year-old Bass has to adapt on a team where young bigs Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk are making a case for hefty roles with their abilities to stretch the floor. Bass is a versatile defender who has thrived around 19 feet in the pick-and-pop, but adding at least the threat of a 3-point shot makes him that much more valuable when he's on the floor.

Bass finished with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting with six rebounds and four assists -- another part of his game that seems to be growing in an offense that is stressing greater ball movement -- over 18 minutes. He's shooting 51.2 percent and gives the Celtics some additional versatility to mix-and-match at the forward position.

PLENTY OF TIME FOR SULLINGER

Some suggested that a 44-minute game might drive down stat lines as teams attempted to spread out minutes to all their players. Well, a shorter game didn't slow Sullinger in the least.

Sullinger registered team highs with 21 points and 19 rebounds over 28:35. He is now averaging a double-double this preseason at 14.9 points and 10 rebounds per game.

"He was good," Stevens said. "And he played the 4 and the 5. He hasn't played much 5. Our 4s and 5s do the exact same thing in our offense, so they are interchangeable. So it doesn't matter, you can learn both just by knowing one. I was happy with the way [Sullinger] played when he was matched up with 4s and when he was matched up with 5s."

The Celtics have stressed to Sullinger to take advantage of his matchups. They want him to post up and use his size against smaller power forwards, then draw pure centers to the perimeter to defend his improving 3-point shot. Sullinger was 3-of-5 shooting beyond the arc on Sunday and is now shooting 53.8 percent (14 of 26) from distance through seven exhibition games.

"Just playing hard," Sullinger said of his near 20/20 performance. "All this hard work I'm putting in this offseason is finally paying off."

Added Sullinger: "You just got to keep playing, honestly, keep playing hard. Keep doing work. Keep doing everything that you were doing to get this way."

(h/t: @MrTrpleDouble10 for Bass 3-pointer GIF from CSNNE broadcast)

Watching the clock: The 44-minute game

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
5:45
PM ET
The Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets played an experimental 44-minute preseason game on Sunday that featured 11-minute quarters and fewer mandatory timeouts. Aided by a breezy 19-minute first quarter, the game -- a 95-90 triumph by Boston -- finished in less than two hours, about 19 minutes faster than the league's standard 48-minute regular-season game.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he noticed the change midway through the quarters while preparing to sub -- and had to remind himself that, say, six minutes on the clock meant only five minutes elapsed instead of the usual six -- and it certainly chomped into the total number of minutes available for reserves. But Stevens suggested the most noticeable aspect may have been the improved flow of the game with one less mandatory timeout in both the second and fourth quarters.

How did Sunday's game compare to Boston's typical contest this exhibition season? Here's a closer look with times from the NBA's official gamebooks:

Ironically, Sunday's experimental game was no faster than Thursday's 48-minute game in Philadelphia. But it was still 12 minutes faster than the team's six-game average entering the tilt. Stevens has noted how, over the course of an 82-game season, that time saved would certainly add up for teams. He also pointed out how four fewer minutes per game essentially equates to 6.8 total games trimmed over the course of an 82-game schedule.

"You noticed it a little bit when you were subbing at the start of quarters, but I thought the flow with one less [timeout] was actually a little bit better in the second and fourth [quarters]," Stevens said after Sunday's game. "I didn't notice it other than that. When I am subbing and I'm looking at the clock and it's seven or six [minutes] on the clock, and I have to get myself back on that only five minutes has gone on if it says six on the clock. That is a little bit different, but I had it mapped out, so I kind of knew what I was going to do. I didn't notice it a whole lot, and I don't know how much impact it had on the game."

Reaction around the league to the Celtics-Nets experiment suggests that many would rather either (1) shorten the number of games in the exhibition and regular season or (2) simply spread the games out more, potentially trimming the exhibition season to aid that.

If nothing else, the league should investigate the impact of one fewer mandatory timeout in the even quarters as that could address the issue of flow without impacting the sanctity of the 48-minute game.

The players involved in Sunday's experiment suggested the effects were not particularly noticeable on the floor.

"When you are playing, you don't really think about it too much," Celtics forward Jeff Green said. "I didn't feel a difference at all."

The clock did mess with Jared Sullinger a bit.

"I looked up, I'm so used to seeing 12, so I looked up and saw it was like 5-something left on the clock," he said. "I was like, man, normally I come out around the 7-minute mark. And they were like, 'It's an 11-minute [quarter].' Then I was like, 'Oh, that explains everything.' So, it was kind of weird, four minutes less. I'm just happy we won."

[Additional reading: C's + Nets play 44-minute game]

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 95, Nets 90

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
5:25
PM ET
video

The biggest knock on Boston Celtics rookie Marcus Smart during the exhibition season is that he has struggled shooting the ball, particularly beyond the 3-point arc. While coach Brad Stevens acknowledged a need for greater offensive consistency from the rookie, he suggested Smart's shooting woes were not much of a concern.

Smart provided the go-ahead bucket with a straightaway 3 late in the fourth quarter as the Celtics defeated the Brooklyn Nets 95-90 in an experimental 44-minute exhibition game on Sunday at the Barclays Center.

Smart finished with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting (3 of 8 beyond the arc) to go along with 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds over 26:31. With the game tied at 85 with 3:18 to go, Smart capped his scoring with the triple that helped Boston surge ahead.

The Celtics brought Smart off the bench to start the game, but utilized him in a starter role to open the second half as part of a smaller lineup with Jeff Green playing power forward. That unit helped Boston outscore Brooklyn 33-14 in the third quarter while rallying from as much as a 17-point deficit.

Everything else you need to know from Sunday's game:

Nitty gritty: Jared Sullinger scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 19 rebounds over 28:35. Brandon Bass scored 14 points off the bench, including hitting a corner 3-pointer to close out the third quarter. Green scored 14 points and was a team-best plus-17. Jarrett Jack and Jerome Jordan scored 17 points apiece to pace the Nets.

No second chance: The Celtics dominated the second-chance points category, 20-2, with the Nets not getting their first second-chance points until late in the second half. Boston had a staggering 20 offensive rebounds, including six by Sullinger. That helped Boston overcome poor shooting (34 of 90, 37.8 percent).

Loose balls: The Celtics launched 29 3-pointers, with Smart and Sullinger each making three, though Boston shot just 31 percent beyond the arc. ... The Celtics utilized 12 bodies, though Dwight Powell played just 40 seconds. ... Gerald Wallace, back after missing three games with a bone bruise, played only five minutes (and was a minus-7). ... Old friend Kevin Garnett (stomach bug) did not dress for Brooklyn.

What it means: The Celtics improve to 4-3 on the exhibition season. They close out preseason play by hosting these same Nets on Wednesday night at TD Garden.

W2W4: C's vs. Nets (Preseason Game 7)

October, 19, 2014
Oct 19
10:00
AM ET
The Boston Celtics visit the Brooklyn Nets in exhibition play on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center (3 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

44-minute game: The Celtics and Nets are playing an experimental 44-minute game with 11-minute quarters and fewer mandatory timeouts. Stevens has expressed appreciation for the NBA's willingness to try new ideas, but admitted the shorter games could negatively impact rotation players. From a national perspective, the actual game action will take a back seat to how the shorter game time impacts rotations and the overall game length.

Let's play three: The Celtics play the Nets three consecutive times over the next 11 days, including in the regular-season opener on Oct. 29. Both sides must balance a desire for a late preseason status check versus a desire to not give away too many secrets before the real games start (then again, there are few secrets when it comes to NBA playbooks). The Nets visit TD Garden on Wednesday for Boston's exhibition finale, then return a week later to tip the NBA season.

What else? The Nets will be without big man Brook Lopez (foot sprain). Mirza Teletovic is expected to play in his place. ... The Celtics could have Gerald Wallace available; he's missed the last three games due to a bone bruise. ... Newly acquired Will Bynum is not with the team in Brooklyn while the team determines his future.

Bradley: Maine man on a mission

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
11:45
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Paul Pierce started laughing the moment Avery Bradley walked into the locker room. The Boston Celtics were in Charlotte in February 2011, and Bradley had just been recalled from the NBA Development League for emergency depth. The rookie's hair had grown out while on assignment, and Pierce howled at the sight before asking Bradley, "Are there no barbershops in Maine?"

[+] EnlargeAvery Bradley
Garrett Ellwood/Getty ImagesAvery Bradley says a dunk in practice over Kendrick Perkins was the one that launched his career.
The laughing stopped a couple of days later. Bradley, his confidence rebuilt after a nine-game stint with the team's minor league affiliate, was having an eyebrow-raising practice. The Celtics were in 5-on-5 half-court drills late in the session when Bradley attacked the basket and threw down a dunk over center Kendrick Perkins.

Coach Doc Rivers blew his whistle and ended the practice on the spot. A walk-off dunk.The veterans just stared at Bradley, wondering what had gotten into him.

Sitting inside the locker room at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine, earlier this week as the Celtics prepared for an exhibition game in conjunction with the Red Claws, Bradley shook his head while reflecting back to the series of events that helped jump-start his NBA career.

"I was a completely different person when I came back from Maine," Bradley said. "I remember I came back, and I hadn't got a haircut, and they called me a 'man on a mission.' That first practice, when I dunked on Perk and Doc ended it, from that day on, I felt like I belonged in this league."

The 23-year-old Bradley is entering his fifth season with the Celtics. He signed his first big-money extension this past summer, and he's the second-longest tenured player on the team behind only Rajon Rondo. That assignment to Maine feels like a lifetime ago, as does a short stint playing overseas in Israel soon after while the NBA navigated a lockout. But both trips to the basketball hinterlands were instrumental in shaping Bradley as a person and as a player.

(Read full story)

Agent: C's + Bynum taking 'deep breath'

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
4:27
PM ET
Will newly acquired Will Bynum stick on the Boston Celtics' roster? From ESPN.com's Marc Stein:
Mark Bartelstein, agent for Celtics' Will Bynum, says he and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have been in ongoing talks regarding Bynum's future.

Bartelstein said sides plan to "take a deep breath" and play out next week before the Celtics decide whether to keep or waive the newly acquired guard.

Says Bartelstein: "We're going to evaluate the landscape and figure out what's best for Will and the Celtics."

The Celtics acquired Bynum on Friday from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Joel Anthony. Boston's roster remains overstocked and the team must trim to 15 bodies before the start of the regular season.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Saturday in Brooklyn that Bynum is back in Boston undergoing his physical and that the team didn't expect him to join up before returning home next week.

The Celtics can continue to explore moves in the coming days before making a decision on whether to simply waive Bynum.
Tags:

Will Bynum

Roster reset: Countdown to regular season

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
5:00
PM ET
video

The Boston Celtics made a minor move Friday by shipping Joel Anthony to Detroit in exchange for Will Bynum. The move saves Boston about $900,000 as it begins to tinker with its roster in preparation for cutting down to 15 players for the start of the regular season later this month.

Let's take a look at where Boston's roster, salary cap situation, and rotation stand at the moment with our latest roster reset.

THE QUEST FOR 15 BODIES

For the purpose of this exercise, we'll ignore the three training camp invites on the roster -- Tim Frazier, Christian Watford, and Rodney McGruder. The trio is on minimum contract, nonguaranteed deals and will be waived soon with the expectation that they will land with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League as affiliated players.

Boston still has 17 players under contract, though recently acquired Erik Murphy's deal is only $100,000 guaranteed if waived before Nov. 1, which makes him a likely victim of an overcrowded roster.

Essentially, the Celtics have 16 players for 15 spots. The team also likes Dwight Powell, a rookie second-round pick acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, and would desire to carry him if space allows. So Boston is left with a couple options:

The easy route: The Celtics, under our scenario above, can get to 15 bodies by simply cutting one player. While it would be easier to stomach a smaller contract like the one belonging to Powell, the Celtics might simply swallow hard on Bynum -- they saved themselves $900,000 with Friday's deal -- and be content to stay roughly $2 million under the luxury tax line ($76.8 million) with a total commitment of roughly $74.8 million entering the season. That affords Boston a little bit of a wiggle room to take on additional salary during any in-season trades, a luxury that shouldn't be overlooked in Friday's deal.

The difficult route: Ever since Boston's roster became bloated, the team has sought ways to trim salary and open roster spots. One key for any rebuilding team -- or even a contending team -- is having the necessary space and money to make in-season moves. The Celtics have some avenues to take on salary this season, including a portion of the midlevel exception not used on Evan Turner, but would also have to create roster room in order to add future-minded talent. Even while simply trying to trim to 15 players, the Celtics will continue to pursue deals that would bring back less players than the team would send out. While this is an ideal route because it prevents Boston from eating a contract, the team seemingly hasn't found a willing trade partner to this point and would have to hope teams with training camp injuries might be desperate to make a deal. And let's face it, the team is more likely to generate that sort of move with in-season deals than maneuvering now when teams are typically in trim mode.

Some have wondered if second-year guard Phil Pressey's spot might be in jeopardy with the arrival of Bynum, a 31-year-old guard who has proven to be a capable player -- averaging 8.2 points and 3.3 assists over 18.5 minutes per game over seven NBA seasons -- and was a fan favorite in Detroit. But Boston is overstocked with guards and the guess here is that they'd prefer to hold onto the 23-year-old Pressey, who has a minimum contract and showed in his rookie season that he can be a serviceable quarterback off the bench. That said, Bynum's contract is a nice size to potentially be moved as part of a package deal down the road, but that might not be reason enough to part with Pressey. One way or another, you're probably paying both players, so who means more to the future of your team?

(Read full post)

Source: C's trade Anthony to Pistons

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
9:47
AM ET
The Boston Celtics are working to finalize a trade that will send center Joel Anthony to the Detroit Pistons for Will Bynum, according to a league source.

The Celtics appear to be making the move with roster flexibility in mind. The Celtics have 16 fully guaranteed contracts on their books and must trim that down to 15 before the start of the regular season. Swapping Anthony, who is set to make $3.8 million this season, for Bynum, who will earn $2.9 million, will save the team $900,000.

It's not clear if Bynum will stick with the Celtics. It could hinge on whether the team makes any additional moves before the season tips later this month.

Anthony, 32, had played sparingly, including this preseason, since being acquired from the Miami Heat in January.

If the Celtics ultimately elect to waive Bynum, the $900,000 savings from the trade would give them additional flexibility with the goal of staying under the tax line this season.

(Read full story)

Update (1:02 p.m.): The Celtics formally announced the Anthony-for-Bynum swap.



And here's ESPN Insider's Kevin Pelton grading the trade for Boston:

Boston Celtics: B

The players involved don't really matter from the Celtics' perspective. Both have expiring contracts, and neither would have made an impact on the court, so from Boston's standpoint this move was strictly financial. With 16 guaranteed contracts, they had no choice but to eat a salary, and waiving Bynum's $2.9 million contract saves them nearly $900,000 compared to Anthony's salary.

Besides the actual cash, the savings are important because the Celtics had been just more than a million dollars below the NBA's luxury-tax threshold. Now, Boston has a little additional flexibility to take on salary in a future trade without paying the tax for a likely lottery team.

The Pistons emerge with a C grade.

(Read full Insider grade)

Gamebook: Rondo remains positive

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
10:25
PM ET
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo expects to have his broken hand reevaluated in the coming days and continues to express a desire to return to action sooner than the team's initial recovery timeline suggested.

Rondo said before Thursday's game in Philadelphia that he expects to be examined soon to check how a fractured bone in his left (non-shooting) hand is healing, likely with an eye toward being cleared for contact activities.

"I’m doing pretty good, my hand is feeling better each day," Rondo said in an interview posted on the team's website. "I’m able to do new things with the ball on the court, just not accepting contact right now. ... It's frustrating. I’m staying in good spirits and, in due time, I’ll play."

Rondo noted that Friday would mark three weeks since he underwent surgery. The team initially set a timeline of 6-8 weeks for his recovery, which would force him to miss the start of the regular season later this month.

Rondo has hinted that he'd like to be back sooner, but coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have pledged to proceed with caution with their All-Star point guard.

Rondo has participated in non-contact work with teammates recently and he's been a vocal presence on the bench, traveling for most of the team's road exhibition games thus far.

"I’m just giving advice when [teammates] need it," Rondo said. "I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, but when they are out there and they might make a mistake or they’re not sure what to do, I just give them some advice. I let Coach do his job, but at the end of the day, I am the leader and the vet on this team and I try to coach when I need to."

Members of the Celtics brass have often repeated that they expect Rondo to have the best season of his career. Rondo has expressed optimism about the potential of this year's team despite the fact that most believe the Celtics will remain in rebuilding mode.

"Confidence as a whole," Rondo said on the team website when asked about the biggest difference in the Celtics since last season. "Our defensive schemes are a lot better. And we all believe in Coach Stevens and what he is doing. Last year, we weren’t all on the same page."

Rondo appeared in only 68 games over the past two seasons due to ACL surgery and rehab. The 28-year-old guard said he slipped in the shower last month, and he required a surgical procedure for a left metacarpal fracture.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Celtics 111, 76ers 91

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
9:15
PM ET
Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens suggested before Thursday's game there was still competition for starting spots in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season. Avery Bradley promptly went out and reminded everyone he's got a pretty firm grasp on the shooting guard spot.

Bradley erupted for 20 first-half points on 7-of-11 shooting, which included making six of eight 3-pointers, as Boston opened as much as a 24-point lead and never trailed en route to a 111-91 triumph over the host Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.

Stevens had suggested the potential to pair different combinations around point guard Rajon Rondo when he's healthy enough to return from a broken hand. That didn't necessarily suggest Bradley's spot is in the jeopardy, as he's been a consistent two-way threat for Boston this preseason. Bradley got much of the second half off Thursday after helping Boston open a healthy lead.

Here's everything else you need to know from Thursday's game:

Nitty-gritty: Jared Sullinger scored a team-high 21 points for Boston while connecting on eight of 10 shots, including four of six 3-pointers. Sullinger has been a very efficient scorer at times this preseason. He added eight rebounds, five assists and two steals to his stat line over 29:44. Jeff Green had 18 points in 31 minutes, while Tyler Zeller chipped in 14 points in another strong reserve performance. The Celtics shot 47.2 percent overall and 40.5 percent beyond the 3-point arc. Tony Wroten and Elliot Williams each had 17 points to pace the 76ers.

Rotation remains tight: Even on the second night of a back-to-back, Stevens stuck with a tight 10-man rotation for much of the night, suggesting that most competition at this point lingers among those players competing for the majority of minutes. Injuries have eliminated some of Boston's depth, and even with a 20-point lead, Stevens played his rotation guys deep into the game. Rookie Dwight Powell and Erik Murphy got some late run, as did the team's trio of camp invitees.

Loose balls: Joel Anthony was the only healthy DNP for Boston … Bradley, Sullinger and Green were all plus-27 for the game. … Marcus Smart missed all four shots he took and was held scoreless, but his defense was phenomenal again at times. Smart balanced out four turnovers with six assists and three steals.

What it means: The Celtics improve to 3-3 on the exhibition season. They'll take Friday off after playing a back-to-back, then practice in New York on Saturday in advance of Sunday's tilt with the Brooklyn Nets. That contest will be an experimental 44-minute game utilizing 11-minute quarters and fewer mandatory timeouts.

#NBARank: Rondo tops C's at No. 37

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
4:20
PM ET
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo finished off the team's appearance in this year's #NBARank by placing 37th, a drop of 10 spots from last season...

Rondo #NBARank


Is Rondo too low? Coming off two injury shortened seasons, Rondo clearly still has strides to make to restore his value based on the voting from ESPN's expert panel.

Hop HERE for rankings for every player on Boston's roster.

W2W4: C's vs. 76ers (Preseason Game 6)

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
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The Boston Celtics visit the Philadelphia 76ers in preseason action on Thursday evening at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m., CSN). Here's what to watch for:

Zeller Zeal: Newcomer Tyler Zeller put together his best game in green on Wednesday while making all six shots he put up -- almost all in the pick-and-roll while rolling strong to the basket -- and finished with 13 points over 18 minutes. Zeller added four rebounds and three assists. Now the Celtics want to harness that. "Zeller gave us a nice little bump," said coach Brad Stevens. "The roll down the middle -- he did a great job rolling and finishing with all those left-hand finishes. That was a real positive sign for us. I thought he did a really good job there."

ET in Philly: Evan Turner got ejected in the second half of Wednesday's game, which means he'll be extra fresh for a return to Philadelphia. Turner started Wednesday at point guard and was having an effective night -- 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists -- before he barked a little too loud at an official. Thursday's game is another chance to examine how the Celtics perform with Turner as the primary ball-handler with the first unit.

What else? Stevens stuck with a tight 10-man rotation on Wednesday; the second night of a back-to-back ought to loosen that a bit (though injuries have eroded some of Boston's depth). ... Marcus Smart took advantage of Turner's late-game absence and helped spark the Celtics' rally to nearly force overtime. Smart must build off Wednesday's effort, particularly after seeing some shots -- including two 3-pointers -- go down.

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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