Stevens can finally move forward

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
11:57
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- The film that Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens showed his team at the start of training camp Tuesday morning had been ready to roll since mid-August, though it underwent too many revisions before and after that point to truly count.

[+] EnlargeBrad Stevens
AP Photo/Michael DwyerAfter months of poring over game film, Brad Stevens is happy to be back at practice, saying, "This is the fun part of my job, this is what I've always enjoyed the most -- watching the team."
Since the end of the 2013-14 season in mid-April, Stevens has tortured himself with film study from his team's 25-win campaign and plucked the clips he thought would best demonstrate to his players just what needs to be done this season to take the next step in a rebuilding process that can't go fast enough for anyone involved.

After months of poring over game film, Brad Stevens is happy to be back at practice, saying, "This is the fun part of my job, this is what I've always enjoyed the most -- watching the team."
Stevens, with a white polo tucked into green basketball shorts, beamed as he stood at center court and watched his players get loose for Tuesday's second session. Twenty-four hours earlier, he had sat a podium in the same gymnasium and apologized to reporters for any rambling answers he was giving during the team's media day because he was so focused on the first team practice that loomed.

"I've had [the film cut up] for a while. I've been bored," Stevens deadpanned Tuesday before his team's afternoon session. "I told someone the other day -- they said, 'What are you doing?' And I said, 'Paralyzing myself by analysis right now.'"

Stevens first said he took a week after the season to breathe, then took it back by admitting he cheated and studied film at nights or while traveling during that span. Even if you give him full credit for taking seven days after Boston's season ended, he's still had a mind-numbing 161 days to comb through film for answers to his team's struggles.

That's 3,864 hours to dissect the team's 57 losses. That's 231,840 minutes to wonder how so many games slipped away in the final minute.

There had to have been something better on Netflix to watch.

"It was more about analyzing what didn't go right and figuring out what we could control to make that go better," said Stevens.

(Read full story)

Camp fires: Turner the new Crawford?

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
6:25
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Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonCeltics players go through dribbling drills to start camp.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- With Rajon Rondo sidelined by a broken hand, the biggest storyline surrounding the Boston Celtics as they open training camp is who exactly will fill the All-Star point guard's shoes during his absence.

While navigating a double session on Tuesday, the Celtics utilized the trio of Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Phil Pressey as primary ball handlers and hope those players can step up despite their lack of NBA experience at the spot.

"We really only have one point guard healthy that has NBA experience and that’s Phil Pressey, so there’s not a lot of it," admitted coach Brad Stevens.

While it seems reasonable to expect Smart, a combo guard whom Boston snagged with the No. 6 pick in June's draft, to get thrust into the NBA fire, Stevens also seems to like the idea of putting the ball in Turner's hands. While Turner hasn't played pure point since his college days, Stevens has been quick to note that Turner "was national college player of the year" that season at Ohio State.

One year after revitalizing Jordan Crawford's career by giving him point guard reps while Rondo rehabbed from ACL surgery, could Stevens jump-start Turner in a similar role? If nothing else, Stevens likes the idea of having multiple ball handlers on the court to defray the load.

[+] EnlargeEvan Turner
AP Photo/Michael DwyerEvan Turner is ready to assume some ballhandling and playmaking responsibilities for the Celtics.
"Hey, I’m not as worried about [where Turner plays], because people are going to put you in a box for your position," said Stevens. "I’m not going to do that. I'm not going to worry about it. He’s a ball handler, he can handle, he can make plays, he’s smart. And then I think that keeps our other guys in the positions where they are most comfortable."

For his part, Turner said he's "relearning" the point guard spot while trying to pick up his role in any of the three perimeter spots. He shrugged off the idea of having an awful lot on his plate, assuring that he's not overwhelmed by the task.

"I’m fine. I’m not really worried," said Turner. "It’s the first day of practice, so once again, I want to learn all the plays and just get a pace to myself. I think that’s the biggest thing. If you have pace, I think you’ll be fine."

While he acknowledged playing only spot minutes at point during his NBA career, Turner added, "That’s what I grew up playing for the most part, so that’s something that I’m kind of more comfortable with, as opposed to being a catch-and-shoot guy, which I’ve done in the past. Once again, I think it’s advantageous to what I like to do."

Said Stevens of Turner: "He's better with the ball than not. And, Rondo notwithstanding, he’s as good of a pick-and-roll player as we have."

GREEN WITH ENVY?

Celtics swingman Jeff Green expressed a desire to be a better leader this offseason and now he has an immediate chance to prove he can be. Rookie James Young has latched onto Green in the early stages of camp with hopes of learning from a veteran at a similar position.

"I look up to him," Young said before the team's second practice of the day. "Green] had a lot of advice for me. He helps me out a lot. I follow his every move and try to be like him."

Some Celtics fans, frustrated by Green's inconsistencies, are cringing at that thought. But even Stevens is hoping Green embraces his 19-year-old understudy and nurtures his development.

"I told [Green] this: You’re closer in age to me than you are to James Young," said Stevens. "So James Young has to look up to somebody. You need to take that serious. Now you’re an older guy, you’re a veteran. I think that last week, I saw him try to grab James and bring him in a couple of times, and I think sometimes that clicks with you. That idea that you can lead somebody, or somebody is watching your every step makes a difference."

Stevens was complimentary of Green's offseason work ethic while noting, "He looks good and you can kinda tell by the pace with which he’s worked, even when he was working in individuals before [Tuesday's practices], he’s got a different step about him, in that early-season work at least."

LOOSE BALLS

Camp schedule: The Celtics opened camp with a double session. The morning session featured an hour of noncontact work and meetings before the team reconvened for a more up-tempo afternoon session. The team has a second day of double sessions planned for Wednesday.

First day of school: Rookie Smart on if he had any butterflies for his first training camp practice: "I definitely woke up excited," Smart said after the morning session. "A little bit nervous. Things got shaken up. I’m excited more than ever and I’m just ready to get to the second practice."

Max capacity: Boston's practice facility was packed with 20 players in camp. Stevens noted how the team even had to send some bodies over to one of the health club's nearby basketball courts just to spread things out a bit during the morning session. As for breaking up reps, Stevens noted, "For the most part, the guys that are going to be in the mix are going to get the most reps." The Celtics utilized two teams of players in the morning session, but expanded to three teams for the afternoon workout.

Limited participants: Joel Anthony (groin), Vitor Faverani (knee), and Gerald Wallace (knee) participated in drills, but were limited at times. Rondo (hand) is the only player who was not available.

Convenience over scenery: The Celtics have camped in Rome and Turkey in recent years and, even when they don't have overseas exhibitions to navigate, they've tended to sneak down to Newport, Rhode Island, for a few days. Why did Stevens lobby to keep the team in Waltham this year? "Because my office is here. The computer is there. The TV I know how to work is in the same place," explained Stevens. "The equipment guys don’t have to carry thousands of bags, the video guys don’t have to move their whole life. It made a lot more sense to stay here. We’re in the age and stage where ... the kind of work we are getting done is more important than anything else."

Throwing the book at them: Even with some new faces on the roster, Stevens said he plans to throw a lot at his team in the early stages of camp. "I thought I was too gradual last year, so we’re going to be a lot quicker," he said. "After a couple of days, we’ll stop and we’ll hopefully break it down in kinda that whole-part-whole [learning model]. Later Stevens added: "I’m not putting in 9,000 things. I’m going to put in the right amount, we’re going to break it down, we’re going to teach it, and we’re going to try to get as good as we can at it."

Camp glance: Training camp isn't always glitzy, especially the initial sessions. Here's a peek at Boston players going through dribbling drills at the start of the afternoon workout:

Faith not broken

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30
5:00
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A look at Boston Celtics headlines following Monday's Media Day:

http://espn.go.com/boston/

Rajon Rondo still has Celtics' faith

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
10:35
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WALTHAM, Mass. -- A few ticks after 2 o'clock, the official start of the Boston Celtics' media day event on Monday, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and Rajon Rondo plopped down at a podium in front of an overflow throng of reporters. Ainge playfully joked to Rondo that he could have at least tucked in his jersey, to which the All-Star point guard cracked back that it was an impossible feat given that his left arm was immobilized by an oversized black sling.

[+] EnlargeDanny Ainge
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaDanny Ainge kept it light while deflecting questions about how Rajon Rondo broke his hand.
And with that, Rondo calmly -- and often playfully -- attempted to defuse any concerns about the cause of a left hand injury that required surgery on Friday and will sideline him for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Rondo confirmed an ESPN report that he told team officials he slipped in the shower, leading to a fracture. When pressed for specifics, Ainge asked a reporter, "Are you an investigator?" Rondo himself would soon joke, "Am I under investigation?"

Rondo complied, though, and laid out a detailed timeline of events from last week, one that included two trips to local trampoline parks with his kids, along with a humorous aside about his exploits in a Celtics team softball game. ("I made a couple top-10 catches and a one-handed grab, throw-out at first base that was really good; I impressed myself with that," Rondo said.)

It may do little to sway a skeptical public, but Rondo's bosses seem OK with his story. Ainge went so far as to detail how he slipped in a shower in Las Vegas this past summer and ended up staying overnight in a local emergency room while being patched up.

Asked if the team planned to pursue the incident any further, Ainge offered, "No, we're not investigators."

Rondo said he's trying to stay positive in the face of another setback, this after missing much of the past two seasons because of an ACL tear. Both he and Ainge stressed that Rondo is motivated to reestablish himself -- and the Celtics franchise -- among the league's elite.

"A lot of people are doubting me and doubting this team," Rondo said. "I've always enjoyed being the underdog. What people say really doesn't matter to me. I have a lot of expectations for myself. I'm pretty sure I'm the hardest critic on myself, so I'll go out there and do what I do best and play the game."

(Read full story)

Headlines from Celtics media day

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
7:45
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Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonA look from above as Celtics players pose for photos on Media Day.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens sat at the podium that all of his players would eventually shuttle through and dutifully fielded questions for 12 minutes on Monday as part of the team's media day festivities. At one point, Stevens noted, "A lot of my answers might be long-winded today, but to be quite frank, I’ve got a bunch of practices on my mind and that’s kind of what I live for."

Yes, media day is a circus and, for coaches, a bit of a nuisance. Celtics staffers patiently herded uniform-clad players through a series of stations that included three different photo-ops, video promotions, TV and radio interviews with affiliated outlets, and a stop for a Q&A with a throng of reporters (who were just as question fatigued as the players by the end of the three-hour session).

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s media day boiled down to digestible headlines:

AP Photo/Steven SenneRajon Rondo's cast on display during a photo shoot at media day.
Rondo: 'Am I under investigation?' Wearing an oversized black sling, Rajon Rondo playfully brushed off speculation about the cause of his broken left hand and stressed that he is remaining positive despite the setback that will sideline him for the start of the 2014-15 season. Rondo, as expected, was the focal point of the day and, with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge alongside, did a nice job fielding inquiries about his freak injury. Read a full recap HERE. Rondo also reaffirmed a desire to remain in Boston long term, while noting, "The love you get is kind of overwhelming in Boston. Why wouldn’t I want to stay here?"

You get an opportunity! And you get an opportunity! And you... : With Rondo sidelined for as much as 10 weeks with his broken hand, one of the main storylines Monday focused on who would replace his presence at point guard to start the season. "It’s an opportunity for Marcus [Smart]. It’s an opportunity for Phil Pressey. It's an opportunity for Evan Turner. It’s an opportunity for all those guys," Stevens said. The Celtics seem content to audition all bodies and hope that someone steps up. And Stevens thinks there's an opportunity for anyone on the roster, regardless of position. "We’ve got 14 guys that can win a starting role," he said.

Could Smart start as rookie? Smart has earned rave reviews since the Celtics picked him at No. 6 in June's draft. While Stevens said he'd have no problem starting Smart if he earns the gig, Ainge cautioned against putting too much on his plate too early. "Rondo is well advanced in his experience; it would be like Peyton Manning versus a rookie quarterback," Ainge said. The Celtics will throw a shortened playbook at Smart, but Stevens has been impressed at his talents and makeup so far. "Marcus is going to get plenty of opportunities, on and off the ball," Stevens said. "I think that he is physically, mentally and emotionally ready for those. He doesn’t have any experience yet, but that will come quick. At the same time, we have other guys and it’ll be great for him to compete for that." For his part, Smart said, "I think anybody embraces the opportunity to play more, regardless if [Rondo] was here or he wasn’t. Just as if he was, I’d still have to earn my stripes. Regardless if he’s here or not, I’m still going to work hard and earn the respect of these guys."

Team check-up: Stevens said that, aside from Rondo, only Joel Anthony (mild groin strain) would be sidelined for the start of camp. The team will tread cautiously with veteran Gerald Wallace and second-year center Vitor Faverani, both of whom underwent surgery earlier this year to repair torn meniscuses. Wallace also had some bone spurs cleaned up in his ankles.

The clock says it all: For recent events, the Celtics have often set the game clocks in their practice gym to "18:18" a reminder that the team is seeking Banner 18. For media day, the clocks were more of a season calendar, reading "20:15." Stevens said, "I think if you wrote down the teams that you think are the contenders in the NBA right now, you may not write us on there. I think it would be fair to say that a lot of people feel that way. So to make up ground, you have to be great at the little things. You have to be great at being a team, you have to look at it through a different lens than -- you don’t have an All-Star here, an All-Star here, an All-Star here. You have to look at it as, ‘What can we all do to shore up our strengths and be the best that we can be.’ And that’s on [the coaching staff] to continue to convey that message."

AP Photo/Elise AmendolaRookies James Young and Marcus Smart have fun at media day.
Who wants to step up?: The top storyline for Stevens as the team preps for two-a-day sessions and the start of training camp on Tuesday: Who steps up? Said Stevens: "The key question for me is, ‘Who really separates themselves’ not only as the best players, but the best groups. I think we’ve added very solid good players at a number of positions when I look at a Tyler Zeller, Marcus Thornton, Evan Turner and the young guys that we’ve added. I think we’ve added some guys that can really help, but we can very much focus on what do they do well and how do we put them in position to succeed. And really accentuate that when they are on the floor. ... I think that’s where we’ve got to figure out who the best guys are playing together to make our team the best we can play. That’s my big picture view right now."

Powe joins the front office: Leon Powe, whose balky knees shortened his NBA career, but not before winning a championship with the Celtics in 2008, has joined the team's staff in a player development role. The 30-year-old Powe, a key bench player during Boston's title season, said the idea of joining the team blossomed after representing the Celtics at a tribute to Boston Marathon bombing survivors in April. The jovial Powe is eager to start learning more about Boston's personnel and trying to help the youngest players expand their games.

Young and Smart and Fun: James Young and Marcus Smart, whose personalities shined during the league's rookie symposium last month in New York, again made media day their playhouse. At one point, the two donned the team's "Young and Smart" T-shirts and posed for pictures while dancing and singing. Young evidently doesn't want to miss any of the NBA fun. When asked by reporters during his Q&A about whether he desires to spend time in the D-League, the 19-year-old honestly offered, "Definitely not." He relented that he'd go for game reps and increased playing time if asked, but clearly he's hoping to make an immediate impression that would keep him with the parent club.

Faverani: 'No truth' to arrest: Asked about reports that he was arrested for drunk driving in Spain over the summer, Faverani offered an unexpected response. "There’s no truth," suggested Faverani, who said somebody was trying to "kill" him in the foreign press. "There’s nothing of it," he added while suggesting that his overseas representatives have told Celtics officials that the reports of his arrest were embellished.

Number check-up: Numbers for the team's newest faces: Zeller (44), Turner (11), Thornton (4), Dwight Powell (12) and Erik Murphy (42). Numbers for camp invite: Tim Frazier (55), Rodney McGruder (77) and Christian Watford (27).

Rondo: 'Am I under investigation?'

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
4:30
PM ET
Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonRajon Rondo and Danny Ainge meet with reporters at Media Day.
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Wearing an oversized black sling, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo playfully brushed off speculation about the cause of his broken left hand and stressed that he is remaining positive despite the setback that will sideline him for the start of the 2014-15 season.

Rondo underwent surgery Friday on his left hand after he said he slipped in the shower at his home the previous night. After being spotted at a trampoline park this week, some wondered if Rondo might be masking the cause of his injury.

"Am I under investigation?" Rondo joked when asked to detail the injury during the Celtics' media day. "Certain falls happen and you slip, and I slipped and tried to catch my hand. It wasn't like a banana [peel] slip. I actually almost caught myself. I landed on my knuckle on the windowsill in my home. That's what happened."

A playful Rondo later offered a detailed timeline of his week, including two trips to trampoline parks with his children. Of those visits, which he said took place Tuesday and Thursday, he said he joined in only on Tuesday.

He said he did not jump at the trampoline park Thursday and that the injury happened that night at his house.

"I didn't jump that day," Rondo said of the Thursday visit. "I just let my kids play and run off some steam. It was a school night, so I wanted to go about 45 minutes. People were really nice there; they let me in for free -- that was good.

(Read full story)

Celtics officially ink Turner

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
12:05
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The Boston Celtics officially signed free-agent swingman Evan Turner on Monday.

The two sides had agreed to terms back in July, but it took 71 days for the Celtics to sort out their roster and for the pact to become official. The team had promised Turner would be inked by the start of training camp on Tuesday.

League sources told ESPN's Marc Stein that it's a two-year deal worth $6.7 million with both seasons fully guaranteed and no options included. Turner will earn $3.28 million for the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics also formally announced the release of John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas, two of the four players acquired from the Cavaliers in a trade last week.

Boston also officially announced the signing of three training camp invites in Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder, and Christian Watford. Watford was initially released last week in order to facilitate the Cleveland deal, but re-signed Monday. All three will camp with Boston but could emerge as affiliated players with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.

Read on for team-issued bios on the camp invites.

(Read full post)

Sources: C's waive Lucas, Thomas

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
7:20
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The Boston Celtics officially waived John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas on Sunday, sources confirmed to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

Lucas and Thomas were two of the four players acquired from Cleveland on Thursday as part of a trade that sent out Keith Bogans. Boston's roster ballooned to 23 players, forcing the team to immediately waive three players in Chris Johnson, Chris Babb, and camp invite Christian Watford. By waiving Lucas and Thomas, the Celtics have created the necessary room to complete the long-awaited signing of free-agent swingman Evan Turner (while also creating an open spot that could be used to re-sign Watford to a camp deal).

The other two players acquired from Cleveland -- Dwight Powell and Erik Murphy -- are expected to camp with Boston. The team's roster, for the moment, stands at 18, but Boston has some additional maneuvering to complete over the next month to trim to the league maximum of 15 bodies for the start of the regular season.

Also on Sunday, the Philadelphia 76ers claimed Johnson, sources told Stein. The Celtics very much liked the quiet and hard-working Johnson, who appeared in 40 games last season after being summonsed from the D-League.

W2W4: Media day for Celtics

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
3:15
PM ET
Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesCeltics players often have a lot of balls to juggle on Media Day.
The Boston Celtics will formally welcome the 2014-15 season on Monday when the entire squad convenes at the team's training facility in Waltham for media day.

The eve of training camp is a station-to-station shuttle where Celtics players don their home white uniforms and bounce between media outlets while answering questions, reading promos, posing for pictures and often goof around. It's a dizzying three hours with every player and team official typically available to reporters. There will be an awful lot to digest when the dust settles on Monday afternoon, but here are some of the areas of interest heading into the event:

Rondo's hand: Rajon Rondo already was going to be the center of attention before he broke a bone in his left hand during a fall at his house on Thursday. After missing much of the past two seasons due to ACL surgery, the Celtics were energized by the prospect of having a healthy Rondo for the start of the season, but now he's pegged to miss 6-8 weeks while recovering from Friday's surgery. Questions linger about exactly how the injury happened and Rondo will likely spend more time trying to explain an off-the-court incident than focus on what he and the Celtics are capable of on the court this season.

Turner's arrival: The Celtics and free-agent swingman Evan Turner agreed to terms back on July 21. Seventy-one days later, that signing ought to become official as the Celtics have pledged to have Turner officially added to the roster before camp opens on Tuesday. That means some additional roster shuffling looms, likely with Boston set to release some of the bodies obtained in Thursday's swap with the Cavaliers. (Update: The C's formally released John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas on Sunday paving the way for Turner's addition).

Long time no see! While reporters have chatted with many of the Celtics this summer during appearances at community events, Monday will be the first time we interact with a handful of players. That ranges from veteran Gerald Wallace (the veteran is famous for his offseason hibernations and is coming off knee and ankle surgeries that shortened his first season in Boston) to rookie James Young (who hasn't talked with Boston reporters in a group setting since draft night). Marcus Thornton should talk for the first time since being acquired in a July swap, while more recent additions Dwight Powell and Erik Murphy should be available as well.

Hope springs eternal: Prepare yourself for a deluge of "Our team is going to surprise some people!" Coach Brad Stevens noted last week that "every team out of 30 is excited right now" and his players will be no different. It's a fresh slate and, despite projections that Boston will remain in rebuilding mode after winning just 25 games last season, we've already heard returning veterans talk about Boston's potential to exceed expectations. Until teams actually get on the floor and expose their weaknesses, media day and the start of camp is a period of unbridled optimism.

What else? A bunch of quick hits that will be in focus: Vitor Faverani is coming off knee surgery and while he's not quite 100 percent yet, he's expected to be ready for the start of camp. Faverani will also likely have to field questions on his offseason arrest for drunk driving in Spain. ... Kelly Olynyk dinged up his right wrist while playing for the Canadian men's basketball team and will be able to update his status with his sophomore campaign looming. ... The Celtics will have some of their training camp invites around for the festivities. (They usually don't head to the main podium to chat with reporters, but linger on the sidelines and take in the circus.)

What will you have your eye on during Monday's media day? Sound off in the comments.

Snapshots: Pierce back in green

September, 28, 2014
Sep 28
2:22
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Former Boston Celtics captain Paul Pierce donned the green again on Sunday when he appeared at Fenway Park to help the Boston Red Sox salute Derek Jeter.

Clad in a Celtics jacket, Pierce was among a collection of Boston sports stars on hand to greet Jeter during the final game of his career. Pierce, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets last summer, signed with the Washington Wizards this offseason.

A couple glimpses of Pierce in green again:
 

Celtics likely just got Smarter

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27
4:44
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Getty ImagesWithout Rajon Rondo (left) for 6-8 weeks, the Celtics will lean heavier on rookie Marcus Smart.
With Boston Celtics starting point guard Rajon Rondo sidelined six to eight weeks following surgery on his left hand, rookie Marcus Smart is likely to get tossed even further into the NBA fire next month. Fortunately for the sixth overall pick, he's had some time this summer to pick Rondo's brain, and Smart raved recently about Rondo's diligence in tutoring him before his first season.

"I expected [Rondo] to be like, 'Rookie' -- kinda shunning me off, putting me to the side, and kinda learn on my own," Smart said earlier this week. "It’s nice. [The veterans], they try to help you -- until we start playing, then obviously they are trying to beat you. When we’re working out, they are trying to help and trying to make sure you know everything before you go out there and do it."

Smart said Rondo often offered advice when the two worked out this summer, and the two guards played pickup regularly after their individual workouts. Much like Rondo tutoring rookie guard Phil Pressey last year while rehabbing from ACL surgery, it seems likely that Smart will have Rondo in his ear often when Boston opens training camp Tuesday.

"I’ve been guarding him, and he’s been guarding me; it’s totally different from what I expected it to be," Smart said of playing against Rondo. "Like I’ve been saying, he’s one of the premier guards, and his play shows why he is. Some of the things that he does on the court, it’s like, ‘How did he do that?’ Just being able to be around him and learn from him is an amazing thing."

Smart noted before Rondo's injury that the All-Star guard looked full-strength in regards to his knee. Smart noted: "He’s making cuts, stopping on a dime, knocking down shots, full-out sprints. You couldn't tell that he was hurt." The pair haven't played one-on-one yet, but Smart joked, "We’re trying to save ourselves for training camp, but eventually we will get there."

Those one-on-one battles will have to wait even longer as Rondo recovers. Smart, who projected to play immediate minutes alongside both Rondo and Avery Bradley, could see his early minutes spike further while Rondo heals.

That should only help Smart's development, even if there are some bumps along the way.

(Read full post)

Rapid reaction: Rondo's broken hand

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
7:35
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Reaction after Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo underwent surgery on his left hand Friday and the team announced he will miss 6-8 weeks:

[+] EnlargeRajon Rondo
AP Photo/Charles KrupaRajon Rondo's latest setback only adds fuel to the speculation about his long-term future in Boston.
A head-shaking setback: While attempting to downplay the persistent buzz about Rondo's uncertain future in Boston, Celtics officials have maintained that Rondo has looked great this offseason and the oft-repeated line is that he is poised for the best season of his career. After missing 95 games over the past two seasons, most of them because of an ACL tear, there was hope that a healthy Rondo could go a long way toward helping Boston take the next step in its rebuilding process after winning only 25 games last season. Rondo will now be off the court for another training camp and will miss the start of the regular season.

Smart in focus: If Rondo misses eight weeks, he'll sit out as much as the first full month of the season and the team's first 14 games of the year. If the Celtics don't make any moves, they'll lean heavily on rookie Marcus Smart and second-year guard Phil Pressey to handle the bulk of the ball-handling duties. With Boston still in rebuilding mode, it would seem likely that Smart will get tossed into the fire -- particularly with increased point guard reps in training camp -- and get a chance to accelerate his own development with hefty minutes to start his NBA career. The Celtics must also be happy to have kept Pressey around (his contract was nonguaranteed at the start of the summer and the team elected to carry him despite an overcrowded roster) as he started 11 games last season when Rondo needed to rest his knee and also appeared in 75 games overall. Pressey can help eat up minutes at the point guard spot.

More fuel for the fire: Rondo is a lightning rod in Boston and this will do nothing to diminish it. Sources told ESPN.com's Jeff Goodman that Rondo informed the team he suffered the hand injury during a slip in the shower Thursday evening. Fair or not, skeptics will question that story and the exact cause of the injury. Rondo's future is the biggest storyline around the Celtics this season and this will only thrust him further into the spotlight if Boston trudges through another season with more downs than ups.

Silver lining? About the only positive takeaway that a Celtics fan will find: If the Celtics are set to endure another loss-heavy campaign, not having Rondo at the start of the season will only help their potential lottery placement. Smart should also benefit from the increased reps and that will help the future as well. Regardless, it's a tough setback for a team that was eager to have a healthy Rondo on the court.

Rondo out 6-8 weeks after hand surgery

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
7:05
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Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo underwent surgery to repair a broken left hand and will miss the start of the regular season, the team announced Friday.

The Celtics announced that Rondo underwent a surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture on Friday morning at New England Baptist Hospital after injuring himself during a fall at his home on Thursday evening.

A source told ESPN's Jeff Goodman that Rondo slipped in the shower and broke a bone in the back of his hand.

Rondo is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, leaving the Celtics without their starting point guard for the start of the season. Rookie Marcus Smart and Phil Pressey, who started 11 games in his rookie campaign last season, are the top backup ball-handlers currently on the Boston's roster.

The injury is the latest headline surrounding Boston's captain.

On Tuesday, Celtics decision-makers including owner Wyc Grousbeck made clear again that they desire to keep Rondo with the team for the long-term future. Grousbeck raised some eyebrows earlier in the week when he told a television station that Rondo is "super stubborn" and questioned how coachable the All-Star point guard is.

"It's my goal to keep Rondo here," Grousbeck said. "I think we all want that. And I actually honestly think -- he should speak for himself -- I think Rajon wants to stay, or would be very happy to stay. And we'll see how this season goes, and how the negotiations go, but he's proud to be a Celtic. I know that. He's proud to wear that [2008 title] ring and he deserved it."

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was downright exasperated when asked yet again about Rondo's future in Boston.

"Are you seriously asking me that again? Yes, we expect Rajon to be in Boston for the long term," Ainge said. "Does that need to be asked any more by anybody ever again?"

Rondo has missed a total of 95 games the past two seasons, most the result of an ACL tear in January of 2013. Team officials raved about Rondo's physical shape this offseason and often repeated that they believe he is poised for the best season of his career.

Rondo is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season. His name has swirled in endless trade rumors, but Celtics' brass has maintained that they see Rondo as part of their long-term future.

Source: C's waive Watford

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26
4:30
PM ET
The Boston Celtics waived training camp invite Christian Watford Friday in order to trim to the league maximum of 20 players, according to a league source.

The Celtics' roster ballooned to 23 players following a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. The team initially announced the release of Chris Babb and Chris Johnson, and released Watford as well to get to 20 players.

Additional moves still need to occur in order to open another spot to sign Evan Turner before the start of training camp on Monday.

Watford was one of three camp invites -- Tim Frazier and Rodney McGruder the others -- signed by Boston last month. The trio were more likely to land with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League as affiliated players than compete for a spot on Boston's overcrowded roster.

Update: Real GM reports that Watford will be re-signed as a camp invite on Monday. The guess here is that the team could add both him and Turner by waiving two players acquired from Cleveland. Watford and the other camp invites seem likely to land with the Red Claws of the D-League.

Rapid Reaction: C's shuffle roster

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
10:45
PM ET
Rapid reaction after the Boston Celtics shipped Keith Bogans to the Cleveland Cavaliers, then waived Chris Johnson and Chris Babb while shuffling their roster before the start of training camp next week:

Shuffle 1: Bogans to Cleveland: The Celtics sent the long-since-excused Bogans and his bloated $5.3 million nonguaranteed contract, along with a pair of second-round picks they were never going to see (top-55 protected picks from Sacramento in 2015 and 2017), to the Cavaliers in exchange for Dwight Powell, Erik Murphy, John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas, along with Cleveland's 2016 and 2017 second-round picks. What exactly did Boston get out of the deal?

1. A new $5.3 million trade exception for Bogans. The Celtics absorbed Powell, Murphy and Thomas via minimum salary exceptions and thus needed only to use a small traded-player exception to take on Lucas' nonguaranteed $1.6 million deal. The guess here is they used a $2.1 million exception generated from sending Courtney Lee to Memphis in January.

2. Powell and Murphy (who played his high school ball at St. Mark's in Southborough, Massachusetts) should both get looks at training camp. Powell is an intriguing young power forward despite having been traded twice already after being selected by Charlotte at No. 45 in June's draft. Murphy has a small guarantee ($100,000) and faces long odds to make the regular-season roster unless another move creates additional space.

3. With Cleveland expected to contend for titles in the coming seasons, the two second-round picks Boston acquired will likely be among each draft's final selections. Nonetheless, assets are assets and the Celtics added to their pick surplus, which could aid future moves.

Shuffle 2: Babb, Johnson waived: Following the Cleveland swap, the Celtics essentially had 23 players under contract, and that didn't include the still-pending signing of Evan Turner. Boston started its trim by waiving the nonguaranteed contracts of Johnson and Babb. Johnson is the more surprising cut of the two, but Boston's overstocked roster forced the team's hand. It will be interesting to see if another team picks up Johnson, whom the Celtics loved for his work ethic. Babb could always land back with Maine of the D-League if no other NBA or overseas opportunity emerges.

What's next? The Celtics still stand at 21 players for the moment and have expressed a desire to ink Turner before the start of camp next week. It seems likely the team will waive the nonguaranteed contracts of Lucas and Thomas, then be at 20 players for camp (including Turner). There's still some shuffling to do as Boston now has 16 guaranteed contracts for the 2014-15 season and can only carry 15 bodies into the regular season. How can Boston trim?

1. The team can clear three bodies by waiving camp invitees Tim Frazier, Rodney McGruder and Christian Watford (the trio is likely to end up as affiliated players with the Red Claws).

2. Boston will still have to make two more cuts, and Murphy will seemingly have to shine at camp in order to stick around. The Celtics will need some additional maneuvering in order to avoid having to eat a guaranteed deal before the start of the regular season (and Powell's $500,000 salary will be the lowest on the team by a fair margin).

Salary in focus: For the sake of roster/salary projection, let's say the Celtics don't make any more moves before camp beyond waiving both Powell and Murphy (which would cost them $600,000 in guaranteed salary). Boston is committed to roughly $72.3 million, plus whatever Turner ultimately signs for. That likely means Boston will soon be under the luxury-tax line of $76.8 million, providing it increased flexibility moving forward this season.

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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