Shaping up for a strong start
September, 18, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
AP Photo/Charles KrupaRajon Rondo and the Celtics are hoping to be in good shape for the start of the season.Celtics coach Doc Rivers told anyone that would listen last season that one of the main reasons his team stumbled out of the gates was how out of shape his players were at the start of the 2011-12 campaign. The lockout didn't aid matters and Boston players arrived for an abbreviated training camp with more than a little rust.
With the 2012-13 training camp opening in less than two weeks, one encouraging sign for Boston is that the team as a whole appears to be ready for the new season. Younger players like rookies Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, and Kris Joseph, and first-year guys Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas had the benefit of summer league and worked out together in Waltham for much of the summer (training camp bodies like Rob Kurz have joined up in recent weeks).
Veteran bodies like Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass, and Courtney Lee have jumped into the informal workouts in advance of camp. Kevin Garnett just wrapped up a promotional tour of China, but there's little reason to worry about his conditioning. Paul Pierce spent the summer rehabbing the left knee that hampered him in the postseason and his health will be one of the few question marks when camp opens in Waltham on Sept. 29.
Some other leftover notes as we ramp up for camp:
* Celtics guard Avery Bradley has been in Waltham working out with trainers as he rehabs from two shoulder surgeries. As expected, Boston has brought Bradley along slowly and, with the added depth at shooting guard, there seems little reason to rush him back onto the floor. There's no firm timetable for his return to action and the team is simply taking it day-by-day to see how he progresses.
* Boston hasn't ruled out adding another veteran body before camp, but it'd almost certainly have to be at the veteran-minimum price tag. The question is whether there's any serviceable bodies left out there that fill a need and would be available at that rate. The Celtics are already at 16 roster players (three of those deals are partially or non-guaranteed).
* Rookie second-round pick Kris Joseph on what he's been working on this summer: "I've been working on the same things -- decision-making, I'm handling the ball a lot more, coming off of pick-and-rolls, and creating plays off of that. I'm still shooting the ball well from the mid-range. I'm still working on my outside shot, getting that together, and I think that's where most of my improvements are going to come, just shooting the ball, being more consistent with that."
* The buzz on Jamar Smith: The kid can't miss. As we saw at times during the summer (and during Smith's stint with the Red Claws), he can light up the scoreboard with his distance shooting. The question is whether that's enough to earn him a roster spot over the likes of Joseph and Christmas, who each possess more advanced all-around games. Keep in mind that, for those final roster spots, a team is typically looking for role players who can excel in one facet. Even still, Smith would seemingly face the longest odds of the younger players unless he can port that lights-out shooting over to game action.
* According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Marquis Daniels worked out for the Bucks on Monday. Daniels spent the past three seasons in Boston, but was not expected back for the 2012-13 campaign. Mickael Pietrus is Boston's only other unsigned free agent from last season and he was still searching for a deal above the league minimum.