Beefed-up Bradley ready for new season
August, 27, 2013
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonCedric Maxwell and Avery Bradley with the Barker-Jobin family.BARRINGTON, N.H. -- Beefed up Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley said he's taking full advantage of his first true NBA offseason and, despite a summer of changes for his team, the fourth-year guard gushed with anticipation about the upcoming season.
Bradley, who has spent much of the summer out of the public eye while immersing himself in basketball workouts, emerged Tuesday for the first of three court renovations as part of a contest sponsored by RE/Max of New England. Bradley and Celtics legend/broadcaster Cedric Maxwell unveiled the first of three driveway makeovers Tuesday with the Barker-Jobin family.
Looking fit and noting he's bulked up to 196 pounds, Bradley admitted his body broke down at the end of the 2012-13 season, one in which he missed the first two months while rehabbing from double shoulder surgery, and he's utilized his first uninterrupted offseason as a pro to prepare his body for the 82-game grind.
"Every summer for me has been just watching film, just going to watch people play," said Bradley, whose rookie season was stunted by a chipped bone in his ankle from a predraft workout. He lost his sophomore offseason to the lockout and last year he was recovering from surgery on both shoulders that had ended his 2011-12 season early.
"This whole summer, I’ve bee playing every single day. I think I took like maybe three weeks off. My girlfriend kept telling me, 'You need to rest, you need a break.' But I was so excited to get back on the court and I’ve been here in Boston for maybe like two months, working out every day. Two a days. Me, Jared [Sullinger] and a few of the younger guys."
It's funny to hear the 22-year-old Bradley refer to "younger" players, but he'll be an elder statesman on next year's overhauled roster (only Rajon Rondo will be longer tenured in Boston). Bradley knows he'll have a bigger role and is ready to shoulder it.
Chris Forsberg/ESPN BostonAvery Bradley playing knockout at the RE/Max event.
"I feel a lot stronger, sometimes even when I’m walking down the street in Boston, people will say, 'You look a lot bigger now.' And I laugh," Bradley said. "I’ve been eating a lot different, I’ve been lifting every single day, I weigh the most I ever weighed -- like 196, that's a lot for me and I’m hoping I can stay like 188 throughout the season.
"I feel a lot better. Toward the end of the season, my body was kind of breaking down on me. I was getting a little sick and stuff, so I wasn’t eating. But I feel a lot better now."
Bradley endured a lackluster postseason, getting bullied at times by New York's Raymond Felton, who proved to be the X-factor for the Knicks that Boston had hoped Bradley would be for the Celtics. It's clear the added bulk is designed at improving his ability to muscle up with his All-NBA defense, but also could aid him on the offensive end.
"I feel like it makes me stronger. I feel stronger," Bradley said. "When I’m working out with my teammates, they feel me. It’s a difference, and I can tell because the coaches tell me that I look a lot bigger than I was last year."
Bradley said he doesn't ask Rondo about his health when they correspond during the offseason, but acknowledged the team might not have its All-Star point guard at the start of the season. Bradley is willing to help with ball-handling duties if asked.
"I’m not sure what position I’m going to play, whatever I can do to help our team out, that’s what I’m going to be open to doing," Bradley said. "Rondo will still be there to play that leadership role and help everybody out. Even if I’m not playing point guard, I’m pretty sure whoever is, Rondo is going to be there in his ear, trying to help us become the best team we can be."
Bradley said he's settled into a two-a-day routine in Boston as other players start trickling in (MarShon Brooks and Kelly Olynyk among the recent arrivals, with Vitor Faverani and Phil Pressey before them). Bradley admitted the departure of coach Doc Rivers, as well as veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, was "hard" because "we were all like family." But he heaped praise on new coach Brad Stevens and a remodeled coaching staff.
"[The coaching staff is] amazing," Bradley said. "It’s different after being with the same coaches for three years, it was hard for me. But our new coaching staff is amazing. Every single coach. I’m enjoying being around them every single day. I learn from them every single day."
Bradley, who ran youth camps back in his native Tacoma this offseason, said he's also enjoyed diving into some community work in recent days. A young child breathlessly announced Bradley's arrival while running down the Barker-Jobin's driveway, to the amusement of those in attendance.
"It means a lot," Bradley said. "Me, personally, I never got a chance to meet any NBA players growing up. For me to put a smile on a kid’s face, that makes my day. I love doing this. I did an event, kind of similar to this yesterday, and I just love doing things like this, especially when it involves kids. Seeing the smiles on their face, cracking jokes. They are just so friendly."
Then someone noted how Bradley lost to a group of teen girls in a game of knockout.
"Yeah, the girls beat me at knockout," Bradley said. "That’s OK. I’m not used to this hoop."
He'll be ready for the 10-foot NBA versions when the season tips in late October. One thing Bradley isn't worried about at the moment is his contract as he's set to be a restricted free agent next offseason if not extended by the Halloween deadline this year.
Bradley said he's only focused on what he can control. And his face lights up when he talks about next season, even as he admitted Boston will be an underdog with people counting them out.
"I can’t wait until the season starts," Bradley said. "I’ve been in the gym every single day, trying to get better, now that I can. I’m just excited, I can’t wait for the first preseason game, I can’t wait for training camp."