Friday, September 28, 2012
Media Day: Storm before the calm
By Chris Forsberg
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Media Day is a three-hour blizzard of activity as all 18 players on the Celtics' training camp roster (along with owners, coaches, and general managers) shuttle around the team's practice facility for various obligations, including photo shoots, autograph signings, TV and radio spots, and press conferences with the media.
Let's boil down the activity and give you some of the other highlights from Friday afternoon's marathon that serves as a mere kickoff before the team settles in for two-a-day workouts starting on Saturday:
* Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the team does not currently plan to have the biannual exception ($1.9 million) available this season because the team has already committed nearly $72 million to contracts entering training camp (and must stay under the $74.3 million luxury-tax apron after using the full value of the midlevel exception to sign Jason Terry). If Boston elects to hold onto the biannual exception, it's another resource available next offseason to lure a player above a minimum contract.
* The Celtics are starting to look like a football team with their jersey numbers. Newly signed center Darko Milicic elected for No. 99 (this after veteran center Jason Collins claimed No. 98 earlier this offseason). Training camp invites Micah Downs (55) and Rob Kurz (63) have high numbers as well. Blame all those numbers hanging in the rafters.
* Asked how his NBA odyssey brought him to Boston, Darko showed his sense of humor by deadpanning: "I flew from Serbia on a plane." Later, when asked about overcoming the expectations as the No. 2 pick in a loaded 2003 draft, Darko admitted, "Those guys [drafted around him] are [expletive] animals. LeBron [James], [Dwyane] Wade -- all those guys, they are great players. For me to prove people wrong, I have to get 100 points and 50 rebounds per game. All I was thinking in my career was for people to let me be the best I can be, not be the second pick. Just being the best I can be."
* Jason Terry hasn't conducted an offseason interview without providing at least one entertaining quote. He had a bunch of them on Friday, but the most noteworthy was a one-word answer when asked to compare his game to departed Ray Allen. "Who?" Terry quipped with a big smile. He soon added, "We’re two different players and hopefully I’ll bring something that Ray didn’t, and some of the things he did. Obviously, Ray was a great player for this franchise for years, brought them a championship in '08, but again, our games are totally different. He’s 6-5, I’m 6-2; But I am the JET and I like to fly. We’ll see what happens but a lot of those comparisons will be thrown out there. We’re two totally different players."
* Celtics shooting guard Avery Bradley couldn't offer a timeline on his return from double shoulder surgery, but said he's "months ahead" of the original schedule, which had suggested a January return. Even still, he's taking rehab slow. While describing the often-dislocated left shoulder injury that forced him out of the playoffs, Bradley noted, "I tore everything." The damage to the right shoulder, which he had operated on this offseason, wasn't nearly as bad and he estimated that both shoulders are now at similar levels of recovery. For now, he's simply in the gym each day and said he hasn't touched a basketball because, "I probably would have shot it and hurt myself."
* Ainge on Rondo organizing the team's offseason workouts in Los Angeles, including a flag football game: "I think Rajon went out to LA because he wanted to play football. He knew that wouldn’t be allowed here in Boston." Rondo's recap of the intrasquad matchup: "Of course [his team won]. I had seven touchdowns."
* Head coach Doc Rivers said he isn't worried about the Los Angeles Lakers ... yet. "Honestly, I rarely look at the West. I could care less about the West. Because at the end of the day, we have to get out of the East, and the defending champs are in the East. We have one target, and that’s Miami. Whatever happens out West, good luck, I hope to see you."
* Courtney Lee isn't concerned about who will start once Bradley returns to action. "If you're on this team, your main focus is about winning and getting to the Finals and winning the championship," he said. "All that will come into play. Doc's the coach, he's the one who's going to make those decisions, based on performances, and the only thing you can control is how you're playing and your effort. Those are going to be the only things that I'm focused on."
* Brandon Bass said he's been working on his ball-handling this offseason. Don't worry, the "No-Pass Bass" monicker isn't likely to go away. "I worked on my ball-handling skills, but I can't be the point guard. I mean, hopefully you'll get to see a lot of improvement, though. Especially on rebounding. I want to be better defensively, be more consistent offensively."
* Dionte Christmas has overseas experience playing in Turkey, which makes him the team's unofficial tour guide for the upcoming preseason trip that starts in Istanbul. "I was there two years ago, I'm not really too familiar," he admitted. "But I'm going to try to see what I can remember. I know a couple restaurants, a couple nice places I could take the guys, so I'm going to try to do my best." The right restaurant choice might help cement his spot on the roster.
* Jeff Green isn't shying away from contact after missing all last season with a heart ailment. In fact, he's encouraged physical play since his first time back on the court. "To be honest, I wasn't worried at all. The first time I did play, I think it was pickup at Georgetown, and I think the first thing I told the players, I was like, 'Look, when I get the ball, I'm going to drive. I want you to hit me.' It happened and I just wanted to get that feel. When I got hit, I got hit right in the area where I had the surgery, and it didn't affect me at all. I think that was what got me through the rest of the summer as far as confidence and being able to continue to build on what I've been trying to do. It was a good first day, but it was mind-boggling to go through it. It was like the first time I was very winded, but it felt good to be back out there." Green said he now feels close to 100 percent.