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Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Camp fire: Sullinger clarifies comments

By Chris Forsberg



NEWPORT, R.I. -- Boston Celtics second-year forward Jared Sullinger clarified comments from Monday's Media Day in which he suggested he was "not close" to game shape. After going through the first day of training camp without limitations -- and surprising himself with how his body responded -- Sullinger noted that his "not close" comments were in regards to where he desires to be physically.

"Everybody is talking about that ‘not-close’ situation," said Sullinger, who underwent lumbar disk surgery in February. "When I was talking about ‘not close,’ I was talking about not close from my point of view. I’m 100 percent healthy. I’ve still got to get the rust off. I didn’t play for six months."

Sullinger spent much of the first six months of rehab restricted in movement while his back healed. He was cleared for contact activities in August and slowly has been working his way back toward game shape.

On Monday, Sullinger hesitated to declare if he'd be ready for the start of the regular season. But after Tuesday's workouts, he was happy with the early camp returns.

"I didn’t think I was going to make it through practice today," he joked. "Being six months off and then trying to get back in the swing of things, that’s really, really tough. It is what it is. Honestly, I felt better than I was last year, as far as physically. Conditioning-wise, it’s not even close. I’m nowhere near where I need to be."

Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens liked what he saw from Sullinger.

"Jared’s come a long way from the first time I saw him work out, which was in early August after he was cleared to do full-contact drills, and just in a 1-on-1 setting," Stevens said. "He’s really come a long way with his conditioning. And he’ll just continue to get better and better. He had one of those deals where, according to what I’ve heard, he had to sit out for quite a while as he recovered from his surgery. I'm pleasantly surprised at his motor today because I thought it was really good."

Sullinger wants to use the preseason to kick off all that built-up rust.

"Everything [feels rusty]. Just timing, footwork, where to be at on the court," he said. "Just trying to figure out what I do. I had back surgery, now I’ve got to modify some things and see what I can do well. I’m very rusty at this point."

But one thing Sullinger stressed, he's 100 percent back mentally.

"I passed that point mentally in August," he said. "The first time I got back on the court, I was really nervous about moving. But now, I’m taking charges again, moving. I really don’t have no problem with it."

Read on for camp kindling from Day 1:

* EVEN VETS WERE ANXIOUS: Avery Bradley is entering his fourth season in Boston, which makes him the second-longest tenured player behind only Rajon Rondo. That doesn't mean this is old hat to the 22-year-old guard. "Last night, I was a little nervous," Bradley said. "I probably woke up at like 6 this morning. I was excited. It was nice to get out here and get the jitters out in the first practice and make improvements in the second practice." Bradley said he spent the day at point guard, but stressed Stevens' system will alleviate concerns about him being bogged down by ball-handling responsibilities. "I played all point guard today. It was new, but like I said, [Stevens] makes you feel comfortable. The plays that I run, it’s kind of like I play point guard, but everybody makes plays for each other. It makes you feel comfortable. ... It’s a different system. You can bring the ball up or the 2-guard can bring the ball up. It’s like everybody is interchangeable."

* DID HE CALL 'VIDRO?': Rookie center Vitor Faverani, Boston's Brazilian import who cut his pro hoops teeth in Spain, showcased his NBA range by banking in a noteworthy 3-pointer during Day 1 drills. Did he call glass? "He might have called it, but I couldn’t understand him if he called it," joked Stevens. (Google Translate suggests "vidro" is the Portuguese word for "glass".) But Faverani had a solid all-around debut, according to his coach. "I thought Vitor was pretty good today," said Stevens. "He’s obviously a guy with great size, I think he’s our truest center. And a guy that can shoot the basketball. ... And he did a good job defensively. [Assistant coach] Ron Adams has spent a lot of time with Vitor and really done a nice job with him."

* EXTENDED STAY?: Stevens gushed about the scenery in Newport and it didn't hurt that October was ushered in by a pristine, sunshine-filled day that likely made dragging the team back into the barn for the afternoon session a bit of a chore. "First of all, it’s beautiful," Stevens said. "I’ve never been down here before. I was kind of laughing, this isn’t the first place you’d choose if you wanted to develop toughness. When you look outside and see it’s unbelievable. It’s a new place and it’s great to get in this gym. They’ve been great to us at Salve. It’s just good to get away and just spend some time together. We’ve already eaten a couple meals together. You see guys walking through the hotel, we don’t know each other all that well. And that’s part of building a team."

* MR. VERSATILITY: True to his word that he would explore putting Jeff Green at three positions, Stevens ran Green at the shooting guard spot on the first day of camp. That makes for a rapidly growing playbook for Green, who is no stranger to learning multiple spots. "It’s still floating. I think it’s floating between, now, the 2, 3 [and] 4. But I like it," Green said. "I think it’s a great challenge for myself to be able to play multiple positions. I’m going to enjoy it because it’s rare for people to get the opportunity to play multiple positions."