- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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QUINCY -- A handful of notable soundbites after Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, coach Doc Rivers, Nate Robinson, and Tony Gaffney met with the media Thursday before the 3rd annual Shamrock Classic at Granite Links.
The rundown (a quick look at golf tournament headlines)
* Rivers ready for chemistry class
* Ainge coy on finality of camp roster
* Gaffney: Locker room is something special
RIVERS READY FOR CHEMISTRY CLASS
Rivers laughed when asked if he had any regrets about his decision to stick around for another year and said he's actually chomping at the bit to get going. But he knows his job won't be easy this year adding even more characters to a locker room not lacking for personalities.
"[Chemistry is] the key for us," said Rivers. "We made a lot of changes, and it’s important for us to get together as soon as we can, to see what we have, see what we have in the locker room, and see how it all works out. That’s important for us.
"We were going to have camp at home [in Waltham], then because we kept adding guys, we thought: We need to get these guys by themselves, away from everybody, just together, and hopefully that can force the bond."
Rivers said it was never too early to start worrying about minute distribution.
"It’s a major concern, oh yeah," said Rivers. "Listen, if everybody is in it for right reason, there’s no problem. If anyone is not in it for the right reasons, then there’s always a problem. We’ll find out if we have any of those. We’re hoping we don’t, and I don’ think we do. But, honestly, I don’t know. You don’t know until -- everyone says the right thing in August. I could get the best player in the NBA and say 'Hey, I’m going to play you 10 minutes,' and he’ll agree in August. But when the ball flies up in the air, and you start playing, that’s a whole different story."
AINGE COY ON FINALITY OF CAMP ROSTER
The Celtics held their 3rd annual Shamrock Classic Thursday.Beyond admitting that rookie Avery Bradley will start camp on the shelf as he recovers from ankle surgery, Ainge wouldn't say for certain if he's done tinkering with the Boston roster before camp arrives Tuesday.
"We feel like we’ve been in training camp the last few weeks , bringing players in, evaluating [them], but we’re close," said Ainge. "We may be all done. And we may not be."
The Celtics are expected to have at least 20 players in camp (Bradley included). There's 15 players under contract; Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette have non-guaranteed deals; and Boston extended camp invites to Stephane Lasme, Chris Johnson, and Jamar Smith. The Celtics have been working out a revolving-door of free agents, including the likes of Rashad McCants and Trenton Hassell, and could always make a move to add a player before the regular season arrives.
"We’re constantly evaluating players," said Ainge. "Sometimes you bring guys into camp that have a very realistic chance of making the team, and sometimes it’s just furthering of the evaluation process."
Ainge also indicated that health would play a factor in how the roster filled out. Beyond Bradley, he noted that Perkins is "doing well, he's ahead of schedule, according to him and the doctors," before acknowledging that you rarely hear otherwise from a player eager to get back on the court. Ainge also stressed that Kevin Garnett is primed for camp.
"I think Kevin needed some rest, some time off, and he took it, but he's ready for camp," said Ainge. "He's in much better shape than he was last year in training camp. I think that KG got better as the year went on last season and we saw him moving much better in the playoffs than in the regular season."
Ainge admitted to being quite pleased with Boston's offseason haul -- which included signing 11 players, despite limited financial abilities.
"I’m very excited; this is the most talented team we’ve had in quite a while," said Ainge. "Now it's just a matter of it all coming together. You never know how it will work until you get a chance to play the game, but we have a lot of talent."
GAFFNEY: LOCKER ROOM IS SOMETHING SPECIAL
Gaffney knows he's going to have to fight just to earn a spot on the 15-man roster, but after being a part of Boston's run to the cusp of an NBA title last season, he's aware of what's brewing this season.
"The environment in the locker room right now, it's something special," said Gaffney. "I know there's a lot of talk about the Miami Heat right now, but we're a team that's determined and looks ready to get this thing going."
Gaffney raved about the shape that players are arriving in Boston in, stressing how excited everyone is to get this season started. Rivers said he wanted his players to take it easy this offseason given the extended 2009-10 campaign, but admitted that guys were arriving in better shape that he could have imagined.
Gaffney also noted he's excited about the potential for having fellow UMass product Lasme in camp.
"It's nice to see a familiar face, even if I know all the guys [on the Celtics roster] really well now," said Gaffney. "[Lasme] looks really good, really fit. He'll bring a lot to camp."