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Friday, October 4, 2013
C's newcomer a natural leader

By Chris Forsberg
ESPNBoston.com

NEWPORT, R.I. -- The Boston Celtics were closing out Day 3 of training camp with an extended three-man weave drill. Essentially, it's a full-court running session camouflaged by some passing and light shooting. After two days of double sessions aimed at knocking off the summer rust, some players were trudging to the finish line of the team's Rhode Island excursion.

WIth a minute left on the clock, veteran guard Keith Bogans barked at the team to pick it up and finish strong. This, in a nutshell, is Bogans' role in Boston: to be a vocal leader for a young team.

Bogans
Shooting guard Keith Bogans, who has played for seven different teams over the course of his 10-year career, was described by Celtics coach Brad Stevens as "a consummate teammate."

"Keith Bogans is a guy that's known throughout the league as a consummate teammate," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "You look at him, and he's a guy that may not start in the starting lineup, but he's found his way into a starting lineup a lot over the course of his career. He makes shots and, on a day like today, where we lost our legs a little bit, he stood out a little bit more because he's in really good shape, he takes care of himself, and he competes all the way until the end."

Bogans is an NBA vagabond. He's played for seven different teams -- Charlotte, Houston, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Chicago, Brooklyn and two stints in Orlando -- over the course of a 10-year career. He's been traded four times (including once for former Celtics assistant coach Ty Lue) and waived twice (including during his time with Brooklyn).

The 33-year-old swingman was rewarded this summer for his persistence when he inked a three-year, $15.9 million contract to be included in the monster Boston-Brooklyn swap via sign-and-trade. Not bad for a guy who had earned $14.1 million over his first decade in the league.

The payday left some incredulous, but it appears to be a very savvy move by Boston's front office. The team has wiggled under the luxury tax and -- should it stay there -- Bogans' inflated deal is relatively benign.

Remember, too, the way Boston worked the deal, Bogans' pumped-up contract helped them walk away with a $10.3 million trade exception, something that could aid the transition process as much as the three future first-round draft picks plucked from the Nets.

What's more, while Bogans got a payday, his contract will aid the Celtics down the road. Only the first year of that contract is guaranteed. That means Boston can do one of two things next offseason: waive Bogans and create salary wiggle room, or use his non-guaranteed deal to help swing a trade for a mid-level value player (with the other team able to waive him for cap flexibility).

Bogans doesn't apologize for his payday and knows his time in Boston could be short. That won't stop him from trying to steer these younger players in the right direction.

"I'll naturally just ease my way into [a leadership role]," Bogans said. "It's not anything that I'm going to try to force. I'm the older guy. The guys look to me for leadership. It's natural. They're looking to me for leadership."

On the court, Bogans' role has been "3 and D." He'll spot up and hurt defenses that cheat away from him (even if his career 3-point percentage doesn't pop off the page at 35.3 percent). His advanced defensive numbers last season were an eye sore as, according to Synergy Sports data, Bogans allowed 0.936 points per play, which ranked him in the 17th percentile among all league players (and of those with at least 300 possessions defended, Bogans ranked 252nd out of a qualifying 277 players in the league). The Nets were a point worse defensively when he was on the floor last season, but he does have good length and won't back down from an assignment.

A crowded shooting guard spot could limit his minutes, too. Boston has to figure out how to split up minutes between the likes of Courtney Lee, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley (the latter two will see time at point guard until Rajon Rondo is healthy enough to return).

But Bogans' ultimate role is clear: to lead. He is the oldest player on the team, and only former Nets teammate Gerald Wallace is on the same side of 30. Bogans wants to get everything he can out of this young group, which explains all that burst of motivation at the end of Thursday's practice.

"The most important thing is how hard we have to work," Bogans said. "We set the tone early on [Day 1], Coach did a good job setting the tone, and now we know what we have to do to get where we want to be."