The Celtics will be moving faster this season, coach Doc Rivers said after practice Sunday.
"We really need to increase our pace," Rivers said. "But we turned the ball over too much last year and that hampered our offense. When you Look at our efficiency, when we actually got a shot up at the basket we were pretty good – I’d like to increase the pace."
Please forgive the momentary self-promotion, but I wanted to point you in the direction of a story I wrote appearing in Sunday's Boston Globe Magazine. The story is an essay on why the Celtics -- Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo in particular -- have been helped, not hurt, by their supreme confidence. Having covered this team for what is going to be my seventh season, I've seen first-hand just how much this confidence has manifested itself into wins on the court. If you read the essay, let me know what you think.
Globe NBA reporter Gary Washburn has the details and his analysis of the top story lines as the Celtics opened training camp for the 2012-13 season.
WALTHAM -- Kevin Garnett sat down at the podium alone at Celtics media day Friday afternoon, surveying the team's practice facility at a makeshift stage on one corner of the court. Garnett looked to his left and right, saw two empty seats, and sighed.
"Man, the days of the three of us..." said Garnett.
He was referring, of course, to Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, the fellow All-Stars who used to flank him for such press conferences. Garnett rarely spoke without at least Pierce by his side, and the Big Three made a point of showing their unity more often than not.
We're five years removed from the Three Amigos "Sportcenter" commercial and less than four months removed from Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which the Celtics lost, 101-88, to the Heat in Miami. The Celtics leave for Europe this week. They'll play games in Turkey and Italy before flying home and continuing training camp back here. It's the first time they've gone overseas for camp since they went to Rome before the 2007-08 season in which they won the NBA title.
"It's kind of weird because as I sit up here, I'm thinking about Rome," said Garnett. "I see a lot of parallels between '08 and this year. I'm just wondering if we can bond and give ourselves to each other for the betterment of the team like we did then."
Allen's departure was a hot topic Friday, as were the ages of Pierce and Garnett and the burgeoning leadership of Rajon Rondo. The Celtics signed nine new players this offseason, but in a lot of ways this year feels the same as that charged season of 2007-08. In a lot of ways it feels very different.
"A lot of good things happened quickly," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I just really like our team. I like our team on paper. And now we have to turn it into a team."
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge admitted it was "a very challenging summer", but the team managed to put it all together. The Celtics set the trend by assembling three established stars in 2007. Before that, there was no trend. The question now, with the additions of above-average role players like Jeff Green, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee, is this: Can the Celtics stay on trend in a league where the best teams force together star-power when two of their three stars are over the age of 34?
Rondo is both the team's biggest question mark and best player. Don't take that the wrong way. Questions about Rondo's ability to be an elite player are gone. He's established himself as one of the league's best point guards, and he's still getting better. He may be the most unique talent in sports.
Questions about Rondo's maturity have been, in a word, overrated. Rondo has never been immature, but he also admitted Friday he wasn't a leader until last season. Pierce, Garnett, and Rivers all said during media day that Rondo has more than earned his new role. They've embraced him and handed over the keys. The question is whether or not the Celtics can win it all with Rondo as their undisputed best player.
"I think he's a leader," said Garnett. "He just didn't know how to. The three that were here were able to teach him parts of it. I just didn't think Rondo knew how to lead."
Rondo says he's "accepted" the role. He says he used to get into arguments with Garnett and still does, but he also said Garnett is his closest friend on the team. He credits Garnett and Pierce for allowing him to lead.
"It's not easy accepting a young guy with my type of demeanor or attitude to take charge," said Rondo.
Friday was a day to both look ahead and look back. The Celtics may have more depth than they've had since 2007, and not just in the backcourt. Chris Wilcox and Jason Collins should give some help to Garnett at center, while Darko Milicic looks absolutely huge, and not in an out-of-shape way. The rookies have a chance to contribute, and Green looked extremely confident. Last season at this same event. Green gave off an air of nervousness as he answered questions about what was supposed to be his breakout season. Two days later, the Celtics announced he was out for the year with a heart ailment. On Friday, he called himself and Wilcox "scar buddies" and said he's ready to excel at both forward positions.
Terry is supremely confident. He showed off his new Celtics tattoo and said he thought this Celtics team is better than his Mavericks team that won the championship two years ago. He should anchor a much-improved Celtics bench.
"I was embarrassed when they said that in Game 7 [vs. Miami] the bench scored two points," said Terry. "That's unacceptable. That won't happen when I'm here."
On replacing Allen, Terry said, "Who?"
Speaking of Allen, it's clear his departure has not sat well. Pierce said he thought he would end his career with Allen and Garnett. He still hopes to retire when Garnett's contract expires in three years. Garnett said nice things about Allen, but when pressed on the issue he said he had not spoken to his former teammate since he signed a contract with the Heat.
"I don't have Ray's number anymore," said Garnett. "I'm not trying to communicate. I'm just being honest. I don't wish him less. It just is what it is."
It's can be painful to look back, but it's also useful. Owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca started off the festivities by going through some of their favorite memories in their 10 years of team ownership. They highlighted Rivers's redemption from a bad season in 2005-06 and Pierce's NBA Finals MVP award as crowning achievements. After buying the team, Pagliuca chose Ainge, who chose Rivers, who chose to keep Pierce despite some rough patches. The Celtics have chosen to veer slightly off trend this season and keep their older stars around rather than try to assemble a team from scratch with two or three new ones. The Lakers are the latest team to reboot with a superstar, joining the Heat as the league's most predominant "super teams." We're about to find out what happens to a team that, once again, defies a trend.
WALTHAM -- Earlier this week, Celtics coach Doc Rivers said guard Avery Bradly was "nowhere near ready" to play. At Celtics media day on Friday, Bradley appeared at the podium in uniform for team pictures, but that's the closest he's going to get to the court for awhile.
On doctors' orders, Bradley hasn't touched a basketball since having surgery to repair two dislocated shoulders. He said, "If I touched a basketball I probably would have shot it."
Bradley can't play, but he said he's been showing up to the Celtics facility every day. He can work out but he said there's no timetable on when he can return to the court.
"I've been trying to do too much," said Bradley. "They say I'm months ahead. That makes me feel good."
Bradley said that doctors had targeted January for his return. He thinks he's far ahead of that. He said he won't rush himself back too quickly and sacrifice his health.
"I have to be prepared and strong enough when I do come back," said Bradley. "I feel like I'm letting my teammates down if I rush myself back."
WALTHAM -- Celtics forwards Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox didn't know whether or not they'd be back in the NBA this season. Both players had aortic surgery last season, and both players have been working their way back into not only playing shape but everyday life. Both players said the experience has made them closer.
"That's my scar buddy," said Green, referring to Wilcox. "We trade stories every time we see each other."
The stories have focused on the trials and tribulations that come with recovering from heart surgery. Green had surgery in January and missed the entire season. Wilcox underwent surgery two months later. The players have been swapping stories about recovering from positions in which neither player was allowed to do a crunch or walk across the room to getting back into NBA playing shape.
"Sometimes I might be playing and working out and might be like, 'Jeff, have you ever felt this before?'" said Wilcox. "And he'll be like, 'Yeah, all the time.'"
Both players were free agents but re-signed with the Celtics this offseason.
"For us to be on the same team going through the same thing, he's been like my mentor," said Wilcox. "I've been looking up to him seeing what's next, what's going on here. He's been great letting me know what to expect"
Wilcox said he considers himself 90 percent healthy and said he hasn't gotten his wind back yet. Green, who is further along in his recovery, said he was slightly better.
"I'm close," said Green. "Everybody in my shoes would say they're 100 percent, but I don't like to be content."
It's a strong bond, but Green admitted it hasn't been easy.
"I'm not happy that he went through it, but for him to be back to play again I'm happy," said Green. "I just tried to help him through it. It's not something that you wish on anybody. For us to be together, having experienced what we've gone through, it's a blessing."
Green projects to get significant minutes off the bench in relief of Paul Pierce, while Wilcox projects in a reserve frontcourt role.
WALTHAM -- Celtics captain Paul Pierce opened up about his offseason Friday afternoon, touching on his minutes this season, the departure of Ray Allen, and the return of Kevin Garnett.
On Allen signing with the Miami Heat, Pierce said, "I was very surprised by Ray's decision. I thought we would finish our careers together. He's a grownup, he has to make a decision that's best for his family."
Later in the team's media day festivities, Garnett took the podium and said he wished Allen no ill will. He said he hasn't reached out to Allen since he made his decision to leave the Celtics.
"I don't have Ray's number anymore," said Garnett. "I'm not trying to communicate. I'm just being honest. I don't wish him less. It just is what it is."
Allen's departure was just one part of a fluid offseason. Garnett was a free agent and was also contemplating retirement. Pierce said he honestly didn't know if Garnett would return to the Celtics this season.
"I really wasn't confident he was coming back," said Pierce. "Kevin said, 'This is it for me.' ... But I've learned with Kevin that when he says no he means yes, and when he says yes he means no. But this is in his blood, this is what he's born to be."
Pierce said he might have retired if Garnett had. "I knew one thing, I wouldn't want to go through a rebuilding phase," said Pierce. "It was something I would have had to think long and hard about. If there was another team out there for me, I would have considered that."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he wasn't sure what Garnett would do, either.
"Let's just be grateful that both those guys didn't retire," said Ainge. "Both those guys played great last season. Those guys have a lot of basketball left in them. The will is there. They'll find a way."
On his future, Pierce said he's been taking good care of his body and thinks he can play at a high level going forward.
"Hopefully I can retire with Kevin," said Pierce. "He just signed a three-year deal. I see my career ending on the path of his."
Some quick-and-dirty updates from Doc Rivers, who just stepped off the podium.
-- On Garnett saying he would retire during the season:
"Kevin told me that all year. It was a bunch of crap, I never believed it. Even this summer when we heard whispers, I just didn't believe. He just has too much passion. You don't usually see guys at the level he had played."
-- On Pierce saying he might retire:
"Paul wouldn't have retired. I saw his contract and I don't think he was going to retire."
-- On the NBA landscape:
"I honestly rarely look at the West. I could care less abut the West. Because we have to get out of the East. We have one target, and that's Miami."
-- Rivers said he is not sure whether Jason Terry or Courtney Lee will start the season at shooting guard.
-- In addition to managing Garnett's minutes, Rivers said he and his coaching staff have spent a good deal of time discussing how to manage Pierce's minutes.
"We're going to try some things with Paul in preseason and see how it goes," said Rivers.
-- Both Rivers and Danny Ainge said, repeatedly, that Rajon Rondo is ready to be the team's leader.
Rondo was engaging in his session with the media, touching on his role as the team's leader going forward. He said, "I'm trying to accept the role more."
Rondo said he started to take on more of a leadership role last season. He gave credit to Pierce and Garnett for allowing him to take charge. He admitted, "It's not easy accepting a young guy with my type of demeanor or attitude to take charge."
Said Rondo, "It didn't surprise me because of their character. They're good men, I know their families. They knew it was time. It's a part of life. You get older, you slow down, and a new guy steps up."
Rondo was asked if he was the best point guard in the NBA. He didn't deny it.
"We'll I'm biased," said Rondo. "You don't want to be cocky, but you want to be confident. I don't think I would have become the player I am today."
Rondo said he and Garnett have become close.
"I would probably say Kevin is my best friend on the team," said Rondo. "He's always pushed me and expected more out of me than a lot of people did. He's been kind of like a big brother/mentor. He's always wanted the best for me."
On Garnett getting older, Rondo said, "I laugh when people say he's old or he doesn't do this or he can't do that. When you play with Kevin, he does so many little things that don't show up in the stat book. When you play with another big guy, you notice that."
ESPN finished its annual ranking of NBA players Thursday. Unsurprisingly, LeBron James finished at the top, followed by Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.
The most interesting ranking from a Boston perspective was Rajon Rondo at No. 12. Rondo was the highest ranked Celtic, finishing ahead of Kevin Garnett (No. 21) and Paul Pierce (No. 29). To me that seems right. Garnett and Pierce can be more important to the Celtics in any particular game, but Rondo has become their best player. I think Pierce may be too low on the list (behind Tyson Chandler, Kyrie Irving, and Marc Gasol?), but having three of the top 30 players in the league is what makes the Celtics who they are.
Rondo finishes very high on the list overall, but on the list of point guards he's behind Chris Paul (No. 4), Derrick Rose (No.5), Russell Westbrook (No. 9), and Deron Williams (No. 10). I'll agree on three of those names, but I have a hard time putting Rondo behind Westbrook.
What do you think? Is Rondo ranked properly? What about the other Celtics? Vote in the poll below and leave a comment.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before the season begins. Today it's Paul Pierce.
Starting small forward
6-feet-7-inches, 235 pounds, 34-years-old
2012/13 salary: $16.8 million
Strengths: Of course you already know a lot about Paul Pierce, so here are some things you may not know. He's a workaholic. He's dedicated to his pregame routine. He's both bigger and faster than he looks on television. You probably know that Pierce's game is built to last as he gets older because he uses balance and trickery as well as any other player to create space. He's an underrated defender.
Room to improve: We're using the same categories for every player, but this one is misnamed for the veterans. Pierce is unlikely to improve as he ages, but as he continues to evolve, shot selection will be key. Pierce is at his best when the Celtics offense runs through him, but that doesn't necessarily mean he should be shooting all the time.
Projections for 2012/13: 75 games, 18.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists
Outlook: Pierce is the glue that holds the Celtics together. That much was clear early last season when the Celtics struggled as Pierce struggled to get back into playing shape after the lockout. Pierce will be a scorer until the day he retires, and the Celtics need him to continue to put the ball in the basket. It will be interesting to see how much time, if any, Jeff Green takes from Pierce during the season.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before the season begins. Today it's Fab Melo.
7-feet, 255 pounds, 22-years-old
2012/13 salary: $1.25 million
Strengths: Melo has the raw skills and size that made him worth a first-round pick. He's a good shot-blocker, and he's shown at a young age that he can take instruction and improve his game in a short amount of time. The 22-year-old moved from Brazil to Florida when he was 17. He'd only started playing basketball two years earlier.
Room to improve: Everywhere. That sounds like a cop-out (believe me, I see your e-mails), but it's the truth. Melo isn't ready to contribute to the Celtics right now. He needs seasoning on both sides of the ball, but especially on the offensive end. There should be a sizable adjustment for Melo in learning Boston's defensive scheme after sitting in the middle of Syracuse's 2-3 zone and swatting shots.
Projections for 2012/13: 25 games, 1.8 points, 2.1 rebounds. 0.7 blocks
Outlook: Melo should spend some time with the Maine Red Claws, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's hard to see Doc Rivers inserting him into the rotation unless the Celtics suffer a couple of injuries in the frontcourt. Despite what most Celtics fans would want, Darko Milicic will likely be ahead of Melo on the depth chart. But give Melo time; he's an exciting prospect who is by all accounts eager to learn.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Courtney Lee.
6-feet-5-inches, 200 pounds, 26-years-old
2012/13 salary: $5 million
Strengths: Lee is a solid 3-point shooter (40 percent last season) and is particularly adept at the corner three. He's not content to stay on the perimeter, and his ability to get to the basket will open up a dimension not often seen from the Celtics reserve players. He's also an above-average defender.
Room to improve: We may already know the best of Courtney Lee. This is his fourth NBA team in five seasons, and he has a career average of exactly 10 points. He doesn't fill the stat sheet (2.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists per game last season) as much as a player at the next level.
Projections for 2012/13: 74 games, 8.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists
Outlook: Along with Jason Terry, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Chris Wilcox, Lee gives the Celtics more depth than they've had in quite some time. He can start if needed, and he can bring a dynamic offensive game off the bench, a place where the Celtics have been limited. With Avery Bradley sidelined until at least December, Lee may fill a starting role to begin the season.
Celtics guard Avery Bradley earned a starting job last season, but he'll likely start the year on the sideline after surgeries to both shoulders in the offseason.
It was known that Bradley wouldn't be ready for training camp, which opens Friday, but Celtics coach Doc Rivers provided an update on Bradley to ESPN Boston's Jackie MacMullan.
"[He's] not even close,'' Rivers said. "I don't like to put a time limit on injuries, but I don't think you'll see him before December -- and there's a chance it could be closer to January.''
Without Bradley, Courtney Lee or Jason Terry could start at the guard position. Rivers said he liked his depth at guard with Bradley, Lee, Terry, and Rajon Rondo in the fold.
Former Celtics big man Rasheed Wallace has drawn the interest of the New York Knicks, league sources told Newsday. Wallace's workout for the Knicks was first reported by ESPN.
Wallace last played for the Celtics during the 2009-10 season. The 38-year-old former All-Star averaged 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 79 games for the Celtics that season. With Kendrick Perkins injured, Wallace was forced into a crucial starting role for Boston during Game 7 of the NBA Finals, playing 35 minutes as the Celtics lost Game 7, 83-79. After the game Doc Rivers questioned whether Wallace was in good enough condition to play heavy minutes. Wallace did not play in the league the last two seasons.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Jeff Green.
6-feet-9-inches, 235 pounds, 26-years-old
Strengths: Green can play both the small forward and power forward positions. His versatility will allow the Celtics to mix up their lineups. I can envision a scenario in which the Celtics use a lineup of, say, Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Green, and Kevin Garnett to close a game. Slotting Green down into the three-spot would allow the Celtics to match up with Pierce off the floor. Green will also be a running partner for Rondo and Avery Bradley in the open floor.
Room to improve: Celtics media day is Friday, Sept. 28. During last year's Celtics media day, Green was sure he'd only miss a day or two while the team sorted out some issues in his physical. Instead, an aortic aneurism sidelined Green for the entire season. There's legitimate reason to question whether Green will be in playing shape. He can also improve on 3-point shooting, where he's a 34-percent shooter for his career.
Projections for 2012/13: 75 games, 10.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 30.0 minutes
Outlook: It's tough to project Green's numbers without knowing how much he'll play, but the Celtics are paying him like a major contributor (4 years, $36 million). Green averaged 37 minutes per game during his final season in Oklahoma and 23 minutes per game after being traded to Boston, so split the difference. The Celtics can use Green in many packages, but his most important role will be in relief of Pierce. It'll be interesting to see if the Celtics can fake going big with Green and someone like Chris Wilcox on the floor when Garnett sits out.
The Celtics announced this afternoon that they have waived Keyon Dooling after the veteran guard decided to retire from the NBA. Dooling agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum in July and was expected to enter the season as Rajon Rondo's primary backup.
Dooling, a member of the executive committee of the NBA Players Association, has decided to walk away from the game after 12 seasons. Dooling was the No. 10 overall pick in the 2001 Draft by the Orlando Magic and was traded to the Clippers on draft night. He played with the Clippers, Heat, Magic, Nets, Bucks and Celtics.
"Keyon has decided that he has given the NBA twelve good years and that it's time to pursue other interests and spend more time with his family," said Dooling's representative Kenge Stevenson in a team statement. "He will never forget his time in Boston with the Celtics."
The Celtics are likely to seek a true backup to Rondo as training camp begins next week.
"We'll miss Keyon's spirit and energy, both on and off the court," Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. "The whole Celtics family wishes him well as he enters the next phase of his life."
Dooling played 46 games last season, averaging 4 points and 1.1 assists, proving to be a valuable commodity as the season progressed. He also served as a mentor for Rondo.
The Celtics have signed center Darko Milicic to a one-year contract, two league sources tell the Globe's Gary Washburn. A league source tells A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that the deal is for the veteran minimum.
Milicic was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, chosen ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. He has famously failed to live up to those lofty expectations, averaging 6.0 points and 4.2 rebounds over his career. The 7-footer averaged 4.6 points and 3.3 rebounds for Minnesota last season.
Milicic becomes the 14th player under contract on the Celtics roster. He adds to the team's frontcourt depth, which is perhaps their biggest weakness. After Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, rookie Jared Sullinger, veteran center Jason Collins, and Milicic should all compete for playing time. Wilcox looks like the surest thing of that group, though Milicic and Sullinger have the chance to play valuable minutes. Jeff Green could also slide into the power forward role in some rotations.
Milicic is just 27-years-old. His signing leaves one roster spot open for end-of-the-roster players with non-guaranteed contracts like Kris Joseph, Dionte Christmas, and Jamar Smith.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Kris Joseph.
6-feet-8-inches, 225 pounds, 23-years-old
2012/13 salary: $473, 604
Strengths: There were times during the NCAA Tournament East Regional at TD Garden last March where Joseph looked like the best player on the floor. Joseph was the leading scorer for Syracuse (13.4 points) during his senior season, but he saw teammates Fab Melo and Dion Waiters get picked well before him in the NBA Draft. A four-year player, Joseph could play right away. He's a decent slasher with a knack for putting the ball in the basket.
Room to improve: Joseph doesn't do any one thing exceptionally well. He's projected as a role player in the NBA with the chance to be a solid rotational backup. If he could boost his 34.5-percent 3-point shooting from college and find a niche that way, he could be a valuable commodity.
Outlook: Barring injuries to Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, Joseph will struggle to find the floor for the Celtics. He should spend some time with the Maine Red Claws, which wouldn't be a bad thing at all as he adjusts to the pro game. Joseph could end up being a brilliant pick from Danny Ainge in the mold of Ryan Gomes, a player with college experience who can contribute to an NBA roster. His upside is lower than that of Gomes, but the second round is not a place where superstars are typically drafted.
The Celtics announced today that they have officially added Jay Larranaga to their coaching staff as an assistant coach. Larranaga comes from the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League. The 37-year-old Larranaga is the son of Jim Larranaga, head men's basketball coach at the University of Miami.
The Globe's Chris Muther recently caught up with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo as he interned at GQ Magazine. The Today Show ran a story today on the same topic. Watch interviews with Rondo and his GQ bosses above.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Kevin Garnett.
6-feet-11-inches, 253 pounds, 36-years-old
2012/13 salary: $12.47 million
Strengths: Garnett is one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. His offensive game is as polished as any other big man in the NBA (OK so Pau Gasol might be more polished at this point, but that's a tough argument to make around here). Garnett can still fill it up, and he's one of the league's best interior defenders in a team concept. He's also intense, dedicated, and a leader by example.
Room to improve: Garnett could be a better rebounder and one-on-one defender (he's tremendous in a team scheme). This isn't an area to improve so much, but Garnett's stamina has diminished as he's gotten older. He plays himself so ragged that no other human can match his level, but those stretches have gotten shorter by necessity.
Projections for 2012/13: 68 games, 17.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 30.1 minutes
Outlook: Garnett's resurgence was the single biggest reason the Celtics made it to Game 7 of the conference finals last season. Because of that, the Celtics will try and preserve Garnett throughout the season. Still, I think the move to center will keep the increase in his scoring average, while a decrease of a minute or two per game will bring the rebounds down a bit. Some minor maintenance injuries will require some games off, but the Celtics will gladly take that over something more.
Note: This post was written before Dooling announced his intentions to retire.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Keyon Dooling.
6-feet-3-inches, 194 pounds, 32-years-old
2012/13 salary: $1.35 million
Strengths: Dooling is a veteran leader who has earned the respect of his teammates. During the ups and downs of last season, he'd stand patiently in a corner of the locker room and answer questions that neither the team's stars or younger players could. On the court, Dooling is an energy guy off the bench, which may seem like an oxymoron for an older player. Dooling's defensive intensity and his ability to knock down open 3-pointers make him valuable.
Room to improve: Dooling never really ran the Celtics offense like a true backup point guard (1.1 assists, 0.7 turnovers per game). The Celtics were effective with both him and Rajon Rondo on the floor, freeing Dooling to spot up in the corner. He's also not one to get to the hole, so opponents can play him to shoot.
Projections for 2012/13: 50 games, 2.9 points, 1.2 assists, 11.5 minutes
Outlook: Dooling may see his playing time diminish with Jason Terry in the fold. Still, Dooling's locker room presence and preparedness make him a great bench player for Doc Rivers. If Rondo or Terry go down at any point, Dooling will step in admirably.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Dionte Christmas.
6-feet-5-inches, 205 pounds, 25-years-old
Strengths: Christmas can light it up, at least against weak competition. In the summer league he averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. He shot 47.9 percent from the field and 45 percent from the 3-point line. He's got the size to play the two-spot in the NBA.
Room to improve: Everywhere. Undrafted after playing four years at Temple, Christmas spent time in Europe before giving the NBA a shot. Consistency is the key to keeping an NBA job. Christmas has to be efficient and find a role, whether that's as a shooter or a defensive stopper or something else.
Outlook: I won't give specific projections for Christmas because he may not play much and he may spend some time in the D-League. Christmas has a chance to make the roster with strong play, but he has only a partially guaranteed contract and will need to play well to do so. He's the kind of player that's great to have in training camp, as he is truly competing for something. That atmosphere should make everyone on the team better.
DORCHESTER – It was a normal community appearance for the Celtics, who sent three players to Holland Elementary School to teach students some basketball skills.
It wasn’t a normal appearance for Jeff Green, who is thrilled to be back with the Celtics and playing basketball after missing last season after suffering an aortic aneurysm.
Green underwent surgery in January and was cleared to return to basketball next season, signing a four-year pact with the Celtics that just became official three weeks ago.
Green immediately bonded with the kids and enjoyed every moment of teaching some life lessons after such a trying experience.
“I’m fully recovered, part of the team, cleared for everything,” said Green, who averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 26 games with Boston. “What I went through is a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to sit back and get things from a different point of view. So now I just have to play basketball.”
Green joined the Celtics in a controversial midseason trade in February 2011 for Kendrick Perkins, who was sent to Oklahoma City. Green never quite gained comfort in the Celtics’ system but the team had big plans for him last season, as a combination forward coming off the bench to spell Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But he was felled by a failed physical during training camp and cardiologists detected an issue with his aorta.
The Celtics missed out on a key bench player in his absence but will finished one game within an NBA Finals appearance, losing the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals to the eventual champion Miami Heat.
Green has been workout in Waltham with teammates Kris Joseph, Jason Terry, Dionte Christmas and even Rajon Rondo. The games have been competitive and Green said he is reach full comfort.
“My game pretty much speaks for itself, a guy who can play multiple positions,” he said. “Attacking different situation. I just have to improve in different things and show out there on the court. (The veterans) want to see me aggressive because it takes less pressure off of them.”
Green was a hit with the children, many of whom raced over to offer him high-fives after the session was over.
“I had a lot of fun, it felt good to get back out here in the community,” he said. “I haven’t been able to the past year or so, but now that I’m back with the team and able to do this, it’s great coming out here. That’s what I told them what I went through and the surgery. Basketball isn’t everything. You have to have a ‘Plan B’ and my ‘Plan B’ was to go back and get my education. Even though I had surgery I was able to do that. By me having the podium that I have and they listen, it was a great opportunity.”
We're profiling every Celtics player before training camp starts. Today it's Jason Collins.
7-feet, 255 pounds, 33 years old
2012/13 salary: $1.3 million
Strengths: Collins is a big body with NBA experience. He averaged double-digit minutes in a reserve role for the Atlanta Hawks the past two seasons. He'll give the Celtics much-needed depth at center -- he's the only true center on the roster -- and extra fouls.
Room to improve: We're not talking about upside here. Collins is a limited player who won't help much on offense. The Celtics don't want him scoring unless it's on a put-back.
Projections for 2012/13: 45 games, 1.2 points, 1.7 rebounds, 9.1 minutes
Outlook: Behind Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, and Jared Sullinger on the depth chart, Collins won't play much unless the Celtics have injuries or foul trouble. An injury to Garnett could thrust him into a more serious reserve role, which isn't ideal for anybody. A spot on the roster at the end of the season is not a guarantee.
We're profiling every player on the Celtics roster before training camp begins. Today it's Avery Bradley.
Starting shooting guard
6-feet-2-inches, 180 pounds, 21-years-old
2012/13 salary: $1.6 million
Strengths: Defense, defense, defense. Bradley is a force of nature on the ball. His lateral quickness makes him one of the NBA's best backcourt defenders. Bradley was also an efficient offensive player in 2011-12, making 49 percent of his field goals and 41 percent of his 3-pointers.
Room to improve: There's no shame in saying a 21-year-old can get better. Bradley can up his scoring average by taking more shots, something he should do this season with increased minutes. Another area where Bradley can get better is running the team with Rajon Rondo off the floor. Bradley (1.4 assists per game last season) is not really a facilitator. He's also not a typical shooting guard, so facilitating will be key in getting more playing time.
Projections for 2012/13: 70 games, 10.2 points, 1.5 steals, 24.5 minutes
Outlook: Bradley may miss the start of the season while recovering from surgeries on both shoulders. In any case, the Celtics are likely to ease him back into game play. Besides that, it's all upside. Bradley will get better as he gains more NBA experience, and the Celtics will play him more minutes. The addition of Jason Terry also gives the Celtics a facilitator off the bench, freeing up Bradley to be himself even more. His minutes per game could be way up by season's end.
There hasn't been much in this space in recent months, but with Celtics training camp just weeks away, that's about to change. Leading up to camp we'll have player profiles, stat projections, and a few interesting back-and-forths with other writers. The Celtics are taking part in NBA Europe Live to begin training camp, and Gary Washburn will be in Turkey and Italy providing coverage. The team kicks off the season on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Miami with a game against the Heat.
Our roster focus is up first. Since Brandon Bass seems to get overlooked often, he's up first.
Starting power forward
6-feet-8-inches, 250 pounds, 27-years-old
2012/13 salary: $6.5 million
Strengths: Bass is a very good jump shooter, and he's able to spread the floor and draw out his defender. That's a skill that opens up driving lanes for Rajon Rondo and space for Kevin Garnett. Bass is physically strong and is a great leaper . He's consistent, having played in 59 of the team's 66 games last season.
Room to improve: Bass should be a better rebounder given his skill set. He averaged 6.2 rebounds last season, which was a career high, but there's still room to improve there. He's not a shot-blocker (0.9 per game), and he's never stood out on defense, though he was much-improved in Doc Rivers' defensive schemes from the beginning of last season to the end. Defensive versatility was also on display in the playoffs when Bass guarded LeBron James.
Projections for 2012/2013: 75 games, 12.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 31.5 minutes.
Outlook: Bass projects as the starting power forward once again. Jared Sullinger may push Bass from the bench, but it's hard to see the rookie overtaking Bass or taking any of his minutes (Kevin Garnett, not Bass, is likely to lose minutes). Chris Wilcox is the likely injury fill-in if Bass is injured, but the Celtics are still shallow up front, and they're going to lean heavily on Bass once again this season. Bass re-signing seemed to be a minor story in comparison to the rest of the team's offseason moves, and that's a shame considering he's a starter and has proven to be a great fit. Glen Davis is making $6.4 million this season. Kris Humphries, another power forward who was on the free agent market, is getting $12 million.
What do you think of Bass? I'd love to turn this series into a forum for discussion rather than just talking at you. Any strengths or weaknesses I missed? Post in the comments section.
Tomorrow we begin a series that looks ahead to the Celtics season, but for today, here's a highlight video that makes Brian Scalabrine look beastly. Scal will be working some Celtics broadcasts for CSNNE this season.
Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has a unique style on the court and off it. With a couple weeks to go before Celtics training camp, Rondo also has some time on his hands. To that end, Rondo has taken on an internship at GQ Magazine.
Here's the press release:
Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is joining GQ as fashion intern for New York Fashion Week, it was announced today by Jim Nelson, GQ editor-in-chief. His status as an intern is effective today.
Rondo will be working closely with GQ’s fashion department, led by Jim Moore, the magazine’s creative director. Rondo will also be attending fashion shows with GQ editors and will be writing about his experience for GQ.com.
“I love the set-up so far and I’m having fun. I’m still a rookie at this,” said Rondo of his new position. “I’m humble. Anything GQ needs me to do—getting coffee—I’ll do. In my position, I haven’t done things like this in my entire life. It’s fun doing what I do, but it’s nice getting the flipside of that 9 to 5.”
A posting on GQ's website explained Rondo's internship will involve interviews, critiques, and blog posts on men's fashion and the fashion industry.