Monday is media day for the Celtics in Waltham and Tuesday the crew heads south to Newport, R.I. for five days of training camp in preparation for their preseason opener Oct. 6 vs. Philadelphia.
As the season approaches, here are five issues the Celtics will have to address in the next four weeks.
1) Who will start at center? While Shaquille O’Neal is saying all the right things about coming off the bench, it’s obvious the big man wants to start and play a pivotal role. He appears to be in good shape and ready to compete. The question is how Jermaine O’Neal will perform after his putrid playoff performance against the Celtics last season. How will coach Doc Rivers distribute their minutes with Kendrick Perkins out and which player will make the biggest splash in training camp?
2) How will Rondo respond from his Team USA disappointment?
Whether he was “cut” or left the team for personal reasons, Rajon Rondo’s experiment with USA Basketball didn’t work out well as he was removed from the roster before the FIBA World Championships, which the USA won rather easily. Will that motivate Rondo into improving his perimeter and free throw shooting? Or will the pain of not making the USA team linger into the regular season?
3) How healthy is Kevin Garnett?
As usual, KG kept a low summer profile, making one cameo appearance at Shaquille O’Neal’s press conference, darting out of the Waltham facility without speaking to reporters afterward. Last October, he was merely trying to work his surgically repaired right knee into condition and regain confidence in his game, but after a topsy-turvy season that he endured without any major injuries, is he ready to return to the KG of old or is he old KG? Coach Doc Rivers believes he will be the KG of old a year removed from surgery.
4) Is Glen Davis ready to take the next step?
Rasheed Wallace is retired and Glen Davis is healthy, so the onus is on the big man to take the next step and emerge as a major factor this season, especially playing for another contract next summer. Davis’s 2009-10 season was derailed when he missed 27 games with a broken right thumb. He admitted Wallace’s presence affected his confidence, but now he enters the season as likely the first man off the bench.
5) What to make of this bench?
Is Delonte West ready to play basketball and push his issues aside? When will Avery Bradley actually hit the court and show his skills? Can Luke Harangody contribute to this team now? Is Marquis Daniels recovered from his disappointing 2009-10 season and ready to replace Tony Allen? And just what can the Celtics expect from Semih Erden? There is a plethora of questions to be asked about the bench, which is deep and talented but features several new players.