The Boston Celtics Media Day was a chance for the team to start a clean slate and discuss the upcoming season. The coverage was a perfect way of answering many of the fan’s lingering questions, but not every concern was addressed.
The prevailing theme of all the interviews seemed to be the team’s new focus on speed and athleticism, a far cry from Doc’s slower, deliberate offense. Brad Stevens’ strategy calls for smart ball movement and floor spacing in the half-court game. The team is much younger than it has been in recent years, which means the team is capable of playing this fast paced game, but offense isn’t the only focus, as Steven’s wants the team’s defense to also be tenacious. His message to the fans was that it would be as a team they would win, no individual would be the focus.
“The best team-builder you can have is not an exercise that you do at night, together, at a putt-putt course or whatever the case may be. It’s getting really good defensively. It’s doing a really hard thing together, it’s building that bond that way. So that’s going to be a big, important part,” Stevens said.
Stevens also noted that he does not want the team taking shots at the end of the shot clock. I like Stevens’ coaching strategies and he seems to have an intelligent plan, knows
exactly what he wants out of his offense, and understands the importance of defense in today’s game.
Rondo seems to already be accustomed to the new coach and getting along with Stevens as he notes the two “have become best friends”. That is great to hear considering no one really knew how Rondo would adjust to having his first new coach in the seven years he’s been playing in the NBA. “It was important for both of us to get off to a good start to get to know one another. This is his team, this is my team. Like I said, I’m very supportive of him, and he’s been very supportive of me.”
It is crucial for Stevens to bond with his new team, as they must trust in his knowledge of the game and plan for the future. Rondo’s relationship with the coach will go a long way in convincing his teammates to go along with what Stevens has to offer, as Rondo is the leader of the team after the trade. “We talk every day, we laugh and joke, we just had dinner the other night. I’m going to help him, he’s going to help me. He has my full support and I told him from day 1 when he came to my camp, I’m 100 percent behind him.”
Rondo also is already using his leadership skills to get the team accustomed to each other as he invited them all out to dinner AND took the bill. It is great to see a young player step into the leadership roll so easily, and embrace every aspect of it.
As far as Rondo’s status on his recovery, he doesn’t expect to play until the winter, though he is not ruling out the chance of his return in the fall. He has been back in the gym working on his shot, free throws, and ball handling, but has not participated in any contact. He noted how he is able to bike though, and that “the bike has become his friend”. He compared his injury to Derrick Rose, saying how Rose received a lot of heat for not playing, but commented that the injury is more mental the further along in recovery.
“You want to feel confident, especially the type of players at the point guard position that we are, our legs are pretty much everything, we use our speed, [Rose is] very athletic, I’m athletic. You need that mental aspect to go up and jump and come down without thinking about your leg again, because the last jump that I have done, I came down and torn an ACL. It’s about being mentally ready. When I get there, I’ll play.”
Rondo’s injury the past season allowed him to sit back and study his teammates and how they develop their game and evaluate how he plans to play alongside them when he returns. He explained how he watched Jeff Green and Avery Bradley’s game.
“[I studied] things I need to adjust for when I come back and play with these guys. I know Jeff loves to get the ball off the rebound and go himself. When Jeff gets the ball this year, I’m just going to run the floor. He can bring it up himself. I think he’s best when he’s doing that at his position. Not a lot of guys can keep up with him athletically.”
Overall, Rondo made it clear he is excited to return and noted how he is eager to come back for a fresh start. He is excited to get back on the court and compete and help his teammates win. Now that’s the competitive Rondo we all know and love!
Jared Sullinger is also in the recovery process following an injury the previous season. His back is better, but he is still not fully healthy (or maybe he is just not in shape, considering there were several reports of him looking hefty). Either way, Sullinger is still uneasy about when his return will be.
“I’m not close. Being out for six months without basketball is really tough. I have a lot of work to do and only training camp can help that. Right now it’s about getting into the best shape possible. Not playing for six months, and then trying to jump into the fire, you have those days when you’re really good and those days when you suck. I just have to stay consistent.
A fun side note Sullinger added during the Media Day was he talked about his rookie season as a year in “Garnett University”. This really highlights the importance of veteran leadership and just how influential KG was. It will now be on Rondos shoulders to be the Celtic veteran, despite his relatively short time in the league.
Gerald Wallace has been semi out of the Celtics loop this summer. Now, I know they can all spend the summer how they want, but it would have been nice to maybe hear from him a little more often (he did not attend Rondo’s dinner, I mean, come on!) And though the players are supposed to be optimistic on media day, Wallace left many of us still uneasy after his interviews as he made it clear he is not excited about rebuilding.
“It’s very hard, at thirteen years in you never want to go to a team that’s starting the rebuilding process all over again, your main focus is trying to get somewhere you can end your career on a championship note. At the same point, I’m here, I’m happy to be here…a championship is what I want to go out with,”
This might be putting a little too much into his words, or lack thereof, as Wallace has always been a soft-spoken individual. The NBA is all a process and a player never really knows where they might end up. Wallace tried to clear up some of the doubt from outsiders on his feelings about being a Celtic.
“I think a lot of people took out of this that I didn’t want to come, didn’t want to be a part of this,” Wallace said. “That’s so far from the truth. This trade kind of caught me off guard. I’m basically sitting at home with my family and friends. We’re sitting at the table playing cards, waiting to watch the NBA draft, and bang it hits the screen. I didn’t know anything about it.”
Wallace commented that the deal came as a shock. With the Nets looking to be a playoff team now, I definitely understand his disappointment. Wallace’s presence on the team will bring more veteran talent and leadership.
Other notable moments from Media Day include Keith Bogans vocalizing his plan to be a leader for the team and lead by example to the younger guys. He hopes to set an example early at training camp. Kelly Olynk had some fun facts, commenting how he grew up idolizing Steve Nash and wanting to play like him. Seems like the universe had different plans for him though seeing as he’s just a couple feet taller.
Courtney Lee noted that he and Brad Stevens have known each other for over ten years as they are both from Indianapolis. He also commented on his inconsistency last year and assured that he has been working on ball-handling and shooting over the summer.
Kris Humphries had a lot to say as well. He talked about the overall athleticism of the team as well as his eagerness to be a part of the Celtic’s winning culture. Another funny side note: apparently there is a board in the locker room that asks who would win in a fight between Rondo and Humphries. They are currently tied at this moment. The fun atmosphere of the team will help dramatically improve morale at the start of the season. Some though may believe fans will not accept Humphries at first, as he was asked to comment on potential boos.
“I think you always have to be able to make fun of yourself, you can’t take life to seriously. But to able to go into the Garden and have everybody booing you and then get a win is the greatest feeling. Nobody has said anything, nobody cares, so I appreciate everyone out there,” Humphries said.
Finally, Danny Ainge shines some more insight on his general hopes for this team.
“I’m anxious to see how the competition goes and how the combinations work together. I’m very excited about this year. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think we’re going to have great energy. I honestly don’t know who the starting 5 will be or who the second 5 will be or any of those things. I’m very confident that we’re going to have some pretty good competition. We have a deep team, but how they all fit together, I just don’t know yet.”
The Celtics have a bright future ahead of them. This is a young and talented team and I have high hopes for what they can accomplish under Brad Stevens. I think this team can be a contender in the East, I really would not be surprised to see them accomplish a lot. But I think I speak for most people when I say I’m done guessing how the team will be and I am ready for the season to start!