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Celtics preparing for life after Pierce, KG

Thursday, October 03, 2013


There's little doubt the Boston Celtics will have a much different look this season. It's the NBA equivalent of Extreme Makeover.

Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry are gone. Rajon Rondo probably won't be back until December as he recovers from a knee injury. And Doc Rivers isn't coaching in Boston any longer, having decided to cast his lot with the Los Angeles Clippers. Enter 36-year-old Brad Stevens, in his first year as an NBA coach with a six-year, $22 million contract in hand after rising to stardom in the collegiate ranks at Butler.

The new-look Celtics are hoping to find themselves - and find out what they're made of - training this week at Salve Regina in Newport. Stevens has quite the task on his hands...not just replacing legends, but keeping (making?) the Celtics relevant in New England as the other pro teams experience success around them. The answer is simple, really. Make the team fun to watch, easy to appreciate through hustle, desire and hard work. Even if the wins don't come, the appreciation for effort should.

"He's still cool," forward Jeff Green told ESPN Boston. "He's very smart, very precise. He's a perfectionist. He works hard at his craft. We enjoy that."

"He's got a tough job ahead of him this year," added Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. "We have a lot of good players and no superstars, other than Rajon, who won't be ready for the start of the season. Just managing the minutes with a lot of players could be a challenge for him. It's not a perfect roster and he's going to have to mix and match a lot of different things and be very creative and manage the egos."

While the legendary players have moved on (to Brooklyn, specifically), there are still players of whom much will be expected. Green, for one...Brandon Bass for another, especially as a defensive presence without Garnett's physical and oral talents. Without the offensive guidance of Rondo until sometime in December, defensive play will be key...and necessary...to keep the C's competitive.

"(Bass is) a great defender, believe it or not," guard Avery Bradley said, himself a member of the NBA's all-defensive second team last season. "He picked up a lot of stuff from KG and he helps everybody out. He's like the vet for the bigs and he's been talking them through everything (in camp)."

As far as who might replace Rondo for the short haul, Bradley will be one of those Stevens will rely upon...but Jordan Crawford and rookie Phil Pressey are also in the mix. Rondo himself got in an extra on-court work while in Newport during training camp, but it will remain up to a committee to fill the void in his absence.

Other players to watch as the pre-season gets started next Monday at TD Garden against Toronto, and Wednesday, October 9th at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence against the New York Knicks - second year forward Jared Sullinger, who returns from back surgery, rookie big man/power forward Kelly Olynyk...and Brazilian newcomer Vitor Faverani, a 6-11 center who has been plying his trade in the rough-and-tumble pro leagues in Spain. Oh, and the players who came to Boston as Pierce, Garnett and Terry departed - namely former Friar Marshon Brooks, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.

Brooks, undoubtedly, will want to be here. Will the others show the same interest, as the makeover begins to take shape? It could get ugly, before things start to get better.


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