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Pre-training camp update: Stevens, teammates loves Rondo

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It's mid-September and we're less than two weeks away from Media Day and the start of training camp. Many of the Celtics are already in town and, oh, Brad Stevens loves Rajon Rondo.

Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Let's get to the headline first.  Head coach Brad Stevens talked to Howard Herman of the Berkshire Eagle and had this to say about the captain:

"I love him. I really think he's a big part of what we're doing," Stevens said. "Hopefully, he can have a great year right from the get-go. I thought last year was tough from the standpoint that he never did have a chance to do any drill work or to rebuild habits. He just had to be thrown into the fire."

...

"He's been great. He's been very active," said Stevens in an interview with The Eagle. "He's been in and around Boston most of the summer. He just got back from a trip to China. He was back mid-last week. He's been in the weight room and been around every day."

"He's been great."  "He's a big part of what we're doing."  "He can have a great year right from the get-go."  This is music to my ears and to the ears of Celtics fans that want to see Rajon Rondo in Boston not just this year, but for years to come.  It's been a summer of innuendos with potential draft day trade rumors surrounding the point guard to an off-air comment from Jackie Mac that #9 wants out.  Despite all that, he hasn't made a lot of public appearances aside from his shoe tour in China and a statement from his agent denying the purported trade request.  There are a lot of new members to the team this season who are slowly settling into the city, so don't expect an impromptu trip to LA for some pre-training camp bonding.  However, my bet is that a football has already made it's way to the Waltham practice floor for some post-practice toss.

Also, if you haven't caught Celtics.com's #SocialCeltics videos, they're interesting from this perspective: there was some thinking that after September 10th, we might see a trade involving newly acquired Marcus Thornton and/or Tyler Zeller or with some of the vet expiring contracts like Brandon Bass or Joel Anthony in order to trim the roster down from 21 (including camp invites) to 15.  Nothing has happened yet, and as Emily Austen has reported, many of those names are in town and already training.  Evan Turner has yet to be signed officially, but he's hooked up with Jared Sullinger for a few Buckeye workouts.

Austen talked to Zeller today and he talked about some of the pick-up game dimes Rondo's been handing out:


Zeller has bulked up before training camp and looks to compete for the starting center position:

"I think [starting at center is] my goal this year," said Zeller. "I have a lot of work to do to earn that spot. I expect to have to earn it. But I think it is a great opportunity."

The first step in that process was bulking up this offseason. Zeller, who played at around 250 pounds in Cleveland last year, said he has added about 10 to 15 pounds with a desire to increase his ability to joust among the league's giants.

"I feel like I'm doing well," said Zeller. "I felt like last year I played a little underweight and if I gained 10-15 pounds, I'd be able to hold my own a lot better down there. I was able to do that, and hopefully I can continue to get better and better. I hope that will help me hold my own, rebounding-wise, as well as in the post."

And if you missed it, check out Austen's two part Twitter-view with rookie James Young.  Like Zeller, Young talks about the opportunity to play with fellow Kentucky Wildcat, Rajon Rondo.  You get the sense that RR is relishing the opportunity to mentor these young guys like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce did seven years ago.

I tried to do some cursory social media digging on some of the more private, older members of the team and from what I can tell, Gerald Wallace is MIA.  From what I remember last year, Crash goes deep into hibernation in Alabama in the summer and probably won't surface until right before Media Day.  He had surgery on his left knee and ankle in March but the recovery time was projected to be only 3-4 months.  It's completely unverified, but all I could find of Gerald Wallace on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. was this photo.

It looks like Joel Anthony made an appearance at a NBA 2K15 event in Montreal a few weeks ago but still hasn't made his way back to Beantown.  I wouldn't read too much into it, but he is working on his handle with the Timberwolves' mascot Crunch the Wolf so there's that.

Then there's the curious disappearance of Keith Bogans.  After being banished from the bench last season and sent away from the team, Bogans' value is less as a 3&D guy and more as a non-guaranteed contract that can be moved.  From what I can tell, he's stilling grinding it out, but for who next season is still up in the air.

And for what it's worth, training camp will be held at Waltham this season and not in Newport and the Celtics officially hired Scott Morrison to be the head coach for the Maine Red Claws.  I'm not that familiar with Morrison's resume or coaching style, but consider that the Red Claws are solely affiliated with the Celtics where as the Fort Wayne Mad Ants are shared by 13 other NBA teams.  Ideally, if Stevens wants James Young to work on a specific part of his game down in the D-League, Morrison can get those marching orders and implement them directly.  The Red Claws can run Celtics' sets and preach Stevens' defensive philosophies rather than simply being the B-team for the big league club looking to stash away players.