Bertans showing Celtics he's worth the long look

Bertans showing Celtics he's worth the long look
July 7, 2014, 12:15 pm
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ORLANDO, Fla. – It seemed no matter who the opponent, regardless of the location, there was a familiar face - or rather, franchise - at just about every one of Dairis Bertans' games this past season overseas.

That's why the Latvian playmaker said despite interest from a couple other NBA teams (Philadelphia and Toronto) to join their summer league teams, choosing the Boston Celtics was a no-brainer.

"Probably the only team that was following me, I mean really following me, all season," Bertans told CSNNE.com. "They (Celtics) were at all my games. They knew how I was playing. And they invited me (to training camp). I didn't have to think about it."

Austin Ainge, Boston's director of player personnel, has seen Bertans play several times. The process of getting him to become part of the Celtics' summer league team began months ago.

"He has been a kid that has been on the radar for a while," Ainge said. "It's his toughness and athleticism. He plays very hard and his skill level has gotten a little better every year."

Ainge added, "He wasn't quite skilled enough as a 19, 20-year-old in the draft. But he has continued to get better. He can make shots now. That's kind of been his progression."

He certainly did in his summer league debut, helping the Celtics defeat Miami 85-77 with 11 points off the bench which included his first basket coming just seconds after entering the game.

"It was kind of relaxing, like everything is going to be OK," Bertans said of the first made basket. "After that I played with no pressure."

And it is that composure, as well as a sweet-looking jumpshot, that made the Celtics eager to get a closer look at him despite having a roster that's already loaded with perimeter players.

"We like to try and get some of the guys that we like in Europe, to come play (in summer league)," Ainge said. "We see the American guys so often. Sometimes it's good to get a first-hand feel for some of the foreign guys."

Bertans hasn't been around the Celtics long, but he's already made a strong impression on head coach Brad Stevens.

"He doesn't force anything," Stevens said. "He makes only good basketball plays and he's really, really tough. He's a tough-minded guy who goes about his business. He doesn't say a whole lot. He goes about his business like you would want a professional to do."

Bertans understands the business of basketball as well as anyone, especially when it comes to the international game where - unlike the NBA - salaries are not guaranteed.

The team he played for last season, Bilbao Basket of the Spanish LEB, has not paid him all that he is owed which isn't likely to change.

That's why he was given a letter of clearance to play for the Celtics this summer.

"Can't play summer league if you're under contract," Ainge said. "So he's completely free."

And with that freedom, the 24-year-old is doing his best to maximize his opportunities when he's on the floor.

"(Against Miami) I played pretty much the way I usually play," Bertans said. "When I'm open I shoot. I try to be aggressive, try to create situations for others. I just play like that."

And his ability to play both guard positions is also attractive to the Celtics who are consistently on the prowl for adding players with the ability to play multiple positions.

"He just seems to make the right basketball play when he's out there," Stevens told CSNNE.com. "He dives on every loose ball. He makes the right pass when two people are on him. I think he's just a really good player."

Good enough to be a Celtic?

That remains to be seen.

But at the very least, Bertans is doing his part to give Boston something to think about.

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