Hollins hopes to return to Celtics

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Hollins hopes to return to Celtics

Ryan Hollins played less than three months with the Boston Celtics this season. It was more than enough time for him to know he wants to return to the team again.

Of course, he told CSNNE.com. I would love to be here next season.

The Celtics signed Hollins, 27, as a free agent in late March after he was waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He arrived in Boston with recommendations from his new teammates.

Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had got to know Hollins from offseason workouts and pickup games in California. They spoke of his intensity and passion. Even though the seven-foot center had struggled during his career on the boards, they believed his drive would be a good fit for the Celtics as they neared the playoffs.

I had a chance to spend some time with him this summer, Garnett said shortly after Hollins joined the team. Summertime is the time when youre working on things, but for me, I dont make a lot of friends and I can say that I made one in him now. I like the way the kid approaches the game he wants to be more than good. You see it in his face, you see it in his work ethic. Im a big fan of his. So Im glad hes here and whatever, like any other of the young guys that are here, whatever he wants to know, Im here for him.

The feeling was mutual.

I know the type of players that Paul and Kevin and Ray (Allen) and (Rajon) Rondo are and how they want to win, said Hollins. Going against those guys on the other side, Id always felt like I was a fit for this team and the way that Doc (Rivers) coaches and the way that players play over here. I always felt that way. It made an easy transition for myself.

Hollins gave the Celtics another big body in a front court that had been depleted by injuries throughout season. The former track star provided an athletic presence with his ability to run the floor and get out in transition. He averaged 1.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game for the Celtics during the playoffs.

Often critiqued for his rebounding skills, Hollins studied Garnetts approach to attacking the boards during his short time with the Celtics and plans to incorporate it into his offseason workouts. He will carry his veteran teammates intense work ethic with him as well.

They pushed me incredibly hard, he said. Its not just being hard and yelling -- its by example. The small things, talking here and there, its rubbed off.

He added, Im dedicated. Ive always taken my job seriously and loved the game, but the dedication (on the Celtics), eat sleep drink basketball, every day, every day, every day.

The Celtics will have to fill gaps down low as they build their roster for next season. All three of their centers from the 2012 playoffs -- Garnett, Hollins, and Greg Stiemsma -- are free agents.

Hollins hopes the three months he spent with the team was only the beginning of a longer stay in Boston.

I just learned so much, said Hollins. I learn every day. I learned more in the past three or four months here than, I want to say, my whole NBA career. I dont want to say Im taking anything my coaches have ever given me for granted, but even at this stage in my career, Ive learned so much.

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

First Celtics practice 'a little different' but 'feels right' for Horford

WALTHAM, Mass. – NBA players are creatures of habit so you can understand why Al Horford was just a little bit out of his element on his first practice with the Boston Celtics.
 
After nine seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Horford hit the free agent market this summer and signed a four-year, $113 million with the Celtics.
 
Horford acknowledged that his first practice with the Celtics “was a little different” but added, “It’s definitely a weird feeling, but it feels right to be here.”

Players, coaches, national pundits, the list is seemingly endless when it comes to folks who believe Horford is an ideal fit with the Boston Celtics.
 
“He can do score in the paint, shoot 3s, defend, pass, he can do it all out there,” Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “He’s going to fit in well with us.”
 
But like any rookie or newcomer to a team, Horford admitted he had some moments when he was a step or two late getting to where he needed to be on the floor.
 
“We’re running through a lot of plays, a lot of concepts being thrown out,” Horford said. “It’s a matter of getting comfortable with all the sets.”
 
As much as he will work to figure things out, Horford is wise enough to know he’ll need the help of his new teammates, too.
 
“I’m going to lean on a lot of the guys,” Horford said. “I’ll definitely ask a lot of questions. Avery (Bradley) already has gotten in my ear, anything I need he’s there for me. I just want to get acclimated as fast as I can.”
 
Horford also said that head coach Brad Stevens has been extremely helpful in assisting him in speeding up his learning curve.
 
“Coach (Stevens) is very sharp, very . . .  he explains things well,” Horford said. “He explains things well. He wants practice to move along. The pace of practice, definitely a faster pace.”
 
But you won’t find Horford complaining.
 
Horford is clearly excited about starting this new chapter in his basketball career.
 
“For me it’s more of a relief, finally being here in Boston, house, being settled,” Horford said. “Now we can just focus on the season.”

Brown knows there's a lot he can learn from Celtics teammates

Brown knows there's a lot he can learn from Celtics teammates

WALTHAM, Mass. – It was the first official day of Jaylen Brown’s NBA education.

So like most youngsters on the first day of school, he wanted to make a favorable impression.

Showing up three-plus hours early? Yup. That’ll help. But punctuality will only take you so far.

As eager as he is to play, Brown is well aware that much of what he’ll be doing the first few days will be centered around learning.

“It’s a lot of stuff I have to learn,” Brown admitted in an interview with CSNNE.com. “We have a lot of experience on the floor. I want to be a sponge to these older guys as long as I am here. And keep adapting, keep growing every day in practice and get better.”

Having a steady thirst for improvement is an essential for any player coming into the NBA, but especially for a 19-year-old like Brown.

Avery Bradley was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft and like Brown, he was just 19 years old coming into the league.

When I asked him what he wishes he knew as a rookie that he eventually learned over time, Bradley was succinct with his answer.

“Confidence,” he told CSNNE.com. “Just having more confidence. I wish I had more confidence in myself.”

Of course if you recall, Bradley spent his rookie season coming off the bench behind Ray Allen, one of the best shooting guards of his era who will someday wind up in the Naismith Hall of Fame.

There were others Bradley had to outperform just to get a shot at playing behind Ray Allen.

“There was Ray Allen, and Delonte West and Von Wafer,” said Bradley who added, “I was behind everybody and then we got Nate Robinson too.”

While the depth chart isn’t quite that deep for Brown, there’s no question he will have to hold his own and probably outplay a couple bodies in order to get a steady diet of playing time as a rookie.

“I love challenges,” Brown said. “This game is a beautiful game. I have a lot of people to compete and challenge me every day.  It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to coming out on top.”

Celtics forward/center Amir Johnson was 18 years old when the Detroit Pistons selected him straight out of high school in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft.

Johnson said he has been impressed with what he has seen from Brown the past couple of weeks during pick-up games and workouts.

And while it helps to have veterans around, Brown’s growth in this league will ultimately come down to how much he’s willing to listen and learn.

“If you’re a teen that wants to work and listen, sit back and be quiet,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I was that teen willing to listen and learn, willing to do whatever anybody told me to do. I listened to my veterans and my coaches, come in the gym early and stay late. I had a lot of help to get where I’m at today.”

That said, Brown will still have his naysayers who will focus on his youth, inexperience along with Boston’s depth as reasons for him to not do much early on his career.

Bradley knows a thing or two about that.

In Bradley’s second year with the Celtics he was in the starting lineup ahead of Allen which was one of many roles Bradley has been able to play surprisingly better than anticipated.

Bradley recalls how opposing players often think he is either shorter or doesn’t have as long a wingspan as they would expect.

“That plays to my advantage,” he said. “Everybody thinks I’m short or I’m not long. People are going to say the same thing about Jaylen. A lot of people think he can’t do this, can’t do that. That’s the part about this game I love; you can surprise people and that’s what I think he’s going to do.”