OFFSEASON

NBA lockout hits Big Baby hard

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NBA lockout hits Big Baby hard

Glen Davis looked around as he stepped on the airplane to Boston.

He paused -- the view looked different.

For the past four years of Davis life, boarding a plane in November would usually mean the Celtics were headed to a road game. The passengers would be teammates, coaches, personnel -- people Davis could identify with. But not during the NBA lockout.

I realized when I was on an airplane today and I was looking at all these guys, they dont look like basketball players -- what do they do? Davis told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview on Wednesday night. I tried to see myself as one of those guys.

The once-distant notion of being anything but a basketball player is a reality he has faced during the lockout. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, basketball was a way of life for Davis and a path he knew early on he would follow while others explored career options.

School wasnt my way, he said. Those guys on the airplane, they went to school, they got their degrees, and they became financial advisors or Wall Street guys. I went to school at Louisiana State University, but I was playing basketball and basketball is my career. And now its taken away from me, I have to think about something other than basketball.

After years of chasing a goal to make it in the pros, it has been challenging for Davis to adjust to life without basketball. Forced to rely on himself at many points growing up, he welcomed the sense of belonging the game gave him.

Now the waiting period during the lockout has made him to take a long, hard look at who he is as both an athlete and as a 25-year-old man who is still trying to find his way.

You dont know how things are going to happen, and thats where Im at right now, he said. Ive started my foundation and you try to build from there. It really is scary. It really is scary because youre not that athlete that everybody adores . . . Ive just been finding myself during the lockout, really, and spending time with my family.

The unrestricted free agent is anxious to get back into NBA action. He recently decided against playing overseas with Guangsha in China and opted instead to wait for the lockout to end.

Talks were really, really close. Really, really close, he said of signing overseas. I want to stay here in the States and try to wait it out and see if we can start playing some basketball soon . . . That was one of my biggest fears, being locked over there watching NBA games. My dream was to play in the NBA and thats the only place I see myself.

Davis has taken to Twitter to express his desire to find a solution to the lockout. On Wednesday he tweeted, Take the 51 man and let's play. He explained the post was a way to express his views on the situation.

At the end of the day, everybody has a point, he said. The owners have a point, the players have a point. At the end of the day, I want to play basketball. At the end of the day, a job is a job. I just want to play. I want to play, and thats my most important thing. Yes, I want a fair deal, but also I do want to play . . . I want each party to be fair with each other. . . . At the end of the day, if were all giving, it should work out for the best for everybody. Thats just my point.

Once basketball resumes, Davis will be faced with making another deal -- signing a new contract. He has played his entire career in Boston since being drafted by the Celtics in 2007 and would like to return. At the same time, he understands basketball is a business.

I would love to be in Boston, he said. I would love to be in Boston if the opportunity was there. But if its not there, I cant sit there and just cry about it. Ive got to go somewhere else.

Looking back on last season and the Celtics' second-round playoff exit, Davis has learned there are things he can improve on moving forward. After facing criticism by many for trying to do too much, he wants to be more comfortable within himself on the court. To him, mental strength is stronger than any ability to grab a rebound or take a charge.

There are a lot of things I would have done differently, but I think the most important thing is just being mentally strong in spite how things go or what you think things should be, he said. I want to be a part of something and I want people to accept me so bad, I kind of got caught up in what other people think. Instead of pleasing myself and being the player I am, I wanted to please other people. And I couldnt do that because I hadnt come to grips with myself.

He added, I wanted to impress my coach so he could trust me and accept me for the player that I am. I wanted to please my teammates. At the same time, things mentally were not there. How can I please them if I cant please myself, if Im not accepting myself as a player and just doing what I have to do?

Davis offers a glimpse into the side of the boisterous big man that is not always seen amid the joking and laughter. A sense of acceptance and belonging is important to him.

I would have to say it is important to me to please others just because of the way people perceive me to be, he said. They perceive me to be this fat guy whos kind of just making it in the league, hes just here. I want people to like me. I want people to say, Hey this boy can really play, he can play the game, he is a great player.

I just want people to love me, to love Big Baby. Thats why I try to have people remember me for my personality, for who I am as a person, outgoing, having fun. I just want to be accepted.

Thats just something Ive learned in the offseason -- a lot of people might not like you. You have to love yourself because at the end of the day when its all said and done, nobodys going to take care of Glen but Glen. Its just all about growing up. Ive grown a lot this offseason and hopefully it will help me with my career.

For Davis, the lockout means thinking about life after the game, something he didnt expect to do this early. It means managing his money and being smart with what he has earned. It also means practicing the discipline that is emphasized throughout the NBA season on his own.

Playing basketball and being around an organization that practices discipline and mentally practices how to be a man, you dont realize that being a Celtic, being around Doc Rivers and those players, has helped me be a better man in life because it helps me with discipline and knowing how to do things the right way and be a professional, he said.

Taking basketball away from me, its kind of hindering my growth. I have to go and try to figure things out myself now and make my way through a different way. Making my way through was playing basketball. Now Ive got to make my way through being a regular guy who doesnt play basketball. Now Ive got to learn how to put a suit and tie on and go to work. Thats just the way it is and it affects so many people. Not only us as basketball players, but for fans, employees, basketball is sort of a way of life.

While Davis looks inward, he is also giving outward during this time. He launched the Glen Big Baby Davis Foundation, which focuses on literacy, athletic, and healthy recreational activities. One of his projects is the imaginary library, aimed to provide children with books in their homes.

Through this foundation, he is fostering a strong interest he hadnt realized before -- I really found that I have a deep passion for kids and the well-being of kids and putting them in the right direction, he said.

In addition, he has also started Big Baby Entertainment and is working with fellow Baton Rouge native, DaJamaal, who Davis says, "touches on a lot of things in society that people dont usually talk about."

As Davis becomes involved in new ventures and works to help others, he eagerly waits for basketball to resume. Thinking of getting back on the court stays on his mind, whether he is boarding an airplane or even watching a movie.

I was watching the cartoon movie 'The Incredibles' and the heroes werent wanted by the people anymore, so now they have to blend in and be regular people, he recalled. The guy on the cartoon was working at a desk job and he didnt like it. He wanted to be a hero and thats all he knew he wanted to be. And thats how we are. Were considered heroes in the community and for somebody to take your super powers away, how do you deal with somebody taking your super powers away?

Davis will eventually regain his "super powers" once the NBA season gets underway, but the strengths he gains during the lockout may prove to be the greatest ones of all.

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

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Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET

OFFSEASON

Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

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Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

Doc Rivers appeared on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski and dismissed the Blake Griffin trade rumors, claiming that “bloggers” who “have nothing to do with the sport” were the cause of the Blake-to-Boston gossip.

“We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers,” Rivers told Woj. “No team is calling because teams know we don’t have any interest. It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now. There are so many good, credible guys, but then there’s some of the guys who are bloggers and have nothing to do with the sport.”

Rivers went on to explain that his youngest son, Spencer, even took the time out to trace the source of this "groundless" rumor.

“Danny [Ainge] and I have talked twice this summer. One was about the British Open, and the other was about another golf tournament. That’s about it,” Rivers explained. “But my son traced [where this rumor started] it to I think a Boston radio talk show and the guy didn’t say that we had been talking, but that Blake would be one of the guys the Celtics should go after. That started the next step, and then the next thing you know, it blew it up.”

Glenn Rivers sounds more like a politician than a doctor. Everyone knows politicians lie.

So Doc says he’s spoken to Danny only twice this summer -- both times about golf and “that’s about it.” But it's good to know they did apparently find the time to lay the groundwork for Paul Pierce to retire with the Celtics, if he does choose to call it a career.

“If Paul does decide to retire, we’re gonna make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic because that’s what he should retire as,” Rivers said. “We have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s gonna do.”

Allowing Pierce to retire as a Celtic would be the right thing to do, for sure. He spent 15 seasons with the Celtics, won a title, and someday No. 34 will be hanging in the rafters. Ainge has also made it clear before that he'd love for Pierce to take on some type of front office role with the team after he retires from his playing career.

But Blake is the guy Celtics fans want now, so it’s understandable Doc would dispel the rumors regarding his four-time All-Star.

It doesn’t mean those conversations didn’t take place because trade talks happen every single day in the NBA. But considering Doc spent the opening minutes of the podcast discussing Blake, it certainly makes it seem like a deal is dead. At least for now.

OFFSEASON

A closer look at the five signings by the Boston Celtics

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A closer look at the five signings by the Boston Celtics

BOSTON – It’s official.

The Boston Celtics announced the signings of what should be the last moves made of significance between now and training camp.

All five players bring different strengths to the table, as well as areas of concern.

But more than anything else, they provide depth for a team that has made depth a calling card of sorts.

Here we’ll break down each of the newest Celtics, what they bring to the table this season, as well as do a little crystal-ball watching as to what their role should be for this upcoming season.

Gerald Green

Career stats: A nine-year veteran, Green has appeared in 497 games while averaging 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists while shooting 36.1 percent on 3s.

Last season (in Miami): Green averaged 8.9 points in 22.4 minutes per game while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and 32.3 percent on 3s.

The former Celtics draft pick returns to where his NBA dream began, albeit in a much different role. When he arrived as the 18th pick in the 2005 draft, Green was an athletic, above-the-rim freak of nature. Not too soon after that, he won the league’s Slam Dunk competition. From there, Green’s game showed little growth, which led to a two-plus seasons (2009-2012) in which he played overseas and in the D-League. The time away didn’t do much for him financially, but it did result in his game becoming more complete. His time in the NBA over the past five seasons has shown him to be more than just a human highlight waiting to happen. The 6-7 forward has become a more consistent 3-point shooter as he now boosts a career average of 36.1 percent. And he returns in a more humble state than when he arrived. His role is yet to be defined, but the need to add him became a necessity with James Young still not displaying the kind of growth that makes Boston feel comfortable with putting him on the floor to play meaningful minutes. Green won’t play huge minutes, but he’s the kind of X-factor that could help Boston win four or five games this season. And that could be the difference between a tough first-round playoff matchup that begins on the road, or a postseason that starts off at the TD Garden.

TYLER ZELLER

Career stats: Zeller has appeared in 289 games, averaging 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds while shooting 50.1 percent from the field.

Last season (in Boston): Saw his role diminish significantly from the previous season, averaging 6.1 points and a career-low 3.0 rebounds per game in 11.8 minutes – also a career-low mark.

Throughout the year, Zeller’s patience was rewarded with an unexpected rush of minutes and more often than not, he came through. Having a player who does more than just buy into the concept of always staying ready but proves it time and time again, has tremendous value on this team. The 26-year-old center has shown flashes of being a reliable rotation player for Boston. Even with the changes, Zeller remains arguably their best finisher at the basket among the team’s centers. He will come into camp and just as it has been in the past, will compete for playing time. But most likely he’ll find himself in a similar situation where his minutes will be infrequent. But having said that, Zeller knows his chance to play will come and the Celtics know there will be games where Zeller’s activity, rebounding and scoring at the basket will be needed. And when that time comes, they know he’ll be ready.

Jaylen Brown

Career stats (at Cal): In his lone season at Cal, Brown averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 27.4 percent on 3s.

Taken by Boston with the third overall pick in last month’s NBA draft, expectations for a player selected so high are usually well, really high. Brown won’t have the pressure that most high lottery (top-14) picks have when they come into the NBA. As it was laid out to CSNNE.com by Brown’s mental skills coach Graham Betchart, Brown’s focus is on controlling what he can control and not getting overly caught up in results. You never want to put too much stock in what happens during summer league, but Brown showed certain strengths during summer league that typically translate well against better competition which he will face during the regular season. He averaged 10.2 free throw attempts per game, which is impressive, summer league or no summer league. He won’t live at the line nearly as much this season, but the aggressive nature of his play was a positive. And like signing Green, Brown also provides a high level of athleticism that has been in short supply on this team in recent years. As for his role this season, look for Brown to be used at both small forward and power forward for Boston as Jae Crowder’s backup.

Demetrius Jackson

Career stats (at Notre Dame): 11.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on 3s.

Last season (at Notre Dame): 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 33.1 percent on 3s.

After talking with scouts shortly after last month’s draft, many were stunned that Jackson fell as far as he did (No. 45 overall, 15th pick in second round) on draft night. There’s no consensus as to why that happened, either. Winding up in Boston while may not necessarily be the best fit for Jackson in terms of getting on the court immediately, but it should do wonders for his growth and longevity in the NBA. He will see first-hand the work ethic of Avery Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defender as well as Bradley’s backcourt mate, All-Star Isaiah Thomas. The growth in Terry Rozier’s game provides Jackson with tangible proof of what can happen by watching and absorbing the teachings of more seasoned players at your position. But don’t think for a minute that he’s just going to stand idly by, folks. Jackson is a good player who will not back down from any of his more accomplished backcourt mates. He will eventually develop into a decent scorer in this league who has the kind of lateral quickness and instincts (he averaged better than one steal per game in three seasons at Notre Dame) that should serve him well in the NBA. But barring a Celtics trade, Boston’s backcourt depth will likely result in him spending most of his rookie season with the team’s Development league affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Ben Bentil

Career stats (at Providence College): 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.

Last season (at Providence College): 21.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

Another player who was projected to go higher than he did (51st overall, No. 21 pick in the second round) on draft night, Bentil is an intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-8 forward led the Big East in scoring last season, doing so with Kris Dunn – arguably the nation’s top point guard and the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft – getting him the ball a lot. Bentil has the kind of build and inside-outside game that more and more teams are looking to add to their roster. He showed flashes of that during summer league, but not enough to where you feel he can come in and contribute immediately. Barring trades or injuries to the frontcourt, Bentil will spend a large chunk of this season with the Red Claws.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN