WALTHAM, Mass. — What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been for Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.
Well the winds of change won't be slowing down anytime soon, not with training camp just a month away.
We sat down with Stevens in a wide-ranging interview Friday afternoon as the rookie coach discussed this upcoming season, the kind of basketball he expects to see at both ends of the floor, and of course, Rajon Rondo.
CSNNE.com: Finding a home, assembling coaches, looking at hours and hours of video of your returning players, not to mention learning the lay of the land. And your head's not spinning yet?
Stevens: "It is, it is. My main focus thus far, has been learning our team, learning the game from the little nuances of the NBA that's different. And figring out how we can best be successful. We all know and we all believe it's going to be a process of daily growth. We have to have complete buy-in to that regard."
CSNNE.com: Training camp is about a month away. Are you where you ideally want to be at this point?
Stevens: "We only have so many days before we have to get ready to play our first exhibition game. Everything that we're able to do now with the guys that are in and want to be here is just trying to get into a rhythm together. It has been great with the guys that have been here. I'm excited to get some of the older guys in later on. I feel like we got a good progression of things and a good progression plan of time."
CSNNE.com: You met with Rajon Rondo at his camp shortly after you were hired. Have you two been able to get together since then?
STEVENS: "I've talked to him on the phone; obviously texted a lot. But I have not had any direct contact with him."
CSNNE.com: What's the latest on Rondo?
STEVENS: "All the reports are really good. A couple of our assistants spent a couple days with him as he was going through and doing some of his rehab and then spent some time with him on and off the court. Everybody can't wait to get him here. I've gotten the impression he's excited to be here."
CSNNE.com: What style of play do you envision for this Celtics team, and will that be the same or different from the style you are accustomed to coaching?
STEVENS: "I don't think style of play is defined by coaches. I think it's defined by who the players are. You try to fit with your players to the best of their abilities at both ends of the floor, while at the same time provide a framework for which we can all work together.
"What I would like to do and what I see as a really positive thing with this group, is playing in transition with a lot of spacing. We have bigs that can really shoot the basketball. We have guards that are very athletic that can get into the paint. We got a couple of wings that can run the floor and do things in transition that are really high level. And then we got guys that can score off spacing, that can score off cutting and score off the bounce."
CSNNE.com: And what about the other end of the floor?
STEVENS: "The other side of the ball, we want to be as connected as we can be. I'm a big man-to-man guy. We will mix in some zone here and there and we will do some things in certain situations that's a little unique. But we will play hopefully an aggressive, solid man-to-man defense."
CSNNE.com: When you look at this team and study them, what jumps out to you?
STEVENS: "As far as the team and what I learned, they obviously had a great deal of success. One of the challenges is when you lose older guys. You lose a (Jason) Terry, a (Paul) Pierce and especially a (Kevin) Garnett, on the defensive end of the floor. There's a lot of communication that goes on, and probably covers up a lot of missteps by those guys, especially Garnett. That's one of the areas you look at and say, 'How quickly can we all get on the same page and who covers that up? Who takes those reigns of being able to see what's going on, know what's going on, feels comfortable enough to call out what's going on and lead from behind?'
CSNNE.com: Is Jared Sullinger, praised for his high basketball I.Q. by Doc Rivers as well as Garnett repeatedly, someone who could potentially fill that void?
STEVENS: "There's no question he can. But there's two parts of that. He's very capable of doing that. He's a very bright guy. He's working very hard, and has the whole time I have been here. He's been in town most of the summer. The other side of that coin is he has to have an expedited learning curve for a young guy. He's younger than (rookie Kelly) Olynyk. He's supposed to be a senior in college now, so he's still young. Can he do that? Absolutely. Can we expect him to do that at Garnett's level on October 7? No. It's going to be a process helping him get there. But he's committed to getting there as soon as he can."
CSNNE.com: Speaking of "getting there," what do you see as the next level of progression for Jeff Green?
STEVENS: "The next step for Jeff and I think Jeff would be the first to tell you this, is he has a great opportunity to do the things that he did (last season), even more consistently and with more opportunity. But with that comes a great deal of responsibility and a great deal of attention. Every day has to be a great day. It has to be a day where you are making an inch of progress. And then the next day, an inch more and the next day and inch more, and not going back and fourth. From what I have seen of Jeff and from what I have heard of Jeff, he's really bought into that and he's really excited about that."
CSNNE.com: One of the new guys to not just the team, but the United States, is Vitor Faverani. Just your early impressions of him?
STEVENS: "He's a really sharp guy. English is not his first language so he's learning that. But he's picking it up very quickly. It was really good when he got here, from what I expected. He's fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. But he's been great. I've gotten a chance to spend some time with him off the court as well, which I have enjoyed. I haven't had any communication issues. He's a sharp guy. He really wants to do well. He's excited about being here. He is a guy that takes his job seriously. He's a guy that wants to do his job well. And so I'm excited to see where he can go from here."