Rookies ready, excited for first Celtics practice

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Rookies ready, excited for first Celtics practice

WALTHAM -- The first practice of the Boston Celtics 2012-13 season was called for 11am on Saturday morning.

Rookie Dionte Christmas went to bed at 10 oclock the night before in preparation and woke up at eight. By the time and he Jamar Smith arrived together at the Celtics practice facility shortly after nine, fellow rookies Kris Joseph, Fab Melo, and Jared Sullinger were already there. The five first-year players were ready to get to work.

I wanted to get a lift and condition in before practice actually starts, Joseph explained. Then youve got to come on the court and get your shots up because at the end of the day, once practice starts, if Im shooting on a basket and Paul (Pierce) wants to shoot, sorry young fella. So youve got to get your work in early and thats what I had heard from my teammates back in college and people around the NBA -- get your work in early because the vets will take over.

Saturday was the rookies first opportunity to run through a practice with the entire team, but they had been in Waltham for weeks working with the large group of players who returned to Boston ahead of training camp.

The sessions combined with the teams offseason trip to Los Angeles for informal workouts (organized by Rajon Rondo) gave the rookies a sense of familiarity with their new teammates and a glimpse into the level of intensity they would have to bring during practice.

Those guys, to be their age, they have so much energy, said Christmas. They have equal energy or more than some of the us and the younger guys on the team. KG (Kevin Garnett), Paul, Rondo, and JT (Jason Terry) bring the best out of you. Its humbling and Im just being a sponge.

The rookies have taken to their veteran teammates, seeking out advice as they run through plays and drills. This open communicated translated on to the court.

It was great, said Sullinger. We had a lot of fun. We learned a lot as a team. The team chemistry worked well. Everybody had a little something with one another.

Sundays practice is once again slated for 11am. That start time doesnt mean much to the rookies. They will be in the weight room and on the court long before that.

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

Thomas on not getting All-Star start: 'It hurts but I’ll be all right’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas stood before the media throng on Friday afternoon at the Celtics’ practice facility and answered all the questions with the usual truthful tone sprinkled with a bit of humor.
 
But you could sense that he was still bitter about the results announced by the NBA on Thursday as to who will be the starters in next month’s All-Star Game.
 
Cleveland’s LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler were the frontcourt starters announced by the league. In the backcourt you will find Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, who finished in a tie with Thomas in this first season in which fans, media and players all have a say in who will be the game’s starting five, as opposed to past seasons in which the starters were chosen strictly by fans.
 
DeRozan and Thomas finished in a tie under the voting system, but DeRozan moved ahead of Thomas due to a tie-breaker (fan vote), in which DeRozan had about 41,000 more votes than Thomas.
 
“It’s not the end of the world; it’s all good,” said Thomas. “I was disappointed, but those guys deserve it as well. I did everything I could in my control to put myself in position to be a starter. It’s not the end of the world.”
 
Especially knowing that the coaches will vote him on to the team for the second year in a row.
 
But for Thomas to be even in the conversation speaks to how the league’s new system of choosing All-Star starters, makes the whole choosing of starters about more than just a popularity contest, which is the irony of Thomas being left off the starting five – it ultimately came down to DeRozan receiving more votes from fans than Thomas.
 
“I didn’t really look at it. I didn’t look at what the reason was, but it is what it is,” Thomas said. “I’ll use it as motivation. I have to get better. That’s all I took out of that. I’m not where I want to be.”
 
Thomas finished fourth in fan voting for the starting nod, but was second among players and first among Eastern Conference guards among the media.
 
“I appreciate everybody who voted for me, especially you [media] guys,” Thomas said. “The media showed me some love and then my peers showed me love too.”
 
But as far as coming so close to being an All-Star starter and not making it, Thomas said, “It hurts but I’ll be alright. I’ll use it as motivation and keep going.”
 
Thomas is having a banner season that has elevated his name and game into the conversation for the league’s MVP award that so far is being led by Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
 
He averages 28.7 points per game, which is tops among Eastern Conference players and fourth overall. 

Among his more notable accomplishments this season, he scored a franchise-record 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Miami, and in the same game, wound up scoring a career-high 52 points.
 
Thomas isn’t the only NBA player who has had a season that most would believe would result in him being an All-Star starter.
 
“You look in the west, [Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook] averages a triple-double and he didn’t get in [to start],” Thomas said. “I guess…I’ll let everybody debate for me and argue for me. Those guys that made it who start, they deserved it.”
 

NBA reaches seven-year labor agreement with players' union

NBA reaches seven-year labor agreement with players' union

When was the last time you saw any labor contract — not just the NBA, not just pro sports, but in any business — get done before either side could opt-out, let alone the actual deadline?

That’s what happened with the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The teams had until Dec. 15 of last year to opt out, with the real deadline for a new deal being July 1 of this year. Yet the two sides reached a deal before either side even opted out.

Thursday the NBA and National Basketball Players’ Association announced that the new CBA had been signed. It’s a seven-year deal that kicks in July 1.

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