Zeller on trade to Celtics: It was a great surprise

Zeller on trade to Celtics: It was a great surprise
August 6, 2014, 4:15 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

It won't go down as a blockbuster trade - or fireworks, if you will - but the Celtics did acquire a young center this summer in Tyler Zeller from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Boston has been in need of a center essentially since the team traded away Kendrick Perkins a few seasons ago.

Is Zeller their center of the future? That remains to be seen. But nba.com's Celtics reporter, Emily Austen, caught up with Zeller over the phone recently to discuss the big man's feelings on being traded to Boston along with what he's been up to.

Zeller was already in store for a crazy week, as he was preparing to marry his then fiance. The news of the trade came a few days before the wedding, and added to the fun.
 
"I actually called her while she was doing her practice run for her hair," Zeller said. "So it was kind of crazy, but it was definitely a good wedding present."

Being traded wasn't a shock, but Zeller admits Boston wasn't on his radar.

"I don't know if I ever did know if I would be [in Boston], it was kind of a little bit of a surprise to me," Zeller said. "I knew there was some trade talk but I didn't know that Boston was one of the teams. So it was a big surprise but definitely a great surprise. A very historic program, the fans are great, the community is unbelievable there, we got a great team, and I really look forward to playing with Brad Stevens."

Stevens is a big fan of the Zeller family, at one point last season raving about Tyler's younger brother, Cody. His time at Butler with the Zeller family hailing from Indiana made that connection. Zeller is excited to play under Stevens.

"He is somebody I respect tremendously," Zeller said. "What he did at Butler and just how much I've heard from him and my brother and how great of a guy he is, I really look forward to playing for him. I know that he's going to be a great coach for me as well as the whole team."

Zeller has met a couple of players on the Celtics, most likely at the team's training facilities in Waltham. He listed Chris Johnson and Joel Anthony as two he's met, while saying he knows a couple others through playing in the NBA.

So what can Zeller bring to the C's?

"Just my ability to run the floor," he said, "just be able to set screens or rolls or pops . . . the length and size I bring defensively I think is something they're looking for."

And if all goes to plan, a bigger Zeller will arrive at Celtics camp. He's working on a few things, including bulking up.

"One of them has just been gaining strength, gaining some weight, just to be able to bang a little better with the [centers]," Zeller said. "I only weighed 240-245 pounds last year so I was a little undersized, but I want to gain some weight and also be able to keep my speed. Other than that, just working on a lot of finishes, a lot of shots and just trying to become more efficient offensively."