Bulked-up Bradley ready to play point for C's

Bulked-up Bradley ready to play point for C's
August 27, 2013, 5:45 pm
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BARRINGTON, N.H. — Injuries made it far from a given that the Boston Celtics were going to pick up the options on Avery Bradley's contract early in his career.

Heading into his fourth NBA season, the 6-foot-3 guard is eligible for a contract extension. If one is not reached, he becomes a restricted free agent next summer.

There are many things that Bradley is thinking about heading into this season, but his contract status apparently isn't one of them.

"I really don't focus on that," Bradley said. "I just focus on winning games, doing what I can do for my team."

And just as quickly as he forces ball-handlers to change directions, he soon did the same with questions regarding his contract.

"I can't wait for the season start," said Bradley who helped congratulate the winner of the Re/Max of New England "Home Court" makeover program in addition to leading a basketball clinic in Barrington. "I'm in the gym every day trying to get better. I can't wait until training camp."

Indeed, Bradley is no different than many of his Celtics teammates who are back from last season's squad which was knocked out of the postseason in the first round by the New York Knicks.

Forget about getting past the Knicks or any other team in the first round of the playoffs.

Just getting to the postseason will be challenging for a Celtics squad that traded away Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, as well as former head coach Doc Rivers who is now the head coach and Vice President of basketball operations with the Los Angeles Clippers.

In exchange for letting Rivers out of his contract which had three years and $21 remaining, the C's received a future first round pick from the Clippers.

"It was hard," Bradley said of seeing his former teammates and head coach leave all at once. "We are all like a family. It was hard on everybody. All we can do is wish the best for each other and just move on from there. When we see each other, there's always going to be love."

And for those who love Bradley's physical brand of play, there's literally more to love these days.

Two-a-day (and sometimes three-a-day) workouts this summer in addition to more weightlifting and a modified diet, has resulted in Bradley adding significant bulk to his frame.

"My body, I feel a lot stronger," said Bradley who now weighs 196 pounds which is the most he has ever weighed. "Sometimes when I'm walking down the streets of Boston, people say, 'Man you look a lot bigger.' "

Bradley, who has weighed around 180 pounds most of his career, said he hopes to go into the season weighing about 188 pounds.

Not only will the added weight allow him to be an even more physical defender than he is now, but it should also result in his body being more sturdy for the rigors of this upcoming season.

There were a number of Celtics players that seemed to struggle at times late in the season for a variety of reasons; Bradley was among them.

"Towards the end of the season, my body was kind of breaking down on me," he admitted. "I was getting a little sick and stuff so I wasn't eating. But I feel a lot better now."

And he feels a lot better about the Celtics' chances for success this season than many anticipate.

Along with the trades that have clearly made the C's a weaker team on paper, Boston also has to deal with the possibility that their best player Rajon Rondo will not being ready to play at the start of the season.

While the Celtics remain hopeful that his torn right ACL injury will heal in time for him to start the season, all indications are that Rondo's return will most likely be sometime in December.

That means Bradley may once again find himself having to play more at the point guard position than off the ball, which is a more natural spot for him to play.

"Whatever my role is, whatever I can do to help our team out, that's what I'm going to be open to doing," Bradley said. "Rondo will still be there to play that leadership role and help everybody out. Even if I'm not playing point guard, whoever it is, I'm pretty sure whoever is, Rondo is going to be there in his ear to try to help us be the best team we can be and win a championship."

Yes, Bradley said the 'C' word in relation to this team.

"I consider us an underdog team," Bradley said, adding, "a lot of people counting us out."

The Celtics' naysayers and critics, much like Bradley's contract status, are not pressing matters for him heading into this season.

"I've just been focusing on my game, just getting better and being the best I can for this team," he said.