Boston Celtics

O'Neal, Bradley among Impact League players

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O'Neal, Bradley among Impact League players

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

NBA fans won't have to wait until the players union and owners reach a new deal before seeing some of the game's best play against one another.

More than 60 NBA players - a group that includes current Boston Celtics Jermaine O'Neal and Avery Bradley - will be in Las Vegas next week to participate in the inaugural Impact Basketball League.

The league is set to begin play on Monday, with four games scheduled every two hours beginning at 4:30 p.m. Games will be played until Thursday, then resume Monday through Friday the week of the 19th.

Never before in the offseason have so many great players come together to train and play," said Joe Abunassar, founder of Impact Basketball, who is widely considered one of the top training and development experts among NBA players. "I am thrilled to be able to provide our world-class training environment and system to so many great players.

In addition to O'Neal and Bradley, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have also spent some time working out and playing games at the Impact Basketball facility. It is unclear if they will join the league this summer, although Impact officials have said that players not on the original list of participants may be added.

"This will be an amazing two weeks for all of us NBA players who have been working and training hard all summer to get together and have a chance to really get after it on the court against some of the best players in the league," said former Celtic guard and current New York Knick, Chauncey Billups.

The league, which will have a limited number of tickets available at the will-call window of the Impact ticket office, comes about at a time when there's significant uncertainty about when - if at all - will the players have training camp.

When the players union and the owners couldn't reach a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement this summer, players were locked out when the deal expired on July 1.

Both sides met sparingly this summer.

In fact, Wednesday's meeting in New York was just the third since the July 1 lockout. Both sides met again on Thursday.

And while none of the key figures have sounded overly optimistic that a deal was imminent, the fact that both sides have been more willing to sit down and talk - and now, they want to bring in more people to talk - bodes well for the league avoiding just the second work stoppage in its history.

Between now and getting a deal done, players will do their best to stay in shape whenever the time comes to resume playing.

Part of that conditioning includes participating in events such as the Impact Basketball league which will feature only NBA players as well as players in the league who are free agents.

Here's a list of all the players who have agreed to be in the league: Chauncey Billups; Al Harrington; Kyle Lowry; Dahntay Jones; James Anderson; Marresse Speights; Melvin Ely; Jermaine O'Neal; Jared Dudley; Alan Anderson; Austin Daye; JJ Hickson; John Wall; Zach Randolph; Wesley Matthews; Shelvin Mack; Stephen Jackson; Iman Shumpert; Derek Caracter; Shawne Williams; Jimmy Butler; Mo Williams; Roger Mason; Travis Leslie; Josh Selby; Sebastian Telfair; CJ Watson; Armon Johnson; Avery Bradley; Jared Jeffries; Demar Derozen; Jamaal Tinsley; Jordan Williams; Malcolm Lee; Ekpe Udoh; Bonzi Wells; Al farouq Aminu; Xavier Silas; Desmond Farmer; Corey Stokes; Larry Owens; Hakim Warrick; Courtney Lee; Morris Peterson; Channing Frye; Damon Jones; Terrico White; Steph Curry; Ryan Hollins; TJ Ford; Manny Harris; Rashard Lewis; Isaiah Thomas; Larry Hughes; Jordan Hamilton; Willie Warren; Dorell Wright; Paul George; Corey Maggette; Brandon Rush; Jordan Crawford; Nick Young; Kenyon Martin; Josh Harrelson; Dominque Jones; Martell Webster; Jared Bayless; Tony Allen; Kawhi Leonard; and Jeremy Evans.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Celebrating Red Auerbach's 100th Birthday

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CELTICS TALK PODCAST: Celebrating Red Auerbach's 100th Birthday

In this week's special episode of "Celtics Talk," we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of the legendary Arnold "Red" Auerbach. Mike Gorman sits down with Red in his final interview with us, plus we hear from Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and others on the man that engineered and built the most successful franchise in NBA history.

Brown ready to embrace role with new-look Celtics

Brown ready to embrace role with new-look Celtics

BOSTON – Like most of us, Jaylen Brown watched intently as the Boston Celtics overhauled their roster in a way in which no one on the payroll could untouchable.

Armed with the number one overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the Boston Celtics traded down two spots to pick up a wing player (Jayson Tatum) who plays the same position as Brown.

Later on, the Celtics traded away Avery Bradley to Detroit.

Soon after, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas were Cleveland-bound in a deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston.

Things have changed, quickly.

MORE: Celtics storylines: Who fills out the starting lineup?

But being a high-profile high school player who spent one year in college before entering the NBA, Brown is well-versed on how to adapt quickly to new surroundings.

Brown might find himself getting used to yet another new role as an NBA starter this season.

When training camp opens next week for the Celtics, there will be at least two positions in the starting five up for grabs courtesy of Bradley and Crowder being in Detroit and Cleveland, respectively.

Thomas’ starting job will be handled by Irving who will be joined in the starting lineup by Al Horford and another new face to the Celtics roster, Gordon Hayward who signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with Boston this summer after having spent his first seven NBA seasons in Utah.

Brown said he hadn’t put too much thought into all the changes that Boston was making this offseason.

“I knew a lot of stuff was going on and it was a lot of changes but it was above my pay grade,” Brown said. “Right now my job is to come in and play basketball and leave the politics up to the front office and you guys. It had nothing to do with me. I just try to come out and play hard, and try and be the best person and basketball player. . .  I can be. I try not to think too much of it.”

But it’s hard to ignore the possibility that he could be in the starting lineup on opening night, an opportunity he will have to earn with his play in training camp.

“(Head coach Brad Stevens) is going to do whatever he feels is best for the team and I support that,” Brown said. “Whatever it is that he decides, is what he decides. But I’m here, I’m available and I’m ready to work. It’s going to be a good year.”

The possibility that Brown could be in the regular starting lineup in his second season isn’t all that unusual for a player taken with the third overall pick in the draft.

But unlike most rookies, Brown wasn’t selected by a team where playing time was a given.

He joined an experienced squad that had its sights on a deep playoff run, something that runs counter-intuitive to what most high draft picks experience their first year.

But the Celtics advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to Cleveland in five games.

And as Boston went deeper into its season, Brown steadily worked his way into regular minutes which has helped put him here, potentially on the cusp of being a regular starter.

“My mindset is the same in a lot of ways, and is different in a lot of ways,” Brown said. “It’s the same in the sense where I’m just working, trying to get better each and every day just like last year; just constantly push myself for greatness. Where it’s different now, my mindset is I know a little bit more, I have my feet under me. A little bit more is expected of me.”

Throughout the summer, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been pleased with the growth he has seen in Brown’s game.

But for him to help the Celtics this season, Stevens believes it’ll have to come on the defensive end of the floor.

“Jaylen has to become a lockdown defender for us," Stevens said on the Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, earlier this summer. "That's where, as you go into an offseason and you are an individual player, there's a ton of things that you want to get better at, and there's a ton of things you want to add to your game. But ultimately, when you get back to your team, it's what do you do that's different to make your team unique to give yourself the best chance of adding value to winning. We need him to become that."

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