Boston Celtics

Potential NBA lockout all too familiar to Pierce

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Potential NBA lockout all too familiar to Pierce

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

These are times of mixed emotions for players expected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft on June 23.

To hear Commissioner David Stern call their names would be a dream come true for many.

But with the league in the midst of labor issues that are expected to delay the start of the season - a new Collective Bargaining Agreement has to be reached by June 30 in order for a lockout to be avoided - there's no telling how long after the draft when players selected later this month will actually play their first NBA game.

Boston's Paul Pierce can relate to what they're going through now.

Pierce was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 draft, just on the eve of the league's last work stoppage.

While he can relate to the anxiety future NBA players are dealing with now, Pierce said today's crop of incoming talent is more informed about the potential lockout issues than the players who came into the league with him.

"Me, I had no knowledge of it (potential lockout)," Pierce said. "So I got drafted, and I was like, 'Oh, there's a lockout.'"

Not only did it put young players like Pierce at a disadvantage in terms of adjusting to the speed of the NBA, but it also impacted their conditioning.

The conditioning program that most NBA teams put incoming rookies through began later than usual because of the lockout, which only added to the struggles that a number of first-year players endured as rookies.

The lockout wiped out summer league that year as well.

Today's players often spend time after the draft, but before training camp, working out with a private trainer along with other players represented by the same agent.

It wasn't like that when Pierce was coming into the league.

"I was pretty much on my own," Pierce said. "I didn't have a trainer or nothing. It was just, stay ready."

Fortunately for the Celtics, the lockout had little affect on Pierce's play as a rookie.

He averaged 16.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game and was named to the NBA's All-Rookie First Team.

Pierce, who serves as the Celtics' player representative, spent time throughout this season keeping his teammates - especially the younger ones - abreast of what they need to do in case there is a lockout.

"You definitely have to save your money," Celtics rookie Avery Bradley said. "That's important, especially for young guys like me. Even if there wasn't a lockout, or the possibility of one, you still need to be smart with your money."

And your body, Pierce says.

For younger players, they're going to be playing games or working out in the summer regardless of the league's labor situation.

But for veterans such as himself, conditioning becomes even more important with a potential lockout looming.

"That's the thing about lockouts," said Pierce, who will be 34 in October. "I've seen a lot of guys end their career during the lockout, pretty much by weight gain. They couldn't get back to the level of play. It's always about staying ready. Even at my age, I think a lot of guys, they go through the lockout in October. November comes, guys my age get lazy probably and don't work out. And then it bites them when they lift the lockout."

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

No longer the little team that could, Celtics may need time to jell

No longer the little team that could, Celtics may need time to jell

Fireworks have been ablaze in the NBA all summer long, with the latest electrifying salvo being tossed by the Boston Celtics in trading for Kyrie Irving from Cleveland in exchange for a package of playerscentered around Isaiah Thomas and a first-round pick centered around Isaiah Thomas. Without question the Celtics were among the biggest winners this offseason as they went about transforming their roster significantly despite having the best record in the East while advancing to the conference finals. But good wasn’t good enough, a similar mantra by a number of teams in the NBA. We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin!

BOSTON – Expectations for the Celtics this season are the highest they've been in the Brad Stevens Era.
 
The past couple of years, Stevens’ crew was seen as a scrappy bunch.
 
That all changed Tuesday night when the Celtics pulled off a blockbuster trade in acquiring Kyrie Irving from Cleveland for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

MORE ON THE KYRIE IRVING BLOCKBUSTER:

 
Acquiring the four-time All-Star would have made this offseason one of the best ever for the Celtics. But prior to landing the 25-year-old point guard, Boston was able to sign Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $127.8 million contract after he spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Utah Jazz.
 
The new guys join a Celtics team that returns just four starters, a group led by Al Horford, who stands as the lone returning starter from last season’s squad which finished with the best record in the East (53-29) while advancing to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in five games to Cleveland.
 
Adding a pair of All-Stars to the mix will certainly benefit the Celtics for this upcoming season. But for their continued growth, they will also need to get more from their youngsters.
 
Second-year forward Jaylen Brown had a strong offseason and is poised to build off of a rookie season in which he was named to the All-Rookie second team. Boston will also look to get quality play from rookie Jayson Tatum who was selected by Boston with the third overall pick in the NBA draft.  
 
For Boston, the biggest concern has to be chemistry.
 
There’s no question there’s more talent on this roster from top to bottom.
 
But with this being the first go-around for most of the players, it remains to be seen just how long it will take for all of the core players to get on the same page and find success.
 
That challenge won’t be easy, especially with the Celtics opening with seven of their first 11 games on the road.

Even with all the new faces and a challenging schedule out the gates, that won’t diminish the heightened level of expectations for a team that will surely have a bull’s-eye on its back all season for a journey that should result in yet another deep playoff run.
 
Key free agent/trade additions: Kyrie Irving (from Cleveland); Gordon Hayward (from Utah); Aron Baynes (from Detroit); Marcus Morris (from Detroit).
 
Key losses:
Avery Bradley (traded to Detroit); Amir Johnson (Philadelphia); Jonas Jerebko (Utah).
 
Rookies of note:
Jayson Tatum; Semi Ojeleye.
 
Expectations:
60-22 (First in the Atlantic Division, first in the East)

CSNNE SCHEDULE

BST PODCAST: What grade would you give the Celtics trade for Kyrie Irving?

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BST PODCAST: What grade would you give the Celtics trade for Kyrie Irving?

0:41 - What grade would you give the Celtics for their trade for Kyrie Irving? Michael Holley, Kayce Smith, Tom Curran, break it down and give their grades.

4:32 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakley discuss how Kyrie Irving will fit in the Celtics system and how Brad Stevens will handle the roster with new egos.

8:50 - We take a look back at the Pierce and Garnett trade to the Nets that landed the Celtics multiple 1st round picks. Are you pleased with how the Celtics used those picks? Is Danny Ainge a Hall of Fame executive? Michael Holley, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Tom Giles discuss.

14:30 - Our BST crew talk about the Red Sox getting the win over the Indians, Eduardo Nunez being hit intentionally by Corey Kluber, and if Chris Sale will retaliate.