West out, big minutes expected for Rondo


West out, big minutes expected for Rondo

By A.Sherrod Blakely

SALT LAKE CITY We're used to seeing Rajon Rondo play major minutes for the Boston Celtics.

He might not have a choice tonight.

Rondo's backup, Delonte West, is out with a sprained right ankle injury. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said West probably won't play against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, either.

Rivers quipped about asking members of the media to serve as Rondo's backup tonight against the Jazz.

Actually, rookie Avery Bradley will get that assignment.

"Avery will be the first guy," Rivers said. "If not, we'll go with some type of big lineup. We've come up with all kinds; but we're hoping that Avery can do it."

The first round pick out of Texas last June has had a rocky start to his rookie season.

Injuries sidelined him for long stretches of this season, but those setbacks appear to be a thing of the past now.

In an earlier interview with CSNNE.com, Bradley said the lack of playing time this season has only made him hungrier to get on the floor and show what he can do.

"But I'm learning so much from the veterans on this team," Bradley told CSNNE.com. "I know I'm getting better even if I'm not playing that much."

One of the reasons Rivers feels comfortable with playing Bradley, is because of his ability to hold his own as a defender against NBA talent.

"Defensively, he's an NBA player," Rivers said. "Offensively, he still has to learn the position. Avery has never really been a point guard."

At 6-foot-3, Bradley is combo guard who will play both backcourt positions for the Celtics.

Despite his ability to defend, Rivers knows it won't be easy for him.

"We're asking a lot of a rookie point guard to try and come out on this floor with our guys and run the team, but that's what he has to do," Rivers said. "We just have to give him enough help on the floor, to help him out."

For Rivers, this will be yet another teachable moment for Bradley who has embraced the veterans around him and the knowledge they have been willing to pass on to him.

"I really like the kid," said Celtics Paul Pierce. "I see how he works. He soaks up so much in practice. You can see him wanting to get better. He's always asking questions. He's always in the huddle; just little things that we see; we know this kid is going to be a player. It's just about getting more time and experience."

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

Hayward scheduled to meet with C's, Jazz, Heat when free agency begins

Hayward scheduled to meet with C's, Jazz, Heat when free agency begins

Coveted free agent Gordon Hayward reportedly has three teams he is interested in signing with this summer. The Celtics, as you might expect, are one of them.

The other two are the Heat and his team for the last seven years, the Jazz.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Hayward is scheduled to meet with all three teams when free agency begins, starting with the Heat on Saturday and then the Jazz on Monday. His day to meet with the Celtics has yet to be announced.

All three teams are likely to offer Hayward max contracts, but expect the C's to push extra hard to land him as they attempt to "sequence acquisitions" for both Hayward and Pacers star Paul George.