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

Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

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Rozier ready to compete for serious minutes in Celtics rotation

WALTHAM, Mass. – Summer league was in full bloom and Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier was killin’ it.
 
Scoring.
 
Dropping dimes.
 
Swooping in for rebounds.
 
Young fella was having the kind of summer that breeds confidence for him as well as the franchise that shocked many in selecting him as high as they did in 2015.  
 
But as well as he played, he knew getting on the floor wasn’t going to be easy because he would have to cut into the minutes of already-established players.
 
And then he got the news that Evan Turner was leaving for Portland after agreeing to a four-year, $70 million contract.
 
Turner’s departure meant Rozier’s chances of playing regular minutes had indeed arrived.

“Nobody wants to lose a guy like ET; great looker room guy, great down the stretch,” Rozier told CSNNE.com. “But that gave me even more of an opportunity to play and step up. It gave me a better feeling about this year, knowing I could get minutes.”

On Monday during media day, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked about the void on the Celtic’s roster with Turner now playing for the Blazers.
 
“I miss Evan Turner already; loved having him around,” Ainge said. He’s not going to be easy to replace and neither will Jared Sullinger (he signed a one-year deal with Toronto). But we do have some exciting young players. Jaylen (Brown) and Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier … very exciting players. I don’t know who will get all of Evan’s minutes, but they will be shared and we can fill that void.”

But Turner’s 28.0 minutes per game will likely serve as a portion of the minutes Rozier will carve out for his own this season.
 
“I know he’s going to try and take some of my minutes,” said Celtics all-star guard Isaiah Thomas earlier this summer. “But that’s what it’s about; competing.”
 
Rozier’s competitive nature has stood out during his short time in Boston, with the 22-year-old finding a way to balance that with not being too pushy or too hungry to play.
 
“He’s an All-Star,” Rozier said of Thomas. “I look at it like this. To go up against someone like (Thomas) every day is a blessing.”
 
But Rozier soon adds, “I’m trying to get better, but I want to play too. Getting his minutes, anybody’s minutes, I’m going for it. But I know he’s not going to lighten up and make it easy for me. I know that. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
 
And as he gradually establishes a role for himself on this team, maybe then people will warm up to a player that so many had doubts about when the Celtics selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft.
 
“I’ve been doubted all my life,” Rozier said. “It ain’t hurt me. I always tell myself, ‘they’re gonna fall in love with me because I play hard and they’re gonna fall in love with my intensity level. People didn’t know who I was; that’s fine. They’ll find out about me soon enough.”

Kelly Olynyk talks about his shoulder injury; improving his consistency

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Kelly Olynyk talks about his shoulder injury; improving his consistency

Celtics forward/center Kelly Olynyk sits down with Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine on Media Day to talk about how the recovery from his shoulder injury is progressing and becoming more consistent this season.

Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely then discuss whether this is a make or break year for Olynyk, who will be a restricted free-agent at the end of the season.

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