WALTHAM, Mass. — Though the Celtics did their best to avoid the topic Wednesday, all accounts point to free-agent point guard Avery Bradley returning to Boston on a four-year, $32 million contract.
Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga wouldn’t touch the Bradley situation, citing a “moratorium” on discussions about the 23-year-old. Forward Jared Sullinger claimed to have no insight into the negotiations, speaking only about his experience playing alongside Bradley for the past two seasons.
One of the Celtics’ newest players, however, had no problem giving his take on his possible soon-to-be teammate.
“He reminds me a little bit of me,” No. 6 overall draft pick Marcus Smart said of Bradley after Wednesday’s practice. “Physical, athletic, can defend one, two, three spots and does whatever coach asks him to do.”
Defense was the hallmark of Bradley’s game when the Celtics made him the No. 19 overall pick out of Texas in 2010, and that fact remains true today, although he has significantly upped his offensive production (career-high 14.9 points per game last season). Smart, another Big 12 product whose skill in the defensive end is above-average, if somewhat unheralded, said he’s excited about the prospect of potentially sharing the backcourt with another defensive-minded guard.
“As a competitor, you want somebody that’s going to be out there competing with you, and that you know will have your back, not only on the offensive end but on defense, (too),” Smart said. “Avery does that. He holds himself and everyone else accountable.”
What exactly the Celtics’ backcourt will look like when the regular season opens Oct. 30, however, is still very much unclear. The team added two rookie guards via the draft in Smart and Kentucky product James Young, both of whom will compete next week in the NBA summer league, and some speculate that Bradley’s reported return could open the door for Rajon Rondo’s exit.
There’s also the potential of bolstering the position through free agency, as the team reportedly reached out to Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kent Bazemore just hours after the league’s free-agency period opened Tuesday morning.
Smart primarily has been playing point guard through his first two days of practice with the Celtics, but — as the confident 20-year-old reiterated throughout the draft process — he doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into any one position.
“I see myself playing more than the 1 — both guard spots,” he said. “But it just all comes down to what the team needs and where coach thinks I’ll fit best.”