WALTHAM, Mass. — The Boston Celtics aren’t exactly a star-studded group, but they’ve made out pretty well with the guys they have.
The Celtics were one of three teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference to make the playoffs in 2015 despite not having a single All-Star on their roster. (The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets were the other two.)
That’s a testament to the efforts of head coach Brad Stevens, who already has gained respect and recognition after just two seasons in the league, and to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who quietly has constructed a roster anchored by a core of young, talented players.
It’s a positive sign that the C’s finished as the No. 7 seed in the East despite lacking a true star. At the team’s media day Friday, though, Ainge was realistic about his ideal blueprint for Boston if everything had worked out perfectly.
“I think you need transcendent players, is what everybody would like to have in the NBA,” Ainge said. “You don’t always get what you want.”
Ainge, Stevens and the Celtics players certainly gave reporters plenty of what they wanted Friday, however. Let’s dive into a few interesting morsels from an eventful media day.
— One of Boston’s strengths is its depth, but that means players will have to fight tooth and nail for playing time. Stevens essentially said Friday it will be an open competition.
“I?m going to be fair to everybody and not predetermine anything,” Stevens said. “… We?re going to have good players on our team that aren?t going to play much. That?s the hard reality of it.”
— Whether Isaiah Thomas will start or continue to come off the bench is another storyline to monitor, but Stevens isn’t ready to make a ruling on that yet.
“I have not decided, nor will we for a while,” Stevens said. “One thing about Isaiah, I know it’s a narrative that is going to be asked of me, but that kid’s about winning, and that’s first and foremost with him.
— Stevens also was asked for his expectations for Boston this season. His response was classic:
“I don’t know, somewhere in the top 30?”
That’s a bold prediction, Brad.
— Kelly Olynyk had quite the eventful offseason, but it left a pretty bitter taste in his mouth.
Olynyk was a major contributor for Team Canada in the FIBA Americas Championship as it aimed to qualify for the Summer Olympics for the first time since 1992. Yet Canada was stunned by Venezuela in the semifinals despite Olynyk’s game-high 34 points.
“Yes, very much,” Olynyk said when asked if he was still upset about the loss. “… We had played so well, night in and night out pretty much dominated that tournament, so it’s a really tough break for us to go out like that.”
— Evan Turner did some jet-setting as well, as he and Marcus Smart traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, this summer to play in the NBA Africa Game 2015.
“I thought the coolest part was interacting with the people,” Turner said. “I was able to go to the Children’s Village, and that was a life-changing experience to see how grateful those young kids were — not growing up with much, and the smiles, the passion and everything they had was unreal.”
— Turner still is interested in pursuing a side job as an Uber driver, but he has some pretty steep demands.
“I want to be the main focus of the company,” Turner said. “I want Uber to highlight me and put me in positions to be successful and give me all the big-name deals. So if they can’t do that, I’ve got to go elsewhere.”
Stay tuned for how that turns out.
— Former Celtic Luigi Datome, who’s now playing in Turkey, appears to be having some withdrawals.
— Smart and James Young have a score to settle.
Young told reporters he’s the best dancer on the Celtics, but Smart had quite a different opinion on the subject.
“Like I told James, any time, we can battle it out,” Smart said. “Everybody knows that I’m the better dancer; we can settle this.”
Have a Celtics/NBA question for Darren? Send it to him via Twitter at @darren_hartwell
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images