Celtics

Allen's tough love for Wafer pays off

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Allen's tough love for Wafer pays off

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Ray Allen has been hard on Von Wafer. He critiques his game. He tells him right from wrong. He urges him to be a good teammate.

He doesnt always tell him what he wants to hear -- he tells him what he needs to hear.

And Wafer loves every word of it.

Allen sees potential in Wafer beyond the coach-imposed ejection during a playoff game during his time with the Houston Rockets, the European career-gone-sour, and the altercation with Delonte West earlier this season.

Allen sees a 25-year-old with the opportunity to establish himself on a championship-contending team this season. So hes tough on him.

He believes that underneath Wafers previous reputation, there is a good NBA player. But talent alone doesnt guarantee success, and Allen is pushing him to reach that next level.

I believe that he has the talent to do what I do out there on the floor, Allen told CSNNE.com. He can shoot the ball, he can get to the hole, hes got athletic ability. But at this stage, theres a lot of guys that have that. Hes on the same team as I am, he has the ability to learn from me, from what I do on a daily basis. He has the ability to learn from Paul (Pierce).

But the question is, does he want to learn? One. And two, mentally, can he stay with it to try to gain whatever expertise he needs to become one the best players in this league?

Those questions have tested Wafer this season. Rather than letting his pride get in the way, Wafer is putting his guard down to be receptive to Allens challenges. He has learned that criticism can be constructive, which has helped him improve his game.

Ray stays on me in a good way. I love that, Wafer told CSNNE.com. Sometimes Ive been in the past dealing with guys that just try to bring negative attention toward you, make you look bad, but Ray is genuinely helping me and its done wonders for me. Hes constantly telling me to watch what he does and he watches what I do and he critiques me on it. Its been helping.

Injuries on the Celtics have created the opportunity for Wafer to see more playing time. He is averaging more than 10 minutes in the last five games, including nearly 16 on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Wafer put together his best performance as a Celtic, posting 10 points (4-8 FG) and six rebounds. The last time he scored 10 points (excluding preseason) was May 17, 2009 with the Rockets, a Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals.

On Monday, there was a different result - and Wafer was part of the success.

We give him a lot of crap about it because I think on Media Day he says, Im an offensive player was his quote, said Doc Rivers. Hes proven to us that hes more than that. I think a lot of players have that in them, they just dont know it sometimes, and were getting it out of him. And hes actually enjoying it. Its funny to watch him. He gets excited about defensive stops now, and thats great because I get excited about that as well.

Fitting into the Celtics system is important to Wafer. He is on his sixth NBA team since being drafted in 2005, and Allen has stressed the importance of sticking with one squad.

I just want to be a good teammate, said Wafer. Just try not to be difficult to deal with and try to treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I think thatll go far in the end. Im learning. Im doing a lot of things differently. I think I had a lot of bad ways. I dont feel like Im a bad person. I just think I was immature and didnt know. But what Im learning from Ray is the right way to do it and how to do it. I think its helped a lot.

It takes a committed work ethic to make it on the Celtics. That goes beyond the basketball season, too.

Wafer recognizes there is a difference between saying he wants something and doing it. He admits that sticking with a regimen during the summer will be a test, and is aware of the obstacles that lie ahead to develop a routine.

Wafer knows it wont be easy. He has seen discipline pay off for Allen, though, and looks to follow that example - even if it will be a mental and physical challenge along the way.

I really want it. I want it really badly, he said. Theres no doubt, but its easy to sit here and say you want something, but when youre going through it, you learn a lot about yourself.

This is where Allen hopes his conversations will make a difference. If Mondays performance was any indication, their talks are paying off.

Im proud of him, said Allen. He knows that doing everything the right way, theres a reward to it. He can see because I know how he felt today. Everybody came in and told him great job, and Im sure the media talked to him, so hes like, okay Ive got to continue this trend.

One game is not enough for Wafer. Allen has shown him that hard work will pay off over time, and he hopes this is just the beginning.

Said Wafer, I cant wait for my chance to come to try to put out there what Rays taught me because I think Ive become a much better basketball player.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

Stevens knows hanging banners is ‘what it’s all about’ in Boston

BOSTON – When Brad Stevens took the Boston Celtics job in 2013, he knew what he was getting into.
 
Yes, the Celtics at that time were rebuilding which usually means years and years of slow but steady progress – if you’re lucky.
 
And then after maybe a few years of struggling to win games, a breakout season occurs and just like that – you’re back in the playoffs.

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 But here’s the thing with the Celtics.
 
While most rebuilding teams spend years working their way towards being competitive, Stevens hit the ground running and in just four years, he led the Celtics from being a 25-win team to one that was just three wins away from getting to the NBA Finals.
 
He has the kind of basketball resume that’s impressive on many levels.
 
But Stevens knows good isn’t good enough in this town.
 
“We’re here in Boston,” he said. “Winning is good, but hanging one of those (banners) up is what it’s all about. That’s what makes this such a special franchise.”
 
And for Stevens, a franchise where the expectations for success under his watch have never been greater than they are now.
 
Boston only returns one starter (Al Horford) from last year’s squad which advanced to the Eastern Conference finals after having won an East-best 53 games.
 
However, they added a pair of All-Stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to join Horford. In addition, they drafted Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft.
 
Boston also has a slimmed-down Marcus Smart (he lost 20 pounds from a year ago) as well Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier who will both benefit from having another NBA season under their belts.
 
And while it’s a small sample size and consists of just two teams (Philadelphia and Charlotte), the Celtics breezed their way through the preseason with a flawless 4-0 record which included at least one game in which they did not play their usual starters which shows how impactful their depth may be this season.
 
That success can only help, especially with a challenging schedule that includes seven of their first 11 games being on the road. 
 
Still, the potential of this Celtics team has never been greater than it is right now since Stevens took over in 2013.
 
And just like the increased expectations of the team, the same can be said for Stevens who is considered one of the better coaches in the NBA.
 
Marcus Morris will begin his first season with the Celtics, but had a lot of respect for Stevens well before he was traded to Boston from Detroit this summer.
 
“You hear a lot of good things about him from other players,” Morris told NBC Sports Boston. “And once you get in here and start working with him and seeing what he does every day, you see what they’re talking about. He’s a good coach, man.”
 
This team’s success will hinge on how the players perform, but there’s an added element of pressure on Stevens to find the right combinations that will position the Celtics for success.
 
“We have a lot more guys who can do a lot more things on the court, so it will be a little more challenging for us to figure out how to best play with each other, and for Brad to figure out which combinations are the best ones,” Boston’s Al Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “But we’ll figure it out. Brad’s a really good coach, a really smart coach. And on our team, we have a lot of players who are smart, high basketball I.Q. guys. We’ll be OK.”
 
Basketball smarts aside, the Celtics’ success will hinge heavily on how quickly they can bring a roster with 10 new players up to speed quickly.
 
It’s still early, but players like what they’ve seen from the collective body in terms of team chemistry.
 
“I think that’s the beauty of a lot of guys on the team,” said Gordon Hayward. “It’ll be different each night with some of the different roles we play.”
 
Which is why the Celtics, while lacking experience as a team because of so many new faces, are still seen as capable of winning because they have a number of players who can impact the game in many ways.
 
But as good as they are, it still comes back to Stevens doing a good job of putting them in the best positions to find success individually as well as for the Celtics team.
 
When you look at how time with Stevens jumpstarted Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder’s careers, or how it helped revitalize the career of Evan Turner, it’s obvious that he has the Midas touch when it comes to getting the most out of players.
 
For Boston to have the kind of success they believe they are due for, it’s going to take the contributions of many.
 
And even that might not be enough.
 
But having the path being bumpier than expected is something Stevens embraces.
 
“Here in this league,” he said. “You have to love challenges.”

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Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

Smart 'not worried' about lack of contract extension with Celtics

CLEVELAND – For the third year in a row, a first-round pick of the Boston Celtics is unable to come to terms on a contract extension prior to the deadline.

That means Marcus Smart will become a restricted free agent this summer. Last year it was Kelly Olynyk (now with the Miami Heat) and in 2015 it was Jared Sullinger (now with Shenzhen Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association).

Both the Celtics and Smart's camp intensified their discussions in recent days as the October 16th 6 p.m. EST deadline drew near.

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While there was progress made, there wasn’t enough to get a deal done.

Smart has repeatedly indicated that he wants to re-sign a long-term deal to stay in Boston.

And the market for the 6-foot-4 guard became clearer based on the contracts that some of his fellow rookie class of 2014, were receiving.

Denver’s Gary Harris agreed to a four-year, $84 million contract after establishing himself as one of the better young two-way talents in the NBA last season. And at the other end of the financial spectrum, you would have to look at Phoenix’s T.J. Warren who signed a four-year, $50 million contract.

More than likely, Smart’s deal next summer will fall somewhere between the deals those two players received.

As much as Smart would have preferred to get a deal done heading into the season, it’s not something that he’s going to cause him to lose any sleep.

“Get it done now, or get it done in six months, I’m OK either way,” he told NBC Sports Boston. “I’m not worried about it.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE