Celtics

Brown ready to embrace role with new-look Celtics

Brown ready to embrace role with new-look Celtics

BOSTON – Like most of us, Jaylen Brown watched intently as the Boston Celtics overhauled their roster in a way in which no one on the payroll could untouchable.

Armed with the number one overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the Boston Celtics traded down two spots to pick up a wing player (Jayson Tatum) who plays the same position as Brown.

Later on, the Celtics traded away Avery Bradley to Detroit.

Soon after, Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas were Cleveland-bound in a deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston.

Things have changed, quickly.

MORE: Celtics storylines: Who fills out the starting lineup?

But being a high-profile high school player who spent one year in college before entering the NBA, Brown is well-versed on how to adapt quickly to new surroundings.

Brown might find himself getting used to yet another new role as an NBA starter this season.

When training camp opens next week for the Celtics, there will be at least two positions in the starting five up for grabs courtesy of Bradley and Crowder being in Detroit and Cleveland, respectively.

Thomas’ starting job will be handled by Irving who will be joined in the starting lineup by Al Horford and another new face to the Celtics roster, Gordon Hayward who signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with Boston this summer after having spent his first seven NBA seasons in Utah.

Brown said he hadn’t put too much thought into all the changes that Boston was making this offseason.

“I knew a lot of stuff was going on and it was a lot of changes but it was above my pay grade,” Brown said. “Right now my job is to come in and play basketball and leave the politics up to the front office and you guys. It had nothing to do with me. I just try to come out and play hard, and try and be the best person and basketball player. . .  I can be. I try not to think too much of it.”

But it’s hard to ignore the possibility that he could be in the starting lineup on opening night, an opportunity he will have to earn with his play in training camp.

“(Head coach Brad Stevens) is going to do whatever he feels is best for the team and I support that,” Brown said. “Whatever it is that he decides, is what he decides. But I’m here, I’m available and I’m ready to work. It’s going to be a good year.”

The possibility that Brown could be in the regular starting lineup in his second season isn’t all that unusual for a player taken with the third overall pick in the draft.

But unlike most rookies, Brown wasn’t selected by a team where playing time was a given.

He joined an experienced squad that had its sights on a deep playoff run, something that runs counter-intuitive to what most high draft picks experience their first year.

But the Celtics advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before falling to Cleveland in five games.

And as Boston went deeper into its season, Brown steadily worked his way into regular minutes which has helped put him here, potentially on the cusp of being a regular starter.

“My mindset is the same in a lot of ways, and is different in a lot of ways,” Brown said. “It’s the same in the sense where I’m just working, trying to get better each and every day just like last year; just constantly push myself for greatness. Where it’s different now, my mindset is I know a little bit more, I have my feet under me. A little bit more is expected of me.”

Throughout the summer, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been pleased with the growth he has seen in Brown’s game.

But for him to help the Celtics this season, Stevens believes it’ll have to come on the defensive end of the floor.

“Jaylen has to become a lockdown defender for us," Stevens said on the Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix, earlier this summer. "That's where, as you go into an offseason and you are an individual player, there's a ton of things that you want to get better at, and there's a ton of things you want to add to your game. But ultimately, when you get back to your team, it's what do you do that's different to make your team unique to give yourself the best chance of adding value to winning. We need him to become that."

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Celtics lift spirits, and get theirs lifted, in visit to Boston Children's Hospital

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Celtics lift spirits, and get theirs lifted, in visit to Boston Children's Hospital

BOSTON -- Marcus Morris has been bothered by left knee soreness that continues to limit his availability for the Celtics. 
 
But as much as it hurts Morris to not be able to play with his teammates, he knows all too well just how blessed he is in life. 
 
Morris was among the C's players participating Thursday in the team's annual trip to Boston Children's Hospital, where they put quite a few smiles on the faces of children who -- as Morris and others were quick to acknowledge -- are dealing with real challenges and adversity that trump any bumps, bruises and setbacks on the basketball court they might be experiencing.
 
"For us to get a chance to come over for an afternoon, it's something that  . . . it's one of my favorite places to be," said coach Brad Stevens. "Our team would echo that."

Especially Morris, who, along with his twin brother Markieff Morris, recently spent about $6,000 to pay off the remaining balance on gifts put on layaway at a Walmart in their hometown of Philadelphia. 

"It's the least I can do," Morris told NBC Sports Boston. "My mom, she's got a big heart, just trying to find something different to do. I remember when I was a kid, we used to have so much stuff on layaway and we would get it off like, two days before Christmas. So, I just tried to surprise some people, take care of some layaways."
 
But as we've seen in the past with the Celtics and Boston Children's Hospital, the giving of their time to sit and talk with young patients, share stories and -- in the case of Marcus Smart -- develop life-long bonds with patients, is priceless. 
 
In October, Smart was named the recipient of the New England Baptist Hospital's Community Champions Award in part for the time he has spent at local hospitals that have formed friendships that remain just as strong today. 
 
During his acceptance speech, he brought the packed capacity crowd to near tears detailing his involvement with ill family members and how that has shaped his interactions and friendships with some of the hospitalized youngsters.
 
For Smart, whose older brother Todd died of cancer in 2004, there's a connection that goes beyond the holiday season that he feels when gets a chance to spend time with the kids at Boston Children's Hospital and their family members. 
 
"I have a special connection with these kids here," Smart acknowledged. "Growing up, I went through what some of these kids go through and their families. I understand . . . it's hard to open up to somebody. I know for the kids, it means a lot for us to be here."
 
Although Jayson Tatum is only a rookie, he said today was his second trip visiting the hospital as a Celtic, a reminder that this is part of what being a member of this organization is all about. 
 
"I think it's great that we use our platform, to spend time with these kids to take their minds off of what they're going through" Tatum said. "Even for a couple of hours."

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Garnett: Celtics are 'a force to be reckoned with'

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Garnett: Celtics are 'a force to be reckoned with'

In an interview with Vice Sports, retired NBA star Kevin Garnett said that the Celtics and Cavaliers are set to become must-see TV. 

Garnett, who won the lone NBA title of his career with the Celtics in 2008, said he is impressed by how Boston has responded to the loss of Gordon Hayward in the season opener. The C’s sit first in the Eastern Conference with a 24-6 record, while Cleveland sits second at 20-8. 
 
“When you see how they’ve rallied around Hayward’s injury and been able to put games together, hell yeah they’re gonna be a force to be reckoned with in the end, and I think it’s gonna be Cleveland and Boston in the Conference Finals to be able to dictate who represents the East,” Garnett said of the Celtics. “And I think it’s gonna be one to where it’s unprecedented. And I don’t think we can all guess. I think it’s just gonna be one where we gotta sit back and enjoy it.
 
“But I’m not shocked. I’m very proud because I come from that same pedigree...I like how that team is built up. Obviously the head of the snake is Kyrie, and he’s leading them by example and I love it, and the dynamic seems to be cool, but I love more the progression of the younger guys, having a chance to play in real games, real experiences. No practice will ever give you that, so the fact that they’re growing up before our eyes is something special and I think we all need to have our eyes pinned to the television and to the season, with their progression”

The Cavs beat the C’s in the season opener, which remains the lone meeting between the teams this season. They’ll next face each other Jan. 3 at TD Garden.