Finding minutes for everyone will again be a challenge for Celtics

Finding minutes for everyone will again be a challenge for Celtics

BOSTON – If there’s one thing Brad Stevens has been consistent about since coming to Boston, it's that players aren’t given minutes – they earn them.
But there have been times when players have seemingly done enough to warrant more time on the court, but matchups for a particular game or Stevens’ gut/instincts/spidey sense - whatever you want to call it – tell him to go in a different direction.


Getting minutes on the court will always be a battle, but the fight for floor time will be unlike anything we’ve seen in the Brad Stevens Era.
And while on the surface that sounds like a good thing, right?
It will be, depending on whether the individuals who constitute this roster come in with a similar mindset compared to previous Stevens-coached teams with players who know that their role, much like their minutes, will fluctuate as the season progresses.
Aron Baynes is one of those players whose minutes may depend heavily on the opponent.
At 6-foot-10, 260 pounds, Baynes is a physical player who you know is on the floor to provide defense and rebounding – two things the Celtics wanted to add in the offseason in their frontcourt.
But if teams go uber-small, as they tend to do more of these days, it’ll cut back on the opportunities Baynes gets to play, which is why he opted out of his final year in Detroit to become a free agent and ultimately signed with the Celtics for about $2 million less.
“I definitely think being in the NBA, everybody always wants to play more,” Baynes said. “I think if you don’t want to play more, well then you’re not in the right spot.  So yeah, excited for the opportunity and hopefully I can go out there and earn some minutes and yeah, we’ll see if what I bring is what Brad wants. So yeah, I’m hoping it is and looking forward to it.”
Similar challenges will arise for just about every Celtic, knowing only three players – Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford and newcomer Gordon Hayward – are pretty much locked into playing major minutes.
The Celtics have two open starting jobs after shooting guard Avery Bradley was traded to Detroit and forward/center Amir Johnson signed a one-year, $11 million deal with Philadelphia.
Simple right?
Not even close.
The Celtics could slide Thomas over to the off-guard position and start Marcus Smart (who plays starter-like minutes anyway coming off the bench) at the point, or potentially have Terry Rozier or newcomer Shane Larkin whose agent told CSNNE.com that the Celtics had signed him to a one-year deal, join Thomas in the starting backcourt.
Boston’s options in the frontcourt seem endless when you consider they can go big with Baynes or rookie Ante Zizic at center to pair with Horford, or they can go down the big man spectrum with a first five that up front may include Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown or Marcus Morris.

And we're not even talking about the bench, which will give Stevens more options and flexibility - in terms of how he wants to play stylistically - than he has ever had before in Boston.
“They’re going to be interesting to watch this season,” an Eastern Conference scout texted CSNNE.com. “We know they have some really good players, but how will it all come together? Forget Cleveland. Chemistry is going to be their biggest challenger this season because they have so many different players with different skills that they can turn to.”

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

Ainge: 'Setback' wrong word to use about Hayward

When is a setback not a setback?

When Danny Ainge says, "You know what? Sometimes I talk too much," Ainge told the Boston Herald over the weekend. "'Setback' wasn't the right word, so let me rephrase that because it's not exactly true to say it - or say it that way.

The Celtics president of basketball operations, in his weekly radio interview with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub and simulcast on NBC Sports Boston, used that word when he was describing how Gordon Hayward is coming along in his recovery. 

"He had like one setback for a couple of weeks, maybe a month and a half ago," Ainge said on the radio last week. "We were progressing a little bit too fast, we thought."

Ainge clarified that to the Herald's Steve Bulpett. 

"What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness," he said. "It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn't ready for it at that point. That's all it was."

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has been adamant that Hayward, recovering from his gruesome leg and ankle injury in the season opener, will not play for the Celtics this season. On Sunday, Stevens, via MassLive.com's Jay King, characterized Stevens' soreness as a "small" issue. 



Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

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Chest pains and lack of sleep lead to medical leave for Cavs coach Lue

CLEVELAND - Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence from the team to address health issues that have included chest pains and loss of sleep.

Lue said Monday in a statement that tests have offered no conclusion about what the issue is and offered no timetable for his return. The coach said he feels he needs to step away "and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation" from which to coach the rest of the season.

Here's a portion of Lue's statement:

I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is.

"While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team. I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season," Lue said. "My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the championship we are all working towards."

A stress-filled season for the Cavs has taken a toll on the Lue, 40, a former Celtics assistant under Doc Rivers who led them to the 2016 NBA championship after taking over for David Blatt midway through that season. They are j40-29, third in the Eastern Conference, behind the second-place Celtics and East-leading Toronto Raptors, and have endured roster shake-ups, injuries and other distractions as they try to return to the NBA Finals.

David Aldridge of TNT reports that the plan is for Lue to return in a week. The NBA playoffs begin April 14. 

"We all want great players, we all want the best teams, but with that comes a lot of pressure as well. And what Ty Lue has had to go through this year with that team, with the trades and the injuries and the pressure, it's unrelenting," Denver coach Michael Malone said. "So I hope that he gets healthy and is able to get back in time for the playoffs and help that team win as many games as possible."

Lue spent the second half of Cleveland's victory in Chicago on Saturday in the locker room because of an illness, the second time this season he left a game because he wasn't feeling well. The former NBA guard also sat one out against Chicago at home in December.

Associate head coach Larry Drew coached the second half of Saturday's game, the finale of a six-game, 11-day road trip. Cleveland is back home to host Milwaukee on Monday.

"We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues," general manager Koby Altman said.

Charlotte coach Steve Clifford also left his team to address his health this season. He took six weeks off. Medical tests revealed that the 56-year-old Clifford did not have any internal problems, but the doctor's diagnosis was the coach was suffering from severe sleep deprivation.

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2018 by The Associated Press