JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. – The kids at English High School were still in class when Boston Celtics wing James Young arrived 30-plus minutes early.
There was no mistaking the eagerness on Young’s part to be there to give away backpacks to the 60 or so kids and speak with them about the value of mentorships as part of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Success Mentor Initiative in conjunction with STATE bags and Roc Nation Sports.
Young talked about how being mentored helped him get through high school which he acknowledged was very tough; how it made his transition to the NBA as an 18-year-old not nearly as rough as it could have been.
There were many takeaways for Young from the folks that have mentored him in the past, but maybe none more important than them instilling in him the need to never give up on his hopes and dreams.
It is a lesson that will be put to the test next week when the Celtics open training camp and Young does all that he can to remain in Boston.
The Celtics currently have 16 players with guaranteed contracts, one more than the NBA allows when the season starts at the end of next month.
If the Celtics don’t make a trade, they will have to waive at least one player with a guaranteed deal. And the 21-year-old Young is among those who could potentially be waived.
Entering his third NBA season, Young is well aware of where he stands going into training camp. But that doesn’t mean it’s something he has obsessed about or has given plenty of thought.
“I’m not thinking about contracts or the next year,” Young said in an interview with CSNNE.com and the Boston Globe following Thursday’s event. “I’m staying in the present right now. I’ve gotten a lot better; still getting better. I’m not thinking about the future or what they got coming up or what they’ve got going on. I’m staying in the present.”
Well presently, Young’s role is very much up in the air. Forget about playing time.
At this point, simply being able to hold down a roster spot will be a victory in itself for Young in training camp.
At the shooting guard position, Avery Bradley will be the starter with Marcus Smart likely being a backup at both guard positions a la Evan Turner from last season.
Gerald Green, now in his second tour of duty with the Celtics, will log minutes at the shooting guard position, too.
In addition, second-year guard Terry Rozier will see time in the backcourt where he can play both on and off the ball which will depend on who is backcourt partner is at that time.
And then there’s R.J. Hunter, a pure shooting guard who like Young, is also on the bubble when it comes to making the team’s 15-man roster.
There’s also second-round pick Ben Bentil who signed a partially guaranteed contract after being drafted by Boston in the second round with the 51st overall pick. Although Bentil and Young play two different positions, the 6-8 forward could become a factor if he has a strong training camp and the Celtics feel they need to keep him.
No matter how you want to look at it, Young will have his hands full in trying to secure a spot with the Boston Celtics for this upcoming season.
Still one of the youngest players on the team, Young said he will continue to lean on his coaches and teammates for the kind mentoring that he believes will pay off.
“When I first got here, 18, living by myself, I had some of the coaches, players take me under their wing; it was a blessing,” Young said. “It showed me how to grow up as a man. Having those guys in my corner, I thank them for it.”