Celtics readying for draft prospect workouts all week


Celtics readying for draft prospect workouts all week

BOSTON – Getting players in for workouts is a cat-and-mouse game played between teams and agents with players often caught somewhere in the middle.

NBA teams want to evaluate as many players as they can, while agents want their players to only work out for teams who are potential landing spots for their clients.

If a player is projected as a Top 10 pick and a team is selecting outside of the lottery (Top 14), chances of getting them in for a workout are slim.

And if the player is a solid first-rounder in a year when a team doesn’t have a first-round pick but still wants to work that player out...fuh-get-uh-bot-it!

That’s why things are noticeably different for the Celtics when it comes to scheduling players for workouts this year, a process that will pick up in earnest beginning on Wednesday with subsequent workouts scheduled for Thursday and Friday as well.

While it’s still challenging, the Celtics have a much more receptive audience now than past years.

Of course, having four picks (16th, 28th, 33rd and 45th) in the draft does help.

"These guys [draft prospects] can't work out for all 30 teams," Austin Ainge, the Celtics’ director of player personnel, told CSNNE.com. "So agents try to limit it to your range. So that's probably the biggest advantage in our wide net is we have a pick for every range, almost. We're able to get more guys in which is even more important than what we're trying to get."

Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said the C's are likely to have 40-60 players in town for workouts.

Still, that’s just a fraction of the players he’ll see workout between now and the June 25 NBA draft.

Agents have arranged workouts where their clients go through a carefully designed set of drills and sets before league executives with the goal being to showcase their various strengths.

Danny Ainge recently returned from Los Angeles where he saw several group workouts arranged by agents.

By the time the draft arrives, Danny Ainge said he anticipates he will have seen 100 or so players workout between those arranged group workouts and the players that work out at the Celtics’ practice facility.

And when it comes to separating the great workouts from others, Danny Ainge said it comes down to just one thing: talent.

“They’re really good players,” Danny Ainge told CSNNE.com when asked what the common thread for a good workout. “It’s obvious to everyone in the arena. The best workouts I’ve seen in the draft process in my career have been Kobe Bryant, Amare’ Stoudemire and Shawn Marion; probably those three were the most impressive draft workouts that I ever saw.”

Ainge added, “It was obvious to every person in the gym that they were by far the best players on the court and stood out among a group of other good players.”

In the coming weeks, several players will be in town and will look to make a similar impression on Ainge and his staff.

But having seen these players for months at the college or international level, there’s little about them that the Celtics don’t know already.

However, Austin Ainge points out some of the reasons why these workouts are indeed valuable for both the players and the teams conducting them.

“It’s different for every group,” said Austin Ainge. “It’s evaluating some of the different questions we have on each player. If a guy is a poor shooter, we try to watch his shooting more closely. If a guy’s a poor passer, we try to put him in situations where he has to pass. We try to poke and prod and sum up the weaknesses of guys, try and learn a little bit more about them.”

In Danny Ainge’s experience as both a coach and league executive, often there is a noticeable change in the players that he would scout during the season compared to those he sees in workouts leading up to the draft.

“Some of these players are very young players,” Danny Ainge said. “Often when they get into our building in June, they are much different looking than they are on their teams. Kids have spent two or three months focusing on just their bodies. They don’t have to worry about studying. They don’t have to play games. They can focus on training and preparing for this process, preparing for the NBA. Often players just look different and are different athletically. In some cases, players look worst; they haven’t understood the magnitude of this job interview. But you get a chance to see them up close...from the stands you can’t see everything you can see up close on a player’s shot mechanics. You get a chance to visit with them, talk with them, ask them questions about their lives, their goals, their dreams, their path to success.”

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

Celtics will return to limited practice routine starting June 1

The Boston Celtics will move one step closer towards preparing for the remainder of this season, with voluntary individual player workouts beginning at the team’s practice facility on June 1. 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday that professional teams in the state could resume practicing soon. 

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“I know we still aren’t to the point where we’ll have our pro sports teams back playing anything yet,” Baker said in a press conference at the State House. “The leagues are obviously working hard to host games again. And I think we all hope that at some point, opening practice facilities will help make that happen a little sooner.”

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations, echoed similar sentiments on Friday. 

“We’re happy that our players will now have the option to work out individually in a safe environment at the Auerbach Center,” Ainge said. “And we hope it signals a step back towards playing basketball again.”

The Celtics added that the workouts will adhere to strict protocols that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Workouts are voluntary & will be conducted in strict accordance with city, state, CDC, and NBA requirements and guidelines.
  • Symptom and temperature checks will be done by team medical staff before anyone enters the facility.
  • Workouts will be limited to individual (1-on-0) shooting, strength and conditioning work, and medical evaluation and therapy as needed.
  • Only essential areas will be accessed. There will be no access to locker rooms, showers, hydrotherapy, medical exam rooms, cafeteria, and offices.
  • Only four players will be able to work out at a time, each working with only one staff member at a time. There will be no more than one player per half court at a time.
  • All staff members will wear masks in the building, and any staff member working with a player must wear gloves. Players will wear masks except while engaging in physical activity. Players and staff will adhere to CDC and NBA compliant social distancing standards at all times.
  • Social distancing will be required in the building except in limited specific instances  (e.g. physical therapy), when PPE will be used.
  • A thorough cleaning and disinfection of all spaces and equipment, including basketballs, will take place before and after each player uses the building.
  • Only staff members essential to these workouts will be present at the Auerbach Center. There will be no access for general staff, public, or media. 

While no definitive date has been set for the NBA to resume play, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has reportedly told owners that the league is targeting July 31 as a return-to-play date. 

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NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

NBA rumors: July 31 is a target date for 2019-20 season return

Could we see the return of NBA basketball at the end of July?

The Athletic's Shams Charania has reported the league told its Board of Governors on Friday that July 31 is a potential target date for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.

Charania also reported the league discussed four return to play scenarios ranging from going directly to the playoffs with 16 teams to bringing back all 30 teams and having them play 72 regular season games (most teams already have played around 65) before the postseason. The latter scenario doesn't seem likely, though.

If the season does resume, the remaining games (including the playoffs) could be played at one location to minimize travel and maximize the safety and health of players, team employees and everyone else involved. One such location reportedly being considered is Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

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It's important to remember nothing has been announced by the league, and plenty of details must be sorted out before games can start up again. This news of a potential target date for a season return is encouraging, though.