Howard Herman: New Celtics coach is ready to go



Brad Stevens is a little bit jealous of his former compatriots in New England. After all, while college basketball coaches are back practicing, the new Boston Celtics head coach has yet to put his full team through a workout.

Stevens, who was the surprise choice of Celtics president Danny Ainge after Doc Rivers took over the Los Angeles Clippers, is anxiously awaiting the start of training camp next month.

"This is the time of the year that coaches enjoy," he said. "I'm a little jealous of the college guys because they've got 30 days to practice and two exhibition games. We've got five days before our first exhibition game.

"It's a fun time of the year. There are a lot of thoughts going through your mind that you're trying to get your arms wrapped around what you can teach and how quickly you can teach it. You're really on the go after that."

Stevens was an "off-the-board" selection to replace Rivers. The former Butler coach has taken two teams to the NCAA Final Four, but is in the early stages of a rebuilding process in Boston.

To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren't walking through that door. Both are in Brooklyn now.

That means Stevens gets to start fresh with a lot of new players.

Speaking with a gaggle of reporters, including your's truly, at the Coaches vs. Cancer basketball breakfast in Boston on Thursday, I asked Stevens if he was excited or nervous about heading to Newport, R.I. this week for the start of training camp. The Celtics open the preseason on Oct. 7 against Toronto at TD Garden.

"I don't know if I'm either," he said. "I'm doing my job today. It sounds crazy, but I've never been a guy who gets too caught up in the emotions of everything. I'm excited about the opportunity to work with everybody every day and try to get as good as we can be.

"I'm realistic that it's a long season and I understand that. I've never been through this, but I have been through what is also a long season in college. It's the same amount of time, but a lot less games."

There's no Pierce, no Garnett and for a while, still no Rajon Rondo. The mercurial point guard is still recovering from a knee injury, and everyone -- from college coaches to the business leaders who came to the breakfast -- wanted to know when the point guard would be back.

One reporter said that Ainge told them the night of the draft that Rondo could be back for the opener.

"It's just the way that his rehab has gone," said Stevens. "I wasn't here then. I don't know if that was speculation at the time or if it was something that was kind of a focused date.

"Anytime you have any kind of rehab, dates are pretty indeterminate."

The first-year coach said he doesn't want to put any date on Rondo's return. He'll be ready when he's ready.

That means, according to the coach, Avery Bradley will get the first crack at being the starting point guard. But Stevens said it all depends on how the Celtics decide to play.

"I'm not dead set on what people consider to be a prototypical point guard," he said. "It can be a number of different guys that fit the group well."

We'll all find out soon enough.


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