Saturday, Jan. 18 - Suns at Celtics
Pregame – C’s Reminisce About Baynes Ahead of His Return
BOSTON – During his two seasons in Boston, Aron Baynes was an energetic defensive anchor, an encouraging role model for the Celtics youth, and a locker room favorite who would never fail to put a smile on his teammates’ faces. Those former teammates and coaches reminisced about such qualities Saturday ahead of Baynes’ first return to TD Garden since being traded to the Suns this past summer.
“I can’t say enough great things about him,” head coach Brad Stevens said ahead of tip-off. “It was a sad day for me when we traded him. I obviously understood all the reasons behind it (in terms of roster construction), but a great impact in our locker room, great impact on the court, great impact on our coaching staff. Just, a pro’s pro with all-time energy. One of the best energy raisers I’ve ever been around.���
As a fellow energy raiser, Celtics guard Marcus Smart appreciated having Baynes by his side every day for two years. Smart noted how the Australian big man was able to bring out the best in his teammates through his vibrant attitude and hard-working ways.
“He was huge,” Smart said following the team’s Saturday-morning shootaround. “I think anybody here in this organization will tell you just having Baynes around as a player, as a friend, as a guy, he always had the energy. He always picked us up. He always lightened our days just energy-wise and coming in with a positive mentality, and it’s contagious. Baynes is one guy I think everybody should have or want to have on their team.”
The Suns have certainly enjoyed Baynes’ presence, as he is posting career highs of 11.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He also seems to be having a positive impact upon Phoenix’s younger players, just as he did during his time in Boston.
“I think the impact he had on Rob Williams his first summer when Rob would show up at the gym at 8 (a.m.) in July and Baynes was already done his workout, that means something,” Stevens noted. “It sets a great tone for your younger players. And [the Suns] have got young, talented guys, and I’m sure that it took them very little time to look up to Baynes.”
- Taylor Snow