Stevens Meets with Media in Vegas To Talk All Things Celtics

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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LAS VEGAS – During halftime of Boston’s 100-80 win over the Charlotte Hornets Monday evening in Las Vegas, Brad Stevens met with the media and revealed his opinions on an array of hot Celtics topics.

At the top of the list was the development of his young players who are taking part in the game being played in front of him. Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele are expected to be members of Boston’s roster and rotation next season, and Stevens wants both players to develop before reporting to training camp in September.

For Ojeleye, that development is expected to come at the defensive end of the court.

“We talked to Semi about just being even more versatile defensively,” Stevens said. “His ability defensively to keep the ball in front of him is excellent; it’s highest-level. And now it’s being able to get into people’s air space and do that.”

Stevens sees an opportunity for Yabusele, meanwhile, to develop more at the other end of the court.

“I’ve always said that Guerschon’s greatest strength is his ability to see the game and make plays for others,” said Stevens. “Continuing to put himself in position where he can do that, and seeking opportunities (to do that), whether that’s on a roll, driving a big off of a close-out, working on his footwork so he can get by the big on a close-out, those are all things that we’re focused on with him.”

The last player on the Summer League roster whom Stevens spoke about was rookie big man Robert Williams, who has been sidelined for the last two games with a left knee contusion.

“Obviously it’s been well-documented that the first practice wasn’t so hot, but everything since then has been great. We’re encouraged by him,” the coach said.

“I’m really encouraged by his work, by his attitude. He picks things up very quickly.”

Stevens then moved on to speak about Boston’s involvement in free agency, which he could not speak about publicly before the moratorium period ended Friday morning. Thus fa in free agency, the Celtics have signed two players, Aron Baynes and Brad Wanamaker, while guard Marcus Smart remains unsigned as a restricted free agent.

Stevens reiterated his opinion on the importance of retaining Baynes, not only to keep the big man’s strong defensive play in the fold, but also to keep his positive energy inside of Boston’s locker room.

“His grit, his toughness, his physicality, you need those things, and those things are contagious,” Stevens said.

“We do warm-ups that everybody does – dynamic stretching, where you’re running up and down the court – and there’s not a player in the world that likes it. It’s just a part of getting ready for practice,” the coach continued. “And Baynes makes every day a race. Baynes makes every day fun. And people look forward to it because of him. That is an important thing as you move through an eight-month season.”

Baynes and the Celtics quickly came to an agreement on his contract once free agency began July 1. The same cannot be said for Smart, who is still maneuvering through restricted free agency. Stevens did not have much to say about negotiations with Smart, seeing as the coach is not involved in that respect, but he did state clearly that Boston wants the defensive-minded guard back next season.

“I’m not involved in all of the negotiation part of it and all of the numbers part of it, and he knows that,” said Stevens. “And he also knows that we really want him back.”

This quick question-and-answer session between Stevens and the media was the first of its kind in weeks. With that in mind, it was no surprise that it covered so many different topics.

Now that it’s over, we know exactly what Stevens thinks about the development of his young players, as well as the development of Boston’s roster as this summer’s transaction period unfolds.