BOSTON (CBS) – Any good NBA franchise building for the future must have a plan. Most people believe those plans are drawn up from the front office via roster moves, trades and draft picks.
Yet for a team as young as the Boston Celtics, nearly just as much goes into the future via building the games of its current young players on the floor in the offseason. Whether it’s improving in-game conditioning, expanding a player’s shooting range, or rehabbing from an injury, there is always plenty of work to be done.
With just 10 games remaining in the regular season, there is little left to play for this year on the floor for this Celtics team. Knowing this, the team’s coaching staff and roster have already started to think about this upcoming summer, mapping out what they can do to turnaround a forgetful 2013-14 season.
Head coach Brad Stevens spoke about working through that process with his players, knowing the offseason is just a few short weeks away.
“We look towards how we can help these guys get better in the future. What I’m spending all my time on and continue to be preparing for practice, preparing for the next day, but we are starting to talk more and more about, OK, when Jeff Green leaves here this summer, what are we, along with Jeff and getting Jeff’s input, think is most important for him to continue to grow into the player that he wants to be. I think that’s critical,” Stevens said.
While it’s tough to decipher just which members of the Celtics’ core will be back in place after this summer, Stevens doesn’t that uncertainty effect his planning.
“I think we all have a pretty good idea for who they are,” Stevens said. What you try to do is you try to say, okay, you do this well, we need you to do this really well. And then, if there’s other areas you can add to your game, great. But most of those times, we need guys that can do one or two things exceptionally well and then obviously you build around the guys that can do multiple things (really well).
Stevens continued: “I feel like we have a good pulse on these guys individually. The way I look at it is, if they’re here or not, this is going to be a process that should help them, and that’s what the whole idea of providing feedback and then getting together and coming up with a game plan does at the end of the season.”
As one might expect, the planning is different for different members of the roster, especially for veterans like Rajon Rondo who already has a pretty good idea on how he will want to handle things.
“I’ll probably ramp it up a little more, given the fact that I’ll probably have a long break, obviously,” Rondo continued. “So, I’ll probably take a couple weeks off from anything and just continue to let my body heal and then get back at it pretty much normal, earlier than normal, as far as, you’re usually playing in June or late May, but obviously we’ll probably be ending April 16. So I’ll get a chance to let my body recover and then have a great summer.”
For other emerging stars like Jared Sullinger though, the team has gone to great lengths already to formulate just exactly what they want the second-year player to work on.
“He’s got a game plan of what he wants to do from a strength, conditioning and playing standpoint,” Stevens said. “And we’re all on board with that. We’ve already discussed that in pretty good detail with him. I think it’s mostly about condition. It’s mostly about being able to play longer stretches as effectively as possible. And sometimes those stretches happen throughout the course of the game where you do play pretty well for an extended stretch because you do feel well that night or whatever the case may be, but just being able to do it back to back to back to back. That’s the challenge of the NBA in general.”
The incentive for most members of the Celtics roster to follow through on these kinds of instructions from the coaching staff is quite clear. With them, they will be working to secure their jobs.
“Again, the end of the season,” Stevens explained, “it will be very structured, as far as our meetings and what we’re going to do, as far as giving guys an idea of what the expectations are moving forward and what helped them grow their games individually. Each of these guys has a lot riding on that. And so, I have no doubt that they’ll work hard in the offseason and we’ll make ourselves available whenever they want us to be.”
The hard work begins on April 17th, one day after the end of the regular season.