MILTON, Mass. -- Boston Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk showed up to the Shamrock Foundation’s sixth annual Teeing Up for Kids golf tournament on Tuesday at Wollaston Golf Club with a fresh gash on his chin. When a reporter asked if someone had caught him with an elbow during the team’s informal workouts, Jeff Green playfully interjected, “He wasn’t following the rules; I had to let him know.”
Olynyk smiled and went along with it: “You gotta put rookies in their place sometimes.”
With training camp set to open next Tuesday in Newport, R.I., the intensity of Boston’s pickup games evidently are ramping up. And despite being on the wrong end of that physicality, Olynyk offered, “It’s nice to see. A little more physical, guys are competing real hard, and that’s what it’s all about.”
There’s a palpable energy among Celtics players and it’s clear they are eager to dive into the new season. After a roster overhaul this summer, there are position battles looming and roles to be determined (both on and off the court).
Said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, “I like the competitiveness [Boston will have] in camp. I’m also very excited about the team because I just think there’s so many questions to be answered and so many unknowns of what’s going to happen, who’s going to step up?”
Read on for a gathering of notes after a handful of Celtics players invaded the golf tournament on Tuesday afternoon, including Courtney Lee's renewed confidence and Jordan Crawford's competitiveness.
* SPEAKING CONFIDENT-LEE: Courtney Lee might be the player most genuinely excited for the new season. And with good reason after a disappointing 2012-13 campaign. A reporter tried to politely word a question about Lee's struggles last season, to which Lee responded, “First of all, you don’t have to be scared to ask that question. Last year was probably one of my worst years I’ve had being in the NBA. I spoke about it all the time, and said I had to find that consistency. That’s one thing, I got back in the gym, I worked on a lot of ball-handling, a lot of shooting, getting my shot back. Again, a lot of it had to do with confidence at times, and I feel my confidence has skyrocketed right now, so hopefully it’s going to make that transition into the season and into games and keep it at that high level and get back to playing the way I’ve always played.”
* COMPETITIVE CRAWFORD: Asked what Boston’s overhauled roster means for him, Jordan Crawford responded simply, “Opportunity.” The fourth-year guard later pledged to do whatever he can to help the Celtics, including taking more reps at point guard as Rajon Rondo rehabs from ACL surgery. As for the logjam at his more natural shooting guard position, Crawford dismissed it as a competition. “I’m always competitive, so I don’t look at nothing as a competition,” he said. “That’s just how I’m built.”
* ROOKIE ORIENTATION: Green is still calling Olynyk “Sunshine” after the blond-maned character in "Remember the Titans." Green made the rookie tackle his media chores alongside him and they traded praise. Said Olynyk of Green: “Jeff’s a really good player. I’ve only seen him for a week now or so, but he can do a lot of things on the floor -- at both ends of the floor too. He’s going to be a great guy to learn from. He’s had a few years in the league now, so hopefully he can teach me a few things, and hopefully we’ll be a pretty good combo.” Green smiled and added, “We will.”
* PRESS(EY)ING HIS BUTTONS: Asked if any veterans have been in his ear louder than others since the start of informal workouts, undrafted rookie Phil Pressey smiled and noted that Crawford has been spewing a lot of trash talk on the court. “Me and Jordan, we get into it,” said Pressey. “He talks a lot of trash, so we compete every single day. He likes it, I like it. It helps me out.” Pressey and Crawford seem to be competing for backup point guard minutes behind Avery Bradley with Rondo unlikely to be ready for the start of the season.