Celtics start roster trimdown

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics started their roster trimdown on Tuesday by releasing training camp invites Malcolm Miller, Levi Randolph and Coty Clarke.

The trio could remain within the Celtics' organization if they accept assignments to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League. A fourth camp invite -- Corey Walden -- remains on the roster as Boston closes out its exhibition slate with a back-to-back later this week.

Walden, too, is expected to be eventually be waived with a goal of being funneled to Maine. But he remains for the moment to add an extra point guard.

"We have a lot of guys that are going to be able to play in the last two [exhibition games]," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said before Tuesday night's Shamrock Foundation Gala at Boston's Park Plaza Hotel. "We've got a lot of guys we want to play a lot of minutes in the last two. The three guys that we waived today were all wings. And the majority of those minutes will go to our younger players, even if we play deep into our bench."

So why keep Walden?

"Just to have an extra ball handler," said Stevens. "We've seen it, even [Monday] night [against the Nets]. Just to have an extra point guard so we don't make Kelly Olynyk handle the ball, or R.J. [Hunter] or anybody else."

Even by releasing Walden, the Celtics would still have 16 guaranteed contracts on their roster and must trim one more body before the start of the regular season. The team will search for potential deals, but are in position to eat a contract if no other option exists.

Perry Jones, acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer, remains the player fighting the biggest uphill battle for a roster spot. The Celtics took back both cash to defray the cost of his contract and a second-round pick if Jones doesn't make the opening-night roster.

Injury report: Lee, Crowder ready to return

David Lee (illness) and Jae Crowder (thumb) said Tuesday night that they have both improved and expect to be back on the practice court on Wednesday. Both sat out Monday's exhibition win over the Nets and got an extra day to mend as Boston did not practice Tuesday.

Isaiah Thomas, who is nursing a left shin injury after being kicked in a game last week, said he's uncertain if he'll practice Wednesday, but downplayed the severity of his injury.

"I'm alright, man," said Thomas. "I'll live. I'm good, though. I just got kicked in my shin in the Brooklyn game [last week] and it flared up the other day. I practiced, but it flared up right before so we're just taking it day-by-day. I'll be alright, though, just trying to make sure I'm fully healthy and it doesn't continue."

GM survey: Celts snubbed

NBA.com released its annual GM survey on Tuesday. The big takeaways for Boston:

• No GM picked the Celtics when asked to select the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. Seven other teams earned votes in that poll, including Toronto and Milwaukee.

• Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas placed second in "bench player that makes the biggest impact when he enters the game." Thomas grabbed 17.2 percent of the vote, finishing behind only Golden State's Andre Iguodala (37.9 percent). Thomas also earned votes for "fastest with the ball" and "best role player."

Amir Johnson and Lee tied for fourth with 6.9 percent of the vote in most underrated player acquisition.

Marcus Smart also earned votes in the breakout season category.

• Stevens gathered votes for best in-game adjustments, best offense and best defense.

Scout's honor

Sports Illustrated sought feedback from NBA scouts on all 30 teams for its preview issue. The Boston report was highly complimentary, but particularly for Stevens.

Wrote the scout: "I’ve been in the league a long time, and I’ve watched a lot of college coaches come in. Maybe 90 percent of them don’t make it. Brad Stevens made the smoothest adjustment I’ve seen. In the last two or three minutes, they won more games than anybody in the league. I know there are coaches in this league that copy his ATOs [after timeout plays] and end-of-game plays."