Former assistant Tom Thibodeau visits with Boston Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Tom Thibodeau's NBA tour rolled into Boston this week, where the former Boston Celtics assistant spent two days with the team, including observing Thursday's practice.

Thibodeau, in town for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, attended Wednesday's win against the Memphis Grizzlies then watched Boston's non-contact workout on Thursday. Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted that he and Thibodeau talked a couple weeks ago and an invite was extended to visit.

"Obviously, a door is always open to coaches from wherever," said Stevens, who also hosted former Celtics player development coach Ronald Nored, one of his players at Butler University, at Thursday's session. Nored spent this past season as an assistant with Northern Kentucky. "Certainly Tom brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge and things we can ask him in those two days watching our team. So it's really good to have him around."

Stevens, who packs his training camp practices with college coaches, likes having other coaches around to critique Boston's practice activities.

"There's nothing more enjoyable to me than finishing practice and going and talking to the coaches that were there watching, or ask them what they thought, pick their brain on things or talk about drills and why we do them or don't do them. It's kind of the fun part about the relationships coaches have."

Stevens detailed how he and Thibodeau have crossed paths in the past, including at a preseason coaching retreat the two attended. Thibodeau has spent time with multiple NBA teams this season, including the defending champ Golden State Warriors.

Thibodeau is likely to draw interest from teams with vacancies after the 2015-16 season. For now, Stevens enjoys being able to get his honest opinion on how Boston looks.

"[Thibodeau has] been interesting to talk to about all his travels, and spending a year off and looking at it from a broader picture than just when you're so immersed in, 'OK, we've got to get ready for Game 66. And how do we stop James Harden? How do we stop [Dwight] Howard's rolls to the rim?'" said Stevens, whose team hosts the Houston Rockets on Friday night at TD Garden. "I think it's fun to have a broader view of the game as a whole and trends you see and those types of things."


Celtics big man Jared Sullinger, who was hospitalized earlier this week with a skin infection, did not participate in Thursday's light workout, but is expected to play in Friday's game against the Rockets. Said Stevens: "We just held him out of practice because he spent a couple days getting IVs and dehydrated and everything else. We just didn't want to overdo it today. So he's expected to play [Friday]."

Fellow big man Kelly Olynyk, sidelined since Feb. 10 with a shoulder injury, did not sound optimistic about his chances to return to game action Friday. Olynyk has engaged in practice activities this week, but asked how he's feeling he replied, "Same story, different day."

Thanks to Boston's lighter schedule, Olynyk hasn't missed much game action despite being out a month's time so far. The Celtics have three more days off after Friday's game against Houston.

"[The shoulder is] still a little bit restricting," said Olynyk. "Not where it needs to be in terms of basketball movements to the level where it's comfortable."

The Celtics are 7-3 in Olynyk's absence and he noted, "It's definitely easier [to sit out] when they're playing well and playing together. It's tough when they lose and you really want to be out there to make a difference."