WALTHAM, Mass. -- Knowing the oncoming lockout would leave him with no interaction with Celtics brass for an indefinite amount of time, Celtics second-year guard Avery Bradley traveled to Orlando in June with the goal of earning his head coach's trust.
"It was cool, I was just trying to build a relationship with him," the just-turned 21-year-old Bradley said Friday of time he spent with coach Doc Rivers. "It was a good experience. I got to work out with both of his sons and play pick-up with a few NBA players down there. It was a good experience. But like I said, for the most part, I was just trying to go down there and start a relationship with Doc, which I felt like I did."
Back in town Friday after catching a red-eye flight from Seattle with the goal of showing the team his dedication to get started, a more chiseled Bradley got in an hourlong workout at the Celtics' practice facility with fellow point guard Rajon Rondo and was the first Celtics player to hold court with the media, expressing a salivating desire to get back on the court and prove what he's capable of.
But the most prevalent theme was his desire to win his coach's trust before the new season.
"I feel like if someone has trust in you off the court, they’ll be able to trust you on the court," said Bradley. "That was the main thing for me, to just build that relationship with Doc, let him know how much I want to play. I feel like he’s seen that, now I just have to prove it on the court. When I come in here, from Day 1, I have to go hard and show him that I improved over the summer and, not only that, but I’m looking to improve throughout the year."
Bradley bounced between his native Seattle, Las Vegas, and his old college stomping grounds at the University of Texas this summer, working on his body and his game. When the lockout appeared it would linger, he hopped overseas (with an escape clause in tow) and appeared in three games for a team in Israel.
He said the experience was difficult, but it aided his development and put him in good position as players prepare to get thrust back into the NBA fire when training camps open next Friday. Slow out of the gates due to an anle injury and limited to 30 games and a mere 162 minutes of NBA floor time during his rookie campaign, Bradley simply needed a structured game environment after missing yet another chance at summer league and a full-size training camp.
"It was tough [in Israel]," said Bradley. "It was a different style of play. It definitely helped me out a lot because, in college I played fast, here I played fast, [but] there the games were a little slower. So it helped me slow it down a little bit."
Bradley isn't certain of his role, but Rivers said in June he'd have every opportunity to carve one out for himself. It's likely he'll serve as a key backup behind Rondo. Regardless, he can't wait to get started.
"[Coaches] can’t talk to me yet, so I don’t really know anything," said Bradley. "But I wanted to let them know I was here. Unfortunately, I wasn’t here yesterday, but I wanted to let them know I’m ready to start the season."
And the key then?
"All I have to do is listen to Doc, pay attention to Rondo and just come in here wanting to work hard and learn things," said Bradley. "I feel like I’ll be OK if I just continue to work hard and have the same mindset I've been having. If I keep doing that I feel like I’m only going to get better."