Celtics trying to build off 2014-15 momentum

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WALTHAM, Mass. -- Six weeks after the Boston Celtics' season ended with a first-round playoff exit, the team's training facility still bustles with activity.

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge said Thursday that the team had five roster players in town for a morning workout in Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller, James Young, Phil Pressey, and Chris Babb. Marcus Smart, Brandon Bass, and Isaiah Thomas have all been in town recently, and the Celtics are monitoring others as they work out from afar at the start of their offseasons.

"Our coaches do a great job and our players are in and working hard," said Ainge. "We couldn’t be more pleased. Even the guys who aren’t here, we know they are working elsewhere and guys are getting better. I think they felt that they had some momentum going last year and want to continue it. Everybody is working hard."

Celtics veterans typically work out together in a morning session and draft workouts often follow. Boston has hosted a total of 50 draft hopefuls in nine group workouts over the past 15 days (the team can also workout players individually and doesn't have to divulge that visit).

At the start of those draft workouts last month, Ainge was asked if the success of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that swept Boston out of the postseason and now sits two wins away from hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy, only further validated Boston's postseason surge and how competitive they played a then-healthy Cleveland team.

"I think we have a lot to be proud of," said Ainge. "But we are all very cognizant of the fact that it’s one step of many, and we have a lot more to go. But there’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to be excited about in the future."

It seems the Celtics don't want to let that momentum dissipate while waiting for the new season to arrive. Young players are eager to take the next step in their developments and enhance the chance that Boston is a legitimate contender next season.

That process could be aided this offseason by adding more talent via both the draft and free agency. Rumors have persisted that the Celtics are eager to move up in this year's draft -- a rather obvious suggestion when you consider the of assets that Boston has and the likelihood that they will at least explore that possibility.

But Ainge reaffirmed Thursday that the team has not engaged in any substantial discussions about moving up while teams are still plotting their draft-night direction.

"Nobody is messing with that right now," Ainge said of trade chatter. "Draft day, if anything. We’re preparing to draft our picks. We’re always ready to make moves if an opportunity to get better arises."

Of the 50 players Boston has worked out so far, only seven have projected as potential first-round picks. That includes Louisville's Montrezl Harrell, who highlighted Thursday's six-man workout that also included Florida's Chris Walker, Wisconsin's Duje Dukan, Butler's Kameron Woods, the D-League's Jamal Jones and Georgetown's Greg Whittington.

The Celtics have left no stone unturned, and Ainge hasn't hid that the team will explore the possibility of drafting players that might be stashed in the D-League or overseas.

"I don’t think it’s any secret that we have four picks, and it probably wouldn’t be great for us to have four rookies on our team next year," said Ainge. "So we are exploring options for guys who would play in the D-League, play in Europe, trades -- all of these things are possible with the number of picks we have."