Keith Bogans eager to lead Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Keith Bogans would have been considered a spring chicken on some of the Boston Celtics' recent teams. Now, the 33-year-old swingman is the oldest player on Boston's roster -- by three years no less -- and is being pegged as the veteran leader of a fledgling bunch.

The well-traveled Bogans, who received a healthy payday for his inclusion in the Celtics-Nets blockbuster swap, envisions himself as an extension of 36-year-old coach Brad Stevens and has pledged to lead on the court and in the locker room.

"I think a lot of people don't know, but that's been my role since I've been in the league," Bogans said Monday. "A lot of the guys that I've played with -- superstar, veteran guys -- they'll tell you that. That's why they respect me, because I've been the same from Day 1. I come in, I'm a leader."

The Celtics formally introduced some of the new faces acquired from the Brooklyn Nets on Monday at their training facility. Forgive Bogans for not dressing up. While MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries wore designer suits, Bogans appeared in jeans and a black polo shirt. This is his eighth team in 11 NBA seasons (including two stints with the Orlando Magic), so he has been through the introduction process before.

But his NBA journey helped him find that locker room voice and he said some lean early years in Orlando really taught him how to be a leader.

Ironically, Bogans' first NBA coach was Doc Rivers, but Rivers lasted just 11 games before being fired by the Magic early in the 2003-04 season. Bogans said veterans Juwan Howard and Grant Hill took him under their wings that season.

"I was on a bad team. I came into an Orlando team that … Tracy McGrady quit that year, [the Magic] lost like 18 or 19 in a row," Bogans recalled. "I've been on a bad team so I know what that's like; just don't want to do that again.

"They just taught me that that's not the way to play. Throughout that year, when it was so bad, I had two guys in my ear telling me: 'This is not NBA basketball. This is not the way it's played. Stay focused, stay professional.' Those guys were constantly telling me that. Constantly."

That experience should serve Bogans well in Boston, where -- high potential draft pick, be damned -- he swears he won't allow his teammates to tank.

"Well, they are going to be mad," Bogans said of fans who want the Celtics to mail it in this season. "We're going to come out and we're going to play Celtics basketball. We're going to give 110 percent. If they think we're going to tank this away and give up, they can cancel that because we're going to come out and play hard every night.

"If you are tanking, in my book, you shouldn't be playing. I think every night you go out you should want to win. I hate losing, personally. So I'm going to try to pass that on to everybody else. I hope that's their mindset too."

Bogans also has 5 million reasons to play hard this season after his inclusion in the blockbuster landed him an unexpected payday. In order to help facilitate the swap, Bogans essentially earned a midlevel contract in agreeing to a three-year, $15.6 million deal. Only the first year is guaranteed, which means Bogans will be overpaid for his talents, then likely continue his journeyman ways.

While Bogans will earn more in the 2013-14 campaign than he has the past four seasons combined, he actually holds great value for Boston as a future trade asset. Bogans could be dealt next summer to a team looking to shed a contract. That would essentially give Boston another midlevel chip next season when the team will be better positioned to add talent and return to surefire contender status.

Asked about his windfall, Bogans smiled wildly on Monday and politely tried to play it off by saying he had no comment.

"I'm happy just to be playing basketball," he said, still beaming while knowing that this season will pay him nearly 40 percent of his previous career earnings ($14.1 million). He's never made more than $2.6 million in a season.

Beyond veteran leadership, Bogans brings toughness, gritty defense (read: hard fouls) and the ability to knock down open 3-pointers. Last season, he averaged 4.2 points and 1.6 rebounds over 19 minutes per game in Brooklyn.

As Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge noted, "Keith has made a lot of big 3-pointers in his career against us. He's a terrific player, a leader in the locker room, highly regarded from every coaching staff he's been on."

Asked if low expectations might make it easier to guide Boston this season, Bogans briefly slipped into Rickey Henderson-like third person.

"Keith is going to play the way Keith plays every night," Bogans said.

It also seems that Bogans is going to lead the way Bogans leads every night.

"It won't be hard for me because I'm older now," Bogans said of being a vocal leader. "If I was a younger guy coming in, trying to be a voice, then it would be hard. But I think I've been playing long enough, a lot of younger guys respect me around the league."