Brad Stevens is running his team much differently than Danny Ainge, and more thoughts on the Celtics

Brad Stevens is running his team much differently than Danny Ainge, and more thoughts on the Celtics

Forward Noah Vonleh, 26, the ninth pick of the 2014 draft, averaged 4.9 points and 5.1 rebounds over seven NBA seasons before spending last year in China. Forward Bruno Caboclo, 26, who was taken 11 picks after Vonleh in 2014, played 105 NBA games over seven seasons and starred in Brazil last year. Wing Justin Jackson, 27, was drafted 15th overall in 2017, has played for six NBA teams over six seasons, and was a member of Boston’s summer league squad last month. Two-way contract player Mfiondu Kabengele, 25, is even a former first-round choice, the 27th pick in 2019.

These players will mostly battle for the final spots on the roster, but Stevens clearly values ​​their age and experience and wants a closer look. If nothing else, they’ll offer some sturdy camp competition.

⋅ If Brodric Thomas, who was on a two-way contract last season, and veteran Denzel Valentine are also added to the training camp roster, as expected, that would leave Boston two guys short of the camp maximum of 20. A league source said that the final tweaks would probably not be made until early September. Training camp will begin Sept. 27.

⋅ Celtics All-Star Jayson Tatum has stayed busy during his abbreviated summer. He held kids’ camps in Boston and St. Louis, attended the weddings of NBA stars such as Draymond Green and De’Aaron Fox, and on Saturday night played in The CrawsOver, a Seattle pro-am league run by former NBA standout Jamal Crawford .

It was a star-studded game. Tatum was paired with LeBron James and Hawks star Dejounte Murray, and they faced a team that included the top two picks of June’s draft, Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren, as well as former Celtics star Isaiah Thomas. Tatum was primarily guarded by Banchero, a fellow Duke alumnus, and drilled a handful of 3-pointers while facing admittedly light defense. But the game was called off about midway through the second quarter because of condensation on the floor.

⋅ The Celtics’ schedule was released Wednesday, and two excessively long road trips stood out. Typically, Boston’s Western Conference excursions involve teams from, well, the Western Conference. But the Celtics have a six-game, 10-day trip that also includes games against the Nets and Raptors, and a six-game, 11-day trip that includes a detour to Atlanta. One league source said that national television obligations are to be blamed for the unusual setup.

⋅ Last winter Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca led a group that purchased a majority stake in Italian soccer club Atalanta, and he has tabbed a familiar and trusted voice to lend a hand. Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren recently traveled to Bergamo, about 30 miles northeast of Milan, to meet with club staff about how it tracks player data and statistics.

“Steve just thought it would be good for me to meet with them and see if there’s any advice to give,” Zarren said. “I’m a soccer fan, but not a soccer expert. The thing is, so many of the challenges of running a sports team are the same across the board. Like, the actual numbers you’re looking at might be different, but how you set up the infrastructure and think about which things to analyze with the front office and coaching staff, that stuff is all very common.”

Zarren said that this brief trip mostly served as an introduction, but some of Atalanta’s brass might come to Boston to get a closer look at the Celtics’ approach next fall, when European soccer is paused during to the World Cup.

⋅ Celtics forward Grant Williams checked in with forward Jaylen Brown after rumors sprouted about Brown potentially being involved in a trade for Nets star Kevin Durant. He’s confident that Brown will be unaffected.

“It’s one of those things you can’t really be discouraged by,” Williams said. “I feel like we love JB, everyone here in Boston, everyone on the team. And it kind of shows how valuable he is, the fact that a top-10 player in the world [could be traded]and you’re the focal point?”

League sources have insisted for weeks that the Celtics have not had any real discussions of substance with the Nets about Durant, and they’ve communicated with Brown about the situation frequently.

“[Brown is] going to take it with a competitive mindset, too,” Williams said. “I think that he’s going to come back with a chip on his shoulder and I love that, because I know how he responds and he’s going to be very, very, secure, because he’s secure in himself.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.

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