New Boston Celtics Head Coach Stevens smiles during a news conference at the Celtics training center in Waltham

New Celtics coach Brad Stevens sends letter to former players inviting them to be a part of team’s tradition


Brad Stevens is just 36 years old and has never coached a single minute of NBA basketball. None of that mattered to the Boston Celtics, of course, who hired Stevens as the head coach that will succeed Doc Rivers, and will hopefully return the storied franchise to relevance sooner rather than later.

Stevens is beginning his tenure wisely — by reaching out to former players and welcoming them with open arms.

From longtime NBA scribe Peter Vecsey:

Brad Stevens sent letter 2 former Celtic players. Said if they ever want 2 attend practice or home/away games, call his office…cont..

…Stevens said they’re always welcome to continue to be part of the Celtics’ tradition.

It’s a smart move by Stevens, and it’s easy to understand why he’d go to the trouble of doing such a thing.

Having former players around a young team in a rebuilding phase is an instant way to gain credibility with the guys he’s currently coaching. It can’t be easy to enter an NBA locker room with no prior experience at that level, and by ingratiating himself with legends of seasons past, Stevens will create a franchise culture that should translate immediately to a minimal level of respect.

It’ll be up to Stevens to cultivate those player relationships, but if nothing else, opening the door for Celtics veterans to participate in his program could give him a decent head start.

Thabo Sefolosha’s lawyer: White police officer targeted black Hawks forward

Thabo Sefolosha
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NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer representing a professional basketball player arrested outside a New York City nightclub has told a jury his client was targeted because he’s black.

Attorney Alex Spiro said Tuesday in Manhattan Criminal Court that a white police officer saw a black man in a hoodie when he confronted the Atlanta Hawks’ Thabo Sefolosha on April 8.

Sefolosha was arrested while leaving a Manhattan nightclub following a stabbing. He subsequently suffered a season-ending leg fracture after a confrontation with police.

A prosecutor said in opening statements that Sefolosha called an officer who repeatedly told him and others to leave a “midget.”

Sefolosha pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. The Swiss citizen declined a plea deal from prosecutors.


DeMar DeRozan says he hates talking about free agency, takes pride in Raptors longevity

DeMar DeRozan
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DeMar DeRozan has a $10,050,000 player option for 2016-17. Given the rapidly escalating salary cap, it’s a practical certainty DeRozan will opt out and get a major raise.

But he says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I hate that, honestly,” DeRozan said in a one-on-one interview. “I never speak about it. With me, I’ve always been that one player: I’ve been loyal. I’ve been every single thing you can think of here. I think people don’t understand how much pride I take in playing (in Toronto). A lot of times when I do get asked that, it kind of frustrates me.

“Everyday I wake up, I take pride in being the longest Raptor here. People bring up third or whatever in franchise scoring — there is so much stuff like that.”

This sounds awfully similar to LaMarcus Aldridge, who stated his desire last year to become the great Trail Blazer ever and then signed with the Spurs this summer.

Things change, and the impracticality of an extension ensures DeRozan will hit free agency. I believe he’s devoted to the Raptors right now, but his loyalty might change in the next nine months – especially once he sees contract offers from other suitors.

Toronto’s interest in DeRozan might fluctuate, too. He’s a nice player, but the Raptors haven’t won a playoff series with him despite winning the division the last two years. Depending how this season goes, Masai Ujiri might want to rework the roster significantly next summer, and letting DeRozan walk could create major cap space.

I believe DeRozan wants to return to the Raptors, and I believe they want to keep him. But so much can change between now and when both sides must make that call.