The Celtics have taken great pains in their player evaluation process to avoid off the court issues similar to what Sixers rookie Jahlil Okafor has experienced this season, Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald writes. “We have player development, and then we have veteran players and coaches work with them,” Celtics executive Danny Ainge said. “And I spend a ton of time talking with our players about life issues and challenges. The league does constant seminars throughout the season, and then we do them also internally as a team. You try to prepare them, and a lot of guys listen — and a lot of guys don’t, and they learn the hard way. We’ve had a large group of young players that have come through, and some listen and they get it. They understand their place in life, their place in the NBA, what’s ahead of them, the risks. They just get it; they grasp it. And some just don’t. Some just have to learn the hard way.”
Here’s more from the East:
- Heat point guard Tyler Johnson strongly considered heading overseas after going undrafted out of Fresno State, but he ultimately decided to pursue his NBA dream stateside, a move that is paying off for both the player and the team, Jared Zwerling of NBPA.com writes. “The only reason why I even talked about overseas was people could see me more and people could have more footage, because [Fresno State] didn’t play national TV games,” Johnson said. “We barely played any TV games, so it can be written off, like, ‘Oh, he’s not in a very strong conference.’ I just needed an opportunity.”
- Center Joel Anthony understands that his role as a veteran on a young Pistons team is to provide leadership for the other players, a task Anthony says he embraces, Aaron McMann of MLive.com relays. “Just as a vet. I feel grounded now saying that I’m the vet and older one. It’s weird how fast that happens, that I’m the older one among the much younger guys. It’s been good for me. I’ve gotten a chance to work with some of the young guys and try to help them out, try to help them get better,” Anthony told McMann.