WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) — Rajon Rondo likes the feel of the new-look Boston Celtics.
“We have a deep roster,” the point guard said after the club’s first full preseason workout Saturday.
“One to 15, any guy can go in there and make plays for us. I think it’s going to be big for us as far as our depth off the bench — guys won’t be as tired when we get to the playoffs.
“It’s good to have so many guys that are able to play the game.”
Ray Allen is gone (to Miami) but the Celtics, who lost to Miami in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season, were busy during the offseason.
They brought in veterans Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jason Collins and Darko Milicic, while also adding rookies Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph in the draft.
Boston is also getting Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox back from injury. The Celtics are missing Avery Bradley after shoulder surgery, but he could return a couple of months into the season.
“I think with the team we have, with the added depth, with the youth mixed in with the experience, it will allow us to play better in back-to-back (game) situations,” veteran forward Paul Pierce said. “We expect to play better in these situations this year.”
Coach Doc Rivers put his team through its first full workout Saturday and liked what he saw from the first day.
“It was a good day,” he said. “We had a pretty good practice … some guys are in great shape some guys are in average shape, but overall, with all the numbers, I thought it was a good practice.
“It was the first day of practice and we got a lot in. We didn’t fall behind today in anything, everything that we had from coaches’ notes to work we actually worked on and that was good.”
Unlike last year, when a lockout delayed the start of the season, the players have been working out together.
A group also flew out to Los Angeles, a trip organized by Rondo, who is being counted on for more a leadership role with Allen gone.
“I think he’s earned the right to be a leader,” Kevin Garnett said.
Asked Saturday about the early workouts making it easier for the first official day, Rondo said, “No. It felt like Day 1 of camp.”
The Celtics are spending the weekend at home, but fly to Turkey on Monday and will play two exhibition games, one in Istanbul and the other in Milan, Italy.
The team is looking forward to the trip.
“I think that’s always good,” Rivers said. “Whenever you can get a team away from all distractions, every though there are some over there . it’s still good. Guys have to ride the bus together instead of driving individual cars to practice; you’re all on one bus so guys get to talking. You kind of figure out, just by the dynamics of travel who’s going to be around who. You get to learn a lot about your team.”
Garnett said he learned a little about his team Friday night, when the players followed each other in their cars to dinner.
“It was all cohesive. Good driving,” he said. “There was team chemistry in there somewhere.”
Said Rondo: “Guys are buying into the system. We had a good meeting with Doc yesterday talking about guys buying into the system.”
Rivers said neither Green nor Wilcox has any restrictions as they return. “They’re fine,” he said.
Green, who missed last season, said he “felt good — I was happy to be back. I was trying not to smile too much in practice . I’m just happy to be playing basketball.”
Rivers noticed his players were in better shape than when they reported after last season’s lockout, but noted, “I think the whole league’s better, though. I think it’s easier when you have a date that you know you have to start and you’re allowed to work out until that date.”