|Top pick Giddens arrives for camp with NBA champs|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 01 July 2008 12:43|
Eleven months after Boston announced the trade for Garnett, the Celtics won the NBA championship.
On Tuesday, three other players assumed the pose - draft picks J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and Semih Erden.
Good luck trying to get playing time, guys.
It's not that three newcomers, introduced at a news conference the day before the team's rookie-free agent camp, lack talent.
But cracking the rotation on the NBA's best team will be difficult. It would become tougher if the Celtics strengthen their roster with free agents.
``There's a lot of good players out there,'' Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said. ``With our team right now, we have a lot of people that want to come play for the Boston Celtics. So that's a good thing. These (draftees) really haven't proven anything or done anything yet, other than have a lot of potential.
``The world is full of unfulfilled potential.''
Ainge doesn't even know if any of them will be at the team's regular training camp. He said having Giddens or Walker play overseas next season is a consideration.
Giddens, an athletic 6-foot-5 guard from New Mexico, has the best shot at making the Celtics after being taken with the 30th and final pick of the first round. Walker, a 6-6 forward from Kansas State, will be sidelined about three weeks and will miss the rookie camp because he's scheduled to have minor surgery on his right knee Wednesday.
Erden, a 6-11 center, has one year left on his contract with his team in Turkey and intends to go to the NBA the following season.
Giddens played two seasons at Kansas and two more after transferring to New Mexico where he became the team's best player. He knows he'll have a much smaller role with the Celtics.
``At Kansas, I wasn't the main guy on the team and I had to play my role,'' he said. ``So I don't feel like it'll be any different. I'm a young guy. I've got a lot to learn. Guys know so much more than me, so playing a lesser role than KG, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, those guys, it's not that hard.''
Especially with what Giddens has been through.
In May 2005, he was stabbed in a bar fight after his second season with Kansas, and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge. At New Mexico he was suspended twice in his first season but feels he matured last season under new coach Steve Alford.
``You walk past a stove and it's hot and you touch it, the second time you're not going to touch,'' Giddens said. ``So we learn from past experiences and growing pains. I wouldn't be the man and the ballplayer and the person I am today without all of that happening to me.''
``The journey's just begun now. I've turned over a new leaf and it's time to try to prove myself at the next level.''
Walker also had his share of setbacks - major surgeries on his right knee as a high school freshman and on his left knee as a college freshman, his only season at Kansas State. He sustained his latest injury during a pre-draft workout with Golden State.
Whatever role the Celtics have for him, he's eager.
``I have to earn my way. I can't just come in and they're supposed to give me minutes because of who I am,'' Walker said. ``I can never take this game for granted. I love it too much to feel like I'm bigger than the game. With or without me, this game keeps going on. A lot of young guys need to learn that.
``I believe that, in time, people who work hard enough and deserve it will get to the top.''
After the news conference, Ainge watched Erden take free throws on the Celtics practice court. The general manager's primary task, though, is working to sign free agents.
``We're having conversations with lots of free agents right now, including our own,'' Ainge said.
Forward James Posey is his primary target from a group of Celtics that includes Eddie House, Scot Pollard, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell and Tony Allen, whose four-year stint with the Celtics may be ending.
``If things might not work out with James or other free agents for that matter, then Tony would be a guy that we would be interested in returning,'' Ainge said. ``Tony may get something that entices him to change scenery but he knows that he would be welcome here in the right circumstance.''
Doesn't the drafting of Giddens and Walker, who are similar in height to Allen, reduce the team's need for Allen?
``Time will tell. I'm not sure,'' Ainge said. ``Those guys haven't done anything yet.''