WALTHAM — Brad Stevens is playing the role of supervisor, offering suggestions as he watches the Celtics’ summer league team prepare for its opener Saturday against the Miami Heat. His participation is limited, however. He doesn’t want to interfere with the instruction of assistant coach Jay Larranaga.
Last year when the Celtics traveled to Orlando for summer league, Stevens was recently hired, new to the NBA, and had no intention of being too strong of a presence. This time, he’s more comfortable, but equally aware of his behind-the-scenes role.
“When I came here last year I really didn’t want to interfere at all,” Stevens said Thursday as Larranaga yelled instructions to the Celtics’ summer leaguers. “I’m trying my best to not do that again. We’ve all been together a year and I think the things that we’re doing on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor are things we can see. It’s all progress within our system and that’s the benefit of having some continuity.”
Larranaga is an emerging coaching prospect who decided to remain with the Celtics when Stevens was hired, despite an invitation to join Doc Rivers’s staff in Los Angeles.
“Jay’s a great coach, I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Stevens said. “And it’s not necessarily [his] growth, it’s just he and I know how each other operates better, and that’s going to happen any time you have a staff of guys you’ve never worked with before.”
First-round pick James Young has yet to practice with the team because of the aftereffects of a car accident that cost him five scheduled draft workouts. Young, who has a stiff neck, performed some noncontact drills Thursday but is not expected to play Saturday, and he is questionable to play at all during the weeklong summer league.
“I haven’t been given a timeline on it,” Stevens said. “And obviously, you know, he was in a car accident a couple of weeks ago. It’s summer league. We want to be very, very smart about this. He’s anxious to play. He wants to. At the same time, I want to be cognizant of the big picture here.”
Stevens said Young’s injury will not have any long-term effects.
Sullinger won’t play
Larranaga doesn’t expect third-year forward Jared Sullinger to travel to Orlando, although he is practicing with the team. Sullinger said he’s been working on his conditioning.
“I think he’s accomplished a lot in his first two years in terms of what he’s been able to do,” Stevens said. “He is in that group of guys that could be a great player. It’s a bigger group that actually are great players just because it takes age, it takes experience, it takes a lot of opportunities to become that. He knows what it takes. He’s got some abilities that are hard to deny and we can all see when we’re watching.”
Interest in Humphries
Several teams have shown interest in free agent forward Kris Humphries, including the Celtics, who appreciated his work ethic and production during last year’s trying season. The Clippers, Mavericks, Timberwolves, and Heat also have expressed interested in Humphries, who earned $12 million last season. Humphries, 29, averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 69 games with the Celtics after being acquired from the Nets in the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade.