September 27, 2007
The Celtics finalized their training camp roster last night by adding Esteban Batista, a 6-foot-10 center from Uruguay, and swingman Dahntay Jones to their Italy-bound exhibition roster, which stands at 17 players - two over the league maximum.
Batista, who had been working out against veteran center Kelvin Cato the last two days at the team's training facility in Waltham, led last month's Tournament of the Americas in rebounding.
The former Atlanta Hawk had drawn the interest of several teams thanks to this summer's performance. Though he sought a guaranteed contract, it's unclear whether the Celtics - who had initially refused to guarantee any of their tryout players this week - agreed to his request.
``Doc (Rivers) and Danny (Ainge) really pursued him and made him feel wanted,'' said Batista's agent, Mark Cornstein. ``I think he's a great fit for that organization. What he wants and needs is an opportunity, and I think they can provide him with that.''
The Pacers also had interest in Batista.
Though Rivers was also impressed by the workout earlier this week of Linton Johnson, the small forward did not return for yesterday's session. Celtics management believes Johnson received a partial guarantee from another team. Former Celtic Eric Williams, did not return yesterday after working out Tuesday with Johnson.
Jones, drafted by the Celtics with the 20th pick in 2003 and sent to Memphis as part of a deal for Marcus Banks, is known as a tough perimeter defender.
The Celtics open the exhibition schedule Oct. 6 in Rome vs. Toronto.
The Big Three wave has certainly swamped the box office, with a stop recently put on full season ticket packages, according to team president Rich Gotham.
Gotham said the team's season ticket base has grown by 40 percent this summer, with season tickets accounting for approximately 80 percent of available seating.
Vice president Shawn Sullivan said no game has more than 1,000 tickets remaining. Three hundred $10 seats will be sold the night of each game.
``Fortunately the business environment has really changed for us as well,'' said Gotham. ``We've spent a lot on players, and suddenly Sully is a lot better at selling tickets.
``Now we're projecting selling out most if not all of our games,'' he said. ``Winning is the best marketing you can have, and the second best is the hope of winning. We really feel that our fan base was rejuvenated over the summer.''