June 12, 2007
WALTHAM - As much as the Celtics staff might have loved to watch Florida's Joakim Noah and North Carolina's Brandan Wright - a pair of athletic, mobile power forwards - go head-to-head yesterday, they had to settle for separate workouts.
The reason was the insistence of Wright, and his agent, he work out on his own - without a sparring partner.
As such, Wright hustled through shooting drills, ran laps under the supervision of strength and fitness coach Walter Norton, and took passes in the post as assistant coach Armond Hill whacked him with a blocking pad.
``I think I do a good job by myself,'' said Wright. ``When you do individual workouts, I think there is more focus on you.''
As Gerald Green discovered two years ago, the strategy can also backfire. The Celtics guard was originally slotted as a possible choice by Portland with the fourth pick in the draft.
But Green's insistence on not working out against other players contributed to his slide - all the way to the Celtics at No. 18.
Unlike Noah, a three-year player with two national titles under his belt, Wright is considered a project.
``I play calmly,'' said Wright of the perception that he's not a passionate player. ``I'm just relaxed, and I try to play the game in relaxed fashion.''
Director of basketball operations Danny Ainge declined comment on rumors connecting the Celtics to Phoenix and forward Shawn Marion, with the fifth pick the major part of the deal.
The Suns reportedly are attempting to unload bad contracts as part of any trade for Marion. In the Celtics' case, that might require agreeing to bring back Marcus Banks, who has four years and just over $17 million left on the contract he signed with the Suns last summer.
Marion can also opt out after next season - a prohibitive condition if the Celts feel they can't re-sign him.
Going to Green
Ainge, coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the staff plan to watch Georgetown forward Jeff Green work out Friday in Washington.
Green, who has not hired an agent and is retaining the option of a return to college, is thus required under NCAA regulations to pay his own way to workouts. As a result, teams are coming to him.
Like Wright, Green is conducting workouts without a partner, meaning general managers and scouts are traveling for the opportunity to watch him in shooting drills.
The same was true when the Celtics traveled to watch Yi Jianlian, the Chinese star, in Los Angeles. . . .
Noah is happy his former coach, Billy Donovan, pulled out of a contract with Orlando and returned to Florida.
``That doesn't affect my relationship with him,'' said Noah. ``He followed his heart.'' The former Gator likes the stipulation with the Magic calling for Donovan to not look for another NBA job for five years.
``It's cool,'' Noah said. ``He's such a clean-cut guy, but he has a little controversy about him. He's very passionate, and he understands what it takes to win.''