BOLTON — When training camp begins Friday, it might not be the first time this current Celtics crew will have worked together. Unbeknownst to the coaches, the veterans gathered the core members of the 2012-13 team for workouts last week in Los Angeles.
Several rookies and free agents joined Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Paul Pierce at UCLA for informal practices, perhaps a sign of the vets’ seriousness in approaching this critical season.
Several players who participated Tuesday in the Celtics’ charity golf tournament at the International GC discussed the workouts and the upcoming season.
“The guys have been together all summer,” coach Doc Rivers said. “The last couple of weeks they have had a lot of bonding that allowed them to stick together every day. The entire team went to LA last week and played together, so it’s been good.”
It was the first time that several younger players were formally introduced to Garnett, including rookie Fab Melo, who is certainly going to have the veterans in his ear during practices this season.
“It was a wake-up call for us because we [youngsters] were playing against each other so the competition wasn’t very hard,” Melo said. “Then we went to LA and we saw we had to work. But that’s a good thing. That’s what we saw in LA, they were really focused. They want to win it this year. That’s a good thing.”
Meeting Garnett “was more like a fun moment for us,” said Melo. “We were playing pickup games. It wasn’t anything like coaching yet, but I’m sure when he comes [to Boston], he’s gonna turn his lights on and start getting on us.”
Melo said he is more comfortable with the system and better conditioned than during his inconsistent performances during summer league.
“One thing that makes me feel comfortable is the coaches, they’re patient with me,” he said. “They’re working with me. That’s the thing I’m happy about.”
Collins trims down
Jason Collins has played most of his career as a beefy big man, but he reports to Waltham Friday he will be in perhaps the best shape of his career. Collins, who was signed as a reserve center after spending the past three seasons with the Hawks, now more resembles his slimmer identical twin brother Jarron, who played 10 years in the NBA.
“I’ve worked hard,” Collins said. “I don’t know how often Doc is going to call my name and number, but I’ll be ready. That’s the job of a professional is to put yourself in the best possible shape to help your team win.”
Said Rivers: “Jason is in phenomenal shape.”
Collins’s role is uncertain with the recent signing of Darko Milicic, but he appears ready to make an impact.
“This is my best opportunity to win an NBA championship,” he said. “My job is to go out there and be physical, play solid defense, and contribute on the offensive end whenever possible. As far as going out and guarding the Dwight Howards and Andrew Bynums in this league, that’s my job.”
President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the club is not likely to seek a reserve point guard to replace Keyon Dooling, who suddenly retired last week, leaving an opportunity for players such as Dionte Christmas or Jamar Smith . . . Jason Terry on his goal in his first season with the Celtics: “My mission is to kill, whoever that is, whether it’s the Heat, whether it’s the Lakers, hopefully both. That’s my mission. That’s what I’m here to do.” . . . The Bucks agreed to a one-year, guaranteed contract with former Celtic Marquis Daniels, who spent two injury plagued years with Boston . . . The Celtics raised more than $100,000 Tuesday for their Shamrock Foundation.