WALTHAM - Celtics forward Kevin Garnett is learning a lot of history lessons about the storied franchise he now plays for as he meets some its legendary figures.
Celtics greats Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, Jo Jo White, and Bob Cousy all have attended preseason games, as has the family of the late Dennis Johnson. Celtics great Tom Heinsohn is a television commentator. And yesterday, John Havlicek spoke to the team before practice.
"There is a lot of history and responsibility that comes with this jersey and with this franchise," said Garnett. "He just explained that and let us know it's our duty and responsibility to continue carrying it on.
"I don't think I even blinked one time when he was talking. I was trying to get all the insight and soak up all the knowledge he was giving.
"I'm sure he's busy and I'm sure the last thing he wants to do is speak to us. It was a pleasure. It was more than a surprise."
The 67-year-old Hall of Famer, whom coach Doc Rivers described as his favorite Celtic, likes what he sees in today's team.
"Everyone is anticipating a lot of things," said Havlicek. "In the past, we were awaiting the young guys to develop. Well, the young guys are gone and there's a nucleus that has the potential to be a very good team. I think everyone is looking forward to it, particularly the fans."
Garnett is very knowledgeable of NBA history, though he didn't receive similar lessons from his previous employer; the Timberwolves are only 18 years old and he is widely considered their best player ever.
"This is a different level, man, from player treatment, to how the franchise has advanced, to the history, to the Celtic pride and injecting that in you," Garnett said. "This is part of league history right here. A lot of these banners, a lot of this history on the wall, it's like being in a museum.
"Now to know I'm part of it, and it's building every day . . . "
Summer workGuard Tony Allen didn't receive a contract extension as the deadline passed yesterday. He is coming off knee surgery and will be a restricted free agent next summer. "I ain't worried about it," Allen said. "It is what it is." Said executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge, "Both sides agreed that next summer is a better time to discuss his future. We love Tony and we think Tony likes it here." . . . The Celtics picked up guard Rajon Rondo's option for the 2008-09 season. He will make $1.2 million this season and $1.3 million next season. Rondo averaged 6.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.4 steals during the preseason. The 6-foot-1-inch guard averaged 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals as a rookie last season.
Pollard improvingCenter Scot Pollard practiced for the third straight day after missing all the exhibitions and most practices with a sprained left ankle. Forward Brian Scalabrine practiced with a strained right big toe. Rookie guard Gabe Pruitt missed practice because of cramping in his right hamstring. "I'm kind of sore, but not as sore as I thought I would be," said Pollard, who expects to be ready for Friday's season opener against Washington. "I got through practice fine and there was no step backwards." . . . Rivers hopes Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce will play fewer than 40 minutes per game, but would like at least two on the floor at all times, and one "is almost mandatory."
Marc J. Spears can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org