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The Boston Herald


Robert Williams and the rest of his fellow Celtics summer leaguers had the honor this week of christening what, in franchise history, is a true wonder.

The team that early in its history practiced everywhere from the Cambridge YMCA in Central Square to a tiny bandbox gym at Hellenic College in Brookline now has a state-of-the-art training facility — the Auerbach Center — that overlooks the Mass Pike in Brighton. There are immersion pools, a barbershop and facilities for both enhanced weight training and recovery.

No wonder as the summer leaguers ran through their paces this week before flying to Vegas today for two weeks of competition, they could spot veterans everywhere, like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the latter back from a visit at Paris Fashion Week.

Aron Baynes, who agreed to a two-year, $11 million deal with the Celts on the first day of free agency, was on a balcony riding a stationary bike as the team practiced below on their first day in the new facility.

Kevin Bradbury, Williams' agent, was suitably impressed.

"I told Danny (Ainge) when I walked in that this has to be the best facility I've seen, and as an agent I've seen them all," Bradbury said Friday. "This place is just incredible, with the guys' ability to have everything at their fingertips, being able to live right across the street. It's incredible. It's got everything — food, a place to relax, a place for guys to feel comfortable and watch tape, to practice, to work out, to recover.

"Recovery is such an important part of this game right now. So much advanced stuff being done for that, and they have all of it right at their fingertips."

To Bradbury's point, a building of luxury condominiums is near completion across from the facility, which in turn is an easy drive to and from the Garden. Though players have typically settled in western suburbs due to the Celtics' now-terminated agreement with a facility in Waltham, a downtown migration is underway.

Williams' eyes have certainly been opened.

"At (Texas) A&M before my sophomore year started we got a new facility, but it was definitely nothing like this, and definitely nothing like the old Celtics facility," he said. "It's a blessing giving me the perfect platform to perform in."

Tatum pitches in

Tatum was asked by the coaching staff to come in this week and help with the summer leaguers. He will not join the team in Las Vegas after being advised to go light on his on-court work this summer following a grueling rookie year.

That doesn't apply to what appears to be Tatum's main course of business this offseason — additional strength. He's already taking full advantage of the new building's expanded weight training

But Tatum's already a mentor as a particularly wizened 20-year-old. After standing out in last year's Vegas summer league, Tatum had a very important role to fill this week.

"He's now considered an older guy?" Celtics assistant/summer league coach Jay Larranaga said with a laugh. "There are certain non-negotiables that everyone is supposed to bring. You're supposed to play with multiple efforts on defense, you're supposed to play unselfishly on offense. I thought Jay demonstrated that during the season. That's one of the reasons he separated himself from some other young guys, due to the composure and poise he played with. That shines through every day, it's something that happens just in the playoffs. Consistency is really an emphasis for us.

"We like to have as many of our guys around as possible, just so the people that are participating in summer league get a taste of what our culture is like and what our routines are like. Jay has been really good. He's a great kid."

Motivating tool

Brad Wanamaker, the newly-signed guard who spent his last two seasons in Turkey and played with Celtics forward Daniel Theis for two seasons in Bamberg of the German Bundesliga, was able to gauge his jump to the NBA based on his former teammate's own transition to the Celtics.

"It's definitely motivation. Just playing two years with him in Bamberg in Germany, I knew the type of player he could be and just seeing him fulfill his dream and get out here and give a team good minutes before his injury was great," said Wanamaker. "(What he showed was) you stay with it. You work and keep your confidence high. (When) you're ready for the opportunity, just take full advantage of it. And that's what he did last season."

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July 5, 2018


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