As a Celtics veteran going into his ninth season, Marcus Smart has been a part of plenty of practices that get “pretty fiery.”
But the guard knows it shouldn’t cross a line like it did last week out west.
Draymond Green’s punch of Jordan Poole at Warriors practice last week has been the talk of the NBA world – and now seen everywhere after the video was posted by TMZ on Friday. Green has since apologized to Poole and the team and admitted he made a mistake.
Smart – an emotional leader for the C’s and the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year – said that while practices can get intense enough for guys to put their hands on each other, he reiterated that things like that can’t happen and was disappointed to see the incident leaked outside Golden State’s camp.
“I think that’s something the Warriors should have kept in-house, it should have been with them, and they should have handled it between them,” Smart said after Sunday’s practice. “I don’t know much about the situation, but from what I’m hearing and seeing, and I know Draymond, as good as he is as a player and as a person, he made a mistake. I think we can all say that from what we know. As a leader, you can’t do that, especially when guys are looking up to you and looking to you for advice and encouragement. Sometimes, not to go that route, but definitely keeping that fire and staying on them, but he’s gotta know when to cool off and when to back it down. …
“I don’t know much about it, but like I said, I think the Warriors should have fixed that between them, and it’s unfortunate that it got out the way it did.”
Kornet returns to practice
Luke Kornet, who’s recovering from a left ankle sprain, was back at Celtics practice on Sunday. He only participated in non-contact drills, but coach Joe Mazzulla said it was a light day for the team anyway.
Mazzulla is hopeful Kornet will be available for Friday’s preseason finale against the Raptors, which is being played in Montreal. The 7-foot-2 Kornet is expected to make the team out of training camp as the C’s look to fill the void left by Rob Williams’ injury.
Vonleh cherishing hometown chance
After coming back from a season playing for the Shanghai Sharks in China – his first year out of the NBA since he was a first-round pick in 2014 – Noah Vonleh was home this summer uncertain about his future before the Celtics came calling about joining them in training camp to battle for a roster spot. It’s an opportunity the Haverhill native couldn’t pass up.
“I was very excited, especially being a hometown kid from the area,” Vonleh said. “I just came here with the right mindset trying to take it day by day.”
That mindset is treating him well. With room on the roster for a floor-spacing big in Williams’ absence, Vonleh is making the most of his chance. He started Friday’s preseason win over the Hornets and produced 14 points and 13 rebounds as he continued a promising camp.
Vonleh said he had a hamstring injury he was dealing with a month ago, but that’s behind him now and he’s continuing to get more comfortable in the Celtics’ system. He’s playing with confidence after a strong season in Shanghai, too, where he shot the ball and played more free, he said.
A big focus for Vonleh with the Celtics has been improving on setting screens, an important attribute on a team that includes several high-level playmakers and shooters. He looked comfortable in that aspect on Friday, and he’s going into this last week of camp with a clear mindset.
“I’m just going to try to go in every day and be consistent, do whatever I’m asked, and continue to work on my game,” Vonleh said. “Working on screening angles, trying to get these guys open, and continuing to work on different parts of my game, expanding my range, getting those threes here and there, so working on different things.”
Vonleh is grateful for the chance to play for his hometown team, but knows the work isn’t done yet.
“The journey continues,” Vonleh said. “I don’t know if this will be the last stop, but I’m happy to be here now. I’m just staying in the moment, staying in the now.”