Asked about reports that he has been approached by representatives from Olimpia Milano — imagine Datome on the other side when the Celtics open their exhibition season in Milan against that team on Oct. 6 — Datome dismissed the talk as premature. “It’s very early because (NBA) free agency is so (early),” Datome said via phone from his home in Sardinia last week. “My agent told me that first the big players will sign, and then you have to wait. I’ve waited more than two months to get here, so I can wait two more.” “My agent is listening to proposals from European teams, and right now we’re not saying no to anyone. But I still want to see if anyone in the NBA wants to sign me.”
“I want to thank the Celtics and Coach Stevens because they gave me the opportunity,” Datome said. “I think I showed that I can play at this level. But if I play another year in the NBA, I would like to be one of those guys who plays every night.” Datome understands that he has to wait for these opportunities to take shape. His calls will come later this month. He admits that he can earn more money playing in Europe, where a nightly 35-minute role would be guaranteed. “There are some real opportunities in Europe,” he said. “But right now I am thinking about nothing.”
Smart is 21 years old but speaks as if he is 30 because of his many life experiences. He recalls the impact of being mentored and being the young, impressionable kid at basketball camps vying for his one-in-a-million shot to reach the NBA. “I probably speak for the older guys that are way older than me — I think [participating at the camp] makes them feel younger,” Smart said. “But for me you see yourself in these kids because at one point in time, that was you. You just remember all the things that you went through and all the adversity that you went through to get to where you’re at. You’ve got to stay humble and keep working.”
Another intriguing player will be Rozier, the Louisville product who drew a mixed reaction from Celtics fans after being selected with the 16th overall pick. Rozier is likely to share point guard duties with Smart as the Celtics have a crowded backcourt that also includes Hunter, Young, Pressey, and Thornton. “I don’t want to overdo it on anybody, we’ve played 18 total minutes of scrimmaging; his speed is at the highest level,” Stevens said of Rozier. “Once we started going up and down the full court, he did a lot of things that kind of took you aback. But, at the same time, he’s got a lot to learn and a lot to work on. I know he’ll do that. I’ve got no question about that.”
Jae Crowder did take a bit of time to see if the grass was greener elsewhere, but he didn’t take long to decide to stick with the capital “G” Green. According to league sources, Dallas and New York were the other main suitors for the 6-foot-7 winger, but after finally finding a team that was willing to play to his strengths, he wasn’t about to leave the Celtics. The restricted free agent’s return was secured with a five-year, $35 million deal.
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