BOSTON – Celtics president Brad Stevens wanted to incorporate several proven players into the youth roster – and this brought a number of familiar voices back to the franchise.
Al Horford returned to C’s in a Kemba Walker deal, bolstering the locker room. Enes Kanter also appeared on his second assignment in Boston, where he signed a minimal deal during free agency.
With Kanter entering his eleventh year in the league, while another big man in depth, Kanter said he wants to be one of the seasoned leaders in the locker room. It’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s team, but with a large veteran presence on the team, the Celtics have plenty of options.
“The only thing I’m going to do is make sure everyone is happy, and good in the locker room,” Kanter said. “Because sometimes we don’t get the good result we want. Once we get into the dressing room do we stay together or not. That’s my business this season.”
Kanter has flipped the Trail Blazers and Celtics over the past four seasons. He was originally with the Celtics during the 2019-20 season, which was on hold due to the pandemic. Kanter was subsequently re-traded to Portland for one year.
Kanter returns to a different franchise. Stevens is now the head coach as Kanter adjusts to first-year coach Aimee Odoka. The roles differ slightly as Kanter slips as another option alongside Horford and Robert Williams III.
“It’s amazing,” Kanter said on Tuesday of his training camp. “A really fun group of guys and hard work, and every time we are there we learn and play hard and play smart and help each other and that’s fun. Everyone out there loves competition and loves to talk trash and go for each other.”
Kanter slips as the third choice big man off the bench for Odoka. Given his defensive limits, he should do well against some matches.
But Kanter views the locker room as an important part of his role in Boston. The Celtics struggled through last season when they went .500. While Kanter can’t talk about last year’s struggles, he said there must be leaders who step up through tough times.
“Always make sure we have that good chemistry, good vibes, and positive energy,” Kanter said. “For us to get to the next level, when things start to go bad, who’s going to be that leader to come up and say, ‘Okay, let’s go, let’s bring it, let’s stay together. “The one who’s going to keep that positive energy in the locker room.”
The Celtics only got through the opening two days of training camp, but Odoka is starting to acclimatize to his new team. He had previous relationships with a lot of Celtics, while he only heard about Kanter through word of mouth – for better or worse.
“He was annoying in a good way,” Odoka said of Kanter before cracking a joke. “I’ve played against him, of course, over the years, so he’s been great. We’re obviously glad he’s back. I didn’t know him like the rest of the group, but I heard all the stories coming and he was exactly what I heard: a pain in the ass.”