Boston’s Sam Cassell, left, and Paul Pierce laugh a win during the 2008 playoffs, when the two helped Boston win the NBA title. Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The NBA season is just a little over a month away as players enjoy the last little bits of the offseason before training camp officially opens. In the meantime, players are still getting their workouts in during the summer in preparation for the 82-game season.

In a fun twist, Celtics star Jayson Tatum and Hall of Famer Paul Pierce have been spotted working out together this summer. Pierce detailed how the initial connection came from a new Celtics assistant coach, Sam Cassell. Pierce said he went to go watch Tatum work out with Cassell, only for him to become part of the process.

“With that whole thing with me and him, I’m just here just for support,” Pierce said. “And it’s getting me back into shape. And it reminds me of the process that I used to go through to get ready for the season. And just being able to watch him and see the things that he’s able to do that’s making him great, it’s an honor. He’s one of the top-five players in the league. So it’s just an honor just to be there, to see him go through his journey.”

Pierce and Cassell – who played for the prep team at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield – played together in Boston, and Pierce wanted the Celtics to hire Cassell onto Joe Mazzulla’s coaching staff. Cassell was part of the 2008 championship team with the Celtics and he brings a former player’s perspective to the locker room. The assistant coach has already made an impact, connecting Pierce and Tatum.

Pierce had plenty of complimentary things to say about Tatum,who is coming off back-to-back seasons where he was named first-team All-NBA. The next step is for the Celtics to get over the championship hump and deliver banner No. 18. That requires Tatum to elevate his game to MVP levels for the Celtics, who look to be right back in the title hunt this season.

“I’m just there to support and see his growth,” Pierce said. “I mean, he’s already at the top of the food chain. I’m just a part of the support system. That’s it.”


MARCUS SMART is set to begin his first NBA season with a team other than the Celtics after a surprise deal to the Memphis Grizzlies in June. Before that new chapter begins, he celebrated his wedding day with his new wife Maisa Hall on Saturday.

Despite some hurt feelings from the deal that blindsided Smart, the point guard invited several of his former teammates and Celtics staffers to the festivities. Boston player attending included Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Derrick White, while team co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, Coach Joe Mazzulla and President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens were also among many Celtics employees at the wedding. They posed for pictures with Tatum that were posted on his Instagram story.

While a strong bond still remains between Smart and his former teammates, those same players spoke about the changes that will be required in his absence.

“Marcus has been somebody that’s, like, we butted heads at times, we fought, we did it all, we put each other in headlocks, etc,” Brown said in July. “The journey won’t feel the same without him to be honest. But it’s a part of life, it’s a part of what you do going forward and everything he’s instilled into this organization, everything he’s instilled into this community is still going to be with us, still carried with us. So we’re going to wish him well on his new journey. Obviously the city of Boston is going to feel the loss of his impact when he’s no longer here but we’ll be able to keep moving forward.”

As Smart tries to set the tone for his new teammates in Memphis next month, Brown knows what the focus must be in Boston.

“With Marcus gone, we don’t want our defensive identity to go out the door as well,” Brown said. “so we have to really emphasize that at the start of training camp.”

THE CELTICS began to put the finishing touches on their roster over the weekend after agreeing to a two-way deal with Neemias Queta. The former Kings center was let go by Sacramento last week after the team elected to sign veteran free agent JaVale McGee to a one-year deal.

The Kings’ loss was Boston’s gain. The Celtics filled a void on their roster with a shot-blocking big man that should bolster their emergency depth in the frontcourt. Queta has been limited offensively during his brief NBA career but he’s been a standout defensive player in the G-League. He named runner-up for the G-League MVP last season while averaging 16.8 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.9 blocks per game in 29 contests.

Queta will fill the final two-way slot on Boston’s roster alongside JD Davison and Jay Scrubb. He is the only big among that trio. However, he slides into an important part of Boston’s depth chart behind a host of talented bigs with injury and age question marks.

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