Looking back, the 2013-14 season was an up and down year, but that’s usually how it goes over the course of a long season. You’re always going to have times that are great, and times that are not so great.
The trade definitely put a wrench into the season, but I think it all worked out for the best. I wound up in a good situation and overall, it was a good year. I have no complaints about it.
The outcome wasn’t what we were looking for in Boston, but I think a season like this can be used as a motivator for guys. Anything you can find to motivate yourself is worth it. I’m definitely using it for fuel this offseason.
I really want to become more consistent as a player. I still have a lot of things left to do before all is said and done, and I’m set up well to do that. I’m still young. I’m not done growing as a player. Even though I’ve been in the league six years now, I’m only 25. I still have things I want to show and prove before my time is done.
I’d love to be able to do that in Boston. Obviously, I’m a free agent, but I’d be very happy go back there if the right opportunity presents itself. But I’ve wanted to go to other places that didn’t work out, so I understand what to expect going into this offseason.
Ultimately, I want to end up somewhere I can settle in and have some consistency. I want to give a team consistency and get the same in return from that team. That’s the biggest thing I’m looking for.
I can’t speak highly enough about Boston. It’s a great city, a place I could definitely see myself calling home. The support you get from everybody in Boston is second to none. The fans are unbelievable. We didn’t have the most successful year, but every game was still sold out. That loyalty really stuck out to me.
The franchise has a solid foundation with the ownership group that is there, with Danny Ainge making moves and Brad Stevens coaching. Brad is amazing. He’s going to be a great coach in this league for a long time.
The team is in good hands. Danny, Brad and the owners all understand that the city they’re in expects to win and they can’t have too many years like this where things didn’t go as well as they planned. With that in mind, I’m sure they’re going to go out and do what they need to do to get back on track and get the organization back where it’s supposed to be.
They do have some good young players that can help in that regard. Avery Bradley really impressed me. I didn’t know much about his game when I got there, but he is a great player.
Avery is kind of in the same situation as I am, but I know he’s restricted, so I’m sure the Celtics will try to figure something out with him. I’m sure he’s a big part of their vision for the future, and he should be. He’s a scorer and a defensive stopper. He plays both sides of the ball, and can do both really well.
Jared Sullinger is a going to be a very good player in the league, too. He uses his body well to rebound and score, and every team needs that from guys in his position. He’s a little undersized for the frontcourt, but if he continues to play the way he did this year, he’ll be in good shape.
We had a great group of guys in that locker room this year, and it was a fun place to be. Everybody got along. That’s rare in the NBA. There were a lot of younger guys in there mixed with guys who had been in the league for a while, but it all worked out. That was refreshing.
One of the main things that the team needs that we got a little bit of this year was experience. We have guys who have been through some things, but there’s only so much they can tell you about what to expect.
Having your own experience plays a big role when you move up to a higher level. It’s just about playing against better competition. That’s what you need. The more experience you get, the better off you’ll be.
Experience certainly doesn’t start in the NBA, or even in college. These days, it begins long before that,. That’s why I decided to sponsor an AAU team in my hometown of Phoenix — to give some young players the opportunity to gain some high-level experience and exposure.
I wanted to be the guy to do that. There are a lot of kids in Phoenix who going through the same situations I went through growing up. I want to try to get them into better situations, and help them find opportunities to go to college. That’s something that’s important to me, which is why I want to have a hands-on role with the team when I can. I want them to understand that it’s not just about basketball. Basketball is a tool they should use to open other doors for themselves.
The whole thing came together really well. Obviously, I had a lot of help to do it since I couldn’t fully concentrate on it during the season. Etop Udo-Ema and Ray Arvizu have done an amazing job putting the team together, and Damin Lopez, my high school coach, is doing a great job coaching the team as well.
The experience of playing on a high-level AAU team plays a huge role in your development. I played for Compton Magic growing up. That was huge for me. You learn at a young age the type of situations you’re going to go through. It helps you prepare for what you’ll face going forward.
Team Bayless brings something very unique to the table with the experience of myself, Damin, Etop and Ray, I don’t think there’s any other programs that can duplicate what we’re doing. We’re trying to take it to the next level and build this out to be something special that brings these kids a lot of success.
There are a lot of great programs out there and many of them put kids in college, but they might not put them in the right situation. I’ve seen kids go to a high major school when maybe that’s not the best situation for a kid. I’ve been through all those situations, so I can offer some advice.
We have a lot of really good kids and special players on the team. Everybody is just buying in.
If you buy in, you’re going to have success. Hopefully, we’re able to put these kids in the best position to get scholarships and move forward in their lives.