WALTHAM, Mass. — Even on their first day with the Celtics, draft picks Avery Bradley and Luke Harangody were reminded about Boston’s hunger for a championship.
On Friday, the pair walked into the team’s practice facility and saw an empty white banner on a corner wall and all the clocks and scoreboards with the number “18” still illuminated, signifying the team’s search for its 18th NBA title, which ended in a loss against the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals just over a week ago.
Bradley, a guard, taken in the first round, 19th overall, and Harangody, a forward selected in the second round with the 52nd pick Thursday night, are eager to meet their new teammates and be a part of the Celtics’ tradition.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Bradley, who entered the draft after his freshman year in Texas, and Harangody, a 6-foot-8, 246-pound forward from Notre Dame, were introduced to the media on Friday.
Eight days after the Celtics lost an epic seven-game struggle to the Lakers, the draft picks had a chance to talk about being part of a winning organization and meeting NBA stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
“Of course I watched the NBA finals,” Bradley said after holding up a green Celtics jersey with a zero on the back. “I felt like I was blessed to get a chance to play for a coaching staff like this and an organization that has a tradition of winning like they do here.
“I just feel like they’re a winning team, have each other’s backs and work hard. Those are the kinds of things I want to do as a player. I get a chance to play for one of the best franchises in NBA history.”
The early plan for Bradley seems to be for him to be a backup for speedy point guard Rondo, who had a superb postseason. But the Celtics may be looking at Bradley as a shooting guard to supply scoring in a substitute role, as well.
Bradley’s start with the Celtics will be delayed. He won’t be going to the summer league, and general manager Danny Ainge said he’ll have a “scope” on his left ankle that will sideline him for 6-to-8 weeks. But Ainge expects him to be ready for training camp in the fall.
“Avery was a top high school player and terrific freshman in the country,” Ainge said.
Harangody is an undersized “Big Man” — somewhat like Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
“I think that he was a great player in college. He had dominate games in the Big East at Notre Dame,” Ainge said. “He is a guy that’s proven and has had success.”
Growing up in the midwest, Harangody heard a lot about the Celtics. He was given number 55.
“You heard a lot about Larry Legend,” Harangody said about Hall of Famer Larry Bird. “When I heard my name called, it was a big deal for myself and my family. You grow up with uncles and a dad from Indiana.”
Ainge hopes the pair can add depth to an aging roster.
“I think these guys are very capable of fitting into any role,” he said.
Bradley knows he’ll have a chance to play and develop with a few of the game’s biggest names. And, maybe more, if free agent Ray Allen returns.
“I’m excited. I feel I can learn a lot from those older guys,” he said. “I just feel like I can come in here, gain respect from them and learn from them.”
When they made the draft pick on Thursday both Ainge and coach Doc Rivers talked about Bradley’s quickness.
He’ll have a chance to show it against the Celtics’ pacesetter, Rondo.
“I know Rondo’s a very great player, and being able to play against him everyday in practice is really going to help my game,” he said. “Just how hard he plays — all the little things he does. I know he’s pretty fast. I’m just going to come to practice and work as hard as I can.”
The team can only hope both will add depth quickly as it looks to make another run for championship No. 18.