Celtics guard Phil Pressey talks about moving on post-Rondo
By ALEX SCHIFFER
College Contributor Network
New York- Phil Pressey sat on a white bench in Manhattan's Basketball City in the South Street Seaport section of the Big Apple.
While watching the rest of his Boston Celtics begin to take the court for their morning shoot around, in preparation for their game against the Brooklyn Nets that night, the point guard known as "Flip" begins to put on a pair of custom green Nike shoes that aren't quite the same shade as the Celtics' trademark green.
"Rondo gave me these," he said with a smile.
Pressey, now in his second season in the NBA since going undrafted out of Missouri is having another solid season on Brad Stevens' squad despite competing for time at the point with Evan Turner, Avery Bradley and lottery pick Marcus Smart.
"It's a blessing to be here," Pressey said. "We made a big trade of course, we're just trying to get back on the winning side of things. We've taken a couple of losses lately but I think we're heading in the right direction. As for my second season, it's been great, can't complain."
The Celtics sent star point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks in a December blockbuster trade that left Boston with only two true ball handlers. Stevens has used more of Turner and Bradley at the point guard position, which isn't the natural spot for either player. That has opened opportunities for Pressey.
"He was great last year as a rookie," Stevens said. "He's been good this year. I think the biggest thing with Phil is he can change the tempo of a game. That is a huge asset to have on your bench. There's games where he doesn't play as much and you feel like you got a nice tempo. There's games where you have to change your look and he's able to do that."
While Pressey understands the business aspect of the game that led to the Rondo trade, he looks at the trade as an opportunity to prove himself off the court. The Dallas native cited Rondo as a huge mentor to him not just on the court, but also with handling life as a professional athlete.
"Rondo, he was one of the guys that mentored me, showed me some things that helped me in the NBA life," Pressey continued. "But you have to go through things by yourself, learn things by yourself so when he got traded it opened opportunities for myself along with Marcus and Evan. He was a legend here but guys move on and he's going to be remembered here as one of the best point guards that played."
While his numbers are nearly identical to what they were last year, Pressey says a noticeable difference in his game has been his defense, which he thinks has improved greatly from last year.
Stevens has also noticed an improvement in his defense.
"I think his defense has generally gotten better since college," Stevens said. "He's guarding with great purpose. He's probably one of our top two guys at getting into the basketball and really affecting the ball handler. So he's done a good job."
Playing on a team that's currently rebuilding from the glory days of the "Big 3" and making trades left and right to put themselves in a better position going forward, Pressey says his expectations have to constantly stay at the top, if he wants to stay in the Celtics' plans.
"In the NBA you can't get comfortable," he said. "You have to keep working and keep trying to prove yourself."
Alex Schiffer is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Missouri and hails from Westfield, New Jersey. Follow him on Twitter: @TheSchiffMan