While Tyler Zeller awaits for his meeting with Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, over a potential contract extension, the young center can't wait to play alongside his new teammates this upcoming season.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens will take on the tough task of splitting up playing time in the frontcourt this season. Between his young core that includes Zeller, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko and his two new additions, David Lee and Amir Johnson; it's not going to be easy.
But Zeller isn't worried about losing minutes, in fact he's excited to learn from his new veteran teammates. At Tuesday's annual Celtics charity golf tournament in Plymouth, Zeller talked about playing with Lee and Johnson and what both players will bring to the Celtics.
"I think [the frontcourt will] be good," said Zeller, who appeared at the team's annual golf tournament at Old Sandwich Golf Club on Tuesday. "Hopefully we can learn from Amir and David. I know David has had a lot of success all over the board in being an All-Star, winning a championship, those kind of things. Hopefully we can learn a lot from him and he can push us in the right direction and help us become a better team." [ESPN Boston]Lee and Johnson will undoubtedly reap valuable minutes in the frontcourt. In fact, Zeller's starting spot in the lineup could be in jeopardy. However, Zeller continues to embrace the competition for playing time and has already been spending time with his new frontcourt running mates.
"I've been very excited [with the new additions]," Zeller said. "For the past couple weeks, I've been working with Amir and David Lee. Both of those guys are great -- very good at dribble handoffs and being able to spread the floor. I'm really looking forward to playing with them. I think they are going to be great assets to us and hopefully help us take that next step." [ESPN Boston]It's hard to say what Zeller's role will be but he has proven himself to be an asset to the Celtics' offense. Last season, Zeller earned himself a spot in Stevens' starting lineup, averaging 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in 21 minutes. He also shot 54 percent and started in 59 games for coach Stevens.
But without a defined role, Ainge may want to hold off on extending Zeller's contract. Zeller, who is still on his rookie deal, has a $3.6 mil qualifying offer the 2016-17 season, which would make him a restricted free agent next summer.
Zeller likes the idea of having his contract extended and staying in Boston but is keeping his focus on the regular season and becoming a better player for the Celtics.
Obviously, it would be nice to have an extension, since it's a little more security. At the same time, you have to approach the year and can't be heartbroken if you don't get it. You got to make sure you are fully prepared. Either way, I have to do my job this year. I have one more year on my contract [before becoming a restricted free agent], so I have to go out and do as much as I can to help our team this year." [ESPN Boston]