It's hard to find a path to the NBA as unique as that of new Celtics center Aron Baynes. The 30-year-old Australian didn't start playing basketball until he was 16-years-old, yet he wound up with a full scholarship to Washington State just a few years later. After excelling overseas for several seasons after turning pro, the Spurs brought him aboard midseason at age 26 on a three-year contract, where he immediately turned into a contributing role player.
Baynes scored a bigger deal in free agency in the summer of 2015 with the Detroit Pistons (three years, $20 million) but opted out of that contract a year early last summer. After being courted by several teams, Baynes ultimately landed in Boston this summer on a one-year $4.3 million dollar deal.
Ahead of training camp, BostonSportsJournal.com caught up with Baynes in an exclusive interview in which the 6-foot-10 big man opened up about his journey to the NBA, what led him to choose Boston, whether he thinks he will start, what the Celtics practice facility was like on the day of the Kyrie Irving trade and his thoughts on playing with him, the prospect of countryman Andrew Bogut joining him in Boston, and an inside look at Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
BSJ: So the word on the street is that you started playing basketball at age 16? What took so long and what inspired you to get started with it then?
Baynes: I played rugby before that. I played rugby because my older brother played rugby, so pretty much whatever he did, I wanted to do. One day, he started playing basketball, so I did what little brothers do and followed him. I started playing basketball as well.