Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

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Christmas returns home for first time as NBA player

PHILADELPHIA Dionte Christmas has been looking forward to this night for quite a while.

The Philadelphia native was back home, playing before family and friends as an NBA player.

An NBA player.

There were so many nights, too many to count, when that dream seemed so far away, so distant to him.

So for Christmas, the Boston Celtics' 107-75 drubbing at the hands of Philadelphia, was indeed a bittersweet moment for him.

He will certainly take away the humbling effect that comes when you get crushed, preseason or not. But he's also mindful that on a personal level, the game offered family and friends a chance to see him play.

Having spent his post-college career playing overseas, Christmas was clearly touched by the fact that his parents - James and Jackie Christmas - would be in attendance as well as his grandmother, Rena Christmas.

"They haven't seen me play live, in person, in like three years," Christmas told CSNNE.com. "So I know for them, for me, this game is pretty special."

Christmas, who starred at nearby Temple University and finished his career among the school's all-time leading scorers, got a surprise tap on the shoulder from Doc Rivers in the second quarter - the earliest action he has seen during the preseason.

Prior to the game, C's coach Doc Rivers said he would limit the minutes of Paul Pierce. That meant players fighting for one of the remaining roster spots, players like Christmas, were sure to see more playing time.

And Christmas was eager to get on the floor, especially after a watching film following Boston's overtime loss to the New York Knicks in Hartford, Conn.

It was a game in which, after reviewing the film as a team on Monday, Christmas realized he stood out for all the wrong reasons.

"Coach (Rivers) was on me (Monday) in film," Christmas said. "That kind of surprised me. He didn't single me out, but he said a lot to me in film."

Rivers' issues with Christmas weren't all that different than what has been an issue with the entire Celtics team - their pick and roll defense.

Specifically, the guards who are to help down on pick-and-roll plays, weren't getting there quick enough - Christmas included.

"I do have to get there, rotate quicker," Christmas said. "It's not what you want to hear, but it is what you need in order to get better. That's why I don't take that to heart. I look at that as a positive. I'm trying to get better, and I'm going to go back and watch more film to better myself."

And in doing so, his next trip back home will be one in which his status will be the same as it was on Monday night.

An NBA player.

Celtics waive guard/forward John Holland

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Celtics waive guard/forward John Holland

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics moved one step closer towards trimming down its overcrowded roster with the waiving of John Holland.

The 27-year-old would have gone into training camp with a very slim shot at making the roster. He signed a two-year deal that would have been worth $874,636 for the 2016-2017 season.

However, the contract was non-guaranteed and would have more than likely been used as part of a potential trade.

But no such deal materialized.

So rather than have the 6-foot-5 guard/forward in training camp with the odds heavily stacked against him making the team, Boston waived him now so that he has enough time to either go to training camp with another NBA team or sign with a team overseas.

Holland, who starred at Boston University, has already played overseas in France, Spain and Turkey in addition to having played with the Development League’s Canton Charge last season.

He played in one game for the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics now have 18 players in training camp, 16 of which have guaranteed contracts.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

The NBA’s 38 rookies had their annual photo shoot and were polled by NBA.com with a couple of questions about their class. When asked which rookie was the most athletic among them, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick overall last June, won in a landslide.

Here are the results of that question:  

1. Jaylen Brown, Boston -- 38.7%

2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers -- 16.1%

3. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix -- 9.7%

T-4. Malik Beasley, Denver -- 6.5%

Kay Felder, Cleveland -- 6.5%

Gary Payton II, Houston -- 6.5%

Providence guard Kris Dunn, No. 5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the freshman class’ pick to win rookie of the year honors, with 29 percent of the vote, followed by No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram of the Lakers and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Click here for the complete poll. 

 

Mickey has to prove to Celtics he has more than just potential

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Mickey has to prove to Celtics he has more than just potential

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Jordan Mickey. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – Jordan Mickey admittedly came to Boston with a chip on his shoulder.

Selected by Boston with the 33rd overall pick, Mickey felt he should have been a first-round pick.

The Celtics felt the same way.

That's why they signed the 6-foot-9 forward from LSU to a four-year, $5 million contract, a deal that made his annual average salary higher than fellow rookie R.J. Hunter, who was taken in the first round by Boston with the 28th overall pick.

While Mickey landed a deal comparable to what a player selected in the first round would make, he still has to prove that he’s more than just a player with potential.

The ceiling for Mickey: Regular rotation

Mickey didn't have the kind of breakout summer that he and the Celtics were hoping for, primarily because of a left shoulder injury that limited his availability.

Mickey did not play for Boston's summer league entry in Salt Lake City because of the injury, but did see action with the Celtics' summer league squad in Las Vegas. 

He appeared in five games, averaging 9.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 minutes, to go with 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Mickey also shot 56.3 percent from the field. 

It was a decent showing, but for Mickey to have the kind of continued growth both he and the Celtics are seeking, he’ll need to become a more consistent defender in addition to continuing to expand his offensive game. 

Like most big men in the NBA, Mickey is doing his best to show that he can help space the floor with his perimeter shooting that extends beyond the 3-point line.

It was something you saw him work during pregame shootarounds with the assistant coaches. In summer league, Mickey was 1-for-3 on 3s.

But Mickey understands he is in the NBA because of what he can do defensively and around the rim. He was the nation's leader in blocked shots per game (3.6) in his final year at LSU. 

And it was among the many areas in which Mickey stood out this past season in his time with the Celtics' Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Of course, college and D-League success don’t always result in similar results in the NBA.

But when it comes to Mickey, he has shown himself capable of doing some impressive feats defensively in a very small and limited role in the NBA.

Although he only appeared in 16 NBA games as a rookie, Mickey was the only player who held opponents to less than 50 percent shooting in the restricted area (48.9 percent), in the non-restricted area in the paint (46.2 percent) and mid-range (44.4).

In addition, opponents shot 16.7 and 18.8 percent from the left corner on 3s and above-the-break 3s, respectively.

Mickey finding a way to continue improving as an offensive player while providing the same level of play defensively will go far in him solidifying a place for himself in the Celtics’ regular rotation.

The floor for Mickey: Roster spot

The Celtics have too many players in training camp and someone with guaranteed money has to go, but don’t look for it to be Jordan Mickey. The Celtics didn’t sign him to a four-year deal worth end-of-the-first-round money to not at least see what he can do given more of an opportunity to play. He spent most of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws. 

And his time there was indeed well spent. 

He appeared in 23 games for the Red Claws and was named a D-League all-star before finishing the season averaging a double-double of 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds along with a league-best 4.4 blocks per game. In addition to shooting 53.1 percent from the field, Mickey showed he had some range as well while connecting on 35 percent of his 3-point shots.

Mickey has shown the kind of promise that the Celtics want to see more of before making a decision on his long-term future. 

That is why worst-case scenario for Mickey this season, barring him being traded, is for him to be another available body on the Celtics bench.