Three years ago Lester Hudson and Marcus Landry shared a commonality -- they were both waived by the Boston Celtics as rookies. This summer they were linked together again, on a Celtics rival team, no less.
Since leaving Boston they have journeyed through the NBA, the D-League and overseas. This month they competed on the Los Angeles Lakers Summer League Team in Las Vegas looking to return to the league.
"I've been everywhere," Hudson told CSNNE.com. "I've been all around grinding and trying to get back to the NBA."
The Celtics drafted Hudson with the 58th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He has played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dakota Wizards and Austin Toros of the Development League, as well as in China. Hudson is dedicated to improving as a point guard, focusing on running the floor and finding his teammates for open looks. He averaged 12.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists for the Lakers.
"When I think of Lester, I think of leadership," Lakers Summer League coach Mark Madsen told the Los Angeles Times. "I think of the ability [he] has to get the most out of his teammates."
Hudson, now 28, learned the value of leadership firsthand during his time with the Celtics prior to being waived on Jan. 6, 2010. He appeared in 16 games and soaked up every minute he had around his veteran teammates.
"It was great," he said. "I was there with future Hall of Fame players and coaches. I was just embracing everything they were saying, KG (Kevin Garnett), Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Doc Rivers, (Rajon) Rondo, (Kendrick) Perkins. I still keep in touch with Rondo and Perkins time to time.
"I took a lot from them. They were a championship team so they always took their game seriously every time they took the court -- shoot around, practice. That's what I've been trying to do every time since I left there. … They told me to keep going, keep going, never give up. I've been trying, every opportunity to get in, because all of them say I can play in this league."
Landry arrived in Boston a month after Hudson's departure as part of the Nate Robinson trade from the New York Knicks. By the time he joined the team, the Celtics were in championship contention. Playing time was limited on a deep roster that would make it to Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. As a result, the forward played just three minutes for the C's before being waived on April 9.
Nonetheless, he took the veteran know-how he gained with him as he began establishing his pro career. Since his stint with the Celtics, Landry has participated in training camp with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, played in multiple countries including China and Venezuela, and most recently suited up for the Reno Bighorns (NBDL) last season.
"(Playing for the Celtics) helped me a lot with my game," he said. "Just being able to go there and play with those character guys of that level, it just let me know I need to work that much harder. Being able to play with guys like Ray Allen, KG, Paul Pierce, and playing one-on-one with them sometimes, it really helped me and really boosted my confidence level."
Landry, 27, played for Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni during his tenure with the Knicks and already had experience with his style of basketball. The familiarity and his progress since leaving Boston were apparent on the court in Las Vegas. Landry led the Lakers in scoring with 15.2 points per game while adding 4.2 rebounds.
"Marcus is also tremendous at taking the ball to the basket," Madsen told the LA Times. "He led the D-League in three-point percentage last year."
Landry has captured the attention of international teams. According to Sportando.net, Olimpia Milano is interested in him joining the Italian club. Landry did raise eyebrows during Summer League play, though, and could have options this season.
"The ultimate goal, of course, like everybody else here is to make an NBA roster," he said. "Hopefully everything will work out."
Hudson and Lester left the Celtics as rookies looking to find their way in the NBA. Three years later, they have applied what they learned during their short time in Boston and showed on the courts at UNLV just how far they have come.