Johnson may not be retained despite strong play

Johnson may not be retained despite strong play
February 3, 2014, 4:45 pm
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BOSTON — Chris Johnson has done just about everything a player on multiple 10-day contracts is supposed to do in order to stick with a team.

But that still may not be enough, at least not when it comes to sticking with the Boston Celtics.

As much as the Celtics like what Johnson has done so far, there's a very real chance his contract won't be picked up for the rest of the year when his current 10-day deal expires on Thursday.

You can count Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, among those pleased with Johnson's play with the Celtics.

"But it's a complicated time of the year for us with the trade deadline coming up," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "We like everything about Chris. We're hoping to keep him around, but there's a lot more that prevents that from happening or could prevent that from happening."

The Celtics have maintained all season that they will not be luxury tax payers this season.

Boston is around $2 million below the $71.7 million luxury tax line now. And while signing Johnson wouldn't put them past that threshold, it would significantly cut into their already-limited flexibility if they were to engineer a trade between now and the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

If the Celtics stand pat or do little at the trade deadline, Boston may look to sign Johnson for the remainder of the season after the Feb. 20 trade deadline passes. But until then, Johnson will continue to work at making the most of his time with the Celtics.

Johnson has appeared in seven games for Boston, averaging 8.7 points while playing 24.2 minutes per game. In addition, he's shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 41.1 percent on threes.

"He's been fantastic and aggressive and just a really good addition," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Said Johnson: "For the most part when I'm on the court, I want to provide energy and play my role."

Johnson has been in this wait-and-pray mode before.

A year ago, Johnson signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Memphis Grizzlies. He averaged 3.6 points and 1.4 rebounds per game in 12.8 minutes for the Grizzlies before Memphis decided to not sign him for the remainder of the season.

Disappointed at the time, Johnson's approach back then is no different than it is today.

"You gotta work hard, especially if you want to get here," Johnson told CSNNE.com. "You have to work hard; just keep working. Not knowing when an opportunity is going to come, but have faith and confidence in yourself when you're on the court."