Randolph hard at work, expects return to Celtics

Randolph hard at work, expects return to Celtics
July 4, 2013, 2:00 pm
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BOSTON — Shavlik Randolph has kept himself busy this offseason.

After trips to Puerto Rico, the Spanish Virgin Islands and Las Vegas, he has since spent time shuffling back and forth between the Celtics' practice facility and his offseason home in North Carolina.

He spent some time in Charlotte recently working out with Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, and will likely do more of the same this week when he meets up with the C's coaching staff as they prepare for summer league which begins on July 7.

Randolph, who will not play on Boston's summer league entry, has done all that you would expect from a guy coming back next season, even with a contract (worth about $1.1 million) that only becomes guaranteed if he's not waived by August 1.

Well aware that the state of the Celtics roster for next season is fluid, concerns about his contract have for the most part been washed away and replaced with a replenished optimism about his future as a member of the Boston Celtics.

"I've said all along, I'm preparing to be back in Boston," Randolph told CSNNE.com shortly before boarding a flight to Orlando this week. "I am going to move forward with that until I'm told otherwise.

Randolph added, "If I get word that they are going to go in a different direction, I know that I'm becoming a better player for whoever I end up playing with."

Although Randolph didn't see significant time after joining the C's in March, it was clear near the end of the regular season that there was a place for Randolph in the NBA.

His fortunes with the Celtics took a major step forward after spending the first couple of weeks with the C's primarily watching, trying to soak in as much as he could from Kevin Garnett and the team's other veterans.

Randolph's big break came on March 29 against the Atlanta Hawks when he played a season-high 22 minutes and finished with nine points and 13 rebounds.

Just as important, the Celtics emerged with a 118-107 win.

After the game, media scrambled to get Randolph's take on the game only to discover he had already left the building.

"It felt really good to be out there," Randolph told CSNNE.com later that night in a phone interview. "If I go out there and play well and the team's playing well, I felt good about being rewarded with more minutes."

But now, the reward he is seeking is to have his contract guaranteed for the season.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will likely wait until August 1 before officially making a decision on whether Randolph will be back.

But at this point, all indications are that the C's will keep Randolph around for this upcoming season.

"We like Shavlik a lot," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "He did some really nice things for us when he was out there this past season. A lot of things can happen obviously with our roster still, but Shavlik's a good player. We need as many of those as we can get our hands on."

One of the reasons Randolph spent last season in the Chinese Basketball Association, was to prove not only to others - but to himself - that he could still play at a high level.

In the CBA, Randolph was a dominant force, averaging 32 points and 14.6 rebounds per game.

But the way he produced in late-March and early-April with the Celtics, was an even bigger confidence booster.

In the month of April, Randolph appeared in eight games and averaged 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds on 67 percent shooting from the field, while playing 13 minutes per game.

"Oh man, helping me is an understatement," said Randolph when asked about the importance of his end-of-the-season play. "It was huge for me. Ever since I got released by Miami (in October of 2010), I never stopped working hard. Sometimes things just take time."

More than anything else, Randolph's career has been sidetracked in the past because of injuries.

While at Duke, hip and ankle injuries saw Randolph, one of the most heavily recruited players in the country, reduced to a reserve role.

Bad luck followed him to the NBA.

After going undrafted in 2005, Randolph worked his way into a meaningful role with Philadelphia only to once again be bitten by the injury bug.

Since then, he has played sparingly with the Portland Trail Blazers (Ten games in 2008-2009 season; three games in 2009-2010) and the Miami Heat (three games during the 2009-2010 season) before spending the past couple of years playing in Puerto Rico and China.

Disappointed he was out of the league, Randolph refused to allow those setbacks to deter him from his dream which was to get back to this point.

"Everyday I was grinding and doing what I had to do to get better with my sights set back on getting to the NBA," he said. "I've proven to myself that I can play in the NBA. It's just a matter of getting healthy and being able to string a couple years together of being healthy."

And Randolph expects that trend of being healthy to begin right here, in Boston.

"At this point I would be very shocked if I wasn't back," Randolph said. "My preparation has been geared towards being a Boston Celtic and how I can contribute to the team. Obviously that's subject to change with everything's thats going on. But I feel good, real good about coming back and having a very good season next season."