Celtics won't pick up Randolph's option

Celtics won't pick up Randolph's option
August 1, 2013, 6:45 pm
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The length of his tenure was irrelevant to Shavlik Randolph.

Even though he had signed with the Celtics just five months ago, Randolph quickly embraced his role as a frontcourt reserve as if he had been on the team for years. He was so eager to continue playing for the organization that he put his impending contract option out of his mind as he worked on improving for next season.

Randolph didn't expect the news he received when his phone rang on Thursday, the deadline for the Celtics to guarantee his contract for the 2013-14 season. The team was going to waive him, a decision he had not anticipated.

The 6-foot-10 forward had approached this offseason with the mindset of being a Celtic on Opening Night. Randolph, who went undrafted out of Duke in 2005, had previously played for three NBA organizations as well as overseas and was looking to establish himself in Boston.

Even though the Celtics roster was crowded in the frontcourt, he was determined to earn one of those spots. He traveled from his offseason home in North Carolina to Waltham, Mass., to workout at the team's practice facility in preparation for the upcoming season, committed to helping the C's as they entered a rebuilding phase.

Instead, he is now entering a new phase of his own career.

"I hope to build on what I did at the end of last season for a full season," Randolph told CSNNE.com in a telephone interview Thursday evening. "I think in a short period of time, I did some really good things and I just want to build on that. I want to continue to be a guy who can come in and play the five, the four if need be, rebound, be a hard nosed defender. I've added a midrange jumpshot to my game, but I also haven't forgotten what's going to keep me on the floor -- that's rebounding, hustle, energy, finishing around the basket."

Following his time in China last season, it didn't take long for Randolph to click within the Celtics system. He averaged 4.4 points and 4.2 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game, posting season highs of 16 points and 13 rebounds in separate games. Randolph committed himself when called upon to crashing the boards and chipped in when needed at the basket, earning praise from his coach and teammates. At 29. he was no longer a journeyman -- he proved himself to be a dependable contributor.

This recent success has given him the confidence to approach waivers (and free agency if he is not claimed by the deadline on Monday) with the mentality that he belongs in the league following years of looking to stick on an NBA roster.

"It's night and day where I am this point this summer to where I was last summer," he said. "At this point last summer, I didn't know if I was an NBA player. I didn't know where I stood. But now I know what I can do and I've proved that. I've got a whole different level of confidence, and also

I'm a lot better than I was at this point last year. I went over to China, I took advantage of my time over there, I improved, I improved while I was in Boston. While it's unfortunate that I'm not going to be able to return and build on that with that team, I just think whatever team I do go to is going to be getting an even better player than I was last season."

Randolph is open to all possibilities next season should he become a free agent. This includes the possibility of a return to Boston or China. Just hours after being waived, he was switching gears from preparing for a return to the Celtics to looking for a new squad.

"Since the offseason began I haven't really considered being somewhere else [besides Boston]," he said. "Here in these next 48, 72 hours I'm going to be talking with my agent, observing the landscape. But I would absolutely be open to coming back to Boston, that's a no brainer.
Obviously there are some variables that are out of my control, but I'm definitely keeping all my options open."

The Celtics signed Randolph on March 1. During that time he grew close to the organization, coaches, teammates, and gained a deep appreciation for those who supported him as a newcomer and throughout this summer. Regardless of where he plays next season, the Celtics fans have left a lasting mark in his basketball journey.

"I don't know if there's enough room on the paper for what to say to the fans," he said. "I'm just extremely, to the highest level, thankful for their support. I don't think they understand how touching it's been to me. It's been such a highlight of my career, the support that they've given me. It's so easy for a player like me to go out, bust my butt, put my body on the line and play 100 percent all the time when it's for fans that support you the way they supported me. Even into this offseason, showing support in me wanting to return, it just absolutely was touching and I could never really express how grateful I am for that."