Stevens, C's teammates praise addition of Johnson

Stevens, C's teammates praise addition of Johnson
February 6, 2014, 8:45 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — The daily mission for Chris Johnson ever since he has been with the Celtics has remained the same.

"Just give my best effort, play hard and try to show [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge and the coaching staff I belong here," Johnson said.

Mission accomplished.

Johnson, whose second, 10-day contract with the Celtics is set to expire Thursday, will sign with the Boston for the remainder of this season.

As a second-year player, the 6-foot-6 guard is slotted to received a pro-rated salary based on the second-year minimum salary which is $788,872.

Boston's front office has remained relatively tight-lipped about Johnson's deal, which is expected to be completed sometime Friday.

Teammates have been singing Johnson's praises for days, with some having said earlier this week that the Celtics need to sign him for the remainder of this season.

"That shows the confidence they have in me," Johnson said of his teammates. "Coming from those guys, I'm going to try, being here for the rest of the season, I want to help the guys win."

The best way he can do that is continuing to do the things that made the Celtics want to keep him around.

While Johnson's speed on the court has been impressive, coach Brad Stevens is more impressed with his motor.

"If you lined everybody up and ran them in a contest, I don't know if he'd win necessarily," Stevens said. "But he's got a high motor; he gets to his spots quickly."

Playing with great effort is something Jared Sullinger has known about Johnson for years, dating to their time in Ohio when they competed against each other in high school, and with each other in AAU tournaments.

"That's always been C.J.'s way," Sullinger said. "When he was coming up, nobody gave him a lot of respect just because [they] didn't think he had the ability to play at the next level, or at an elite level at the next level. C.J. put in a lot of hard work."

And that hard work has impressed many, including veteran Gerald Wallace.

"He's been good, been able to spread the floor for us, open the floor and knock down shots," Wallace said. "He's been playing great while he's been here."

And it is a trend that Johnson hopes to continue now that he has finally achieved his dream - to be in the NBA for a season.

But part of what got him here is the steady pressure he has put on himself to play as he walked around with a proverbial chip on his shoulder.

Getting a chip like that is easy; keeping it around after achieving one's initial goal is the next challenge awaiting Johnson.

"That's another human nature test," Stevens said. "That's the next one coming for guys like that. It's a great story. But it's not like it's some miracle. It's the result of hard work, doing the right thing, not being scared of the moment, taking advantage of opportunities, those type of things."

And Stevens has no doubt that Johnson will meet the challenge head-on.

"He's a really good addition to our group," Stevens said. "Like I told him, all of us, players and coaches, really believe in him."