The Boston Celtics have announced that the team has signed swingman Chris Johnson to a second 10-day contract after an impressive first stint with the team. Johnson, who joined the Celtics from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League, has been a welcome addition to the Celtics’ lineup, which is struggling with both form and a recent bout of injuries to the back court. After impressing coach Brad Stevens and general manager Danny Ainge with his four performances over his first 10-day deal, Johnson will now look to make a permanent mark with the team and catch on for the remainder of the season.
Johnson, a 6’6” swingman out of the University of Dayton, has looked every bit the NBA player since he joined the Celtics on Jan. 17. After the Celtics had traded guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks, as well as losing Avery Bradley to injury, Ainge acted quickly in signing Johnson, who had been quietly dominating the D-League with 19.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season. In four games with the Celtics prior to Tuesday’s match up with the New York Knicks, Johnson has averaged 10 points on .483 percent shooting, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals in more than 26 minutes per game. Johnson has been having a real impact on the game, which has resulted in consistent playing time (no less than 24 minutes) and making a reliable contribution on offense (scoring no less than eight points).
Even more impressive than the scoring from Johnson has been his hustle, his energy and his ability to slot right into the team despite having only just joined his new teammates in Boston. He is making the most of his opportunities, working hard on the defensive end and has come up with some great hustle plays on both ends of the court. He runs the court extremely well which leads to easy transition buckets and also has the ability to space the floor, knocking down 1.3 3s per game so far.
At just 23 years old, Ainge may have found a diamond in the rough here in Johnson and will soon have to make a call as to whether he thinks the former Dayton standout can be a keeper in the NBA. This is the last 10-day deal that the Celtics can offer Johnson this season and so, when his week and a half of work is over, Ainge will need to decide whether to release him back to the D-League, or perhaps sign him on for the rest of the season (or beyond).
There is not much more that a D-League player can do on a 10-day call-up than Johnson has since he joined the Celtics. He has slotted in seamlessly to the rotation, shown an ability to make an impact on both ends of the court and more importantly has done everything he possibly can to make the most of his opportunities through his energy, hustle and simply his awareness on the basketball court. With the recent trade that jettisoned Crawford and Brooks, the Celtics should have enough room under the tax line to sign Johnson to a minimum deal for the rest of the season. The Celtics continue to gather assets and rebuild towards the future, they have a surplus of draft picks, young talent on the roster and Ainge will no doubt find it difficult to turn away a young player who has shown the potential to be a real impact role player in the NBA at just 23. The Celtics will play another four games over the course of this 10-day deal and Johnson will no doubt get considerable playing time to once again try to prove he is worthy of a permanent spot on the Celtics’ roster.