By John Karalis, RedsArmy.Com -Special to MBR Radio: The Celtics summer league squad was at the Thomas & Mack center in Las Vegas getting ready to take on the Sacramento summer Kings. E’Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, and Sean Williams were dressed and ready to warm up (Williams was already taking shots) when news came of potential trade that would send all three of them out of Boston in exchange for Houston free agent, Courtney Lee.
“It happened right before before the game,” said guard Dionte Christmas, who scored 19 points for the Celtics against the Kings. “I saw E’Twaun and JJ and Sean Williams... and I asked them what was going on? They said they got traded.”
Doc Rivers pulled each of the principals aside in the tunnel, away from the media, to break the news to them. For young guys like Christmas, it was a harsh lesson about the business side of the NBA. But it’s also an opportunity.
“It’s tough. It’s the NBA. It’s a business,” said Christmas. “I’m not only just playing for the Celtics. I’m on an interview for 29 other teams. So hopefully, if I can’t get on with the Celtics, I can get on with somebody else.”
It’s hard to say if Christmas’ summer performance is part of what made Moore expendable. But there is no doubt, there is mutual interest between the Celtics and Christmas.
“We’ve been talking to Dionte,” General Manager Danny Ainge said. “And we’ll continue. We’d like to see him [in camp].”
“It would be a great opportunity,” said Christmas. “You have guys like Paul Pierce, [Rajon] Rondo, Kevin Garnett. Great vets they know the game. I can learn a lot from Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Doc Rivers, a great coach. So that would definitely be an honor for me to go and play for those guys.”
Christmas has played overseas, but he’s still hoping to make it in the NBA. He told me that in the past, he chased money to play in Europte. But now, with that NBA dream so close, he’d be willing to spend time in the D-League if he knew it could potentially lead to a good situation.
“At this point right now, I’m trying to get to the NBA,” Christmas said. “I think I’m very close to getting there. I would definitely consider going to the D-League if a teams said ‘you go there and if somebody goes down we’ll call you up,’ I would definitely consider going to the D-League.”
And he’s not the only one who knows the D-League might come calling. Fab Melo, the 22nd overall pick in last year’s draft, is a potential Red Claw this upcoming season. The Celtics see potential in Melo, but he’s a very raw talent, and they understand that it might take time for him to realize his full potential.
“We need him to be more consistent,” Ainge said. “I think he will in time. I think the next few months are going to be big for him.”
Melo, a man of few words, put the team first when I asked him about a trip to Maine.
“Whatever coach wants me to do, I will do it,” Melo said.
They’d be there for different reasons, but Christmas and Melo may both be destined to call Portland home for a while this winter.