Dionte Christmas was the darling of summer league. He showed a great energy and knack for scoring the ball. It was such a good performance that he won himself a partially guaranteed contract which he accepted over more lucrative offers from overseas. The assumption headed into camp was that he had a leg up on winning the 15th roster spot.
However, summer league is different than the big leagues and Christmas is finding it hard to carry that momentum forward into the preseason.
In the Celtics’ first two exhibition games in Istanbul and Milan, Christmas played very little, and only when Rivers decided to unload his bench late in a game. But practices count for much more, and Rivers can verbally lash out. Christmas was occasionally singled out by the coach during the Turkey practices for failed rotations or errant moves.
"What opens my eyes is solid play at the end of the day. He does have great energy, and he's a tough kid, but other than that it's basketball IQ and how he fits with this group of guys."
Rivers is still trying to determine that, and the process has become complicated by the possible need for a backup point guard. Playmaking is not a big element in Christmas' skill set. But his shortage of game minutes is not influencing Rivers' decision.
There's still plenty of time for Christmas. He seems to have the right attitude and will continue to scrap and work his way into Doc's good graces.
However, the concern about the backup point position might force the Celtics' hand in terms of taking that 15th roster spot away from Christmas and handing it to someone from the outside. The remaining preseason games will be interesting to watch and it will be even more interesting to hear what Doc says coming out of the practices in regards to the last few guys looking to make the team.