Late-Season Additions are Unique for C's

BOSTON – Doc Rivers goes through this every year. Danny Ainge selects the final pieces to the Boston Celtics’ puzzle in late-February and early-March, and it’s up to Rivers to fit all of those pieces together.

The 2012-13 season is no exception to that rule, as Ainge has added three new pieces to the Celtics roster with a trade for Jordan Crawford and the signings of Terrence Williams and D.J. White. This year, however, is unique, in that this trio of additions is filled with youth.

Jordan Crawford

Jordan Crawford sounds more than willing to put the team ahead of himself.
Sam Forencich/NBAE/Getty Images

This time of the year is typically associated with Boston bolstering its lineup with proven veterans. It has been like clockwork almost every year since Kevin Garnett came to town in 2007. Think of guys like P.J. Brown and Sam Cassell in 2008, Stephon Marbury in 2009, Michael Finley and Nate Robinson in 2010, and Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic in 2011.

The average age of those players upon acquisition was 31.4 years old. That’s 6.4 years more than the average age of Crawford, Williams and White, who are 24, 25 and 26 years old, respectively. The difficulty of integrating these young players into Boston’s lineup, as opposed to proven vets, should not be underestimated.

“This is tougher because it’s young guys,” Rivers said on Thursday. “Honestly, it’s much easier with older veterans, because you kind of know exactly who they are. They’re not trying to be anything else but that. They just want to kind of fit in, while young guys tend to want to show you that they belong, and not only just belong, but can be something.”

That last fact could ring loud with this trio of acquisitions. Crawford has been a go-to scorer on a bottom-feeder for his entire pro career, while Williams and White are returning from China where they were dominant forces. They have seen first hand that they can play with the best.

Heightened production by these players at their previous stops could be a good thing for the C’s, but it also has the potential to be a bad thing. On one hand, their confidence must be soaring after putting up big numbers against solid competition. On the other hand, those numbers may make these young guys believe that they deserve to be on the floor for more minutes than they’re likely to receive in Boston.

Rivers is hoping that Crawford, Williams and White will all stick to the former side of that argument. That applies particularly to Williams and White, who should now know better than anyone that playing in the NBA is a privilege, not a right.

“I think they go find themselves in a lot of ways,” Rivers said of players who head overseas to play ball. “Their confidence rises because they become the star. I think for a lot of the guys it’s kind of needed for them to find themselves.

“I would just say that I’m sure the travel is not the same (in China), and everything else. The living conditions aren’t the same. If you go over there, anywhere else, and you come back here, you want to stay here. And I think it instills some hunger.”

To their credit, these guys seem like they’re grounded and starving to help the Celtics succeed. White, who spoke to the media shortly after signing his contract, is jut happy to be here and he wants to put the little things at the top of his priority list.

“This organization has a rich tradition, countless championships, so it’s just an honor to be a part of this organization,” he said before touching on what’s expected of him. “Basically just come in and defend and rebound. That’s what I think they’re looking for. So I just want to come in and play hard and pick my spots at the offensive end.”

Crawford also met an onslaught of Boston media for the first time in his career. He was much shorter on words, but he made it clear that his arrival in Boston is a big change and that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the C’s win.

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Crawford. “No time to adjust; you come in and help them right away. You don’t want to have a period where you’re adjusting. You want to come in and help them right away.”

That’s what Boston’s late-season additions have done over the past five years. Rivers is hoping for the same results this time around, along with an added touch of youth.