Pregame Post-Ups: Cheerful Reunion for C's, Hunter
Thursday, January 10 - Celtics at Heat
Pregame – A Cheerful Reunion for C's and R.J. Hunter
MIAMI – Nearly 27 months after parting ways, the Boston Celtics and R.J. Hunter have paired up yet again.
Hunter, a former 2015 first-round pick of the Celtics who was later waived in October of 2016, signed a two-way contract with Boston Thursday afternoon. Hunter and his former coach, Brad Stevens, are both ecstatic about the reunion.
“It’s been a journey since I last was in a Celtic jersey, and for them to give me another chance means everything to me,” Hunter wrote Wednesday in an Instagram post.
Stevens, while speaking ahead of Boston’s Thursday night matchup with the Heat, said, “It’s a neat story … The stories that I’m most fond of are the stories where guys have to take a step back and really work their way to get back into it. Kudos to him for doing that.”
Hunter rejoins the Celtics and the team’s G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, after spending the last two seasons in the G-League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Erie BayHawks, respectively. His play there, where he shot a combined 36.6 percent from long range over two seasons, is what caught the attention of the Celtics.
“On the offensive end, if he’s making shots, he’s a really hard guy to guard,” Stevens said, “because he’s, I think – his best attribute offensively is passing off actions. And so the shot-making really opens that up, and he’s been making them for the last two years.”
Hunter was also averaging a career-best 4.7 assists per 36 minutes during 22 games with the BayHawks this season.
While the majority of Stevens’ comments were about Hunter’s growth as a player over the last couple of years, the coach did look back upon that fateful day in 2016 when these two parties went their separate ways. The decision to cut Hunter was not an easy one, to say the least.
“I think one of the toughest things that I’ve been a part of over the last six years is when we had those 16 guaranteed contracts in the fall and we had to make a decision on one and we ultimately had to waive R.J.,” Stevens recalled. “Because we thought he was a high-upside player that had really gotten better, that was going to work hard to be better.”
Hunter has done exactly that over the last two-plus years, which led him to a reunion with the team that drafted him in June of 2015.
- Marc D'Amico