Silas Never Gave Up, and Six Years Later, He's Back in NBA
SALT LAKE CITY – Twenty-four hours ago, Xavier Silas was sitting at home in Denver after his NBA G-League season had ended with the Northern Arizona Suns.
Fast-forward to today, and Silas is in Salt Lake City, donning a Boston Celtics jersey for the very first time.
Silas, a 6-foot-5 guard, received the call Monday night that Boston would be signing him to a 10-day contract, and that he would be joining the team in Salt Lake City for tonight’s game against the Jazz. He arrived at approximately 3 p.m. local time Tuesday afternoon.
Silas, who averaged 18.8 points this season for Northern Arizona while shooting 38.1 percent from long distance, played in two games for the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2011-12 season. He likely would have had opportunities to play overseas over the last year but he remained in the US and grinded through a G-League season for one reason and one reason only.
“This,” he said bluntly Wednesday morning at Vivant Smart Home Arena. “This, happening right now, is why.”
Silas is a rare instance of a veteran player who chose to stay in the G-League rather than go overseas. He is 30 years old and wrapped up his collegiate career in 2011 at Northern Illinois. As he stated Wednesday morning, however, his age might serve him as a positive during his stint with the Celtics.
“I think with me being older, I think I understand a little bit that it’s not about trying to do too much, or trying to make a big bang or a big splash,” Silas said. “It’s just, do what I’m supposed to do, and helping out the team, even if it’s little increments here and there.”
To the contrary, Brad Stevens joked that his message to Silas Wednesday morning was, “You’re going to replace Kyrie Irving, so we expect 25 points a game on 50/40/90 shooting.” Following a quick laugh, Stevens made it clear that the C’s just want Silas to be prepared for any opportunity that many present itself to him.
“Just do what you do best, and come in and be you, and we’ll adjust to you,” Stevens said of his real message to Silas. “When you get in the game, just try to impact it by playing hard defensively, and by being ready to run a basic menu of offensive options based on what we go through today (at shootaround).”
The possibility of getting into tonight’s game, on his first day with the team, is not as slim as one might think. The Celtics are banged up and are without the services of Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis tonight. Al Horford, who is nursing a sore left ankle, may also miss tonight’s game.
With that being said, the C’s are a bit thin on the wing, which may lead to Silas seeing some time on the court on day one of 10.
“We’re starting tonight Terry (Rozier), Jayson (Tatum) and Jaylen (Brown), and now if Morris is out then you’re looking at Shane (Larkin), (Abdel) Nader and (Jabari) Bird are probably your next wings off the bench,” explained Stevens, “and if anything happens to anybody, we’re going to need another body there, let alone if you want to go small.”
Stevens added that the Celtics didn’t sign Silas because they need him to play minutes now, but more because they need a quality player like Silas to be prepared and available if they somehow get to that point.
One person involved with the Celtics who knows Silas’ abilities very well is NBC Sports Boston analyst Brian Scalabrine. Scalabrine traded for Silas to be a member of his team in the Big3 league last season.
“He said that he believed in me and he knew I was an NBA guy,” Silas recalled of his conversations with Scalabrine. “He told me that last summer. He said just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Today, Silas became the first member of the Big3 league to make a return to the NBA.
Since his days in the Big3, Silas went on to star for the Northern Arizona Suns and also played an important role for USA Basketball’s World Cup qualifying team that played under Jeff Van Gundy in February. Van Gundy commented that he was surprised Silas was not already in the NBA and called Silas “a tremendous pro.”
Stevens is close friends with Van Gundy, and that might be where he heard a first-hand account regarding the 30-year-old’s character.
“Through it all, (he) has developed a reputation as an outstanding teammate, an outstanding person,” said Stevens, “and obviously we wouldn’t be bringing in a guy right now, at our age and stage of our season, if that wasn’t the case.”
It only took one call, and now Silas finally has the opportunity to be an outstanding teammate of the Celtics, back in the league he had dreamed of rejoining for the last six years.
“#2082 days of waiting, hoping, wishing, and praying,” he tweeted late Monday night. “It’s okay to fail but it’s never okay to give up.”