First of all, I realize this post may be premature. If Lester Hudson clears waivers on Friday, he could be coming right back to the Celtics with a ten-day contract. His stay as an unemployed basketball player could end almost as quickly as it began; I realize these things.
But the Celtics, already paying a team salary of $84.7 million (according to ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg), did not waive Hudson just to save the remaining $200,000 and change on his contract (plus luxury tax). Oh no, they definitely didn’t waive Hudson for monetary reasons: they want his slot open for roster flexibility, the ability to add another player to their roster.
Danny Ainge even said as much. “This just gives us a roster spot that we don’t feel we need to use right now,” he told the Boston Herald. “We do save some money with this, but that isn’t why we did it.
Apparently, the Celtics just aren’t confident that Hudson can be their backup point guard. (If giving him DNP-CD’s every night — despite a lack of a true backup pg — wasn’t enough for you to realize that, maybe the fact that they waived him might be.)
Whether they resign Hudson to a ten-day contract once he clears waivers or not, the Celtics would seem willing to get rid of him again if an opportunity arises to improve their team. Most likely, the Celtics would be looking to add a point guard. Their frontcourt depth, once Kevin Garnett comes back from injury, remains a strength and, with Tony Allen emerging as a (possibly) reliable player and Marquis Daniels on his way back from injury as well, the Celtics should be fine on the wing, too.
It’s at point guard where they’re hurting, and their lack of a true point guard is partially due to the fact Boston decided not to sign a veteran after last season, and partially due to the fact that Doc Rivers never gained trust in Hudson.
Ainge still says the team doesn’t doubt Hudson’s NBA talent.
“We like Lester a lot,” he said. “We still think he’s an NBA player.”
But with the Celtics looking to maintain roster flexibility as the season moves forward, Hudson is the odd man out. Unless no other options pan out, I expect that Hudson’s time in the Green and White is done.
It’s always a shock when a player gets cut during the middle of the season, but it was an even bigger shock to me; for the first time in my life, I actually knew the player who was cut.
Now, let me clarify that. I never met Hudson in person; I’ve never even seen him in person. But he is the first NBA player I ever spoke to, probably the first NBA player who ever knew my name. My website was just beginning to grow, and I decided, “What the hell? Why don’t I email Lester Hudson’s agent and see if I can get an interview?”
I did, and five minutes later I had a response I had only dreamed of; I would soon be talking to Lester.
A few days later, I called Lester myself and conducted the interview. I was incredibly nervous. Never mind the fact that I had barely even heard of Lester before he was drafted to the Celtics; he was a Boston Celtic, an NBA player, and he was going to be answering my questions, talking to me on the phone. He would soon be entering training camp for my favorite team, but before he did that he was taking the time out of his day to speak to me.
Maybe it’s unprofessional to be talking about my anxiety and anticipation going into the interview. You probably wouldn’t ever see a “real” reporter reveal his nerves regarding talking to a player.
But I don’t care. Show me the reporter who wasn’t nervous for his first interview, and I’ll show you a liar. My heart pounded, my palms sweated, and my hands trembled as I waited to call Lester for the first time. The interview was set for three o’clock, and I paced my room back and forth for an hour before three, reviewing all the notes I’d taken about his background and all the questions I wanted to ask him.
I’d done hours of research trying to come up with the perfect questions to ask, questions that would allow Hudson to reveal the struggles of his past and discuss his plans for the future. I thought being wonderfully prepared would help ease my nerves, but all it did was give me more information to remember, more opportunities to screw up.
The call finally came, and even though I had bought a recorder to tape our conversation, I jotted down everything he said just in case. We talked for twenty minutes, and Lester was a gracious, humble gentleman who was nonetheless clearly confident in his abilities. After a few minutes, I stopped being nervous, stopped my sweating, and settled into our conversation.
He made it easy for me. Not only did he answer every question, but he was elaborate and candid in his responses. He was confident, but knew his role. He was self-assured, but knew he had to improve.
We had a second interview, and everything was the same except for my anxiety. Lester’s easy-to-talk-to nature had allowed me to get past my nerves and calm down; it was like talking to a friend, only if my friend played for the Boston Celtics and I’d never met him in person.
The season came, and the interviews stopped. With practices, games, and travelling, Lester had too much on his plate to conduct regular interviews with a small-time guy like me; I didn’t even ask him if he wanted to do another one. I sent him an occasional text to tell him to keep his head up after another DNP, or to congratulate him on a nice play he’d made in his limited minutes, but never again heard Lester’s voice.
Now he’s gone, awaiting membership of the NBA’s free agent list, and for the first time I realize that when the Celtics cut a player, it’s not just a player they cut; it’s a person, too.
I feel for Lester, and hope he finds a home in the NBA. I want him to become a contributor, someone relied upon to play meaningful minutes. I want him to go somewhere where he’ll be happy, where he can win games, and where he can find security.
Watching Lester play the first meaningful minutes of his NBA career the other night against Toronto, I immediately recognized his nervousness; it was the same feeling I had this summer before my interview with him.
I wished I could tell him to calm down, to play his own game. If you do the preparation and put in the work, things have a way of working out. After a while, the nerves go away, and the preparation tends to shine through.
For Lester, I only hope his career works out like our interviews did for me, and not just because I think he’s got the talent to be a good player.
Because I like him as a person.