USI alum has shot to make Celtics final roster

Pat Hickey

Former USI men’s basketball standout Jamar Smith has had to stay patient since signing with the Boston Celtics as an undrafted free agent in 2010.

During the 2010-2011 season, Smith averaged 13.6 points and 5.0 assists per game for the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ developmental league team. Last season, the 6-foot-3 point guard played in the Czech Republic and averaged 14.8 points and 2.5 assists per game with BK Prostějov.

After further impressing in the NBA Summer League between Orlando and Las Vegas, Smith signed a two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Celtics in August and still has a legitimate chance of making the opening night roster.

As it stands, Smith is one of three players vying for the final two roster spots. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said on Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate adding any more free agents, even with Keyon Dooling announcing his retirement and Avery Bradley missing at least the first month after recovering from shoulder surgery.

NBA teams are set to begin training camp on Tuesday and will conclude shortly before the season tips off Oct. 30. The Celtics currently have 13 guaranteed contracts. The maximum roster size is 15.

According to Chris Forsberg at ESPN Boston, first-year guards Smith, Dionte Christmas and rookie forward Kris Joseph will be looking to fill a small need for a pure backup ball handler on the roster.

All three players signed non- or partially-guaranteed contracts for $473,604 per year. Of the three, Christmas is guaranteed the most money in his contract ($236,000), while Smith has a $25,000 guarantee, and Joseph’s contract is completely non-guaranteed. The Celtics have the most invested in Christmas, who’s skill set is similar to Dooling, meaning he’s virtually a lock for one of the two spots.

At this point, it’s uncertain who has the upper edge between Smith and Joseph. In July, Smith was viewed as a dark horse to earn a final spot on the roster. By all accounts, it now seemingly looks like a coin flip heading into training camp.