WALTHAM — In a move that will add depth to their suddenly shrunken roster, the Celtics are expected to sign Rio Grande Valley Vipers small forward Chris Johnson to a 10-day contract on Friday.
Johnson has been playing for the Rockets’ affiliate in the NBA Development League, where he is averaging 19.4 points and 6.8 rebounds in 20 games this season.
“Chris has been playing very well. We need a wing player, we need someone who can shoot the ball, so Chris will add some depth to our team for now,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said before practice Thursday.
Johnson played in eight games with the Memphis Grizzlies last season on a pair of 10-day contracts.
Coach Brad Stevens said he is very familiar with Johnson, who played at the University of Dayton and wasn’t selected in the 2012 draft.
Though the Celtics are expected to have Rajon Rondo back in the lineup on Friday when they host the Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics are signing Johnson because recent moves have shrunk their roster, specifically their backcourt.
The Celtics had only 10 active players available Wednesday night against Toronto after trading guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Golden State Warriors earlier in the day.
Further, the Celtics are without veteran shooting guard Keith Bogans, who was excused from the team indefinitely this week. Bogans, who as acquired in an offseason deal with Brooklyn, has played just 55 minutes in six games this season.
“Keith and I sat down the other day and there was no big incident,” Ainge said. “Keith, he’s been frustrated for a lot of the year, just because he hasn’t had a role. Keith has started on a lot of teams in this league and he’s in his 11th year and I think his expectations were just different than what I thought was realistic.
“I shared with him what his realistic role was and I just didn’t think he was very happy with it. [It is] just better for him to go home, stay in shape in case we need him, but we’d rather have — we’re going to play the guys that we have here that are really hungry to play and dying to play that we’re going to try to develop into better players.”
The Celtics will keep Bogans under contract — he’s making $5.1 million this season — because his contract, which isn’t guaranteed next season, represents a valuable trade chip.
Not a blockbuster
When the Celtics traded Brooks and Crawford in a three-team deal, they received two draft picks — one a conditional first-rounder, the other a second-rounder — and center Joel Anthony from Miami.
Ainge described the deal as a “building block.”
“They are not the deals that are going to turn the franchise around,” Ainge said. “I think this is just one of those. It opens up opportunities for other guys to play and it gives us some assets to draft players, such as Big Baby [Glen Davis] or Leon Powe that we’ve gotten with second-round picks in the past, or second-round picks that we’ve traded to unload contracts, as we’ve done recently or move up in the draft. Draft picks are very important assets and they are always tradeable, no matter how well they play.”
Anthony joined the Celtics Thursday after passing his physical. He is expected to be available Friday night.
Rondo will receive the December Kia Community Assist Award in recognition of his charitable efforts and his history of generosity in the community, the NBA announced.
Before Friday’s game, a Kia representative along with Celtics ownership members are expected to present Rondo with the David Robinson plaque during a ceremony on the court.
Kia and the NBA will also donate $10,000 on Rondo’s behalf to the Blue Grass Community Foundation.
Bradley should play
Avery Bradley, who suffered a bruised right hand during Wednesday’s game, sat out of practice. Stevens said it was only precautionary and that Bradley is expected to play Friday . . . Stevens is torn about Sunday’s AFC Championship game between the Broncos and Patriots. Stevens lived and worked in Indianapolis and became a huge fan of quarterback Peyton Manning. When asked for his prediction for the game, Stevens smiled, then chose his words carefully, clearly not wanting to upset the local fan base. “I’m sure it’ll be a great game,” he said. “I unbelievably respect everybody involved.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.