The Celtics agreed to sign veteran sharpshooter Nik Stauskas to a two-year deal, a league source confirmed Thursday night.
Stauskas played in 335 games over five NBA seasons from 2014-18, averaging 6.8 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. He signed a 10-day contract with the Miami Heat earlier this season, but he garnered the most attention with his strong play for the G League’s Grand Rapids Gold, including his 57-point eruption on Tuesday night.
Stauskas, 28, averaged 26 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists while connecting on 46.6 percent of his 3-pointers for the Gold this year. Jaylen Brown missed the Celtics’ 120-107 win over the Grizzlies on Thursday because of a sprained ankle, and his replacement in the starting lineup, Aaron Nesmith, suffered a potentially more severe ankle injury during the first quarter of Thursday’s win, so Stauskas could provide some depth if either player is out for longer.
The Celtics still had an open roster spot following their Feb. 10 moves in which they traded away seven players and received just Derrick White and Daniel Theis in return. Also, the 10-day contracts of Kelan Martin and Malik Fitts are set to expire on Friday.
Celtics coach Ime Udoka on Thursday was named the Eastern Conference coach of the month for February. It’s the first time that a Celtics coach has earned the honor during his first season in a lead role.
“Means we’re playing well, bottom line,” Udoka said. “I mean those individual awards are really a reflection of the team and what they’re doing. And, as I’ve said all year, our group is great and lets us push them, coach them hard. And that’s where the results are showing for that. And so more than anything, means we’re heading in the right direction. And those accolades come but, for me personally, it’s a reflection of those guys. I don’t care about the personal but I care how we’re playing, what direction we’re going.”
Udoka guided the Celtics to a 9-2 record during the month, and the nine wins came by an average of 19.1 points per game. Boston’s plus-15.1 net rating in February led the NBA, too.
Udoka is the first Celtics coach to receive the honor since Brad Stevens won it in October 2017.
Tatum makes better decisions
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has faced constant double teams this year as opponents attempt to force someone else to do damage against them. He has improved at making the proper decisions in these situations and has been particularly dangerous making jump-passes to shooters in corners.
“I think it’s all about watching film, learning from what you didn’t do so well in previous games and years,” Tatum said. “Just seeing it more frequently, and learning and growing from it. Honestly that’s how it should be. You should be better at the end of the year as opposed to the beginning, in your fifth year than you were in your fourth year. Just always trying to get better in all areas of the game.”
While the primary responsibility in these situations rests with Tatum, his teammates play key roles, too. When they space the floor and make quick cuts, it makes Tatum’s job considerably easier.
“They’ve been great, terrific,” said Tatum, who’s averaging 4.2 assists per game. “I just think we’ve all been on the same page, communicating, just knowing where to be in certain spots on the floor, certain times of the game, depending on the scenario.”
Brown is day to day
Celtics forward Jaylen Brown missed Thursday’s game against Memphis because of the ankle sprain he suffered in the first quarter of Tuesday’s win against the Hawks.
“Still swollen and some pain there and he’ll be evaluated day to day,” Udoka said. “Don’t know much more than that other than they’ll take a look every day and hopefully it ends up being a pain tolerance thing. Hope to have him this weekend, but you never know how he responds to treatment.”