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game 5: Celtics at Warriors | 9 p.m. (ABC)

The Celtics had 32 players on the roster this season. If they win an NBA title, who gets a ring?

Do you recall that Joe Johnson played one game for the Celtics this season, in December vs. Cleveland?Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

SAN FRANCISCO — The Celtics enter Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors Monday night just two wins from their first championship since 2008. All of the players from that team have been gone for years, of course, and no player on the current roster has ever won a title; they would be winning their first championship rings.

For much of this unusual season, the Celtics roster was a revolving door. In all, 32 players have been on the team. So would those who have departed be in position to secure the splashy jewelry, too? Well, maybe.

Officially, league rules stipulate that a player must be a member of the roster at season’s end to be eligible for a ring. Ultimately, though, the decision essentially rests with the team.


An NBA spokesperson said that when teams request permission to give rings to former players, they are typically granted. But those requests tend to be rare. The only hard-and-fast rule is that the player has to have been a member of the team at some point during the season.

When COVID-19 was pummeling NBA rosters in late December, the league established a hardship exception that allowed teams to sign extra players to 10-day contracts without affecting the 15-player roster limit. Then in February, the Celtics made three trades in which they sent out seven players and received Derrick White and Daniel Theis in return, filling most of those empty spots with G League callups.

Seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson, 40, signed a 10-day deal in December and hit his only shot during his only appearance, a two-minute stint against the Cavaliers. Bol Bol and P.J. Dozier were injured when they were acquired in January, and remained injured when they were traded away a month later without ever having suited up for Boston.


There were other veterans on 10-day contracts you’ve probably forgotten by now: Al-Farouq Aminu, Justin Jackson, Norvel Pelle. And there were rotation players who were traded away as part of president of basketball operations Brad Stevens’s midseason rebuild: Romeo Langford, Dennis Schröder, Josh Richardson, Enes Freedom, Bruno Fernando, and Juancho Hernangómez.

In all, there are 15 players who were Celtics at one point this season but can no longer make that claim. And whether or not they cash in with championship rings could ultimately be up to team ownership.

In 2015-16, Cavaliers veteran center Anderson Varejao was traded to the Trail Blazers before eventually being released and signing with the Warriors. Cleveland beat Golden State in the NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers voted to offer a ring to Varejao, who had spent his first 11½ seasons with Cleveland. He declined.

A year later, Varejao was waived after playing 14 games with Golden State, and the Warriors went on to win the title. The Warriors offered him a ring, and this time he accepted.

But the Warriors had a total of just 17 players on their roster that year. The Celtics had nearly twice that, several of whom never appeared in a game. The candidates among this group would be much less clear-cut.

Johnson, who has played in 1,397 regular-season and playoff games but never won a title, would be the storybook choice. But he played just two minutes. And of the players who departed, none had a rich history with the franchise that came to an abrupt end. Langford, who played 105 games over 2½ seasons, was the most tenured.


But there is some good news for others who never expected to be in this situation. Malik Fitts, Luke Kornet, Nik Stauskas, and Juwan Morgan, who were signed to NBA deals following the February trades, would all receive championship rings.

Fitts, for one, was waived by the Jazz in January before signing two 10-day deals with Boston. He eventually parlayed those into an NBA contract and has become the team’s leader in bench celebrations.

“To get waived from a team and picked up by a team that was definitely on a hot streak, that’s really a blessing,” he said. “And to be in a situation where I’m at right now and potentially win it all and get a ring? That’d be one hell of a story.”

Two-way contract players Matt Ryan and Brodric Thomas would be in position to get rings, too.

Beyond the roster, ownership can hand out rings to whomever it pleases without needing to ask the NBA for permission. So former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who constructed most of this team and drafted players including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams before departing last summer after 18 years at the helm, could be rewarded.

Curry’s off course

Stephen Curry, an avid golfer, said he doesn’t plan to stop by The Country Club in Brookline for any US Open festivities when the Warriors return to Boston on Tuesday in advance of Thursday’s Game 6. But he’ll be watching closely, and said he wouldn’t be surprised if some of his friends on the PGA Tour reach out to him for Finals tickets if they have a late tee time on Friday.


“Obviously, all of my attention is on rest and recovery, getting ready,” he said. “I’ll pop in front of the TV and make sure I watch as much of it as possible, though . . . I’ve never been to The Country Club at Brookline, so send me some pictures if you get out there.”

Curry played in the Ellie Mae Classic on the Tour’s developmental circuit in 2017, has appeared in several celebrity tournaments, and recently announced the formation of the Underrated Golf Tour for juniors from underrepresented backgrounds.

Williams thankful for adrenaline

Robert Williams tweaked his troublesome left knee during the fourth quarter of Game 4 and asked to be removed from the game, but he was cleared to play in Game 5.

“To be honest, I don’t even think about it anymore when I’m on the court,” he said. “Been playing almost the whole playoffs basically. Obviously, it’s tough to deal with, but I don’t really think about it on the court. I guess you could say my adrenaline is carrying me, thankfully.”

Williams tore his meniscus on March 27 and missed just less than a month after undergoing surgery to repair it. He has battled swelling and soreness throughout these playoffs and coach Ime Udoka has consistently said that Williams is day-to-day, but there are no signs of him missing a game at this point.


Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.