LAS VEGAS — At 2, A.J. Reeves was too young to play in the Boston Neighborhood Basketball League, but he was mesmerized by it anyway. He’d carry a basketball around the summer youth program with his family and never wanted to let go.
Reeves’s mother, Louise Peddy, could tell that a love was blooming. But when a picture of Reeves holding a ball was published in the independent city newspaper, the Bay State Banner, it really resonated with her.
“I just could tell then,” Peddy said, “that this was going to be a special thing for him.”
Reeves, a Roxbury native, used to go to Celtics games at TD Garden whenever he could. He’d watch Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, and one matchup against the Lakers and his favorite player, Kobe Bryant, remains the most vivid.
When Reeves was at games with his mother, he’d tell her he wanted to be on that court someday. He’d tell her he wanted to become a Celtic. Such a proclamation is hardly unusual for a basketball-loving child, of course, but Reeves is now much closer than most others will ever get.
The former Providence guard had a strong pre-draft workout for Boston last month. He was later brought in for another session as the Celtics began to fill out their summer league roster, and then he was added to the team.
In Las Vegas this week he is playing games nearly 3,000 miles from TD Garden, in a college gym where air conditioning goes into overdrive to fight the 110-degree temperatures outside. And his uniform looks more like a practice jersey than the real thing. But he’s here, he’s getting closer, and he insists he is not satisfied.
“This is a dream I had to work toward and I set goals along the way,” Reeves said. “Now I’m here and just trying to make the best of my opportunity. Just being able to have the name on my chest and play here is something I’m definitely going to tell my kids when I have them. But this is step one of a long journey. This is just the beginning. Hopefully, I can do a little bit to get to step two and just keep chipping at it. Any movement is better than no motion at all.”
Reeves, who averaged 9.9 points and 2.8 rebounds and hit 37.3 percent of his 3-pointers for Providence last season, has very little chance of making the Celtics’ roster next season. He did not play in the 88-78 loss to the Heat on Saturday, and this Boston summer squad, which includes just one former first-round pick, is hardly star-studded.
But Reeves said Celtics coaches have stressed that his long-range shooting can help him stand out, and as the top summer players inevitably skip a game or two in the coming days, he’ll likely get his chance to put on a display. He says he’ll be ready.
“It’s been really fast-paced, a lot of learning, a lot getting thrown at me,” Reeves said. “But I’m just enjoying the experience. I got my foot in the door so am just trying to do everything and soak it all in.”
His mother, brother, aunt and several cousins are here in Las Vegas supporting him, and Reeves said it’s meaningful to know that the love is coming from numerous corners in Boston, too.
“There’s a big sense of pride, because coming from an inner-city neighborhood and being able to put on this Boston green, you hear from people all over the city telling me I can go do it,” Reeves said. “So I really feel like being on the team, even if it’s just summer league, I kind of brought some of the city a little closer. I’m giving them something to root for.”
Veteran forward Danilo Gallinari officially agreed to a two-year, $13.3 million deal with the Celtics that includes a player option in the second year, a league source confirmed Sunday. Gallinari was traded to the Spurs by the Hawks June 29, and San Antonio told Gallinari it intended to waive him after the deal was finalized and granted him permission to meet with other teams. Gallinari quickly made it clear then that signing with Boston was his preference. This deal is expected to be signed this week.