SACRAMENTO — Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge trots around the globe as part of his international scouting duties, and he swung by Istanbul earlier this month to check in on Colton Iverson, whom the Celtics acquired in the second round of the 2013 draft.
The 7-foot Iverson is playing with Besiktas of the Turkish League, and in 18 games, he’s averaging 6.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 0.7 assists over 17.3 minutes per game.
Iverson, who is playing overseas because the Celtics didn’t have enough room on their roster to keep him after the draft, proved to be one of Boston’s most physical players and a fan favorite during the Orlando Summer League in 2013. He has maintained that aggression overseas.
“Colton is a physical, hard-nosed, rebounder/defender,” Ainge said in a phone interview Saturday. “That’s his game and that’s what we love about him. He instigates physical play. No one likes to play against Colton. He sets a mean screen. He’s a really nice kid, but he walks by you and he hurts you — that’s how strong he is.”
The Celtics have been keeping tabs on the former Colorado State standout from afar, and Ainge said that Iverson has improved during his time with Besitkas, which has Iverson under a one-year contract while the Celtics own his rights.
“He’s not a super-skilled player, but he does have a nice jump hook and I think he’s gotten better at not fouling,” Ainge said. “Guarding without fouling is a problem for a guy that strong, and he’s gotten better at that through the year.”
Iverson said last fall when he first arrived overseas that the way games were officiated there was quite different than what he was used to in America.
“You have to change your game, change your style of play,” Iverson said. “You can’t really play the way you play in America, physically, offensively, and defensively.”
Ainge added, “I think he’s getting a little better at reading double teams as well. Over there, he’s so strong, teams have trouble keeping him from the rim, so they often send a second guy. He’s learning how to deal with passing out of [double teams].”
It’s unknown what the future will hold for Iverson, especially as the Celtics expect to reshape their roster over the summer. It’s likely that he’ll join the team for summer league, but beyond that, there is no clear answer.
However, Ainge pointed out that the Celtics did buy a second-round draft pick to acquire Iverson.
“He’s a guy that we liked enough to do that, so that should give you an indication of how we feel about him,” Ainge said.
Rondo, Sullinger out
Point guard Rajon Rondo sat out the Celtics’ game against the Sacramento Kings Saturday night at Sleep Train Arena to rest for precautionary reasons as he works his way back into form after missing nearly a year following a knee injury.
It marked the fourth time Rondo has missed the second game of a back-to-back set since he returned to action last month.
When asked when Rondo would play in a back-to-back, coach Brad Stevens said, “I think it’s more on him feeling comfortable with that. That’s a question for our trainers and doctors and him, but nobody knows his body better than him.”
Rondo turned 28 Saturday.
Forward Jared Sullinger also missed the game against the Kings with a mild concussion after being hit in the head late in the Celtics’ loss Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sullinger also is expected to miss Monday’s game at Utah.
Terry shuts it down
Jason Terry was traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Sacramento last week, but the Kings announced that Terry, a former Celtics guard, won’t play for them this season.
Instead, the 36-year-old guard, who was averaging 4.5 points in 35 games with the Nets before being dealt, will rehab his left knee in Dallas to prepare for next season. Terry had that knee operated on during the offseason.
The Celtics traded him to the Nets with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last summer as part of a blockbuster deal.
Green hot and cold
Jeff Green’s on-again-off-again performance Friday against the Lakers, when the talented forward scored his team’s first 11 points but once again faded from there, left Stevens searching for answers.
Green followed that up with 29 points and six rebounds in the Celtics’ 105-98 loss to the Kings.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this article provided incorrect information about Colton Iverson’s average assists per game.