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Brad Wanamaker ready to embrace opportunity with Celtics

Brad Wanamaker jumped right in and practiced with the Celtics’ summer league team on Tuesday.PAT GREENHOUSE/GLOBE STAFF

There were times Brad Wanamaker wondered if he would ever realize his NBA dream. After going undrafted in 2011 and playing for the Atlanta Hawks’ summer league team, his career ultimately took him overseas, where opportunity and money were waiting.

Wanamaker established a successful career there, emerging as a physical, gritty guard who was capable of overpowering opponents. But he never stopped thinking about his bigger dream, his grander goal, even as one door after another seemed to close.

“It was crazy, because over the years you get those calls from teams, you come out in summer, you put on a private workout for teams, and they’re telling you give us a few days and we’re going to send you a contract or you’re high on our radar,” Wanamaker said. “This time, it was real.”


Wanamaker said the Celtics were “consistent” with their interest in him, and that on June 21, the night of the NBA Draft, director of player personnel Austin Ainge called him and said that the team had a spot for him.

Although Wanamaker actually left some money on the table by leaving Turkish power Fenerbahce to sign a one-year, minimum-salary deal with Boston, the choice still was not very difficult for the 28-year-old journeyman.

“I grinded my way to this point,” Wanamaker said. “Making the NBA has been in my head since I was a kid and it finally happened. I’m here for my opportunity.”

Over four seasons in the EuroLeague, Wanamaker averaged 13.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 44.4 percent from the field. The Celtics were especially intrigued by the 6-foot-4-inch veteran’s versatility at both ends of the floor, as he is capable of playing point guard, shooting guard, and small forward.

Wanamaker said that coach Brad Stevens has not given him a sense of what his role might be for this team; he has just told him there will be an opportunity, and that’s all Wanamaker is seeking.


He provided one early example of this already. Wanamaker, who officially signed his contract on Monday, is not expected to play for Boston’s summer league team in Las Vegas later this week. But after completing his introductory news conference on Tuesday morning, he threw on some Celtics workout gear and took part in the team’s summer league practice.

“Any time there’s opportunity,” Wanamaker said, “I’m ready for it.”

Wanamaker was teammates with Boston center Daniel Theis for two seasons on the German club Brose Bamberg. He said that seeing how much success Theis had in his rookie season with the Celtics last year was a motivator for him, helping him realize that his own jump to basketball’s highest level might be quite realistic, too.

“You stay with it,” Wanamaker said. “You work and keep your confidence high. [When] you’re ready for the opportunity, just take full advantage of it. And that’s what [Theis] did last season.”

Wanamaker said that Theis spoke glowingly about the Celtics and the culture they have built.

“A great group of guys, hard workers, a young core of guys who are hungry to win,” Wanamaker said. “I’m all about trying to help a team win, and this is a perfect situation.”

Wanamaker will wear No. 9 for the Celtics, a number last given long-term use by guard Rajon Rondo. But Wanamaker smiled and said there was no motivation behind his choice. With the Celtics and their 21 retired numbers, there simply weren’t a lot of options.


“Obviously, Rondo was a great player for Boston in his time here,” Wanamaker said. “It was a number that was available. There’s no meaning towards it. It just was a number that was available.”

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