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Giddens eager for D-League

J.R. GIDDENS Yet to see action J.R. GIDDENS Yet to see action
By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / November 16, 2008
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MILWAUKEE - J.R. Giddens is looking forward to testing his developing NBA game in the minor leagues.

The Celtics optioned the rookie guard to the NBADL Utah Flash yesterday. Giddens, the 30th pick overall in the first round of this year's draft, flew to Salt Lake City in the morning before taking about a 45-minute drive to Orem, Utah. There is no timetable for how long he will be with Utah.

"I can stay here and work out all day and not be in the rotation," said Giddens Friday night, when he was inactive for the loss to the Nuggets. "Or I can go down there and make myself better so they'll want me anyway. I look at it as a positive.

"I work out hard every day. You feel like you're getting stronger and faster, but you don't get to go out there and apply it.

"Going down there to the D-League will give me an opportunity to apply it. It will make me a better player."

Giddens and veteran guard Sam Cassell are the only Celtics who haven't been on the active roster this season. Giddens, rookie swingman Bill Walker, and second-year players Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis are all eligible to be sent to the D-League.

It is extremely doubtful that Pruitt and Davis will spend any time with the Flash this season. Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Walker could be sent to Utah at some point.

Giddens understandably showed little interest in going to the D-League when asked about it the day after being drafted. But having been relegated to street clothes in the regular season, he was excited about his leave of absence from the Celtics.

"I'm excited to just go out there and get some games up under my belt," Giddens said. "I didn't play in summer league. This season I haven't really got too much playing time in a game. So, it will be good to get used to getting some running in, getting my game legs and to develop myself more."

Said Rivers, "I just think the D-League is a good league for young players. It's about playing basketball and getting better as a basketball player. It's tough to do that when you're in street clothes. With all the games right now, there is no practice so I think it's a good thing."

Giddens was a McDonald's All-American who played his first two seasons at Kansas. Following some off-the-court issues, he transferred to New Mexico, where he redshirted for a season before playing his final two years. The 2008 Mountain West Co-Player of the Year averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks during his senior year with the Lobos.

With Giddens's background playing against the likes of Utah and Brigham Young, the adjustment to living in Utah isn't expected to be hard. To the 23-year-old, the assignment is just the next in line of challenges that he expects to overcome.

"I've had my ups and downs through high school and college," Giddens said. "I've started, played, and then not played. The road that I've traveled has had a lot of bumps in it. I'm not saying this is a bump because obviously I'd like to be playing with the Celtics. It's just something I've got to handle right now.

"I got to do my best to just fight through it. Hopefully, by the end of the season or somewhere midseason, you'll see me in the rotation. I might be part of it because I went down to the D-League and I got a chance to find myself."

Walker, 21, believes his continual improvement and strong play defensively were key reasons the Celtics didn't send him to Utah. But he has not played in four straight games after having played six minutes in two games before that. Walker said playing for a championship team makes it easier to handle being patient for an opportunity.

"Doc thinks I can help this team in the near future and wait my turn," Walker said.

Asked why Walker is still with Celtics, Rivers said, "He's a little bit ahead of J.R. We need another body, honestly, in the few practices we do have and that's what he's there for. They are all going to be good players one day, but it's going to take time."

While Davis never was sent to Utah as a rookie last season, Pruitt averaged 18.6 points and 3.9 assists in 18 games during three stints. The Celtics also sent rookie forward Brandon Wallace to the Flash last season prior to cutting him.

When asked what advice he gave Giddens about the D-League, Pruitt said, "Just keep your head up. You're going to get a lot of looks and you have to play hard because [the Celtics] are always watching."

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