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Stiemsma will stick around

Deadline passes, deal is guaranteed

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / February 8, 2012
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This didn’t seem likely when Greg Stiemsma was driving his Ford Focus around Ankara, Turkey, one of his six professional basketball stops since leaving the University of Wisconsin.

He is a member of the Celtics, a contending NBA team, and now he has a guaranteed contract for this season.

The deadline to waive players with nonguaranteed contracts came and went yesterday, and no news was good news for Stiemsma, who never was officially notified by the team that he was staying.

Twice waived by NBA teams, Stiemsma’s road to Boston was an unlikely one, and the center is grateful to be sticking around.

“It’s a satisfying feeling,’’ he said. “Any little stuff like that can give you a boost for the season. I don’t get caught up in the business side too much, but I do enjoy the positives. I wasn’t anticipating too much to happen, but you never know.’’

Stiemsma, 26, was signed while he was with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBADL. He impressed the Celtics with his defense and shot-blocking but has played sparingly of late because of the emergence of Chris Wilcox. Still, he remains an asset off the bench and has increased his market value with his production.

Stiemsma is averaging 1.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 7.9 minutes per game.

He blocked six shots in his NBA debut in New Orleans Dec. 28. In his lone start, on Jan. 2 against the Wizards, Stiemsma scored 13 points, had 7 rebounds, and blocked 2 shots.

Since that game, he has played just 90 minutes in 18 games.

“I’m sure he can exhale today,’’ said coach Doc Rivers. “First of all, he’s a good spirit. The guy never complains, does his work every single day. Secondly, he does give us an option. He’s a shot blocker and he actually make shots as well.’’

Stiemsma slowly has adjusted to playing defense in the NBA, which calls for positioning and movement.

“It’s amazing how quickly the league scouts you,’’ Rivers said. “When he comes in, they are running pick-and-rolls, and they know [he has struggled]. But he’ll get it.’’

Rivers said he had no idea about Stiemsma until the scouting staff showed him video two days before the start of training camp.

“He piqued my interest immediately,’’ Rivers said. “Some shot blocks . . . you thought no way he could get to. And he kept getting to them and that was impressive.’’

Misses and makes

The Celtics’ 94-84 win over the Bobcats was attained despite the fact that they missed 19 of 23 3-pointers. They countered that by making 37 of 58 2-point shots (63.7 percent) . . . Rajon Rondo, after a sluggish first game back from his right wrist injury, collected 14 assists and now has 28 in his past two games, perhaps making a late bid for a reserve spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team . . . The Celtics welcomed back Brandon Bass after he missed Sunday’s victory over the Grizzlies with a sore right knee and he played 28 minutes and continued his scoring punch off the bench with 13 points . . . Charlotte forward Derrick Brown was 10 for 10 off the bench for 20 points in just 28 minutes . . . JaJuan Johnson, who scored 10 points in 22 minutes Sunday, returned to his regular role as the third forward. He was scoreless in two minutes.

Walker on hand

Last night marked Kemba Walker’s Boston debut after a glorious career at the University of Connecticut that included an improbable run to the NCAA championship last season.

Walker has been pressed into starting duty at point guard for the Bobcats because of a right toe injury to D.J. Augustin. Entering the game, he was fourth among rookies in scoring (12.3) and assists (3.6) and fifth in steals (1.1).

He played 39 minutes in the Bobcats’ loss, scoring 16 points and adding 7 rebounds and 2 assists.

He has worked out extensively over the past few years with Ray Allen, another ex-UConn star, and was looking forward to finally facing off against the Celtic in the NBA.

“It’s an amazing feeling playing against one of the all-time greatest players to come out of UConn,’’ Walker said. “He’s like a big brother to me. To be on the same court as him is amazing.’’

Dooling progressing

Guard Keyon Dooling (hip pointer) said he is making progress and is targeting tomorrow’s game against the Lakers for his return. He has played nine minutes the past month and missed 14 of 15 games with knee and hip injuries . . . Swingman Marquis Daniels (sprained right ankle) did not play for the third consecutive game . . . Center Jermaine O’Neal, who is dealing with a right knee bone bruise, started and played 19 minutes. He had 2 points and eight rebounds . . . Augustin, Corey Maggette (hamstring), and Gerald Henderson (hamstring) all were out for Charlotte.

Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe

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