Celtics

Daniel Theis wanted the Celtics to trade for him at the deadline

"If I was going to be traded, I wanted to come back here."

Daniel Theis
Newly acquired Boston Celtic Daniel Theis, left, talks with Aaron Nesmith during a timeout in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks. AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Daniel Theis was ready to leave the Rockets by the time the Celtics came calling at the trade deadline.

Theis says it wasn’t anything personal — he was happy to help the Rockets develop their young players as best he could. Still, the Rockets employ a lot of young players and don’t have a lot of use for a veteran big with a good amount of playoff experience.

“That was part of it, and when we had the losing streak at the start of the year, maybe that was a factor,” Theis said on Tuesday, speaking to the media for the first time since the Celtics dealt Dennis Schröder and Enes Freedom to bring him back to Boston. “Two bigs didn’t work out, just the way we played. But on the other side it helped me to learn about myself — keep me more motivated even though I’m not playing. Staying more professional off the court, and still having all those young guys – like Al and Baynes always helped me out here, so I tried to do the same stuff there even though I wasn’t playing.

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“I was never in a bad mood ever because I had all the young guys. I wanted them to be successful and grow in this league.”

Theis was a healthy scratch for the Rockets over the last 12 games. He started 21 of the 26 games he played this season, averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds. The Celtics dealt Theis to the Bulls prior to the last trade deadline — a move made to help duck the luxury tax. Theis was productive for the Celtics, but he learned a difficult lesson nearly every NBA player learns at some point: The league is a business, and sometimes business decisions must be made.

“Money, luxury tax, cap space, it’s all business most likely, it’s not personal against you,” Theis said. “So that’s why I hold no grudge, even when I had the chance of coming back here.”

Theis does seem happy to be back with a familiar organization, surrounded by a lot of familiar faces.

“In my mind, if I was going to be traded I wanted to come back here,” Theis said. “I’m just happy to be back and leave Houston behind me. Just looking forward to the rest of the season.”

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Theis likes the addition of Derrick White. He’s also happy to see Grant Williams and Robert Williams — two players who might compete against him for minutes — developing at a high level.

“To see them play hard like this, especially the last six weeks when they changed some defensive stuff, it’s just great basketball,” Theis said. “Just sharing the ball, and Rob is a rim protector. It looks fun. The last two games I watched, one from the locker room and one from the sideline, it’s fun to watch.”

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