Celtics

Nik Stauskas was ready to give up on basketball before Celtics called

"I was like, 'Damn, I don't know if I want to keep doing this.'"

Nik Stauskas
Nik Stauskas plays with the 76ers in 2015. AP Photo/Rick Scuteri

Before the Celtics called, Nik Stauskas wasn’t certain he wanted to keep playing basketball.

After all, Stauskas — best known for being the 8th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft — is 28 now. He is married, and he and his wife have their first child on the way. The life of a borderline NBA player is difficult — Stauskas found himself in the G-League playing for the Grand Rapids Gold. In total, he played for five NBA teams in some capacity — including a two-way contract with the Heat — as well as two G-League squads and a team in Spain.

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So when a reporter asked him if he ever thought about walking away from the game, Stauskas was ready with his answer.

“Just five days ago, I was ready to give in, to be honest,” he said. “Just playing in the G-League all year. I had told myself that if it didn’t work out this year, that I’d be OK with walking away from the game. It’s just crazy that in the last 72-96 hours that everything kind of transpired the way it did.”

In those hours, Stauskas found himself on the Celtics signed to a two-year deal (the second year of which reportedly is not guaranteed). If he can find the range on his 3-point shot, he could play himself into real minutes on a team for whom a lengthy playoff run suddenly feels plausible.

“It’s been a long time coming for me, personally, just to kind of get back to this point, kind of cracking a roster,” Stauskas said. “I’ve been out of the league for two years so, definitely very grateful for Brad Stevens giving me this opportunity.

“And now, I’m just trying to make the most of it here, trying to learn this system, trying to become friends with all these guys and the coaching staff and, so far, I’ve only been here for a couple of days, but have nothing but good experiences so far.”

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Stauskas said his only connection to the roster was through Al Horford — he played at Michigan with Horford’s brother Jon.

“More than anything, just outside of basketball, being personable and getting to know everyone, getting comfortable with the new group of guys is probably the most important part,” Stauskas said. “The basketball part kind of takes care of itself.”

Celtics coach Ime Udoka was asked about integrating new players — a question more aimed at Derrick White and Daniel Theis, but one that applies to Stauskas as well.

“It’s a lot of individual talks, honestly, and 1-on-1 film sessions,” Udoka said. “We’ll do what we do with the team but to get them up to speed is similar to what we did when we were having the COVID situation, where we did a lot of 1-on-1 and teaching as far as that. Their film, throwing them in live game action, there’s some things that they’re going to be a little slower to get.”

Stauskas has plenty of experience being thrown into new situations, and he said he’s happy just to have another opportunity.

“If I’m not going to play, I’m going to be the first guy waving the towel, pumping everyone else up,” Satuskas said. “For me, that’s growth because that’s something that I wasn’t willing to do just a couple years ago in my first stint in the league.

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“Once I had that taken away from me, I think it gave me that perspective I needed to just be very grateful, as I’ve said before. For me, mentally, it’s kind of good to have that new perspective and just be appreciative of everything that’s been given to me.”

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