BOSTON (CBS) – Most NBA observers figured that Phil Pressey would land on his feet after the Celtics waived him last week. A mere 10 days later that premonition held true, when the Portland Trail Blazers announced Friday that they inked the 24-year-old point guard to a guaranteed contract for next season.
The 5-foot-11 speedster is not a sure thing to make a revamped Blazers roster. Still, the Waltham native couldn’t have asked for a better landing spot than Portland.READ MORE: Jurassic Quest Is Officially Open At Gillette Stadium
The Blazers are in rebuilding mode right now after losing a host of players, including LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews, in free agency this offseason. The mass exodus has the team going young, and that creates the perfect spot for Pressey to win a job. Portland already has a franchise point guard in place with Damian Lillard, but the depth chart behind him right now is virtually empty (outside of former Celtic training camp invite Tim Frazier).
Pressey will have a chance to battle Frazier and whomever else GM Neil Olshey brings to training camp for true backup minutes at point guard. Pressey fans should embrace that possibility, as the young guard would not have had that chance in Boston after the team selected Terry Rozier and RJ Hunter in the first round in this year’s draft.
That’s not to say the Celtics disliked Pressey. Brad Stevens raved about the former Missouri star earlier this summer when the third-year guard volunteered to suit up for some summer league action.
“We love Phil,” Stevens said in early July. “We all appreciate the way he works. We like what he does. We’ve watched him for two years… We know everything about him. We’ll see how the next 10 days or whatever it is play themselves out, and we’ll go from there. You have to be able to manage your roster appropriately, obviously, in all these decisions, but he is the kind of guy you want to have around here. So we’ll see how it all plays out, but I’m a big Phil Pressey guy.”READ MORE: NH Man Who Put Razor Blades, Screws In Supermarket Pizza Dough Pleads Guilty
Unfortunately, Pressey fell victim to the numbers game when the Celtics used all four of their draft picks and failed to trade anyone off the roster in the first two weeks of July. After averaging just 3.5 points and 2.3 assists per game in his first two seasons, Pressey had the lowest upside out of any guard remaining on the roster, making him the prime candidate to be cut when the July 15th salary guarantee date arrived.
Beyond missing Pressey for being a nice change-of-pace guard off the bench, the Celtics will also miss his presence behind the scenes. Pressey was widely considered a great locker room guy and was still looking to help the same rookies that were forcing him out in his last few weeks with the team, as RJ Hunter explained to Bleacher Report.
“I talked to Phil Pressey [before he was cut] probably the most out of all the guys,” Hunter said. “When I was struggling early, he was the one telling me all the rookies go through this. He was helping me out a lot. I also talked to Isaiah Thomas briefly, but Phil is the one who has helped me the most.”
Pressey’s positive influence will now likely carry over to Portland, where former teammates and coaches will be rooting for the young guard to succeed as he attempts to build upon his first two seasons in green.MORE NEWS: Car Crashes Into Saugus Building, Leaves Hole In Brick Wall
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.