BOSTON (CBS) — Vincent Poirier was happy to spend his rookie season in the NBA at the end of the Celtics’ bench. But on Wednesday, he made it sound like he wouldn’t be willing to do it again.
The French big man certainly made it sound like he wants to play a lot more next season, whether that’s in Boston or not. But he likely saw that he rankled a few feathers on social media with those comments, because he changed his tune a bit when speaking with Tom Westerholm of MassLive Wednesday evening.
It started Wednesday afternoon when Poirier retweeted an interview he had with French sports outlet We Sports. In the interview, Poirier said that he had spoken with Boston head coach Brad Stevens and told him that he didn’t want to spend another year at the end of the Celtics’ bench.
“I just told him that I will do a year like this but not two,” said Poirier, through the help of Google translate. “I think that a first year is also made to help you discover, to take your marks, and that the second year is the one to prove things. I took it with that in mind and I’m ready for the second year.
“I don’t know where I’ll be, but in my head it’s obvious that I’m not doing one more season at the end of the bench to applaud,” he added.
After spending four years as a starter in France and Spain, Poirier joined the Celtics last season and barely played. He saw action in just 22 games and played just 130 minutes as a rookie.
He’d obviously like that to change in 2021, whether it happens in Boston or not. But the center clarified his comments to Westerholm on Wednesday night, as it seems like his real point was lost in translation.
“I just told him I accepted the role I had this year, because obviously that’s what I deserved, because I didn’t show anything. But I think I worked. I think I understand the game, so I used this season to grow and to progress,” he told MassLive. “I’m just saying that was cool, but as a competitor, as a man, as a basketball player, I want more. I’m not here just to be with the guys.
“So that’s why I said that. I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to do two seasons like that,’ not because I think I don’t deserve it, just because I want more. Every basketball player in the world will tell you the same thing,” he added. “It’s nothing personal against Brad, it’s nothing personal against the Celtics, it’s just like when you play in the NBA, you want more than to just be on the team.”
Poirier said that he and Stevens are on the same page, and there are no issues between the two.
“The Celtics found me, welcomed me really well. I don’t want the fans to think I’m just here to take the money and leave, that I don’t give a f*** about the team or the fans,” he said.
It sounds like all Poirier wants is a chance to compete for playing time, which should be no surprise. He left a solid career overseas to try to break into the NBA, and wasn’t able to do much of anything as a rookie with Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter in front of him on the depth chart. Add in the late-season emergence of Robert Williams III, and the Boston frontcourt was even more crowded.
With the center position expected to be one of Danny Ainge’s focuses this offseason, whether through next week’s draft or free agency, Poirier may find it even more difficult to crack the Celtics lineup next season. If that’s going to be the case, he’s making it known that he’d like to get an opportunity elsewhere.
Poirier may not be outright asking for a trade or his release, but if a trade or another opportunity outside of Boston presents itself, he probably wouldn’t be opposed to that either.