A strong showing during NBA Summer League in Las Vegas was enough to earn Jamar Smith an invite to training camp with the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, limited preseason minutes proved not to be enough time for the guard to truly strut his stuff.
Boston announced on Tuesday that they had cut down their training camp roster to 16 players, and that Smith was among those to be let loose.
Despite playing overseas last season, Smith played for the Maine Red Claws (the Celtics' direct D-League affiliate) in 2010-11. Able to keep a close on eye on him, it's almost a certainty Boston could appreciate his sharpshooting from downtown, knocking down 43% of his long-range bombs in the D-League. The guard also averaged 13.6 points and 5 assists per game during his one year NBADL stint, before taking a turn in international competition.
But aside from his sweet stroke from deep, Celtics coach Doc Rivers and company were hoping they find a bit more of a playmaker in Smith. The team brought him into camp with the hope he could run the floor and make enough of an impression as a floor general. Unfortunately for Smith, 24 total preseason minutes made it difficult for him to do so.
And thus, Smith is released and free to move on and explore other ventures. Though flocking overseas often grants prospects more lucrative contracts as they aim to make a livelihood out of basketball, perhaps the D-League will once again become an option for the 25 year old. With yet another (albeit brief) taste of that big league life, Smith may prefer to play in the minors next season in hopes an NBA team picks up on what he has to offer.
Although Smith's time with the Celtics has come to a close, a fellow D-League alum is still hanging on to a spot in Boston. With a minimum of one more cut necessary to be made in Beantown, former Mad Ants' big man Rob Kurz is hoping to sneak his way on the roster.
Having last donned a D-League uniform in 2009-10, Kurz has unique skills for a big man. The 6'9" forward has eye-popping shooting range for a player his size, as evidenced during his one season in the minors. In addition to shooting a remarkable 44% from deep, Kurtz continued to tear up the league by averaging 17.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game.
Despite playing reserve minutes for the Golden State Warriors the season prior to his D-League tour, Kurz has most recently been seen playing international ball. His refreshing skill set and versatility seem to make him a valuable asset to most NBA squads, but the Celtics' locker room already seems crowded with front court talent.
Aside from backup bigs Chris Wilcox and Darko Milicic, Boston also drafted Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger. Facing the experience the veterans offer, and the tremendous upside the prospects seem to have, making the Celtics roster may prove to be an uphill battle for the 27 year old Kurz, even with the regular season all but nearly two weeks away.
Though Smith's Celtics tenure has reached its end, it'll be interesting to see how he chooses to build upon the experience. As for Kurz, he still stands a chance, and it may just be his unique skills that grant him that oh so coveted opportunity. Needless to say, a decision is looming as the clock ticks on training camp.