Monday afternoon, R.J. Hunter’s father and former college coach announced in a phone interview that his son was the odd man out and did not make the cut for Boston’s final roster. The Celtics had to trim the roster down to 15 players by Monday evening. October 24th also happened to be R.J.’s 23rd birthday; a pretty cold-hearted move by Danny Ainge.
Ron Hunter said, “He’s disappointed. For a kid to get waived on his birthday isn’t the best way to celebrate your birthday. But he understands this is a business and there will be another opportunity for him.” Hunter also said that there are a few teams already expressing interest in R.J.
The second-year guard lost the 15th and final roster spot to third-year guard James Young. This is a controversial move, as you’d expect. I can see where Ainge is coming from, though. You could definitely argue that between Hunter and Young, Young has the upside potential-wise. Both players showed flash and/or improvement last season and even this preseason, Young had the better preseason. I highly doubt that Ainge made this decision purely because of preseason play, rather Young has matured more quickly and has made big improvements over the offseason.
Hunter, who was the 28th pick in the 2015 draft, averaged 2.7 PPG and 1 rebound in 36 regular season games last year, making 44% of FG attempts. Meanwhile, Young averaged 1 PPG and 0.9 rebounds last season; 2.2 PPG and 1.1 rebounds in his two year career. It’s easy to see why fans are upset with this decision, as I disagree with the move myself, but we can’t count Young out quite yet. I think he’s made legitimate improvement in recent months, and I hope that he does succeed this season.
I can’t see Hunter being out of a job for too long; he’s a promising kid with definite talent. The Celtics were looking to trade either Hunter or Young for a first-round pick, because Ainge cannot have nearly enough first rounders. Though, no teams took up the offer and Hunter is now on the market.
Celtics final roster: