BOSTON – Hassan Martin knew from the outset he was on the outside looking in.
There's little room on the Celtics’ 15-man roster for undrafted free agents such as himself. And the Celtics Summer League team consisted of a handful of players (Jabari Bird, Semi Ojeleye, and Guerschon Yabusele) who were with the team last season and would surely be highlighted.
And while Martin, 22, hasn’t been around the Celtics culture for very long, he has quickly picked up the “always stay ready” mantra that we’ve seen under coach Brad Stevens (and Summer League head coach Jay Larranaga), which rewards players who make the most of their playing time.
Martin falls into that category and is one of the main reasons why the Celtics are on to the second round of the playoff portion of Summer League play in Las Vegas after knocking off the New York Knicks, 82-75 on Thursday in Las Vegas.
Boston will face the Miami Heat on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
The 6-foot-7 Martin came off the bench against the Knicks and scored eight points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field in 18 minutes.
It was another strong outing for Martin, who is second on the team in rebounding (5.3) while shooting a team-best 60 percent from the field despite playing limited minutes (he is seventh on the team in minutes played).
“I don’t have a huge role on this team,” Marin told NBC Sports Boston earlier this week. “I just wanted to come in and show my athleticism, my motor, the way I attack the rim, rebound, and the way I defend. All the little details, hopefully, will get me a spot on the team. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Martin knows all too well that while his focus is on doing whatever he can to help Boston, there are other teams watching as well.
"Of course I want to stay with Boston," Martin said. "Going to school basically right up the street, it would be great. But I understand this is a business. Like everybody else here, I just want my shot, my opportunity to play in the NBA; that's all."
The former University of Rhode Island star led the Rams to an NCAA Tournament bid in 2017 – snapping an 18-year drought - and was named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year in his junior and senior seasons.
After going undrafted in 2017, he took his talents to Japan where he became a major contributor to the Ryukyu Golden Kings, where he averaged 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds while shooting 62.3 percent from the field.
The adjustment to life overseas was a little rocky at first, but it didn’t take too long for Martin to settle into a groove by doing what the Celtics are seeing in summer league – impacting the game.
And by doing that, Martin is doing exactly what an undrafted free agent in the summer is supposed to do – give the Celtics front office and others throughout the league, something to think about.
Martin said there have not been any talks specifically about what his role might be with the Celtics beyond this season.
“I approach that the same way I approach the game now; stay ready,” Martin said. “Because you never know when your opportunity is coming. All I can do is stay ready, just like I’ve done so far in summer league; just staying ready.”
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You may be happy LeBron James moved West this offseason -- opening a clear path to the NBA Finals for the Celtics -- but Jaylen Brown isn't.
“To be honest, I wanted him to stay,” Brown said Thursday at a media availability in Las Vegas, as reported by Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal (subscription required). “I was kind of mad, I wanted to be the team to go through him.
"I feel like we could have had it last year, but we fell a little bit short. But I applaud someone doing what’s best for him. He did what’s best for him in that situation. I wanted him to stay in the East. I don’t like when people say, ‘Now that LeBron’s gone, y’all are the favorite.’ That irks me. A lot of us, we feel the same, because we feel that whether he was there or wasn’t there, we were coming out.”
Brown was also asked about restricted free agent Marcus Smart and the potential the Celtics will lose him.
"Marcus, what he brings to the table is second-to-none,” Brown said. “The analytics, all of that, throw that away. What Marcus adds to a team and a franchise, everybody knows. I think [Celtics basketball chief Danny Ainge] knows that. And I feel like something will come and the best situation will happen for both parties. But I would love to play this next year with Marcus Smart, and I feel like everybody feels the same way.”