PHILADELPHIA -- Joining his fifth NBA team in six seasons, Celtics newcomer Ryan Hollins admits the question of why he hasn't been able to stick with one squad is fair.
"I gotta be better," admitted Hollins. "A lot of it is fit; you get with certain teams, certain chemistry, certain environments, and guys tend to flourish. You've seen it around the league -- each team, each situation. Hopefully this is my team, my situation. In fact, I’m going to make it my team, my situation. I’m going to do everything in my power to make it work."
Hollins, a 27-year-old 7-footer officially inked Friday morning after being waived by Cleveland earlier this week, joined the Celtics in Philadelphia where he chipped in a point (missing 3 of his 4 attempts at the charity stripe) and a foul over 3 minutes, 19 seconds of floor time in a 99-86 loss to the 76ers.
Hollins came highly recommended by fellow west-coast dwellers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who have worked out with him in SoCal during recent summers, including the lockout-extended offseason this year. Hollins said getting to absorb some of their knowledge planted the seed about potentially playing with them down the road.
Boston's desperation for a big man, coupled with Hollins' fading role in Cleveland (though he called it a first-class organization and harbors no ill feelings) made that opportunity come together sooner than he might have imagined. Hollins said Eastern Conference foes Miami and Indiana both expressed some interest, but Boston's situation intrigued him most and when Danny Ainge phoned his agent, Hollins called the decision a no-brainer.
"The veteran leadership, the name behind the Boston jersey, and I’ve got some experience with Paul and Kevin from the summertime, so I know what it means here," said Hollins.
"It’s a huge opportunity, so I’ve got to get on my A-game and come in ready to play," he added. "There’s minutes here and there’s definitely a need, so I see where I can help this team."
In order to make room for Hollins, the Celtics waived Chris Wilcox, who is prepping for aortic surgery later this month and will miss the remainder of the season. Wilcox thrived in his role of energy guy who cleaned up the glass. While Hollins has never been been able to parlay his size into becoming even an average rebounder, he realizes that's something he absolutely must commit himself to in Boston.
Hollins said coach Doc Rivers told him about how bench players needs to sacrifice at times and focus on their assigned roles. For Hollins, that means running the floor and crashing the glass.
"If we need rebounds, I gotta eat, sleep, and dream rebounds," he said. "That’s what I’m going to have to do."
The hardest part so far? Picking a jersey number. He settled on No. 50, becoming only the fifth player in team history to don those digits.
"This was the hardest number I've had to pick, it was between like 69, 99, and 57," joked Hollins, who said the team eventually showed him a list of available digits.
"I've got the 5 in there," said Hollins, who wore No. 5 in Cleveland. "And I kinda joked with my friends, I’ve always had a small number [previously wearing Nos. 1 and 15 during his career; both are retired in Boston]. I said it’s time for me to start getting a big man’s number."
He said he's got no other Boston connections beyond Pierce and Garnett, but quipped, "That's all I need to know."
And he's not sure where he'll be crashing as the team returns home after Friday's game, but that's the least of his worries.
"No, I'll figure that all out," he said. "I’m worried about basketball. I’ll sleep in the gym if I have to."