ORLANDO, Fla. -- Chris Babb was already in for an uphill battle for a spot on the Boston Celtics' 2014-15 roster before the team got in on a three-way deal Wednesday that added veteran shooting guard Marcus Thornton to an overpopulated backcourt.
Babb, playing on a nonguaranteed deal, could be an odd man out with Boston soon to be carrying 17 players and sitting -- at least temporarily -- above the league's luxury tax line. Releasing Babb would afford the team $816,000 in savings. For his part, Babb denied getting any additional motivation from the team's roster moves, nor is he worrying about his own situation.
But after Wednesday's effort, you can't help but wonder if recent events helped light a bit of a fire under him.
Babb played with an offensive aggression that he has often lacked since earning his spot on the Boston roster as a D-League call-up last season. Babb attacked the basket often during Wednesday's summer league triumph over the Detroit Pistons and finished with 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting to go along with 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals over 26 minutes of play.
Put it this way: Babb attempted only three two-point shots in 132 minutes of floor time last season. He put up six -- and made five of them -- in Wednesday's game.
"He played really, really aggressively," Celtics assistant coach Jay Larranaga, head coach of the summer squad, said of Babb. "That’s what he needs to do. He’s got all the potential in the world to compete at this level. I try to get on him to be more aggressive. He’s such a team-oriented player and a very conservative player, that sometimes you just gotta let loose. He’s always going to be a great defender, but as he gets more and more comfortable being aggressive on offense, I think he’ll really continue to grow."
Babb said his first focus is on being a team player, but knows he has to look for his spots more.
"I’m such a team-oriented guy that, a lot of times, I pass up opportunities for an extra pass or make a play for somebody else," Babb said. "Sometimes those shots are there and I can be a little bit more aggressive."
"To be honest, that’s all outside of my hands," Babb said. "That’s upstairs, that’s the front office -- that really has nothing to do with me at this point. I’m just really focused on what I can control at this point. Just being aggressive, playing hard, and being a team guy and trying to win games."
Babb is averaging 5.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists through three summer league appearances.
A final camp cut for Boston in September, Babb landed with the team's D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He spent much of the 2013-14 season in the D-League, but signed a 10-day contract in late February (and another in early March) before inking a four-year pact that's nonguaranteed this season and next (with a team option looming in 2016-17).