BOSTON -- John Holland knows how important basketball can be in Boston. He was a freshman at Boston University in 2008, when the Boston Celtics won their 17th NBA championship. Maybe that's why, eight years later, Holland seemed a bit wonderstruck standing inside the Celtics' locker room before his first regular-season game with an NBA team.
The Celtics signed the 27-year-old Holland out of the NBA Development League on Monday. He'll spend the final two games of the 2015-16 regular season with Boston, be part of the team throughout its playoff voyage and then compete for a roster spot this summer with a deal that won't be guaranteed beyond this season.
For Holland, it's validation for a decision to remain stateside and endure the low-money offerings of the D-League. He described walking into TD Garden as "surreal" and found a stack of Celtics gear waiting at his locker. A piece of masking tape with his last name and number 30 was stuck to a stall that earlier this season housed both David Lee and Coty Clarke.
Holland went through a spirited on-court warm-up, then talked with reporters for six minutes before tip-off (he was inactive against the Charlotte Hornets). He joked about how he was prepping for a nap when he got news of his call-up on Sunday and pledged to do whatever he could to help the Celtics get set for the playoffs.
Holland watched the Celtics parade through the city after their Finals victory in 2008 and marveled at being with the team now.
"It’s a journey, but everybody’s journey is different," Holland said. "I’m happy to be back and trying to help in any way I can."
The 6-foot-5 Holland admitted he really doesn't know how he'll help this team. The Celtics are stocked and healthy at the guard spot, but his presence adds emergency depth and, maybe most importantly, shooting to the roster. He's the fourth-oldest player on the roster and his experience overseas could help him nurture younger guards such as rookies Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter and second-year swingman James Young.
Holland averaged 16 points on 52 percent shooting over 30.2 minutes per game in 37 appearances for the Canton Charge this season. He put up big numbers as Canton ousted the Maine Red Claws -- Boston's D-League affiliate -- from the opening round of the playoffs last week. His performance caught the eye of Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
"He played really well against us in the D-League playoffs," Stevens said. "He's a good player. He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size for a perimeter player. He brings the ability to switch and he's another we can add as depth, should we need some perimeter depth."
Outside of his overseas experience, Holland spent time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat at summer leagues and went to training camp with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014. He was hoping that his play in the D-League this season might catch the eye of NBA personnel and was rewarded with the 40th D-League call-up this season.
"You have no choice but to believe [you can make the NBA from the D-League]. Of course I believed that it could happen," Holland said. "That’s what you’re down there for. When I signed up, I signed up knowing that I could play at this level and just hoping I’d get an opportunity. When I got the call from the Celtics, I’m just happy to be a good teammate and just do whatever I can to help the team win. I know they’ve done a great job for 80 games, so I’m just here to help in whatever way I can."