WALTHAM, Mass. -- Rookie Dwight Powell is hoping for an extended stay in Boston, but forgive him if he waits a bit before enlisting the services of a real estate agent. Traded twice since June, including on draft night, Powell knows the life of a second-round pick can be extremely fluid.
"Day 1 of my pro career I learned a lesson: Just take it one day at a time," said Powell. "So, as for right now, I'm in a hotel. Just taking it one day at a time."
Drafted 45th overall by the Charlotte Hornets, Powell was informed immediately that he was on the move to Cleveland. But that deal got altered before it became official and Powell was stuck in limbo until after the NBA's moratorium lifted.
Powell spent a couple of months with the Cavaliers this summer, including appearing in three games with their summer league team. He inked his rookie deal in late August, but couldn't exhale as he was shipped to Boston late last month as part of a swap that saw the Celtics send out Keith Bogans' nonguaranteed contract.
Even though the first year of Powell's rookie pact is guaranteed, he isn't out of the woods quite yet. The Celtics essentially have 17 players competing for 15 regular-season spots, and Powell could still be cut or -- gulp -- traded again if he can't fight his way onto the final roster.
Boston's logjammed frontcourt is conspiring against the 23-year-old Stanford product, but he's made a favorable impression on the team in the early stages of training camp. And the fact that Boston was willing to take on his guaranteed money (he'll earn $507,336 this season) as part of the Cleveland swap suggests the Celtics desire to keep him on the roster if other moves can be made.
"I really like him. In fact, I think he's one of the guys -- and maybe it's just because I didn't know him as well -- but he's impressed me in the first five days because it's hard to come into this spot and then all of a sudden hit the ground running as a rookie," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "He really doesn't try to do too much, he stays within what he does well, which is hard to do when you're trying to impress people to make a team. He has made a lot of little things happen that have caught our attention.
"Dwight has gotten nothing but positive reviews from our staff."
Unlike Boston's first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young, Powell didn't have the luxury of working here over the summer with the coaching staff. He's been forced to learn a new playbook on the fly, all while finding himself deep on a power forward depth chart inhabited by NBA veterans like Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk. That's also limited his ability to simply get practice reps.
But Powell takes it all in stride. He gushes about the opportunity here in Boston and says he's simply trying to distinguish himself in any way possible.
"I definitely have to spend extra time on my own to make sure I get in enough reps, keep my conditioning up, keep my skill work up, and make sure I know the plays in the offense," said Powell. "At the end of the day, I'm fortunate to be with guys that are so talented and learn from older guys that are at my position."
Added Powell: "I just try to keep the mentality to be ready whenever they call your number and, at that point, it's up to you to prove you deserve to be out there. Just stay ready at all times and then be ready to work, especially being a rookie."
Powell is actually somewhat familiar with his surroundings here. He was raised in Toronto, finished his high school career at IMG Academy in Florida, and played four years at Stanford, but his mother, Jacqueline Weir, once lived in nearby Melrose, Massachusetts. Powell visited the Boston area during many summers before Weir lost her battle with cancer at the age of 53 in September 2012.
"The first time I came back [after being traded to Boston], I drove around there a little bit, went by her old apartment and stuff to check it out," said Powell. "I spent some time here. Some of my friends have come up. I'm pretty familiar with Boston and a little bit of the Melrose and Malden area. I love this city a lot."
Powell nearly played his college ball in these parts and his recruitment featured a tug-of-war between Harvard and Stanford. The West Coast won that battle, but Powell wouldn't mind laying some East Coast roots now -- especially given all the uprooting since the start of his pro career.
"[Boston] is great," said Powell. "The team is great, the coaching staff is great. It's a great city to be in. I'm just working hard to gauge this system, learn what they need from me, and try to contribute as much as I can."
Adding to Powell's comfort here are fellow Canadians Olynyk and Joel Anthony (he benefited from having an abundance of countrymen in Cleveland as well). Powell has picked their brains about everything from tax status while working in the United States to simply acclimating to NBA life.
On the court, Powell packs a combination of quickness and athleticism into a 6-foot-11 frame. He can play with his back to the basket, but is more likely to be a face-up 4. He's capable of drawing contact going toward the basket and, like Olynyk, he's regarded for his passing abilities and general basketball IQ. Powell must improve on the glass and will have to adjust to playing against stronger NBA forwards.
If Powell makes Boston's regular-season roster, his friends and family can finally go invest in some team apparel, something they've been hesitant to do given the start of his NBA odyssey.
But make no mistake, this is where Powell wants to be.
"My life so far has sorta set me up for, if something were to happen, I'd probably have a fallback, but this is my Plan A and Plan B right now," said Powell. "So I'm just trying to focus every day to play in this league as long as possible."