By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Rotting at the end of the bench for the second season in a row is not in Celtics center Vincent Poirier’s future plans.
So much so that the French big man, signed by the Celtics in July 2019, made it known to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens at the end of last season, according to an interview with We Sport (France).
“I just told [Stevens] that I will do a year like this but not two,” Poirier said (via Google Translate). “I don’t know where I’ll be, but in my head it’s obvious that I’m not doing one more season at the end of the bench to applaud.”
Blame it on the Google Translate if you want, but those quotes are pretty ugly-looking when it comes to his feelings on his role.
That said, it’s hard to blame him. In action for just 22 games last year, Poirier’s averages were just as ugly, with 5.9 minutes per game over that 22-game run, and with just 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per night. Poirier’s 130 total minutes were the third-lowest on the entire team, too, trailing only two-way contract talents Tremont Water (119 minutes) and Tacko Fall (33 minutes).
It’s understandably just not what the 27-year-old Poirier, who led the EuroLeague in rebounds per game during a 34-game run with Baskonia (Spain) before jumping to the NBA, envisioned.
But speaking with MassLive’s Tom Westerholm after the interview went live and generated buzz, Poirier did want to clarify that his comments weren’t made to express a desire to leave.
“I think I worked, I think I understand the game, so I used this season to grow and to progress,” Poirier told Westerholm. “I’m just saying that was cool, but as a competitor, as a man, as a basketball player, I want more. I’m not here just to be with the guys.
“So that’s why I said that. I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to do two seasons like that,’ not because I think I don’t deserve it, just because I want more. Every basketball player in the world will tell you the same thing. It’s nothing personal against Brad, it’s nothing personal against the Celtics, it’s just like when you play in the NBA, you want more than to just be on the team.”
The good news for Poirier is that there may be room to grow with this year’s team.
Under contract for next season at just over $2.6 million, Poirier could see an increased role on next year’s team should Enes Kanter opt out of his deal. Kanter possesses a $5 million player option for next season, and could pursue opportunities elsewhere after averaging 16.9 minutes per game last year (his lowest nightly average since his second NBA season). But even if Kanter leaves, Poirier he’d still find himself competing for minutes with Daniel Theis and 2018 first-round pick Robert Williams, and with Grant Williams emerging as another option at the five when the Celtics go deep into their bench.
But no matter the roster construct, Poirier simply wants a real chance to stick with a Green team he called a brotherhood.
“If I stay, I’ll be really happy,” Poirier told Westerholm. “If I leave, it’s business. I can’t say nothing. But that’s it.”