BOSTON — Fab Melo is back with the Celtics, but it was not his string of dominant performances with their D-League affiliate that earned him a trip back here. Rather, it was a blow to the head and league rules for NBA teams and their relationships with their NBDL affiliates.
The Celtics recalled Melo on Wednesday after 12 games with the Maine Red Claws, reuniting the rookie center with his former Syracuse teammate and fellow first-year player Kris Joseph on the Celtics bench. In all likelihood, the bench is where Melo will remain, as he receives treatment for a non-sports-related concussion.
“What did you have, ‘Manny being Manny?’” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “Well, in five years when Fab’s playing terrific for us here, we’re going to have some ‘Fab being Fab’ moments.”
Dressed in street clothes and seated in front of his locker before the Celtics’ game against the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Melo laughed when asked why he was not wearing dark sunglasses, which Mickael Pietrus donned indoors after his scary concussion last season. Melo said he was feeling fine and would forego shades, even though bright light gives him a headache.
Rajon Rondo called over from his corner locker, asking Melo if he planned to sit on the bench.
“If I fit,” Melo replied.
If Melo manages to get healthy (he said there is no timetable for his recovery) and the Celtics opted to keep him up, the home-heavy schedule over the next three weeks would provide numerous opportunities for Melo to get in some practice time with the big club. A string of home dates means less travel and more chances to hold practices, which is where youngsters like Melo tend to do the bulk of their learning. But there is no indication Melo will stick around once his symptoms have passed.
Melo tantalized Celtics fans with his 15-point, 16-rebound, 14-block triple-double against the Erie Bayhawks in late December, followed by a 32-point, nine-rebound, nine-block explosion in the very next game. Despite those numbers, the Celtics signed a different shot-blocking ace from the D-League, Jarvis Varnado, to become their de facto No. 3 center while Chris Wilcox recovers from a sprained thumb.
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