BOSTON — Kris Humphries has had the misfortune of being on some pretty bad basketball teams. There was the 2004-05 Utah Jazz, who won 26 games, as well as the 2008-09 Toronto Raptors, who finished third from the bottom in the Eastern Conference.
And who could forget the putrid 2009-10 New Jersey Nets, who challenged an NBA record for futility by winning only 12 games? Humphries sure would like to.
Nine years into an NBA career that has included just 16 playoff games, however, Humphries didn’t count on enduring another losing season with the Boston Celtics. The writing was on the wall, but Humphries either didn’t see it or didn’t heed it. He insists he didn’t foresee the Celtics entering the All-Star break with a 19-35 record, no matter how open the Celtics’ brass was about this being a rebuilding year.
“No one would come in here thinking we were going to be struggling like this,” Humphries said. “I think you’re a loser if you came in and said this is where we’re going to be at.”
But this is where they’re at, three spots out of last place in the East. As Humphries left the home locker room at TD Garden on Wednesday after Boston suffered a 104-92 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs, he thanked members of the team’s staff, “in case I don’t see you again.” Trade rumors have swirled around the team since the beginning of the season, and the Celtics’ disappointing record has only fueled the trade speculation about Humphries and others. This has been that kind of season, which is why Celtics coach Brad Stevens wants everyone on the team to take advantage of a six-day span without a game.
“I think it’s imperative and important that everybody in our travel party gets mentally ready for the next 28 games, or however many regular-season games are left, and making sure we are playing our very best basketball when we reconvene,” Stevens said, “but also to take a couple of days and take a breath.”
Stevens has some loose ends to tie up Thursday and Friday, then plans to take the weekend off with his family. The Celtics will open the practice facility on Monday for any early arrivals who want to work out, but Stevens won’t require players to report until Tuesday’s practice.
As much as it is an honor to take part in NBA All-Star weekend, Celtics players seemed far more interested in the rest the break affords them. Rajon Rondo, a perennial All-Star before he tore his ACL last season, said there was no part of him that wishes he were able to be in New Orleans. Jared Sullinger, who will compete in Friday’s BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge along with teammate Kelly Olynyk, will leave immediately after the game to visit his family in Ohio.
In fact, nobody was able to get out of the locker room fast enough after Wednesday’s game. Although most of the players enjoy each other’s company, they all were eager to go their separate ways.
“It’s a time to relax your body,” Gerald Wallace said. “We put so much on our bodies through the end of the season, you need just a couple of days where you don’t really do anything, where you don’t even have to think about basketball and you can get away with your family, kind of enjoy the weekend and rest your body. This is the right time for us.”
Playing basketball for a living beats digging ditches, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a grind. For a few days, the players will lounge on the couch, free of ice packs on their knees and wraps around their sore muscles. When they come back to Boston — or not — they hope to be recuperated for the stretch run of the season, one that has tested their resolve in ways many of them didn’t imagine.