Celtics announce Johnson and Jerebko signings


SALT LAKE CITY – The business of building up the Boston Celtics’ roster for next season has officially taken a step forward with the team announcing the signing of Amir Johnson and re-signing of Jonas Jerebko.

Jerebko came to Boston via a trade deadline deal with the Detroit Pistons in February.

His minutes were limited at first, but in time the 6-foot-9 forward worked his way into being a regular contributor off the bench.

“He’s a winning player,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “He has great respect from his team and has earned respect from the coaching staff and fans of Boston. A very versatile guy that we’re glad to have back.”

As for Johnson, the Celtics made acquiring him a priority shortly after the July 1 free agency period began.

Johnson, 28, is a 10-year NBA veteran who has spent the past six seasons with the Toronto Raptors. Prior to that, he played four seasons for the Detroit Pistons.

The past couple of seasons, there has been a large influx of youth on the Celtics roster.

But this offseason has been one in which Boston has made a point of adding experienced players to mesh with a roster that’s still one of the youngest in the NBA.

“Experience is important,” Ainge said. “But talent is most important. But these guys are good. We needed to add some experience to our team. They’re still in their 20s, and have a lot of good basketball left in them.”

Ainge has kept an eye on Johnson dating back to when he was in high school. In fact, Ainge had given some thought to drafting the 6-foot-9 forward when he entered the draft in 2005.

Detroit selected Johnson with the 56th pick that year, while the Celtics elected to drafted Orien Green with the No. 53 pick that year.

Like most late second-round picks, Johnson didn’t play much early on.

In fact, he appeared in a total of 11 games during his first two NBA seasons.

Most of his time those first two seasons was spent playing in the Development League.

But between his time there and his 11 NBA games, he had shown enough promise that a number of teams were eager to sign him when he hit free agency.

After his second season, Johnson elected to stick with the Pistons after a strong charge was made by the San Antonio Spurs.

From there, his game continued to expand not necessarily in terms of his stats but rather, his impact.

“It took him a while to get going in the NBA, but he’s just a class act, he’s a winning player,” Ainge said. “He’s not one of those guys that fills up the stat sheet. He just helps you win; does a little bit of everything.”

In the coming days, the Celtics are likely to announce the re-signing of Jae Crowder and the trading away of Gerald Wallace to Golden State for David Lee.

Ainge indicated that there’s a certain sequence in which Boston’s transactions have to be completed.

“We’re still working to put our team together, keeping our flexibility,” Ainge said.

Adding players like Jerebko and Johnson are certainly steps in the right direction.

But Ainge isn’t disillusioned by the reality that there’s still work – lots of work – yet to be done.

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