Xavier Silas’ NBA career consisted of four games back in 2012.
Six years later, the the Austinite is back in the Association.
The injury-ravaged Boston Celtics signed the former Austin High star to a 10-day contract Monday night, giving them a player to help take the slack created with the loss of all-star point guard Kyrie Irving and swingman Marcus Smart, both to knee injuries.
The 6-5 forward is the lone Austin Independent School District product in the NBA though it should be mentioned that Brooklyn Nets forward Jarrett Allen played at St. Stephen’s Episcopal before one season at Texas.
“For a city as big as Austin and for how many good players that have come through there I am honored to be the only (AISD) guy,” Silas told me via text. “It means a lot. I’m an Austin, Town Lake, Zilker Park, Waterloo, Amy’s Ice Cream, Tyler’s, Mopac, crazy-traffic guy, man. I grew up with all the cool stuff that made people want to move there and I love representing my city.”
According to an NBA.com story, Celtics coach Brad Stevens asked his good friend Jeff Van Gundy, a former coach who is now an NBA analyst for ESPN, about Silas, who played for Van Gundy with the USA basketball World Cup qualifying team.
“You’re going to replace Kyrie Irving, so we expect 25 points a game on 50/40/90 shooting,” Stevens jokingly told Silas, per Celtics.com.
Then he gave Silas his true job description.
“Just do what you do best, and come in and be you, and we’ll adjust to you.”
It’s a second chance to stick after playing two regular-season games and two playoff games with the Philadelphia 76ers six seasons ago. His has been a career of globetrotting, in places like Argentina, Greece, Israel and France. He has played the last five seasons in the G-League and averaged 18.4 points per game with the North Arizona Suns in 43 appearances this season. His 38-percent accuracy from the three-point line apparently got Boston’s attention. With the injuries to their starters — forward Gordon Hayward was lost to an ankle injury in the season opener — the Celtics were in need of a knock-down shooter.
A 10-day contract is simply that or a three-game contract, whichever comes first. History suggests it could jump-start someone like Silas’ career. Bruce Bowen and Anthony Mason parlayed 10-day contracts into decade-long careers. If he plays well, Silas has a good chance to stick with the club through the remainder of the regular season, especially since reports out of Beantown are saying Irving and Smart may not be back for the start of the playoffs.
The 30-year-old son of San Antonio Spurs legend James Silas dressed against Utah on Wednesday night, but did not play. He also made history as the first player from Ice Cube’s BIG3 league to be signed to an NBA deal.
It’s a testament to never giving up on one’s dreams. Silas could have taken a safer, more financially stable route by accepting one of several offers to play overseas, but he wanted to stay stateside with his family and keep the NBA fire burning.
That could pay off in the long run.
“We were all committed to getting back,” he said. “It was never ‘if,’ just ‘when.’ I owe everything to my mom’s prayers and my wife’s sacrifices. Pops and I just stayed with the grind. He told me, ‘You chose this path, now you have to walk it.’”
He and his father, as usual, are teaming up for their annual Silas and Silas basketball camps for boys and girls (K-12) at the Westlake Athletic & Community Center. The first is scheduled for June 4 with others running through July.
This contract is a door opening with some great possibilities down the line. Silas appreciates the chance because his love for the game has taken him on a scenic route of sorts, from Austin High’s Roosevelt C. Nivens Gymnasium to Boston’s TD Garden with several stops in between. Well worth it.
“It’s an honor to play for an organization like this,” Silas said. “Just an Austin High kid playing for the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. Go Maroons.”