Originally, I do not think the pun was intended, but let’s go with it. Although Kris Humphries is in his 10th year in the league, Brad Stevens has not handled his minutes with much consistency this season, and rightfully so. No one was sure how much production Humphries was going to be able to give the Celtics after being traded for the fourth time in his career. In addition, Stevens has been trying to get a handle on his lineups and whom he wants to keep for 2014-15.
Before we turned the calendar to 2014, Humphries was quietly one of the best Celtics this season. He was the only 2013-14 Celtic to play at least 100 minutes and have a positive plus/minus in the second half. In comparison, the C’s as a team had been outscored by four points per second half over the first couple of months of the season, but the big man out of Minnesota was a bright spot.
Then, in a matter of days, he went from a backup role to a minor ankle injury to the starting lineup. He missed the January 7 contest at Denver in which a hobbled Jared Sullinger committed two flagrant fouls (one of which was rescinded), but then started in place of Sullinger in the SEGABABA against the Clippers. That contest began a string of 10 consecutive starts for Humphries, the most he had in a row since 2012. He averaged just under a double-double during that 17-day stretch. See after the jump how his recent return to the lineup has been more difficult.
After about a month-long hiatus from the starting lineup, Kris is back in it after another Sullinger injury. A concussion forced the Ohio State product to sit out for three contests, but it has not been all sunshine and roses for Humphries this time around. Although he has put up some points, he has had a negative plus/minus in each of the five contests in which he has started in February and March. In addition, he has put together seven consecutive games with negative plus/minuses, which is just one off his single-season career-high. This frustrating stint culminated in a two-point, 16-minute effort with a plus/minus of negative 12 in the blowout loss at the hands of the Warriors on “hump” day.
Even when Humphries is producing, it is coming in losses. On Saturday, he doubled-doubled when the Celtics hosted the Pacers. The 18 points and 10 rebounds marked his first double-double in more than a month, and the Celtics moved to 0-5 this season when Kris has registered a double-double. This record made me ponder the success of the teams he has played with during his NBA career.
In his nine previous seasons in the league, he has been in the playoffs three times and each of those postseason appearances ended in a first-round exit. Everyone should remember his most recent one in which his Nets were ousted in seven games by Tom Thibodeau, Nate Robinson and the Bulls. Although Humphries is not the primary reason for his teams’ playoff failures, you have to wonder if he can be a part of a championship ballclub.
The question then becomes: is Humphries going to be back in green next season? While he might not have much postseason experience, it would be nice to have him and his top-35 defensive rebounding rate (and hopefully a much more team-friendly contract) off the bench. He could have pouted and been frustrated with the current team’s situation, but there have no Kardashian-like off-the-court problems with Humphries in Boston.
We have not heard any rumblings out of the Celtics organization about bringing back the unrestricted free agent who celebrated his 29th birthday exactly one month ago. Although he has made $12 million each of the last two seasons (Yeah, nice job Prokhorov), Humphries could be a nice low-cost big man option off the bench for the Celtics.