The Boston Celtics have been hit harder by COVID-19 and contact tracing than just about any team in the Association, a key factor in their woeful 23-24 record this season. And at least one of their players is still feeling the effects of the novel coronavirus now.
Namely, second-year guard and former lottery pick Romeo Langford.
Langford contended with a slew of injuries during his rookie campaign in 2019-20, which left him unable to break out on a level that matched his draft positioning. He was finally ready to return with a bang earlier this month when COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
As a result, he has found himself saddled with the league’s health and safety protocols tag on every injury report since.
However, his extended stay on the shelf finally appears to be nearing its end.
Langford May Be Activated This Week
Ahead of the Celtics’ Wednesday night home match-up with the Dallas Mavericks, Langford was once again ruled out as a participant. However, it was revealed earlier that the 21-year-old could finally be activated on Friday when his team hosts the Houston Rockets at TD Garden.
It was Celtics coach Brad Stevens that indicated Langford’s return could be imminent, although he also noted that conditioning was still an issue.
“Rome’s just getting back, just getting his legs under him,” Stevens said. “He worked out the other day, and I walked back in the locker room after answering all your questions and asked him how he felt. He said his legs felt like jelly. Like he hadn’t done anything for the better part of two-plus weeks. You’re not allowed to. And so, he is still ramping up.”
“Obviously, he won’t play tonight, and then we’ll see if he will be cleared for Friday or not, but we’re hopeful sooner rather than later.”
For his part, Celtics veteran Marcus Smart has liked what he has seen from Langford.
“He’s been looking great,” Smart said. “He’s been putting the work in day in and day out. I know it sucks, it’s been six months since he played and been able to practice with us and things like that. That’s tough, especially when he’s the only one in the gym having to work by himself and seeing everybody else working together and doing things like that. He’s dedicated himself to the work and I think it’s going to show up out there.”
Before his brush with COVID-19, Langford was in the final stages of his recovery from offseason wrist surgery.
What Langford Can Bring
In terms of his raw numbers, Langford’s rookie season doesn’t exactly stand apart. In 32 appearances for the Cs last season, he put up 2.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 12 minutes per contest. He also posted an effective field goal percentage under 40.
However, he also exhibited potential as a ball-handler, slasher and pick-and-roll player offensively. Meanwhile, his massive 6-foot-10 wingspan and willingness to give effort on the other side of the court also bode well for his defensive potential.
He will likely be limited to playing in short bursts while he works to find his legs, but — when healthy — he gives Stevens another option on the wings where the team has experienced an inconsistency of output behind the big dogs.
Unfortunately, it may take him some time to play himself back into shape.