Popson Makes the Cut

Remembering the Celtics 29-5 Start in 1990-91

November 2, 1990

BROOKLINE They kept everyone in suspense as long as they could. And when the Celtics couldn't squeeze 13 players onto a 12-man roster, they tried to find a way to keep most everyone happy. At least for now.

On the eve of their season opener against the Cavaliers, the Celtics yesterday reduced their active roster to 12. The biggest surprise? Dave Popson, in his second stab at the Celtics , earned a berth. "I am really excited," he said. "It is what I've been working toward. I can't wait for the first game."

The second biggest surprise? Charles Smith was placed on the injured list with a partial dislocation of the left shoulder. He didn't trip over the foul line yesterday; the injury occurred Oct. 13. But it wasn't deemed that serious and Smith played in five exhibition games and missed only one practice. He will have to miss at least five games.

"You buy time and you wait and see," said Celtics boss Dave Gavitt. "The Charles Smith-Pop thing was not an easy one. But Charles was playing with a bad shoulder because he wanted to make the team. He clearly hasn't been himself."

"This will give me a chance to get healthier," Smith said. "It's still a little sore and now I have some time to get to 100 percent. That's really all I can say."

Joining Smith on the injured list was John Bagley, who has been bothered by tendinitis in his right knee since camp opened and hasn't practiced a minute. Jim Paxson, who is still under contract but did not attend training camp in a move that had the club's approval, was placed on the suspended list.

Yugoslavian guard Sasha Dordevic was released.

The team announced the Dordevic and Bagley moves at the conclusion of a morning workout at Hellenic College. They delayed making the Smith/Popson announcement until 5 p.m., one hour before the 6 p.m. deadline.

It was no secret that Bagley, Paxson, Michael Smith and Ed Pinckney were available. They still are.

"We talked with a lot of teams, as did most everyone," Gavitt said. "But at this stage, I don't feel like anything is about to pop."

The 6-foot-10-inch Popson made the most of his time in the exhibition season. In five games, he played a total of 36 minutes and scored 24 points. He was 10 for 18 from the field.

"I'm really happy," he said. "It was hard to describe the feeling waiting for the call."

Popson, 26, was a late cut last year, along with Scooter Barry. He then joined the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association, where he played nine games. He finished up in Spain. He does have NBA experience, playing 17 games for the Clippers and the Heat in the 1988-89 season.

"I knew I was going to play ball somewhere," he said. "I'm just excited it's the NBA."

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