July 20, 1991
The 33-year-old guard will be the indisputable veteran as the Celtics kick off another rookie/free agent camp tonight at Babson College. Woodson is without a team and, for the first time, finds himself in a fight to make one.
"As far as having to make a team, I've never been in this position," he said. "It's a funny position to be in, but it's an opportunity and I hope to make the most of it. It'll be a weird situation."
There are 17 rookies and free agents scheduled to be here for the camp, which runs through Tuesday, though not all will stick around for all seven sessions. No. 1 pick Rick Fox plans to return to summer school at North Carolina after tomorrow night's session. Free agent guard Anderson Hunt is with a Washington Bullets rookie team in Detroit and won't arrive until tomorrow night.
Then there's Woodson, who last year played only 15 games. After playing 11 games for Houston, he was waived in December and the Cavaliers, desperate for backcourt help (they were using Gerald Paddio there, remember), had him in. He lasted four games, shooting an abominable 21.7 percent (5 for 23) in 46 minutes. The Cavs said adios, and Woodson went back to Houston, where he spent the rest of the year with his wife and daughters.
"It's been kind of nice," he said. "I was playing Mr. Mom with my two new daughters. But after Cleveland I gathered my thoughts. I noticed in all these years that guys come and go and get that call that you're going to be released, but you just never think it can happen to you. Or that you don't want it to happen. I was shocked. I have other things to do, but I just didn't want it to end that way. It would be fun to finish my career on a great note. And what better team?"
No one has any illusions about Woodson's ability. He isn't the same player who once scored 40 points in a game. Or who averaged 18.9 points a game for the Clippers in 1987-88. Those days are gone. Some would say his game is, too.
The last three years he has shot 43.8, 39.5 and 33.8 percent from the field. Given that outside shooting is his raison d'etre, those numbers can't be encouraging. But Woodson said his knee is sound and he would bring experience to a young Boston backcourt.
"He could be that experienced person to spot up, draw the defense out and help in a backup role to Reggie Lewis," said assistant coach Don Casey, who coached Woodson in Los Angeles and recommended the Celtics take a look. "It could be a potential stopgap at that position while we look at some young ones."
Woodson says he is ready. "I'm looking at it this way: I think what happened last year happened a year too soon," he said. "I was expecting to fulfill my contract and call it quits after that. But I still have one year left and I still think I can play. After being home the last few months, I got the urge. I want to play basketball again."