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What to make of Nate

02.17.10 at 12:03 pm ET
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UPDATE: Reports that Nate Robinson have been traded to the Celtics are premature according to a source, but it is still likely to happen at some point.

The rumors are swirling that the Celtics may be closing in on New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson at the trade deadline. The Celtics may have competition for Robinson in the form of the Lakers. Both teams have also been said to be in on Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich, but the Lakers seem reluctant to take on more salary obligations and Hinrich’s deal extends for two more seasons beyond this one.

For now, let’s take a look at what Robinson would actually bring to the Celtics. Even though he is only listed at 5-foot-9, Robinson is one of the NBA’s premier athletes as evidenced by his status as a three-time dunk champion. He also played football at the University of Washington, starting six games at corner before deciding to concentrate on basketball.

Robinson’s biggest strength is as a scorer. He has started only 61 times in 312 games, but he averages 12.5 points for his career in about 24 minutes a night. He is also a decent 3-point shooter, although certainly not the caliber of Eddie House, whose minutes he would presumably take.

Robinson has had his problems with Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. He was benched for 14 games in the middle of the season before rallying the Knicks to a comeback win over the Wizards in early February with 23 points. Robinson lasted only three more games before falling out of favor again. He hasn’t played for the Knicks since Feb. 9.

The Celtics second unit has suffered from a lack of a true lead guard. Marquis Daniels has performed the task capably since he returned from his injury, but he is more of a facilitator on offense. While Daniels was out, Doc Rivers often had Ray Allen or Paul Pierce initiate the offense for the second unit and he experimented with Rajon Rondo in that role with the second team as well. But those are merely stop-gap solutions.

Robinson is in the final year of his contract, which presents a few minor problems. He is what is known as a base year compensation player, which makes it difficult, but not impossible to make the trade math work. He also has veto power over a trade, but he is believed to be open to a trade to the Celtics and for good reason. The Globe’s Gary Washburn reported that Robinson would earn a $1 million bonus if he is on a playoff team.

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