We’re two weeks into the NBA lockout, but that doesn’t mean we can’t examine which free agents will be available to the Celtics for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter hash out their differences. We have already profiled the C’s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — so we move to a less pressing but critical position: Backup Point Guards.
The Celtics started and finished the 2010-11 season with three additional players capable of playing the point guard position behind All-Star starter Rajon Rondo on the 15-man roster: Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson (before trade) and Carlos Arroyo (after trade). Only Rondo and Bradley remain, so it stands to reason that the Celtics will sign at least one more floor general.
The C’s targets depend on how confident they are in Bradley and how cheaply they can find a reliable backup (or third-string). As we’ve noted before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.
Signed through 2014-15, Rondo has cemented himself as the franchise’s foundation, and Bradley — under their control until his restricted free agency in 2014-15 — is slotted as the backup of the future. As a result, the C’s ideally would seek a veteran pure point guard and/or a capable combo guard who wouldn’t completely destroy their chances should Rondo’s injury issues persist and Bradley prove ill-prepared for big minutes. Arroyo and West fit those descriptions, but one might be too expensive and the other could sign overseas during the lockout.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup point guard, separating the current free agent players into five categories …