|2012-13 Celtics free agent options at shooting guard||06.26.12 at 5:38 pm ET|
Two-thirds of the Celtics roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett to Keyon Dooling can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap, expected to approach the 2011-12 number of $58 million. We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Shooting guards (Also see: Centers).
The Celtics began last season with Ray Allen and a prayer at the two. Avery Bradley answered that prayer, making Allen expendable if the asking price is too high. Or if he takes his talents to South Beach for the taxpayer’s midlevel exception, accepting a $7 million paycut to sit behind Dwyane Wade and fill the 3-point specialist role already played by Mike Miller, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and James Jones, as one rumor suggests.
While Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, Sasha Pavlovic and Marquis Daniels all played somewhat out of position to eat shooting guard minutes as the result of injuries to both Allen and Bradley — and all four remain possibilities as free agents themselves — the C’s need one or two guys who can play the two alongside Bradley.
The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Paul Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo, $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson, $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Allen, Pietrus, Dooling, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Greg Stiemsma and Ryan Hollins, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.
As a result, expect the C’s to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at shooting guard, separating the current free agent players into four categories.
THE RAY ALLENS
Allen earned $10 million last year, and he’s not getting that from the Celtics this season. Bradley’s emergence gives Ainge plenty of flexibility at the two, but if Allen or anybody on this list is willing to accept single-digit millions to play shooting guard by committee with Bradley, that would go a long way in shoring up the position.
RICH MAN: ERIC GORDON
- Status: Restricted ($5.1 million qualifying offer)
- 2011-12 averages (9 games): 34.4 MIN, 20.6 PTS, 3.4 AST, 2.8 REB, 1.4 STL, 45.0 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 75.4 FT%
- Why? Before he was the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade, Gordon averaged 22.3 points and 4.4 assists while shooting 36.4 percent from beyond the arc for the Clippers.
- Why not? The 23-year-old hasn’t played a full season since 2008-09, missing 20-plus games in his sophomore and junior campaigns before an awful knee injury last year.
COMMON MAN: O.J. MAYO
- Status: Restricted ($7.4 million qualifying offer)
- 2011-12 averages (66 games): 26.8 MIN, 12.6 PTS, 3.2 REB, 2.6 AST, 40.8 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 77.3 FT%
- Why? Since Mayo entered the league in 2008, Ainge’s interest in the enigmatic Mayo has been no secret, possibly because of the belief his declining output will resurface once he leaves the balanced Grizzlies.
- Why not? Other than the various issues of his steroid suspension, benching and gambling brawl with Tony Allen, Mayo’s interest in Boston remains a question after the trade rumor involving him and Ray Allen.
POOR MAN: LOUIS WILLIAMS
- Status: Unrestricted ($5.4 million early termination option)
- 2011-12 averages (64 games): 26.3 MIN, 14.9 PTS, 3.5 AST, 2.4 REB, 40.7 FG%, 36.2 3P%, 81.2 FT%
- Why? Williams already filed the paperwork to become an unrestricted free agent after finishing second in the Sixth Man of the Year race, and it’s no wonder after leading a second-round playoff Sixers squad in scoring.
- Why not? Two reasons Williams isn’t a starter: 1) Even Andre Iguodola agrees the 6-foot-1, 175-pound two guard can’t play defense, and 2) He remains a black hole on the other end (22.5 assist rate).
HOMELESS MEN: Jamal Crawford, $5.2 million player option (60 games: 26.9 MIN, 14.0 PTS, 3.2 AST, 2.0 REB, 38.4 FG%, 30.8 3P%, 82.7 FT%); J.R. Smith, $2.4 million player option (35 games: 27.6 MIN, 12.5 PTS, 3.9 REB, 2.4 AST, 1.5 STL, 40.7 FG%, 34.7 3P%, 70.9 FT%); Nick Young, unrestricted (62 games: 27.9 MIN, 14.2 PTS, 2.1 REB, 40.3 FG%, 36.5 3P%, 85.2 FT%).
THE MICKAEL PIETRUSES
At times, Pietrus was a Godsend, even if he fell off a cliff in the playoffs. Aside from lingering knee injury and concussion effects, he spaced the floor (33.5 3P%) offensively and locked down opposing wings defensively. He’s repeatedly expressed interest in re-signing with the Celtics, but these guys are also intriguing options.
RICH MAN: COURTNEY LEE
- Status: Restricted ($4.4 million qualifying offer)
- 2011-12 averages (58 games): 30.3 MIN, 11.4 PTS, 2.7 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.2 STL, 43.3 FG%, 40.1 3P%, 82.6 FT%
- Why? The oft-traded, 26-year-old Lee is the younger, better version of Pietrus, committing to defense and shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point range.
- Why not? The Rockets have already extended Lee a qualifying offer, so the Celtics would have to offer a deal that’s too pricey for his services as a Pietrus type.
COMMON MAN: BRANDON RUSH
- Status: Restricted ($4.4 million qualifying offer)
- 2011-12 averages (65 games): 26.4 MIN, 9.8 PTS, 3.9 REB, 1.4 AST, 50.1 FG%, 45.2 3P%, 79.3 FT%
- Why? A decent defender, Rush really makes his bones on one exceptional aspect of his game: He ranked sixth in the league for 3-point percentage, just a tenth of a percentage point behind Ray Allen.
- Why not? The Warriors have reportedly vowed to match any offer Rush receives, so like Lee his asking price should be too high for a guy who commits as many turnovers as he dishes assists.
POOR MAN: CARLOS DELFINO
- Status: Unrestricted
- 2011-12 averages (54 games): 28.5 MIN, 9.0 PTS, 3.9 REB, 2.3 AST, 40.2 FG%, 36.0 3P%, 79.2 FT%
- Why? Contributing across the board, Delfino averaged 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 31 minutes a night from 2009-11, shooting 37 percent from 3 and defending well at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds.
- Why not? Cementing himself as a Bucks starter despite concussion and hernia injuries the past two seasons, he reportedly prefers to stay in Milwaukee after playing for his native Argentina in the Olympics.
HOMELESS MEN: Shannon Brown, unrestricted (59 games: 23.7 MIN, 11.0 PTS, 2.7 REB, 1.2 AST, 42.0 FG%, 36.2 3P%, 80.8 FT%); Rudy Fernandez, $3.2 million qualifier (31 games: 22.9 MIN, 8.6 PTS, 2.4 AST, 2.1 REB, 1.0 STL, 44.0 FG%, 32.8 3P%, 69.8 FT%); Daniel Green, $2.7 million qualifier (66 games: 23.1 MIN, 9.1 PTS, 3.5 REB, 1.3 AST, 44.2 FG%, 43.6 3P%, 79.0 FT%).
THE SASHA PAVLOVICS
In case of emergency, break glass. Or turn to one of these guys. Appearing in 45 games, Pavlovic made spot starts at both the two and three for the Celtics, knocking down the occasional triple and playing surprisingly spirited defense. The C’s would take that for the veteran minimum from any of these risks. The rest is gravy.
RICH MAN: TRACY McGRADY
- Status: Unrestricted
- 2011-12 averages (52 games): 16.1 MIN, 5.3 PTS, 3.0 REB, 2.1 AST, 43.7 FG%, 45.5 3P%, 67.5 FT%
- Why? McGrady’s former coach on the Magic, Doc Rivers praised the seven-time NBA All-Star for his acceptance of a lesser role to benefit a depleted Hawks bench.
- Why not? Even among a shallow group of Atlanta reserves, the injury-plagued McGrady rarely contributed and remained highly inconsistent.
COMMON MAN: JOSH HOWARD
- Status: Unrestricted
- 2011-12 averages (43 games): 23.0 MIN, 8.7 PTS, 3.7 REB, 1.2 AST, 39.9 FG%, 24.3 3P%, 77.3 FT%
- Why? When he’s been able to stay on the floor, Howard has been a relatively productive NBA player as a midrange scorer and 6-foot-7 rebounder, showing rare glimpses of his 2007 All-Star self.
- Why not? Since averaging 18 points on 45 percent shooting for three straight seasons in Dallas, Howard’s production has plummeted due to a series of devastating knee injuries (and possible weed smoking).
POOR MAN: DeSHAWN STEVENSON
- Status: Unrestricted
- 2011-12 averages (51 games): 18.8 MIN, 2.9 PTS, 2.0 REB, 28.5 FG%, 28.3 3P%, 56.3 FT%
- Why? Believe it or not, Stevenson once played tough, physical defense and shot 40 percent from 3-point range during a championship playoff run for the Mavericks, and he’ll no doubt be cheap this summer.
- Why not? Perhaps it was the ATM he installed in his kitchen, but Stevenson was abysmal from the field (41.3 TS%) just one year removed from the Mavericks’ title season.
HOMELESS MEN: Landry Fields, $2.7 million qualifier (66 games: 28.7 MIN, 8.8 PTS, 4.2 REB, 2.6 AST, 1.2 STL, 46.0 FG%, 25.6 3P%, 56.2 FT%); Gerald Green, unrestricted (31 games: 25.2 MIN, 12.9 PTS, 3.5 REB, 1.1 AST, 48.1 FG%, 39.1 3P%, 75.4 FT%); Michael Redd, unrestricted (51 games: 15.1 MIN, 8.2 PTS, 1.5 REB, 40.0 FG%, 31.8 3P%, 79.3 FT%).
THE MARQUIS DANIELSES
Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, like Daniels, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over anybody at the league minimum. (NOTE: Jodie Meeks might be an exception, but he’ll likely be due at least a $2.7 million qualifying offer in 2012-13). Thanks, but no thanks.
- Morris Almond (4 games: 16.8 MIN, 3.5 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.8 STL, 35.3 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 33.3 FT%)
- Alan Anderson (17 games: 27.1 MIN, 9.6 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 38.7 FG%, 39.3 3P%, 85.3 FT%)
- James Anderson (51 games: 11.8 MIN, 3.7 PTS, 1.5 REB, 37.9 FG%, 27.9 3P%, 75.0 FT%)
- Kelenna Azubuike (3 games: 6.0 MIN, 2.3 PTS, 37.5 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 0.0 FT%)
- Marco Belinelli (66 games: 29.8 MIN, 11.8 PTS, 2.6 REB, 1.5 AST, 41.7 FG%, 37.7 3P%, 78.3 FT%)
- Keith Bogans (5 games: 18.8 MIN, 4.2 PTS, 2.2 REB, 38.1 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 40.0 FT%)
- Mo Evans (24 games: 14.3 MIN, 4.9 PTS, 1.0 REB, 40.2 FG%, 37.8 3P%, 76.9 FT%)
- Alonzo Gee (63 games: 29.0 MIN, 10.6 PTS, 5.1 REB, 1.8 AST, X FG%, X 3P%, X FT%)
- Willie Green (53 games: 17.4 MIN, 7.6 PTS, 1.5 REB, 47.1 FG%, 44.2 3P%, 85.7 FT%)
- Cory Higgins (38 games: 11.1 MIN, 3.9 PTS, 32.5 FG%, 20.0 3P%, 70.0 FT%)
- Damion James (7 games: 24.3 MIN, 4.9 PTS, 4.7 REB, 1.0 STL, 1.0 BLK, 37.1 FG%, 66.7 FT%)
- Jason Kapono (27 games: 10.0 MIN, 2.0 PTS, 38.2 FG%, 29.6 3P%, 100.0 FT%)
- Cartier Martin (17 games: 23.0 MIN, 9.3 PTS, 3.4 REB, 44.0 FG%, 38.7 3P%, 57.9 FT%)
- Jodie Meeks (66 games: 24.9 MIN, 8.4 PTS, 2.4 REB, 40.9 FG%, 36.5 3P%, 90.6 FT%)
- C.J. Miles (56 games: 20.4 MIN, 9.1 PTS, 2.1 REB, 1.2 AST, 38.1 FG%, 30.7 FG%, 79.4 FT%)
- Anthony Parker (51 games: 25.1 MIN, 7.2 PTS, 2.7 REB, 2.4 AST, 43.3 FG%, 36.2 3P%, 62.5 FT%)
- Xavier Silas (2 games: 19.5 MIN, 5.5 PTS, 2.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 26.7 FG%, 16.7 3P%, 66.7 FT%)
- Bobby Simmons (28 games: 14.9 MIN, 2.9 PTS, 2.0 REB, 31.1 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 57.1 FT%)
- Jerry Stackhouse (30 games: 9.1 MIN, 3.6 PTS, 37.0 FG%, 34.2 3P%, 91.3 FT%)
- Von Wafer (33 games: 14.2 MIN, 5.9 PTS, 1.4 REB, 45.2 FG%, 35.9 3P%, 70.4 FT%)
- Terrence Williams (30 games: 18.3 MIN, 7.1 PTS, 3.4 REB, 2.2 AST, 42.9 FG%, 34.8 3P%, 58.7 FT%)
As you can see, there’s an abundance of shooting guards who could fill a number of roles for the Celtics. The first decision Ainge will have to make here is whether he’s comfortable with Rondo and Bradley as his undersized starting backcourt. Either way, he must find a legitimate scorer to come off the bench or share the starting role with Bradley. Next, the obvious play for depth is to re-sign Pietrus, who offers an inexpensive option to younger guys like Lee or Rush, so the triumvirate of Bradley, Allen and Pietrus certainly isn’t the worst-case scenario.
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