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2012-13 Celtics free agent options at shooting guard

Two-thirds of the Celtics [1] roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals [2] in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett [3] to Keyon Dooling [4] 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 [5]).

The Celtics began last season with Ray Allen [6] and a prayer at the two. Avery Bradley [7] 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 [8] and fill the 3-point specialist role already played by Mike Miller [9], Shane Battier [10], Mario Chalmers [11] and James Jones [12], as one rumor suggests [13].

While Dooling, Mickael Pietrus [14], Sasha Pavlovic [15] and Marquis Daniels [16] 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 [17], $16.8M; Rajon Rondo [18], $11.0M; Bradley, $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson [19], $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Allen, Pietrus, Dooling, Jeff Green [20], Brandon Bass [21], Chris Wilcox [22], Greg Stiemsma [23] and Ryan Hollins [24], 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 [25]

COMMON MAN: O.J. MAYO

POOR MAN: LOUIS WILLIAMS

HOMELESS MEN: Jamal Crawford [31], $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 [32], 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 [33]

COMMON MAN: BRANDON RUSH

POOR MAN: CARLOS DELFINO

HOMELESS MEN: Shannon Brown [35], 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 [36]

COMMON MAN: JOSH HOWARD [38]

POOR MAN: DeSHAWN STEVENSON [40]

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 [42], 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 [43], 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.

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.