10 options for Celtics to fill Rajon Rondo’s void
|01.28.13 at 12:44 pm ET|
In the wake of Rajon Rondo‘s season-ending right ACL tear, the Celtics surely will be looking to add depth behind Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa in the backcourt as soon as possible.
In all likelihood, that group offers the best four options for C’s president Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers to fill the void left by Rondo’s injury, and while nobody will replace the four-time All-Star’s impact, there are plenty of available players who could eat minutes in his absence. Here are 10 options.
NBA FREE AGENTS
Keyon Dooling: After abruptly retiring this past fall and accepting a player development role within the Celtics organization, Dooling told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn he’d consider a comeback. This route probably makes the most sense, considering Dooling’s experience in the C’s system and his influence on the locker room. If he plays himself into NBA shape, his manic defense and 3-point shooting could also be useful weapons at the end of the bench.
Jonny Flynn: After a disappointing NBA career, the No. 6 overall pick in 2009 now plays for the Melbourne Tigers in the Australian National Basketball League. His contract reportedly includes a clause that allows him to return stateside should an NBA team come calling. Flynn’s averages of 5.2 points and 3.8 assists in 29 games for the Rockets and Blazers last season have translated into 16.8 points and 6.0 assists in the mediocre NBL.
Jeremy Pargo: The Cavaliers traded D.J. Kennedy for Pargo and a second-round pick, but they dropped the 26-year-old Gonzaga product after 25 games. He averaged 7.8 points and 2.6 assists in 17.9 minutes for Cleveland.
NBA TRADE DEADLINE
Kyle Lowry or Jose Calderon: The former “has not made many friends in his new surroundings,” according to CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, and the latter seemingly has been on the trade block every year this decade. Both players have attractive deals, as Calderon’s $10.6 million contract expires after this season and Lowry is playing the penultimate season of a four-year, $23.5 million contract. And both players could help the Celtics win games this season, but how much are they willing to give up for a stopgap that won’t make them a title contender?
Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea: Since Ricky Rubio‘s return from his own ACL injury, the Timberwolves have a plethora of point guards with Ridnour and Barea also in the backcourt. Both guys are averaging around 12 points and four assists while making around $4 million this season and next (Barea is signed through 2014-15).
NBA DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE
The top five available point guards in the D-League, according to development league guru Kevin Scheitrum:
Delonte West: The intrigue here is obvious. West has played under Rivers twice, and he’s a tough combo guard with playoff experience who averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 assists per 36 minutes during his last NBA stint. That’s where things get hairy, considering he was suspended twice by the Mavericks for detrimental conduct and subsequently waived before the season even started this past October. The Celtics had legitimate concerns after the 2010-11 season about bringing back a guy whose instability has been well documented, so they’d have to weigh those same concerns before adding the recently signed Texas Legend guard.
Chris Wright: Injuries derailed the 2007 McDonald’s All-American’s Georgetown career, but the 6-foot-1 Wright has emerged as perhaps the D-League’s best pure point guard. He’s averaging 14.8 points (43.2 FG%, 37.9 3P%, 74.7 FT%), 7.4 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in 36.6 minutes over 23 games for the Iowa Energy.
Donald Sloan: After graduating from Texas A&M in 2010, Sloan has bounced between the D-League and NBA on a series of non-guaranteed contracts over the past four years. While he played sparingly for the Hornets on a 10-day deal earlier this month, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 4.1 points and 1.9 assists in 12.9 minutes over 20 games for the Cavaliers in the first two months of this season. He’s averaging 22.0 points (50.6 FG%, 38.5 3P%, 80.6 FT%), 6.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals in 36.2 minutes over five games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Courtney Fortson: An undersized 5-foot-11, 185-pound athletic freak, Fortson left the University of Arkansas early and didn’t get drafted until the fourth round of the 2011 D-League draft. Since then, he’s had two unspectacular brief NBA stints but currently averages 19.2 points (41.4 FG%, 40.0 3P%, 77.3 FT%), 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 39.2 minutes a night over 23 games for the L.A. Defenders.
Andre Barrett: A journeyman approaching 31 years old, Barrett has been playing in the C’s own backyard on the Maine Red Claws since the 76ers signed Shelvin Mack off the roster. Another undersized guy at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, he’s averaging 8.3 points (31.1 FG%, 16.7 3P%, 82.6 FT%), 11.3 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 33.4 minutes over seven games for the Red Claws this month.