Irish Coffee: Where Celtics roster stands after Shavlik Randolph signing
|03.01.13 at 1:57 pm ET|
The Celtics signed former Duke big man Shavlik Randolph to a 10-day contract on Friday. The 6-foot-10, 236-pounder is the C’s third Chinese Basketball Association import in the past two weeks.
Following the signings of CBA stars Terrence Williams and D.J. White, Randolph’s deal effectively fills the Celtics roster at 15. All three players were signed to 10-day contracts, and Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported Williams will sign for the remainder of the season and on a non-guaranteed deal in 2013-14.
This is what the Celtics must resort to after season-ending injuries to Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa. They’ll sign players off the scrap heap for 10 days at a time until someone better comes along, which they probably won’t. Meanwhile, they’ll kick the tires on the Lou Amundsons of the world. (After narrowing his list to the Heat, Knicks, Bulls and Celtics, Amundson “committed to Chicago,” his agent Mark Bartelstein said.)
“We’re just going to wait,” said Rivers, who doesn’t expect anybody of importance to become available on Friday’s buyout deadline. “That’s the only thing you have now. Once the buyout season is over, you basically just have overseas guys and free agents who are just out there, and usually they’re out there for a reason.”
Not exactly rolling out the red carpet for the C’s three newest Chinese imports, huh? Anyhow, let’s take a look at where the Celtics roster stands now that it’s full for really the first time all season.
The Celtics have four proven NBA guards, so that’s a start. None of them are named Rajon Rondo, of course, but Bradley and Lee form a ferocious defensive tandem to start each half, Terry provides veteran stability in his Sixth Man role and the newly acquired Crawford replaces Barbosa’s scoring punch. Hopefully.
“We’re hoping that he becomes the wild card — a Barbosa in a lot of ways,” Rivers said of Crawford. “When he came in, you knew what he was going to do. We want to do that with Jordan. I think Jordan, right now, his conscience is too good. You can see him coming in, trying to be a ball mover, and that’s not really what he’s been and I don’t really want him to be that. I want him to be an aggressive scorer.”
The Williams addition surprisingly gives the Celtics another point guard option. His passing comes as a surprise to just about everyone, including Rivers. His assist rate of 29.11 (perhoopdata.com) ranks between Goran Dragic and Jeremy Lin. Not too shabby. The Celtics would also take his current 36-minute averages of 10.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists if they could get them for the remainder of the season.
“The first couple games he played terrific,” Rivers said of Williams. “The Portland game he tried to do too much. He was thinking way too much scoring instead of being a point guard. I think he’s a point guard. I didn’t know that before I’d heard that he could play a point guard, but I actually think he is a point guard. And I think he can be that.
“He was terrific [against the Suns]. I told him after the Portland game: ‘You’ve got to be more consistent,’ because he went back to trying to score, and that’s not what he is. He’s not a scorer. He’s a ballplayer.”
As long as Pierce’s pinched nerve or the wear and tear of 40,000 career minutes doesn’t prevent further problems, the 3 spot seems to be the least of the Celtics problems. Expect Green to play more minutes down the stretch in hopes of getting Pierce some rest over the final seven weeks of the regular season.
“Paul and KG [Kevin Garnett] have been incredibly durable throughout their entire careers,’ Celtics president Danny Ainge told The Big Show on Thursday afternoon. ‘They take good care of themselves, but I do think that they need rest. If we have any chance of winning playoff basketball games, we need those guys fresh, healthy.”
Beyond Garnett and Bass, who knows what the Celtics will get from this frontcourt corps?
Since returning from heart surgery last season and a subsequent thumb injury this winter, Wilcox has been wildly inconsistent. Even after Sullinger’s injury, his minutes have ranged from four to 21 on any given night. He totaled 22 points and 17 rebounds in 40 minutes during victories against the Lakers and Suns this month, and he produced four points and three rebounds in 37 minutes over his past two games. You just never know.
The additions of White and Randolph at least offer an insurance policy. White averaged 21.6 points (56.5 FG%, 68.0 FT%), 9.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for the Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese Basketball Association. He produced 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per 36 minutes over 58 games last season in the NBA, albeit for the Bobcats. More importantly, he’s a 6-foot-9, 251-pound big with a firm understanding of his role.
“Just come in, defend and rebound,” he said. “That’s what I think they’re looking for, so I just want to come in and play hard and pick my spots on the offensive end, but I think I want to concentrate on defense and rebounding.”
As for Randolph, once dubbed the biggest recruit bust of the 2000s, his numbers for the CBA’s Foshan Lions are something you might see in a video game: 32.7 points (52.8 FG%, 36.0 3P%, 66.5 FT%), 14.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.4 assists and 1.0 blocks in 36.8 minutes a night. But his statistics in just 95 games over five NBA seasons (8.2 MIN, 2.4 PTS, 2.4 REB) aren’t even Darko Milicician. Be wary of stats against CBA competition. Rivers is.
“I don’t watch much of that,” said the Celtics coach, “because it’s not against what I want to see anyway.”
That’s not to say the three American guys from China (I smell a sitcom) won’t contribute down the stretch. Just because they once played themselves out of the NBA doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t reinvent themselves.
“I think they go find themselves in a lot of ways,” said Rivers. “They’re confidence rises, because they become the star, and I think for a lot of the guys it’s probably needed for them to find themselves. I’m sure the travel’s not the same and everything else; the living conditions aren’t the same. … If you go over there or anywhere else and come back here, you want to stay here, and I think it would instill some hunger. It should.”
And hunger isn’t such a bad thing for a Celtics roster beaten down by injury after injury. Perhaps the new blood will invigorate these old Celtics as much as their veteran leadership will guide the new additions.
“Injuries always hurt a good team, especially missing their leader,” said White, “but I think the veterans have done a good job, and we’ve got 25 games left, so hopefully we can come together and string a couple wins together.”
Then again, integrating young players like Crawford (24 years old), Williams (25), White (26) and Randolph (29) isn’t as easy as inserting veterans like the P.J. Browns and Michael Finleys of years past.
“Honestly, it’s much easier with older veterans, because you know exactly who they are, and they’re not trying to be anything else but that,” said Rivers. “They just want to kind of fit in, but young guys tend to want to show you that they belong and not only just belong but be something. So, it’s a little tougher.”
Yet another wrinkle to the 2012-13 NBA season for Rivers, who welcomes four new faces into a locker room that has lost its best player and his backup to torn ACLs as well as its youngest player to a back injury. Somehow, if the Celtics continue to climb the standings — as Rivers marches ever closer to Tommy Heinsohn for second on the franchise’s winningest coaches list — a season that once seemed destined for disappointment could result in his fair share of Coach of the Year votes, especially if he gets anything out of the team’s newest additions.
“It’s not like you could predict the stuff,” said Rivers before Thursday’s practice. “Things have just kind of been thrown at you, but it’s been good. Our guys are good. I’ve got a good group of guys that are willing to adjust. If you change the lineups, guys just kind of go with the flow here, and that’s been a good thing.”
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