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Irish Coffee: How Celtics might manage minutes

07.31.13 at 9:05 am ET
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The Celtics still have one too many men on the roster, so a decision must be made.

Second-round pick Colton Iverson did them a favor by signing overseas for a season or two, allowing the C’s to maintain his rights while freeing a roster spot. And the writing is on the wall for Shavlik Randolph, who is due $1.1 million if he isn’t cut by Thursday and remains the lone non-guaranteed contract on the team.

Still, Shav proved worthy of a second look last season, producing 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in an average of 12.4 minutes. Plus, he has moves like Michael Jackson (see video, obviously). So, let’s take a look at how new Celtics coach Brad Stevens may manage his team’s minutes to figure out how they might keep Randolph around.

POINT GUARDS

Starter: Rajon Rondo (35-40 minutes)
Backup: Avery Bradley (5-10 minutes)
Third string: Phil Pressey (0-5 minutes)

This position is the most clearly defined on the Celtics this season. As long as Rondo returns to form and remains healthy, he’s sure to play somewhere between 35-40 minutes a night as he has for the previous four seasons.

Behind Rondo, Stevens has a logjam at the 2-guard spot, so he can find Bradley a handful of extra minutes here. While Bradley isn’t the greatest show-runner, he’s capable of handling the ball in a limited backup role.

Finally, asked at some point in last week’s podcast about almost every player on his roster, Stevens lit up the most upon hearing Pressey’s name. ‘€œPressey is a guy who can affect a game,” he said. “If a game is not really going your way, he can spark you. He can get inside the defense. He can make plays defensively. He can get his hands on balls. He is a cerebral point guard. I like his game. I think he does a lot of good things.”

The undrafted Missouri product’s summer league performance impressed the Celtics enough to earn a contract, but anything more than a few minutes a night — especially early in the season — is probably asking too much.

SHOOTING GUARDS

Starter: Bradley (20-25 minutes)
Backup: Courtney Lee (15-20 minutes)
Third string: MarShon Brooks (5-10 minutes)
Odd man out: Jordan Crawford (trade possibility)

Bradley pairs well with Rondo and should earn the majority of minutes here, but Stevens has his hands full.

After forming the pit bull tandem with Bradley in Rondo’s absence, Lee averaged 25 minutes last season, but his already inconsistent production trailed off late in the year, so expect him to be limited to 20 minutes a night.

Here comes the hard part. Brooks and Crawford essentially offer the same skill-set as explosive scorers but shaky defenders off the bench. Both are 24 years old playing on potentially expiring contracts, but the absentminded Crawford is due an extra million this season, so Danny Ainge would surely love to find a taker for him.

WINGS

Starter: Jeff Green (30-35 minutes)
Backup: Gerald Wallace (15-20 minutes)
Third string: Keith Bogans (0-5 minutes)

Not only did Green earn a starter’s role, particularly after the Paul Pierce trade, but he proved he could handle major minutes. After the All-Star break, Green averaged 17.3 points in 33.5 minutes. That’s pretty good.

Meanwhile, Wallace fell off a cliff on the Nets, averaging just 2.3 points in 25.0 minutes this past April. He remains the roster’s biggest question mark, but the C’s must play him in order to showcase any potential trade value. It’s hard to fathom anyone due $30.3 million over three seasons playing fewer than 20 minutes, but that’s where he stands until proving otherwise, even if slashing his time from 30-plus minutes a night could prove volatile.

As for Bogans, his veteran presence as a tough defender and corner 3-point specialist has value, particularly in short bursts, but there’s not much point in handing a 33-year-old many minutes during a rebuilding phase.

BIGS

Starters: Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk (25-30 minutes)
Backups: Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries (20-25 minutes)
Third string: Green, Wallace and Vitor Faverani (0-5 minutes)
Odd men out: Fab Melo (D-League), Shavlik Randolph (roster casualty)

Count me in the camp that wants to see Sullinger and Olynyk paired together and paired together often, so why not start the young tandem? After all, the Celtics are building for the future, and these two should be a big part of that. Their games complement each other perfectly as an inside-out combination, particularly later in the season when Sullinger has regained his health and Olynyk has some NBA experience under his belt. Why the hell not?

Bass and Humphries similarly complement each other well, since the former has become more of a mid-range shooter in Boston and the latter can’t buy a bucket outside 3 feet. And they’ll both grab rebounds, which could help remedy something the Celtics sorely lacked under the Doc Rivers regime.

Stevens could also find a few extra minutes for either Green or Wallace at the 4, and depending on Faverani’s NBA readiness, the Celtics have plenty of big bodies to fill any minutes created by foul trouble or injury issues.

Melo remains on the roster, but as a major project who will likely see most of his minutes on the Red Claws. As you can see, though, the Faverani signing probably signals the end for Randolph unless Ainge is confident he can ship Crawford, Brooks or even Melo out for cash or a second-round pick between now and training camp.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, NBA, Rajon Rondo
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