|Celtics’ free agent options at backup point guard||07.15.11 at 6:21 pm ET|
We’re two weeks into the NBA lockout, but that doesn’t mean we can’t examine which free agents will be available to the Celtics for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once commissioner David Stern and players association executive director Billy Hunter hash out their differences. We have already profiled the C’s biggest needs — at center and shooting guard — so we move to a less pressing but critical position: Backup Point Guards.
The Celtics started and finished the 2010-11 season with three additional players capable of playing the point guard position behind All-Star starter Rajon Rondo on the 15-man roster: Delonte West, Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson (before trade) and Carlos Arroyo (after trade). Only Rondo and Bradley remain, so it stands to reason that the Celtics will sign at least one more floor general.
The C’s targets depend on how confident they are in Bradley and how cheaply they can find a reliable backup (or third-string). As we’ve noted before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2 million; Paul Pierce, $15.33 million; Ray Allen, $10 million; Rajon Rondo, $10 million; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23 million; Avery Bradley, $1.53 million), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.
Signed through 2014-15, Rondo has cemented himself as the franchise’s foundation, and Bradley — under their control until his restricted free agency in 2014-15 — is slotted as the backup of the future. As a result, the C’s ideally would seek a veteran pure point guard and/or a capable combo guard who wouldn’t completely destroy their chances should Rondo’s injury issues persist and Bradley prove ill-prepared for big minutes. Arroyo and West fit those descriptions, but one might be too expensive and the other could sign overseas during the lockout.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at backup point guard, separating the current free agent players into five categories ‘¦
This past season, when Charles Oakley was hired by the Bobcats as an assistant coach in January, Celtics guard Ray Allen openly wondered why it took so long for a team to give Oakley a chance to mentor younger players in the NBA. Now, we might know why, and Allen’s teammate Jermaine O’Neal might have to answer for it.
A group of Las Vegas security officers are countersuing Oakley, seeking damages of at least $20,000 for a May 2010 incident — during which Jermaine O’Neal was reportedly present — that they claim was the third of a series of assaults by Oakley on Vegas casino employees since 2005, according to business journal Vegas Inc.
Oakley had sued them along with the Aria hotel and casino on May 12, claiming the officers physically attacked him following an argument at the hotel-casino’s Liquid pool. Oakley missed the final 13 games of the season with back problems he claimed stem from this incident, and the Bobcats have since hired assistant coach Rob Werdann as a potential replacement should Oakley not be able to return to the bench next season.
Here’s the passage from the Vegas Inc. website that indicates the current starting Celtics center was present when the incident went down:
|Nate Robinson loves locked out sports||07.12.11 at 2:16 pm ET|
Quite an offseason for former Celtics guard Nate Robinson. First, he was arrested for urinating on a bookstore in a New York City suburb. Now, after joining hundreds of players in the unemployment line due to the NBA lockout, the former University of Washington two-sport athlete is hoping to spend his summer trying out for the NFL. Here’s what the 5-foot-9 Robinson told SLAM Magazine:
“I might go play football. Do something that nobody’s tried to do. If I can, I would love to play football a little bit. I’ve been doing a little bit of training. Why wouldn’t you want to have an NBA player that can play football try out? That’s a lot of publicity for your organization.”
There’s one little problem: The NFL is locked out, too. Kinda makes you realize why Robinson decided to pull up for 3-pointers when he was on a 1-on-4 fast break. It’s fairly safe to assume Nate Robinson is the best two-sport locked out athlete in history.
|Would locked out Celtics consider signing overseas?||07.08.11 at 5:16 pm ET|
Almost 50 years after The Beatles led The British Invasion of rock bands into the popular culture in the United States, none of the self-proclaimed Heatles have committed to participate in what increasingly appears to be an invasion of NBA players into basketball leagues overseas.
But that’s not to say none of the NBA’s superstars aren’t (triple negative!) considering overseas options while the league’s owners have locked out the players with the absence of a collective bargaining agreement. A different wrinkle in this Eurasian Invasion pops up almost every day.
Nets point guard Deron Williams is leading the charge of superstars attempting to create leverage for the players, as he reportedly agreed in principal to a one-year, $5 million deal with Turkey-based (get it?) Besiktas should the NBA’s lockout last through the summer. Upstart Canadian National Basketball League has already extended invites to the likes of Dirk Nowitzi and LeBron James. Imports like Zaza Pachulia, Andrei Kirilenko, Marco Belinelli, Patrick Mills and Carlos Delfino are all considering returning overseas. Free agent veterans like Sonny Weems and undrafted free agents like David Lighty have already agreed to deals that will keep them in Europe even if there is a 2011-12 NBA season. And Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has discussed the possibility of leading a group of players represented by his agent, Rob Pelinka, on an exhibition tour of China.
It’s hard to believe that Nenad Krstic started this trend, snubbing the Celtics and other free-agent center pursuers to sign with CSKA Moscow for two years and $9.8 million. With new rumors emerging every day, are the Celtics in danger of losing any other members of the 2010-11 roster overseas?
Let’s examine the potential for Celtics to explore options abroad …
|Austin Rivers dunks twice on Rasheed Wallace||at 3:23 pm ET|
Duke University’s No. 1 basketball recruit and son of Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers put on a show in his debut at the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am (a.k.a. “The Rucker of the South”), dunking not once but twice on former Celtic Rasheed Wallace — thanks to some vintage Sheed defense (or lack thereof).
|Mickael Pietrus: ‘Celtics are interested in me’||07.07.11 at 10:10 am ET|
Four months after the Celtics could have used his services — and possibly avoided trading Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green — Suns swingman Mickael Pietrus is claiming the C’s are interested in him, according to French newspaper L’Ãquipe (via HoopsHype).
Phoenix didn’t use me, but that’s their problem. I’m going to continue working. The only thing I care about is winning a title. … A lot of teams are interested in me, like the Lakers or the Celtics. This came from the best player in the world: Kobe Bryant. He told me two months ago that he would like to see me with the Lakers.
It’s unclear whether the curiosity coming from Boston is new or just an aftereffect from the rumors that circled around Pietrus and fellow Suns swingmen Grant Hill and Jared Dudley before this past NBA trade deadline.
|Report: Von Wafer wouldn’t rule out Celtics return||07.06.11 at 1:29 pm ET|
In order to break his streak of starting with a new team each time he enters an NBA training camp, Von Wafer is reportedly opening to returning to the Celtics if and when the 2011-12 season begins, according to a report by ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg. Here’s what Wafer’s agent, Terrance Doyle, told Forsberg:
“Von would love to be back. He’s never gotten that opportunity to go back with a team.”
But do the Celtics want Wafer back? Especially considering they gave Wafer’s No. 12 to their first-round pick (Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson) and drafted a shooting guard with their No. 55 pick (Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore) in addition to signing another undrafted guard (Pittsburgh’s Gilbert Brown). Not to mention the number of quality shooting guards expected to be available via free agency — including Delonte West.
In just 9.5 minutes per over 58 games — no thanks in part to a calf injury — Wafer averaged 3.2 points on 42.1 percent shooting from the field (26.9 from 3-point range). Unless you count his preseason brawl with West, Wafer didn’t exactly provide the firepower off the bench the Celtics had hoped from a guy who scored 9.7 points on 44.7 percent shooting (39.0 from 3) during his 2008-09 campaign in a Rockets uniform.
While Wafer’s defensive deficiency improved under the tutelage of Doc Rivers & Co., he only reached double-digit scoring just six times during the season. Two of those performances came in the final two games of the regular season, when the starters rested, and two more came in 15-point blowouts. Chances are the Celtics could find somebody to provide better punch on both ends of the floor — even at the bottom of the salary barrel.
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