Greg Stiemsma may have packed his bags, but the worst-kept secret in Boston is this: Stiemsma is coming back to the Boston Celtics for the 2012-13 season. You can bank on it, because Stiemsma won’t break the bank to bring him back. For a cool mil the Celtics can retain the services of a blue-collar glue-guy who comes into games to collect fouls and alter shots. That was his gig last season, when Stiemsma came from nowhere to make his mark on the depleted Celtic rotation, and you can expect to see more of the same in the very near future. Sure, Ainge could sign more production in the free agent market but that’s going to cost him more bucks to pull off. Stiemsma knows his role, knows his limitations, and is going to give you everything he’s got every single night. A million dollar payday? That’s good news for Stiemsma while making good fiscal sense for the Celtics, who need to focus on signing Jeff Green for the long haul.
Want to know something else? I think there’s more to Stiemsma than just an athletic goober who can swat shots. I think Doc Rivers can work to refine Stiemsma’s offensive game to the point that it’s borderline respectable. That’s not a knock on Stiemsma’s 2.9 PPG average. Quite the contrary – I think he’s got it in him to double that production, as well as double his rebounding total of 3.2 RPG. How so? Doc’s tutelage, combined with learning to stay out of foul trouble. If Stiemsma works hard and listens intently, he has a real chance to become an effective part of the rotation this season. Not bad for a player who went undrafted and who has bounced all over the globe trying to break his way into the NBA.
Oh, and being named to the U.S. select roster certainly can’t hurt his development, provided he’s healthy enough to play. Stiemsma is still in a walking boot while trying to recover from plantar fasciitis. That injury is hard enough to recover from if you’re an average-sized individual, let alone being someone who stands nearly 7-feet tall.
So I’m high on my main man from Wisconsin. And Danny Ainge will look darn silly if he doesn’t double down on Stiemsma and pick up the option on his contract.