The Celtics extended a $1.05 million dollar qualifying offer to Greg Stiemsma yesterday, and that was hardly a surprise. That puts the C’s in the driver’s seat for Stiemsma’s services, and the move basically locks up Stiemsma for the upcoming season.
So, what do we get?
Continuity, for one thing. We know that Kevin Garnett is change-averse, and that trust is a huge part of his modus operandi. Stiemsma’s return works on both of those fronts. And while Garnett has promised to ride off into the sunset when his time with the Celtics is done, you can tell that he really enjoys helping his teammates improve on the court. Clearly, he’s something of a big man coach at heart, and Stiemsma smartly listened to KG last season. Having Stiemsma back in Boston should continue his education, which, one would think, will lead to a markedly improved player.
The C’s get a player who can run the court and alter shots, something that will continue to be valued by head coach Doc Rivers. If Stiemsma can stay out of foul trouble and on the court, one would think his minutes would actually increase as Rivers attempts to further curtail Garnett’s minutes. The key for Stiemsma will be remaining aggressive while committing fewer fouls. Whether he can find that balance remains to be seen.
Given the current dearth of Celtics big men, locking in Stiemsma is crucial. With Ainge focusing dollars on players like Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, etc., there will be little left to spend on free agents from other teams. And with this free agent crop being less than stellar, Ainge will need to rebuild from within. Stiemsma gives Ainge a serviceable center at a reasonable price, and that may be the most appealing aspect of bringing back the Wisconsin native.