This afternoon the Celtics signed a seven foot center and waived a 6’1” guard. In doing so they eased the logjam at guard while creating one at center. Darco Milicic was a bust as the second pick in one of the most loaded drafts in NBA history. However to get a 27-year-old second or third team backup center for the veteran minimum is value buy. The outgoing Keyon Dooling was a quality locker room presence whose on-the-court game unfortunately was less impressive.
Dateline: September 21, 2012––9 days until the start of training camp!
The emotions of the non-guaranteed contract players had to be on a rollercoaster ride this P.M. This morning they were fighting over two remaining roster slots; by noon that had dropped to one, and by the 5 o’clock news it was back to two. Since the most likely winners of that competition were Dionte Christmas (SG/PG) and Kris Joseph (SF/SG), it had to come as a welcome shift as the moves added a center and dropped a point guard. The biggest beneficiary has to be Christmas who has gone from overseas vagabond to third string point guard for a celebrated NBA franchise in the course of three months.
The most likely player to be shoved down on the depth chart is Jason Collins. On the other hand you might just say that two historical under-performers just got a jolt of motivation. If I had to guess I’d say that the one who shows a newfound zest for rebounding will earn the most playing time. This signing also eases any rush to squeeze production from the raw rookie Fab Melo. Now if he draws minutes of playing time, it will be because he did it the old fashioned way—he earned them.
The incoming Darco has been saddled with the improbable expectations of being picked between LeBron and Wade in 2003. Anything short of All-Star was going to make him a boo magnet, and the then 17-year-old hasn’t even made a case to be a starter in his 10 year career. Still he is about the same age now as Greg Stiemsma, the pleasant surprise rookie from last season that I think most of us hoped would come back. The biggest knocks on Darco, other than not being a star, has been his propensity for shooting while doing so inefficiently, and for moping around the court in a funk. I suspect the former issue will be suppressed effectively by Doc and the veterans; while alternate outlets are provided by Rondo and the leftovers of a much more robust offense. The second will likely not be a problem more than once (Doc, Garnett, and the door—not necessarily in that order).
I think we just saw the mid-season move a lot of us were expecting (an expendable back court piece for help in the front court) except it came in September. If there is a down side, it is probably that until Avery Bradley comes back from rehabbing his shoulders, Dionte is the fourth guard. Now Rondo, Lee, and Terry are perfectly capable of divvying up the 96 minutes; but you can bet that Christmas will get some run to be prepared for that inevitable ankle twist or eye poke. There is also the prospect of going big (rather than small) and giving Joseph, Green or Pierce some run at SG—something I already saw as possible against Indiana, OKC, or the Nets.
This is a perfect setup for repeating a longstanding Celtics tradition, reclaiming an underperforming player and placing him in a niche exploit his strengths. Only time will tell whether this will work as well as Dennis Johnson, Robert Parrish, or Bill Walton. Heck, probably one tenth as well would be considered a resounding success.
Boston, and all points beyond