With the days until training camp quickly thinning,
first-year players Dionte Christmas, Jamar Smith and Kris Joseph reportedly planned
to be civil to each other off the court, but brutally competitive on it.
Christmas, Smith and Joseph looked to be vying for the 15th
and final roster spot on the Celtics, and not even a friendship borne of a
summer of workouts could lessen their desires for an NBA job. So if each young
player viewed the others as opponents, then all three must have considered
Keyon Dooling to be public enemy No. 1.
Dooling, a 12-year veteran, created some room in the
Celtics' crowded backcourt rotation when he retired Thursday at the age of 32.
Holding a fully guaranteed deal for the veteran's minimum salary and the
respect of every holdover in the locker room from last season's team, Dooling
was poised to have the inside track for the next reserve guard spot behind
Jason Terry and either Courtney Lee or Avery Bradley, once the latter is
Now, at least one of the three guards on non- or partially
guaranteed contracts may stand a better shot at making the NBA roster out of
camp. Smith has the advantage of having been with the Celtics organization last
season, sort of, having played 48 games with their D-League affiliate in Maine.
Christmas has the largest portion of guaranteed money on his contract, which
means the Celtics would have to eat the most money by leaving him off their final
roster. Joseph was the Celtics' second-round pick this year.
NBA teams are allowed, but not required, to carry 15 players
each. The addition of Darko Milicic this week gave the Celtics 14 players on
guaranteed contracts, and Dooling's retirement does not immediately lessen that
number since, again, his contract is fully guaranteed. His retirement may open
up a roster spot, however, so Christmas, Smith and Joseph would be competing
for two spots rather than one.
That does not mean two of the three will be Celtics next
season. Not to belabor the point here, but the Celtics do not need to carry a
full 15-man roster — and unless they work out some kind of deal with Dooling,
the Celtics still need to pay him.
With Dooling around, Christmas, Smith and Joseph stood tough odds to make the team. With Dooling out of the
picture, those odds stay tough, but slightly less so.
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