One Final Piece to Add to the Celtics’ Puzzle for Next Season


Aug 9, 2009

One Final Piece to Add to the Celtics' Puzzle for Next Season What were, in no particular order, the Celtics’ biggest holes during the 2008-09 season?

1. A backup big man
Face it, C’s fans. When Kevin Garnett went down in February, the season was over. Glen Davis, no doubt, was an admirable fill-in. He developed a reliable outside jump shot, eventually pushing the LSU alum to nearly 16 points a game in a breakout playoff stint.

The problem? Davis is just 6-foot-9, shows little initiative on the boards, managing just 4.0 a game on the season, and is a serious downgrade from KG on defense.

Worse, when Baby came off the court, some combination of Brian Scalabrine and Mikki Moore was left to spell him. Scals has heart and good range but gets outmuscled by elite big men, and Mikki was too busy fouling himself out of games to ever prove his worth as a defender.

The C’s, in other words, headed into the offseason in need of another power forward/center.

2. A backup for Paul Pierce
The captain averaged 40 minutes a game through the playoffs, including 45 per against Chicago. That’s far too many minutes on an 11-year vet’s knees, and it showed. He had just three points in Game 2 of the following series against Orlando and was off in the final two games as well, scoring 17 and 16 points, on 6-of-14 and (cover your eyes) 4-of-13 shooting.

No doubt, The Truth has a couple of great years left — but he needs more rest.

3. A backup ball handler
Had the Green advanced to the Finals and again bested the Lakers, there’s no doubt who would have won the MVP — Rajon Rondo. The kid put up 16.9 points, 9.8 assists, 9.7 rebounds and 2.5 steals a game throughout the postseason.

Even more telling: When Rondo was on the court, the Celtics were plus-3.7 points per game for the playoffs — when he was riding the pine, they were minus-16.2.

Why? Because no one on the second unit could run the offense. Eddie House is a 3-point shooter, not a point guard. Gabe Pruitt’s still too raw. Tony Allen isn’t a reliable ball-handler. Stephon Marbury is a scorer, not a facilitator — and it doesn’t help that he’s gone off the deep end, either. And Pierce was already on the court too often to also be counted on for point duties.

Boston brass did draft Lester Hudson, but the rook broke a finger during summer ball, had surgery and has yet to sign a contract. And bottom line, the guy’s an unknown commodity. He led the nation in scoring but did it at UT-Martin against subpar competition. And sure, he’s the first player in men’s Division-I ball to record a quadruple-double, but it came against Div. II laughingstock Central Baptist College.

Relying on Hudson to consistently run the second unit as a rookie? Terrible idea.


The point is that Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers went into the offseason well aware that the above holes needed filling.

They shored up the deficiencies in the paint — and then some — acquiring 6-foot-9 forward Shelden Williams (a guy who’s been a bit of a bust, but still possesses upside potential), re-signing Big Baby (it would seem) and, the big move, signing Rasheed Wallace.

In other words, Boston is keeping what it had in the playoffs last year, but the team is dumping Moore and adding KG back from injury, ’Sheed and Williams. Call Wallace a crybaby and Williams overrated, but it’s clear that the C’s have made serious upgrades in the paint.

Then Doc/Danny gave Pierce his backup, agreeing to a deal — it’s still unclear if it’ll be a sign-and-trade with Indiana, or a straight-up signing — with veteran swingman Marquis Daniels.

The 6-foot-6 vet put up almost 14 points and five boards in 31 minutes a game for the Pacers last season. That’ll no doubt be good enough to give Pierce some well-deserved time on the bench.

Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens, meanwhile, are a year older and have some NBA experience under their belts. Insurance at the swing position is always a plus.

Where Ainge and Co. have failed, however, is in landing a backup to Rondo, who needs one desperately — both to rest his sometimes balky ankles and his ever-growing ego. They re-signed House (again, not a point guard) but passed on doing the same with Marbury and ended the Pruitt experiment.

By my count, the C’s still have one roster spot open (that assumes Baby, Williams, Hudson and Daniels are signed, and that Giddens is shipped back to the D-League), and the last piece to the championship puzzle is, no doubt, a point man.

House isn't the answer; Hudson isn't, either, at least not yet.

My vote is for Anthony Carter, who spent the past three seasons playing second fiddle with the Nuggets. At 33 years old, he's capable of giving 20-25 solid minutes a game, generally keeps turnovers to a minimum, passes first and shoots second. He also has enough athletic range to spread the defense for Eddie and 'Sheed and has playoff experience from his days with San Antonio and Denver.

Best, he'll come on the cheap for a one-year contract, giving the C's the necessary breathing room for wheeling and dealing in the highly anticipated 2010 free-agency season.

Pick up another point guard, and the Celts will have both filled out the roster and filled in their holes.

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