Draft Pick Lester Hudson A Good Fit For Celtics’ Final Roster Spot


September 12, 2009

The Celtics' work this summer is almost complete.

They began this offseason with nine players on their roster for the 2009-10 season; they now have fifteen. They've retained Eddie House and Glen Davis; they've used every exception in the book to circumvent the salary cap and sign Rasheed Wallace, Shelden Williams and finally Marquis Daniels; and on draft night this summer, the C's drafted Lester Hudson with the No. 58 overall pick.

They're almost good to go. But while 15 players appear to be Boston-bound this winter, only 14 of them are technically under contract. That's bound to raise some questions.

The odd man out at the moment is Hudson, whom the Celtics drafted out of the University of Tennessee-Martin on June 25, 2009. Hudson was the nation's second-leading scorer in college basketball last season, and he has the potential to be a half-decent backup point guard in the NBA. But so far, the Celtics have taken no steps toward signing their one and only draft pick.

Hudson wants to be a Celtic, and he's even gone so far as to do charity work with his "teammates" this offseason. But as of yet, the 25-year-old guard is nothing but an unsigned draft pick.

Naturally, the question is: If not Hudson, then who does take the final spot on the Celtics' 15-man roster?

The logical answer is a point guard. Unless Doc Rivers wants to tear shooting guard Eddie House or small forward Marquis Daniels away from his natural position, he'd better ask his front office for another guy that can play the point. And Danny Ainge, the general manager engineering this Celtics team, had better listen.

Hudson can play the point. No doubt about that. But so can a lot of other guys that are still sitting on the open market with the preseason just a month away.

WEEI.com reported Friday that the Celtics held a workout on Thursday at their training facility in Waltham, reportedly to get a closer look at a few of the late stragglers on the free agent market. Tyronn Lue, Dan Dickau and Mike Taylor were among the names present.

Lue, now 32, is famous for winning two championship rings in his first three seasons in the NBA. From 1998 to 2001, he came off the bench for the L.A. Lakers, serving as a backup for the Derek Fisher/Ron Harper platoon that ran the point for the dynastic Lakers. After leaving L.A., he bounced around to six other teams in eight years — Washington, Orlando, Houston, Atlanta, Dallas and finally Milwaukee — before once again landing on the open market. He's still there.

Dickau, who turns 31 this month, is another journeyman backup point. His journey has taken him through Boston before — in fact, he spent the 2005-06 season as the 13th or 14th man on the Celtics' roster. He's been in this position, and if the price is right, he may find his way back. Dickau has bounced around to seven NBA teams, and he's most recently been seen playing for the German club team Brose Baskets.

Taylor, 23, has a strange story. He played one season for Iowa State in 2006-07, but he left college after a series of legal troubles. He bounced around and eventually landed in the NBA's D-League, whereupon the Portland Trailblazers picked him 55th in the 2008 NBA Draft. He bounced around a little more, eventually ending up in L.A. — with the Clippers, for whom he appeared in 51 games this past season and averaged 5.7 points, mostly off the bench. He's now a free agent looking for a new home.

All of these players have a shot at making the Celtics' roster. But would any of them offer the same upside at the bottom of the depth chart as Hudson?

What's wrong with bringing in an explosive scorer who made himself a star among the college ranks? Hudson deserves a shot at making the team, too — despite the resumes of Lue, Dickau and Taylor.

We've heard a lot of numbers thrown around this season. Salary cap exceptions, contract extensions, qualifying offers — the numbers never stop. But you take one look at the Celtics' roster, and you see one guy with no number at all. That's Hudson.

Maybe it's time the Celtics sat down with their lone draftee and talked numbers. Hudson's known for putting up big ones.

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