For every snarky media pundit looking to crack jokes about the Celtics' AARP cards, hip replacements and early bird dinner specials, a little extra fodder just got packed into the cannon this weekend.
Say hello to Michael Finley, the newest member of the Celtics. And while you're at it, say happy birthday.
Finley, the 15-year veteran swingman bought out of his contract by the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, turned 37 years old Saturday, and is now officially a member of the Celtics. He brings with him 111 games of postseason experience and a championship ring to boot.
When he takes the floor for his Celtics debut against the Wizards on Sunday night — and this is assuming he plays at all — he'll be the oldest player in the Boston rotation. And that's saying something. Rasheed Wallace and Ray Allen have been around the block a few times, but they've got nothing on the grizzled Finley.
Finley brings with him 1,082 career games of experience split between the Suns, Mavericks and Spurs. He's long been known as a skilled outside shooter, a solid perimeter defender and a good teammate on and off the floor. He's the kind of role player that helps good teams win championships — and he proved it in 2007 in San Antonio.
But here's the troubling question: If Finley is such a great asset for a contending team, then why did the Spurs let him go?
It's worrisome, in a way. Most of the buyout guys you come across at this time of year are castoffs from hopeless playoff also-rans. Teams decide to give up on winning right here and now, so they cut payroll by opting for easy buyouts. But usually, if a contender like the Spurs decides to make that move, it generally means the player in question just isn't that good anymore.
You can exhale, though, Celtics fans. With Finley, it's not that simple. It's not a matter of "good" or "not good." The Spurs uniforms may be black and white, but their personnel decisions aren't.
It's a matter of fit. The Spurs' model is all about surrounding your Big Three core with the right role players in the right spots. The Spurs had too many players in the wings looking to pitch in some outside shooting help. George Hill, Keith Bogans, Roger Mason — too many cooks spoiled that soup. Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson can cover the wing scoring duties themselves. Finley was one piece too many.
That's why it made sense for Finley to jump ship for Boston. Because at least here, he's got a shot at being a productive player. But what can we expect from him during his time in green? At least right away, probably next to nothing. He's not going to play 20 minutes a night, he's not going to be the first guard off the bench when Nate Robinson has played beautifully so far. Right now, we have no idea what to expect from Finley.
The Celtics have worked hard to add more scoring prowess to their bench. They got a little when they added Wallace and Marquis Daniels this summer. With Robinson, they gained a little bit more. Finley is just another step forward — and if he happens to once or twice get a clean open look at a jumper during his time in Boston, then more power to him.
Finley brings experience like few others can. He might not have fit in with the Spurs, but one team's trash might turn out to be another team's treasure.
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