The Celtics still have plenty of work to do to fill out that bench, and they're running out of options. They're stretched thin, they're over the cap and they can forget about adding another big name between now and opening night. At this point, it's slim pickings. So, um … What happens to Brian Scalabrine?
Is it possible that Scal, who hardly played a lick over the final month of the regular season or in the playoffs, might still have a job in Boston? If the C's are desperate to fill out their roster and there's nothing enticing on the top of the scrap heap, could they sign up for one more go 'round with the Mediocre White Hope of this generation's Celtics?
Yikes. Didn't expect this question to come up, did we?
It seems unimaginable. Starting March 9, when Michael Finley joined the Celtics and Scal was bumped off of the team's 12-man active roster, the 32-year-old USC alum played a total of 41 minutes in 21 games to finish the season. (Thirty of those minutes came in the season finale, when Doc Rivers was benching four of his five starters.) In the postseason, Scal saw a grand total of under one minute of playing time.
And yet there's a chance that Scalabrine, who looked virtually unemployed from mid-March on, could find himself still a member of the Celtics next season. It's crazy, but it's possible.
After four seasons with the New Jersey Nets, who drafted him early in the second round back in 2001, Scalabrine signed a five-year, $15 million contract with the Celtics in 2005. In the five years since, he's vacillated between being a minor detail on Doc Rivers' bench and being completely irrelevant. He's found himself with more self-bestowed nicknames ("the Italian Scallion," "Scal Doggy Dogg," and the perfectly blunt "Token White Guy" to name a few) than signature basketball moments. He's a fan favorite more for his pasty skin and lovable personality than his crossover dribble or his jumper.
To be clear, Scal's five-year term in Boston hasn't been completely devoid of basketball highlights. Here are a few:
April 2006: Scal plays big-time minutes off the bench for the Celtics in the irrelevant final three games of their season, and he scores double figures in all three. His season high of 14 points comes in his return to New Jersey on April 16, when he shoots 5-of-9 and knocks down three 3-pointers.
Jan. 31, 2007: Scal goes off for 17 points, his all-time Celtic high, against the Lakers. (Let's ignore the fact that Kobe Bryant dropped 43 and the Lakers killed the Celtics on their home floor.)
April 2009: An injury to Kevin Garnett opens the door for Scal to be a key contributor in the playoffs, coming off the bench as a backup power forward behind Glen Davis. Scal sees action in 12 games that postseason, averaging 5.1 points and 2.2 rebounds for a C's team that goes down swinging against the Magic in round two.
June 17, 2010: Defying million-to-one odds, Scal takes the floor in a deciding Game 7 in the NBA Finals. With Kendrick Perkins injured and the C's needing another big alongside KG and Rasheed Wallace, Scal gets his 53 seconds of fame. He finishes with zero points, zero rebounds, zero assists, zero blocks and … let's see … yes, zero steals.
After a timeline like that, the Celtics have to bring the guy back, right?
We'll see. Scalabrine has repeatedly said that he'd like to stay in Boston next season, but the interest on the other end isn't so clear. If the Celtics option doesn't work out, Scal could always return to New Jersey or take a look at a Sixers team that's expressed some interest.
The Celtics have had a lot of decisions to make this summer, and most of them have been based on numbers — salaries, cap figures, points, rebounds, assists. It's cold hard stats that dictate Danny Ainge's decisions, not sentimentality.
How much is a fan favorite worth in Boston? To the 18,000 strong who inhabit the TD Garden, plenty. But to the guys upstairs, not so much. Your heart tells you Brian Scalabrine will be a Celtic forever, but your brain is inclined otherwise.
NESN.com will answer one Celtics question every day in July.
Saturday, July 17: Will we see Marquis Daniels or Shelden Williams again?
Monday, July 19: Will Avery Bradley be an impact player?
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