When the Celtics first pursued Michael Finley four months ago, hopes were high that he'd be the final piece of the puzzle in their quest for another title. He came armed with his veteran savvy, his championship pedigree and his beautiful jump shot — but in the end, his impact was minimal in postseason play. It makes you wonder: Does Michael Finley have anything left?
Finley was the oldest member of the 2009-10 Celtics. He arrived in Boston on a Sunday night, March 7, and sat on the TD Garden bench in street clothes as the C's came back and beat the Wizards, 86-83. That Sunday was the day after his 37th birthday.
He brought with him to Boston 15 years of wear and tear. The Celtics had to suspect that he already had one foot out the proverbial door. And yet Finley, who ended up giving little to the Celtics down the stretch and has at times looked completely gassed, has made it perfectly clear that he has no interest in retiring. He's still a basketball player. Nothing's changing.
Given the man's impressive resume, Finley should be allowed to walk away on his own terms. This is a guy who's spent his career as one of the game's most prolific scorers; he's a two-time All-Star, and more importantly he went to the postseason every single year in the last decade. He made five playoff runs in Dallas, four in San Antonio and finally one in Boston. He's already got one ring (with the 2007 Spurs), and he still wants more.
Finley came to Boston looking to win another championship. But his contributions in the Hub were barely noticeable. There was the occasional fluky shooting night when he'd go 6-for-7 and carry the Celtics' offense for a stretch, but the big games were few and far between. Finley spent most of his time on the bench, offering more moral support than clutch shooting. In the entire postseason, 24 games from start to finish, Finley attempted only 11 shots and made three of them. It was like he wasn't even there.
In Boston, Finley had an in. He and coach Doc Rivers go way back — so far back, in fact, that Rivers claims he can remember Finley's birth. Finley's sister was a cheerleader for Rivers' high school basketball team. Both men are alums of Proviso East High, a basketball powerhouse in suburban Chicago.
Finley was a decent fit in Boston at least for sentimental reasons, if not financial or basketball-related ones.
The money might be tricky. The last time Finley was a free agent, he elected to stay in San Antonio, agreeing in 2008 to sign for two years at $2.5 million per. The Spurs bought him out of that deal so he could flee to Boston and play for the veteran minimum.
So how much is he worth now, after he's already taken one slashing pay cut and his stock has only sunk lower since?
The Celtics should be pinching every penny. They're already looking at the prospect of a hefty luxury tax bill, and an extra expenditure like Finley might end up amounting to a whole lot of wasted cash.
It's not that Finley is a bad player, or that he's through. Neither is true — he's got an "old man" game, meaning rather than athleticism and explosiveness, he can rely upon size, strength, instinct and shot-making ability. You watch the guy play, and it looks like he can go until he's 60.
But the Celtics aren't a fit. They need to get younger, and their payroll needs to get trimmer. Finley isn't helping on either front.
Wherever Michael Finley ends up, wish him well. He's a great player with plenty of game left. But don't expect to see much of him in Boston down the line.
NESN.com will answer one Celtics question every day in July.
Thursday, July 15: Will the Celtics' survive the loss of Tony Allen?
Saturday, July 17: Will we see Marquis Daniels again?
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