Update – 1/7 @ 8:21pm EST: Alston has signed with the Miami Heat as expected. A real slip away for the C’s.
It is no secret that the Boston Celtics are injury-ridden and battling everything from knee issues to food poisoning. Recent injuries have been a real shining light for the Boston Celtics as to their true depth within this 2009-2010 season, and I don’t think anyone is all too confident about it.
For a Celtics team that went on a 12 game binge earlier in the season, things fell apart very quickly. Paul Pierce went down after having his knee irrigated and missed two weeks, Kevin Garnett seems to be bothered once again with the roughed up knee on his well-traveled legs, Rajon Rondo sat out a game and a couple practices due to a sore hamstring, and this week we saw Eddie House come down with the flu and Kendrick Perkins get food poisoning… And this was all after Marquise Daniels is already out after having to have surgery on his thumb.
If that seems like a run-on sentence, that’s because it is… and that is what this list of injuries has been for the Celtics. Ongoing and never-ending.
As Patrick mentioned in Thursday’s 4SB Podcast, this Celtics team should lead fans to two possible expectations. They will either soar well into the playoffs or the whole team will end up injured… and I’m not sure the second option is humanly possible (knock on wood and rub my lucky rabbit’s foot).
Even with all of these injuries to key players and recently seeing some of the depth on the bench get to showcase their talents, the Celtics yesterday released Lester Hudson to free up a roster spot with the trade deadline in February. A move that came as a surprise to most Celtics fans and probably even Hudson as he had just seen more playing time this past weekend.
This move was fairly surprising since Hudson came into the NBA known as an all-around scorer in college and the Celtics really seemed to like what he brought to the table as a deep bench guy. But, as they have done the past two seasons, the Celtics will likely look to bring in some mid-season help when it matters most.
The absolute favorite (for me anyway) for this acquisition would be point guard Rafer Alston, aka “Skip 2 My Lou” as he was known back in his streetball days. Alston was known as possibly the best streetballer out there and was highly recognized through his work with the “And 1 Tour”. He was recently bought-out by the New jersey Nets and is currently a free agent.
Emerging in 2004 with the Miami Heat, Alston is rumored to be favoring returning to Little Havana to pair up with one-time teammate Dwyane Wade. Only problem there is that yesterday was the waiver deadline and Miami elected to keep current point guard Carlos Arroyo. This certainly would not be a huge issue since Miami can never have enough good ball handlers to get Wade the ball and Alston can certainly shoot well himself.
But the possibility of bringing a player like Alston to Boston would be a perfect fit for this team. All season the main issue with the current roster for the Celtics has been their lack of depth at the point guard position.
We have seen Rajon Rondo handle himself very well as the starting point guard for this team and he is clearly young enough to keep going but who takes the ball for the other 10 minutes every game and when Rondo is not available? This case cannot continue to be left to coverage such as Tony Allen, Eddie House, or even worse, one of the Big Three.
Tony Allen continues to make me angry that he even owns a green shirt let alone gets into games as a Celtic. Watching him flail his body around like a beached fish is not something I like to see on a regular basis, especially not running my offense. Personally, I cannot wait for his contract to run out in June and I think there are many Celtics fans who would agree.
House, Pierce, and Ray Allen are all shooters. Shooters have their timing and their ability to get open for shots hindered greatly by having to run the point.
So that leaves Rondo at the point guard position and maybe Marquise Daniels come mid-to-late February when he returns from his thumb surgery. Even when Marquise was in the lineup prior to his injury, House was more likely to bring the ball up the floor which is still not preferential.
Danny Ainge… listen up and do yourself a favor.
And you know what? Don’t just get Rafer Alston for what he can bring to the Celtics but keep in mind what you are keeping away from other teams in the East.
Playing 28 minutes per game this season with the Nets (splitting time with Devin Harris), Skip 2 My Lou averaged 9.7 points per game, 3.9 assists per game, and 1 steal per game. But think about how he stacked up last post-season as he led the Orlando Magic to a seven-game win over the Celtics in the playoffs.
In six games (he was suspended for Game 3 because of his elbow to Eddie House), Alston played an average of 32.5 minutes. In those minutes, he scored 10.33 points per game including double digits in the final three games. He averaged 4.5 assists per game and two steals per game including three steals in each Game 5 and 6.
This is a guy who runs the point guard very position very well, especially when he has the talent around him to open it up. He is honestly a very underrated player who has a lot to offer to any team that picks him up.
This is a very similar situation to Stephon Marbury when he was bought out by the Knicks and the Celtics then picked him up last season. However, Alston has actually been playing in the meantime and playing fairly well.
According to a NJ.com article, “Alston had $3.05 million coming to him for the remaining 49 games, and the Nets were able to convince Fegan to settle for roughly $2.1 million – a significant savings”. This is just the kind of guy you want to pick up when you just released a player and freed up some cap room.
Alston is already paid for the rest of the season but obviously a contract with a new team for the remainder of the season would have to include some money but short money, which is key.
Last season, when the Celtics picked up Marbury, they were able to get him for the prorated version of the veteran’s $1.3 million minimum. Judging by that number, just for comparison-sake, that would put a contract (with 49 games remaining) at $776,830.
According to the Boston Herald, “Hudson had some $260,000 left on his $457,588 obviously non-guaranteed contract. Because of the luxury tax, the Celtics will save $520,000.” Pretty close numbers if you ask me.
Wyc Grousbeck and Danny Ainge can go ahead and pay that difference out of pocket… or ask David Stern if some of Gunslingin’ Gilbert Arenas’ salary being held from him during his indefinite suspension can go toward the cause. I guess it doesn’t work like that. BANG BANG!