Player: Chris Wilcox
2012-13 averages: 4.2 ppg, 3 rpg, 13.6 mpg, 71.9 FG%
2012-13 salary: $1.35 million
Season highlight: Wilcox's best individual effort came in Phoenix in late February. With Kevin Garnett resting his tired legs, Wilcox put his to good use, running the floor while putting up a season-high 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go along with eight rebounds over 22 minutes. What made the effort all the more noteworthy was that it came on the heels of ...
Season lowlight: In need of guard help after injuries eroded Boston's depth, the Celtics attempted to deal Wilcox to the Washington Wizards as part of a swap for Jordan Crawford at February's deadline. But utilizing a bit of a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement, Wilcox was able to veto the deal (due to impending Bird rights) and forced Boston to send out veteran center Jason Collins instead. That Boston was willing to move Wilcox showed their frustrations with the inconsistencies in his play.
Final grade: D+
Teacher's notes: It speaks volumes when one of the league's most efficient offensive players, competing for one of the league's most stagnant offenses, can't carve out a steady role. Unfortunately for Wilcox, his inconsistent defense and a low rebound rate (he hauled in just 16.4 percent of available defensive rebounds and 12.5 percent of total rebounds -- marks that were close to the worst of his career) made it tough to keep him on the floor (the Celtics were minus-43 in his time on the court). The Celtics eventually gave midseason import Shavlik Randolph a chance and he responded by devouring the glass (rebound rates of 26.3 percent on defensive glass; 22.4 percent overall). You want to give Wilcox the benefit of the doubt coming off major heart surgery, but in two seasons in Boston, he just hasn't been able to put the whole package together. Incredibly, Wilcox was the league's most efficient offensive player during the regular season, averaging a whopping 1.21 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data (albeit in a somewhat small sample of 214 total offensive possessions). Regardless, Wilcox shot a staggering 71.9 percent from the floor and did a tremendous job of scoring when opportunities presented themselves around the basket. All of this while playing half the season without his alley-oop running mate in Rajon Rondo.
What's next?: Wilcox is the only player on Boston's end-of-the-season 15-man roster who is not under contract for next season. He's eligible for a slight bump in pay if the Celtics desired to keep him around, but with roster space at a premium -- at least at the moment -- it's likely the team will examine other options. Wilcox was a good locker room guy who had supporters, including Rondo, but while the talent is obvious, he hasn't been able to be a 20-minute-per-game guy since his 2007-08 season in Seattle. Wilcox will turn 31 before next season and might find more playing time elsewhere next season, though he clearly values the opportunity to play for a contender.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
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TERRENCE WILLIAMS: Williams is set to earn $947,907 next season. If not waived on or before June 30, $200,000 of his contract becomes guaranteed. If not waived on or before Sept. 1, $300,000 becomes guaranteed. And Williams' contract becomes fully guaranteed if he's not waived on or before Oct. 31 (meaning he'd have to make the opening-day roster). Rapid reaction: Williams brings plenty of upside at a low price tag. Barring a run on veteran-minimum deals this offseason, he'll be here next season.
SHAVLIK RANDOLPH: Randolph is set to earn $1.1 million next season. His contract becomes fully guaranteed if not waived on or before Aug. 1. Rapid reaction: Randolph has the summer to show he belongs, but he already proved his value as a low-cost big man with rebounding abilities at the end of the 2011-12 season. He's got an excellent chance to stick if there's not a run on big-man additions.
DJ WHITE: White is set to earn $1 million next season. His contract becomes fully guaranteed if not waived on or before Aug. 1. Rapid reaction: White faces the longest odds of last year's late-season imports, but will get the summer to show he deserves a chance to stick around. With roster space at a premium, White could be an odd-man out unless he really shines in summer league.
Less than a week after saying he had heard whispers of a Celtics-Clippers swap that would include coach Doc Rivers, and a day after Celtics president Danny Ainge said Rivers “as far as he knows” would be on the Boston bench next season, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith stirred up another hornet’s nest.
“According to my sources, Doc Rivers has intimated to people he’s close to that (leaving the Celtics) was something that he thought about, in terms of moving forward. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still thinking about it,” Smith said. “But he is under contract with Boston. Boston would have to let him out of his contract and give him permission to talk to somebody else, and I’m not sure he’s that willing. It would have to be a great, great opportunity.”
Ainge on Thursday scoffed at the suggestion that Rivers would not be coaching the Celtics next season, telling reporters the two are already talking about building next season’s team.
Stephen A. didn’t lend much credence to Danny’s denial:
“Danny Ainge’s words, in this matter, mean nothing to me. Absolutely nothing.”
Smith asserts that if Rivers did indeed leave Boston, the Celtics would have a hard time enticing talented free agents.
“I mean no disrespect to Danny Ainge, he’s a champion as an executive ... but nobody is coming to Boston to play for him. They come to play for Doc Rivers, that’s just a fact.
“So if Danny Ainge wants to maintain his status as a legit executive this game, it would behoove him to keep Doc Rivers happy and keep Doc Rivers in Boston. Because the day that changes is the day that a lot of guys ain’t going to be too willing to come to Boston to play for Danny Ainge.”
Rivers signed a five-year, $35 million deal in May 2011 to coach the Celtics through the 2015-16 season.
Player: Brandon Bass
2012-13 averages: 8.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 27.6 mpg, 48.6 FG%, 86 FT%
2012-13 salary: $6 million
Season highlight: With Kevin Garnett sitting out an extended stretch late in the regular season due to left ankle inflammation, Bass took his game to another level and it spilled into the postseason. Tasked with defending Carmelo Anthony in an opening-round series against the Knicks, Bass used his combination of size and athleticism to make everything difficult for a player who finished third in the league's MVP voting. Anthony often got his points, but not without a high shot volume. Rivers went so far as to suggest that Bass played a "perfect" game early in the series and Bass kept his focus on the defensive end.
Season lowlight: Slow out of the gates, Bass got bumped from the starting lineup for short stretches in the first half of the season. Twice rookie Jared Sullinger took his spot -- including just three games into the season, then again in February before a back injury ended Sullinger's campaign -- and Jason Collins, who would be shipped out at the February trade deadline, took over a starting role for a stretch in late December. The soft-spoken Bass endured it all, including another shuffle to the bench when Jason Terry got moved to a starting role for one game in the playoffs to add additional ball-handling to the lineup.
Final grade: B-
Teacher's notes: The 2012-13 season probably didn't play out like Bass expected, a healthy return for Jeff Green and the arrival of Sullinger muddied up the power forward spot a bit (along with Rivers' desire to take some of the wear and tear off Garnett by pairing him with a pure center like Collins at times). Bass, a consummate professional, rode the playing time wave and still powered through some rocky waters early in the year. Here's what we liked about Bass' season: According to Synergy Sports defensive data, he allowed 0.756 points per play, which ranked him in the 91st percentile among all league defenders. Narrow that list to all players with at least 600 total possessions defended, and Bass ranked third in the league behind only David West and Kendrick Perkins (and one spot ahead of Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol). No one is suggesting Bass deserved All-Defensive consideration, but he did an excellent job of limiting opponents and making things difficult (either using his athleticism away from the basket, or his strength to battle with those bigger than him). And his offensive numbers were not that bad, either (0.954 points per play, 71st percentile). But here's a few things we didn't like: Bass' rebound rate was a career-worst 11.2 percent (including a mere 15.2 percent on the defensive glass); his turnover rate spiked (10.9 percent); and he never quite found a way to become a consistent offensive threat, particularly without Rajon Rondo on the floor, as his shots per game fell 3.4 shots from last season. The plus-minus numbers don't help his cause as the Celtics were plus-160 without Bass on the floor; minus-178 when he was. We saw the impact player that Bass can be at the end of the season, but he needs to bring that consistently -- all while finding a way to still get his shots -- in order to maximize his talent.
What's next?: Bass will earn $6.5 million next season, a somewhat economical number if he remains a starter, but it's a bit more daunting if Sullinger can return to starter form after back surgery. Bass has never really thrived in a bench role and clearly benefits from extended floor time. With the starting unit, he's been able to thrive while focusing on his defensive efforts. Off the bench, it might be more imperative to get him going again offensively (at least if Boston's bench struggles to put points on the board as much as it did for most of this past season). If the Celtics are confident in Sullinger's long-term health, it might make Bass a potential trade asset this offseason, but his versatility -- and his shut-his-mouth-and-do-his-job mentality -- is quite a luxury for Rivers.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
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Speaking with reporters at the pre-draft combine in Chicago, Ainge suggested again that -- until Rivers tells him otherwise -- he is progressing as if the coach will be back for a 10th season on the Boston bench.
"Doc and I are talking about our team next year," Ainge told the Boston Globe. "(There is no suspense) from my perspective. We've got a great coach. We've got a coach everybody would love to have and he's got three years left on his contract, and I think Doc likes Boston too."
Ainge told the Boston Herald: "I don't even know why I get asked [about Rivers' future]. Doc is coaching next year. As far as everything I know, he's going to be our coach."
Rivers signed a five-year, $35 million extension after the 2010-11 season, which leaves him under contract for three more seasons. As he does at the completion of each campaign, Rivers left the door open to potentially walk away from coaching. But after Boston's Game 6 loss to the New York Knicks earlier this month, even he said, "I'm coming back until I say I'm not."
Rivers hasn't said anything definitive on his future since Boston's season ended.
During an appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI last week, Ainge said of Rivers' future: "Doc is always unsure. Coaching is very, very draining. Every year with Doc, he’s had to go home and sort of recharge and ask himself that question, ‘Is this something that I’m passionate about and want to continue doing?’ I understand that. And we sort of give him time to unwind and relax, and after a couple of 92s on the golf course, he usually comes back."
Pressed further in that interview on what Rivers will do next season, Ainge added, "I think Doc will be coaching the Boston Celtics."
Ainge told reporters that Rivers is not at the combine after straining his hamstring playing tennis last week.
Player: Rajon Rondo
2012-13 averages: 13.7 ppg, 11.1 apg, 5.6 rpg, 37.4 mpg, 48.4 FG%, 24 3PT%
2012-13 salary: $11 million
Season highlight: This is never an easy task with Rondo. Like assists? He handed out 20 helpers twice in his first nine games of the season while adding 13 games to his double-digit assist streak that started during the 2011-12 campaign (and ultimately tied John Stockton for the second longest span at 37 games before his early ejection against the Nets). Prefer triple-doubles? Rondo had five more of those this season, including in each of his final two games of the season (though Boston was just 2-3 in those games).
Season lowlight: Rondo and coach Doc Rivers came under some scrutiny for a bit of stat-chasing at the end of a lopsided loss in Detroit in mid-November. Rondo needed some late-game floor time to reach 10 helpers in a 103-83 loss to the Pistons that dropped Boston to a 6-5 on the season (Rondo also had six turnovers in the game). While Rivers and Rondo often downplayed the streak, it clearly did matter to them and chasing some late-game assists wasn't a good look while getting throttled by a team with just one win in its first 10 tilts.
Final grade: C+
Teacher's notes: Nothing spoke more to Rondo's value than the way the team struggled without him, particularly offensively in the playoffs. But the stats show a team that was still stagnant even with him. The Celtics owned an offensive rating -- points per 100 possessions -- of 99.2 with Rondo on the court and that number actually jumped up three points without him. Rondo was minus-57 in plus/minus for the season, while the Celtics were plus-39 without him. What gives? Rondo didn't have a particularly efficient offensive season in his 38 games. While his mid-range shooting blossomed and his field-goal percentage rebounded from a poor 2011-12 campaign, Rondo still struggled to generate consistent offense. According to Synergy Sports data, Rondo averaged 0.796 points per play, ranking in just the 23rd percentile among all league players (an uptick in turnovers played a large part in that diminished number as Rondo's turnover ratio was the highest since his rookie season). Maybe most concerning was Rondo's transition numbers, where he averaged just 0.864 points per play and ranked in the 11th percentile (as leader of the break, he has to be better at finishing in those situations). Defensively, Rondo's Synergy numbers were much glossier (0.777 points per play, 86th percentile), but in the same way his offense was better than the stats might suggest, his defense was worse than the numbers tell. Rondo allowed too much dribble penetration and clearly missed Avery Bradley for the first 30 games of the season (while Bradley rehabbed from double shoulder surgery). The bottom line is that the Celtics need more from Rondo if he's going to be their centerpiece player and it will be interesting to see what he gleaned from a half-season on the sidelines.
What's next?: Rondo has two years remaining on his contract and will earn $12 million next season (still a bargain of a deal). Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge remains steadfast that Rondo is on pace to return for training camp after undergoing ACL surgery in February, but that's an aggressive timeline and -- as Derrick Rose showed -- there's no guarantees with ACL injuries. But after all their woes offensively, both generating points and simply getting into their sets and handling pressure, the Celtics will be relieved to get their All-Star point guard back. Make no mistake, the Celtics were not better without Rondo; but they can be better than they were when they did have him at the start of the year and it starts with getting more out of him.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
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Player: Jordan Crawford
2012-13 averages: 9.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.5 apg, 21.6 mpg, 41.5 FG%, 32 3PT% (with Boston)
2012-13 salary: $1.2 million
Season highlight: In his fifth game with Boston, Crawford chipped in 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting (2-for-2 beyond the arc) with four rebounds, three assists, and a steal over 16:17 in a 109-101 triumph over the host Philadelphia 76ers. That was exactly the sort of efficiency the Celtics craved from Crawford off the bench, but they rarely got it. He did play leapfrog with Boston's guard depth chart in the postseason, logging 25 minutes in a Game 2 loss before seeing his minutes thinned again over the rest of the series.
Season lowlight: Even after logging a DNP in a pivotal Game 5, Crawford couldn't help himself and barked at Anthony after Boston's 92-86 triumph. For the playoffs, Crawford shot 30.4 percent overall (7 of 23) and didn't have a single assist in 59 minutes of floor time. Not quite the wild-card effort this team was hoping for.
Final grade: D
Teacher's notes: Celtics coach Doc Rivers wrestled with the decision to give away locker room leader Jason Collins as part of the deal for Crawford (but had to after Chris Wilcox vetoed another potential swap). While -- outside of the Game 5 skirmish -- Crawford rarely rocked the boat, he didn't have many memorable moments in 32 total appearances. According to Synergy Sports data, Crawford allowed 0.902 points per play defensively, ranking in the 30th percentile among all league players. His offensive numbers weren't much better (0.86 points per play, 37th percentile). The Celtics' offense was a bucket better per 100 possessions with Crawford, but two points worse defensively. All in all, Crawford simply didn't leave his mark in Boston
What's next?: The Wizards previously picked up a team option on Crawford, which means he is on the books for $2.2 million next season (and a $3.2 million qualifying offer looms after that). The Celtics will bring Crawford back at reasonable money or use him as a trade asset (either by himself or in a package). Crawford got thrown into the mix late in the season and a fresh start with the team could aid his production, but with guard depth stocked if Rondo can come back healthy, Crawford needs to find a way to be an efficient scorer in less minutes than he saw in Washington.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
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Player: Avery Bradley
2012-13 averages: 9.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 28.7 mpg, 40.2 FG%, 31.7 3PT%
2012-13 salary: $1.6 million
Season highlight: Bradley reinvigorated Boston's defense upon his return and also kept the team afloat when Rajon Rondo tore his ACL in late January. Bradley helped Boston embark on a seven-game winning streak immediately after Rondo's diagnosis was revealed, which included a win over the rival Lakers that featured Bradley absolutely smothering Steve Nash as part of a 116-95 triumph at TD Garden (Nash did get his revenge in the rematch in LA). Bradley's defense was a big reason Boston found a way to simply get into the playoffs rather than fall apart when beset by injuries.
Season lowlight: Due in part to his offensive struggles -- including being tasked with daunting ball-handling responsibilities against a pressure-applying New York defense -- Bradley's confidence waned in the postseason and it affected him at both ends of the floor. Most notably, Bradley got routinely burned on the defensive end by Knicks guard Raymond Felton, who emerged as maybe New York's most influential player -- or at least the series' biggest wild card. Bradley didn't emerge from his funk until the final quarter of a Game 6 loss where he nearly spearheaded a rally from a 26-point deficit.
Final grade: B-
Teacher's notes: I know, I know -- another B grade (joining Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in that club). No, it's not a tribute to the Bruins, it's a sign of why this team struggled and suffered an early playoff exit as none of its core players performed at an A-caliber level. As good as Bradley was defensively, he struggled just as mightily offensively. After shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor during the 2011-12 season, feasting on backdoor cuts and 3-point shots, Bradley's field goal percentage dipped to 40.2 percent this season and that included a pronounced drop from beyond the arc (dipping from 40.7 percent to 31.7 percent). The loss of Rondo undoubtedly hurt him, particularly with increased ball-handling responsibilities, but Bradley simply never found an offensive rhythm. According to Synergy Sports data, Bradley averaged just 0.803 points per play this season, ranking him in the 24th percentile among all league players. Put another way: Of all players with at least his 574 total offensive possessions, Bradley ranked 183rd out of 187 qualifying players (the only ones worse: Rondo, Michael Beasley, Alexey Shved, and Ricky Rubio). Here's two more damning stats to consider: The Celtics were plus-26 when Bradley was off the court, but minus-44 when he was on it. And despite his individual defensive efforts, Boston's defensive rating actually remained nearly static with (100.3) or without (100.4) him. Bradley's postseason struggles contributed to the minus next to his mark.
What's next?: Bradley's salary remains a bargain at $2.5 million next season and the Celtics hold a qualifying offer of $3.6 million for the 2014-15 campaign (though you would think the team would consider a longer-term deal soon before his price tag jumps up). Bradley should benefit from a long, uninterrupted offseason to both further heal his shoulders and hone his game. He has to regain his offensive form if he's going to be the shooting guard of the future for this team, but Bradley's defense is such a luxury and the league is clearly taking note after his All-Defensive team honor on Monday.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
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The voting panel is made up of the NBA’s 30 head coaches, who selected first and second teamers by position (coaches cannot vote for their own players). Two points were awarded for a first-team vote and one point for a second-team vote. Bradley outscored both of the first-team centers.
Bradley, a 22-year-old guard in his third season, has developed a reputation as one of the league's most tenacious on-ball defenders. According to individual defensive statistics logged by Synergy Sports, Bradley limited opponents to 0.697 points per play, the lowest in the league among those with at least 475 total defensive possessions. Opponents shot just 30.8 percent against Bradley and scored just 31.8 percent of the time (also a league low using that 475 possession total).
Bradley was the only Celtics player to receive votes in the All-Defensive balloting (Kevin Garnett, a mainstay of these teams, was surprisingly shut out). Previously, Bradley finished 12th in the media-voted Defensive Player of the Year award (landing on five of 121 ballots).
A closer look at the All-Defensive voting:
FIRST TEAM: Forwards: LeBron James, Miami (25-2-52); Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City (17-12-46); Centers: Tyson Chandler, New York (9-6-24); Joakim Noah, Chicago (8-8-24); Guards: Tony Allen, Memphis (25-3-53); Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers (15-7-37).
SECOND TEAM: Forwards: Tim Duncan, San Antonio (3-14-20); Paul George, Indiana (7-13-27); Center: Marc Gasol, Memphis (5-2-12); Guards: Avery Bradley, Boston (10-5-25); Mike Conley, Memphis (4-11-19).
Other players receiving votes, with point totals (first-team votes in parentheses): Andre Iguodala, Denver, 16 (2); Larry Sanders, Milwaukee, 16 (4); Thabo Sefolosha, Oklahoma City, 15 (2); Luol Deng, Chicago, 11 (1); Dwight Howard, L.A. Lakers, 9 (3); Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers (6 (1); Roy Hibbert, Indiana, 6 (2); Kenneth Faried, Denver, 4 (1); Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City, 4 (1); Shane Battier, Miami, 2; Nicolas Batum, Portland, 2 (1); Corey Brewer, Denver, 2; George Hill, Indiana, 2; Mike James, Dallas, 2 (1); Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio, 2, (1); Tony Parker, San Antonio, 2 (1); Dwyane Wade, Miami, 2; Metta World Peace, L.A. Lakers, 2 (1); Eric Bledsoe, L.A. Clippers, 1; Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City, 1; Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia, 1; Andrei Kirilenko, Minnesota, 1; Iman Shumpert, New York, 1; David West, Indiana, 1.
Player: Kevin Garnett
2012-13 averages: 14.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 29.7 mpg, 49.6 FG%
2012-13 salary: $11.6 million
Season highlight: Maybe it's not surprising that Garnett saved his best work for when it mattered most as he turned into an absolute rebounding machine in Games 3-5 of an Eastern Conference first-round series with the Knicks. Garnett grabbed 52 rebounds during that three-game stretch and had a rather absurd defensive rebound rate (the percent of all available caroms grabbed) of 36.5 percent for the series (the next closest teammat was Terrence Williams at 19.1 percent). Garnett closed out the postseason with five consecutive double-doubles, averaging 12.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game overall (you can quibble with his lack of offensive aggression, but Garnett was maybe the biggest reason the series even made it to six games).
Season lowlight: Despite being slow out of the gates, Garnett got voted an All-Star starter while averaging 15.1 points on 50.3 percent shooting with 7.7 rebounds over 30.3 minutes per game before the season All-Star break. Just two games after the midseason break, the Celtics were forced to give Garnett a game off because he looked so gassed (some early season overtime games caught up with him). Later, Garnett would miss two games with an adductor strain and, after returning for just two more games, he developed left ankle inflammation and sat out 10 of Boston's final 13 games overall, with his post-All-Star numbers declining (13.6 points on 47.5 percent shooting over 28.1 minutes per contest). Garnett looked like he was still shaking some rust from his late-season break when Boston dropped Game 1 in New York in late April.
Final grade: B+ [Update: Originally graded Garnett a straight B and wrestled with the decision. After seeing the early poll results and re-examining the body of work, it made sense to add the plus. Garnett's importance on defense cannot be understated and that end of the court was the only reason Boston was actually in the playoffs given all the injuries it endured. Part of what makes grading Garnett so difficult is that he's been so damn consistent and when he simply meets his expectations, albeit at age 36, you tend to undervalue his efforts, as we did initially.]
Teacher's notes: It's hard to find much fault with Garnett's season. Each time you desire to nitpick, you simply look at his influence on the team as a whole and it seems irrelevant. Case in point: The Celtics were minus-130 in the 1,946 minutes Garnett was on the bench this season, but plus-112 in his 2,022 minutes of court time. Dig deeper and Boston's defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) was a staggering 104.6 with Garnett on the bench and a minuscule 96.2 when he was on the floor. Yes, even at an advanced age, Garnett remains so vital to this team and its success, particularly on the defensive end. Like fellow veteran Paul Pierce, Garnett can no longer carry this team on his own, but no player's efforts are as important as Garnett.
What's next?: KG, who will turn 37 in a week, is scheduled to earn $12.4 million next season. It's still a bargain for what he brings. While Garnett will feel the usual tug from retirement after 18 seasons in the league and given all the maintenance it requires to keep him on the court, he gave the impression that he'd be back for more. And why not? Garnett ranked in the 89th percentile among all league players while allowing 0.765 points per play this season, according to Synergy Sports data. Among those with at least 475 total defensive plays, Garnett was 12th overall in the NBA in points allowed per possession. Garnett didn't have a lockdown-caliber year as opponents shot better against him (39.6 percent) than in recent seasons, but he's still the anchor for Boston's defense. The question is whether Garnett desires to stick around if the Celtics overhaul any other part of their roster, including whether Pierce returns.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Garnett's 2012-13 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Player: Terrence Williams
2012-13 averages: 4.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 13.3 mpg, 49.5 FG%
2012-13 salary: $441,000
Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa to season-ending ACL tears. Williams saw inconsistent playing time, but showed he could be a serviceable backup ball-handler, playing sizable minutes over Boston's final three games of the postseason.
Season highlight: With Boston struggling to take care of the ball and rattled by New York's pressure in the opening round of the playoffs, Williams shuffled up the guard depth chart (leapfrogging Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee in the process) and received 17 minutes of floor time in a Game 5 win in New York. He posted four points, four rebounds and two assists that night, but the most important part of his stat line was zero turnovers. His ball-handling abilities were key to keeping Boston's season alive.
Season lowlight: After a bit of an eye-opening effort in his second game with Boston -- showcasing his point guard skills during a win in Phoenix in which he posted nine points, four rebounds and four assists over 25 minutes -- Williams got a little too overzealous playing in front of some of his family two nights later in Portland (they had trekked down from his native Seattle). Williams earned a DNP next time out in Utah and played sparingly over the next month before reemerging late in the season.
Final grade: B
Teacher's notes: Williams clearly has lottery-caliber talent, the type that made him the 11th overall pick of the Nets in the 2009 draft, but no team has quite been able to harness it. The Celtics told Williams they wanted him as a ball-handler -- something he had to convince himself of -- and he thrived in that role. Williams had the second-highest assist ratio (a measure of assists per 100 possessions) on the team at 22.9 and only Rondo was better at 39.1. Williams also turned the ball over just 22 times in 318 regular-season minutes over 24 appearances. What's more, he played solid defense and Synergy Sports data shows he allowed 0.777 points per play, ranking in the 84th percentile among all league players. He backed those numbers up with a solid defensive cameo late in the playoff series against the Knicks.
What's next?: The Celtics can bring Williams back at the bargain-basement price of $948,000 next season and that seems like a no-brainer regardless of how jammed the guard depth chart could be if the likes of Jason Terry, Crawford and Lee are back in bench roles (though it's hard to imagine all of them will return). The Celtics clearly need backup ball-handling and Williams can be a quality depth option if he's willing to embrace that role. The key for Williams is buying in to what Doc Rivers asks of him. Williams didn't exactly endear himself at previous NBA stops and, when he joined the Celtics, admitted his time in China humbled him a bit. If he desires to stick in this league, he has to check any ego from his lofty draft status and scrap like the player who was out of the league at the start of last season. He's clearly got the talent and the team that harnesses it will be rewarded.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Williams' 2012-13 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Player: Shavlik Randolph
2012-13 averages: 4.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 12.4 mpg, 58.3 FG%
2012-13 salary: $258,000
Season highlight: Given his first extended floor time during a late March visit from Atlanta, Randolph responded by scoring nine points on 4-of-6 shooting to go along with a career-high 13 rebounds over 22 minutes in a 118-107 triumph. Randolph added a 16-point effort a week later against the Cavaliers, but it was his work on the glass that highlighted his late-season appearances.
Season lowlight: With the Knicks operating with smaller lineups that typically featured just one big, the Celtics rarely dipped into their own center depth during the postseason. Randolph played just 3:13 in a Game 2 loss in New York, grabbing three rebounds in that span.
Final grade: B+
Teacher's notes: Considering expectations were extraordinarily low -- remember that Randolph had been out of the league since the 2009-10 season and had played a mere 38 games since his rookie campaign in 2006-07 -- Randolph was a welcome surprise for a Boston team thin on pure bigs (and even thinner on rebounders after Jared Sullinger went down in February). Can Randolph sustain his crazy rebounding numbers over a full 82-game season? That remains to be seen. But he was an efficient scorer (devouring putbacks, which accounted for nearly a quarter of his total offensive possessions) with a defined skill set that coach Doc Rivers could lean on at times.
What's next? The Celtics hold a team option that can keep Randolph in green for $1.1 million (the minimum salary for his experience). Even at age 29, he could potentially aid his cause by participating with the team's summer squad in Orlando. If retained, Randolph can provide deep big-man depth at a reasonable cost and he's got plenty going for him (rebounding skills, quality team guy, experience with Boston). If he can tighten up his defense, he can carve out a role with this team. And, as the Celtics know all too well, you can never have enough quality frontcourt depth (right, Darko?).
A reminder on grading: Each year we remind readers that grades are based on how players perform versus expectations. A B+ grade for Randolph does not mean he had a better season than Paul Pierce (who got a B grade on Friday). Salary and the player's ability to perform their role for the team factor heavily into the grade. A higher grade often reflects a player that overachieved based on initial expectations.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Randolph's 2012-13 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Asked about the secret to Boston's recent success, McDonough pointed to defense, a tone that was set with the arrival of Kevin Garnett. McDonough also pointed to this core's focus on unselfishness and playing for their teammates instead of themselves.
When asked about ascending to a general manager at age 33, McDonough heaped praise on Boston's ownership for hiring him out of college a decade ago and at his former boss, Danny Ainge, for trusting him with many aspects of basketball operations. McDonough noted that this is his 11th NBA draft and that he's scouted most of the league's players, even some veterans, while they were still in high school or college.
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FACT: The Celtics would be highly unlikely to sign Pierce to a new contract for the 2013-14 season after waiving him before June 30th due to their salary cap situation.
Remember all that committed money Ainge has on the books for next year? That’s incredibly limiting in this situation. If the C’s wanted to bring back Pierce on a smaller deal for 2013-14 after waiving him, they probably wouldn’t be able to do it, since without bird rights on Pierce, there is no real flexibility to sign him. The mid-level exception would be available, but Pierce is likely to command much more than that on the open market. Plus, it’s unclear if the team would even want to use an exception like that on Pierce when they don’t have to. However you slice it, unless Danny does so major wheeling and dealing of the rest of the roster to create salary cap room, this scenario isn’t happening.
FICTION: The Celtics will use the amnesty clause on Paul Pierce
Even if you put aside the bad vibes about amnestying a Celtics legend, doing this to Pierce really doesn’t make much sense for the Celtics, unless it’s accompanied by a couple other moves, that clear MAJOR cap space. Those scenarios are highly unlikely to happen, for a multitude of reasons I will get into in later posts this offseason. Without that possibility, amnestying Pierce still leaves Ainge at the cap ($58 million roughly) and provides ownership having to pay a fat check for a good player to play somewhere else. It’s not happening.
Robb and I disagree a bit on the idea that the amnesty clause is completely out of play. If the team is going to go the nuclear route, it can't worry about hurt feelings and has to look out for the best long-term interest of the team. Sure, it potentially exposes ownership to being on the hook for more than the $5 million guarantee it would owe if the team simply waived Pierce (part of Pierce's $15.3 million salary would be defrayed by a team that signed him), but it has to be considered when coupled with other potential moves to completely overhaul the roster. All that said, the amnesty route likely remains a long-shot option as trading Pierce would clearly be the preferred option if the team desires to move on without him. Regardless, check out the article for plenty of excellent insight into a sticky situation for Boston and its future direction.
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