- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Keyon Dooling drives to the hoop last season.Rapid reaction after the Celtics waived Keyon Dooling, who announced Thursday that he's walking away from basketball after 12 NBA seasons:
* On the surface, Dooling's decision to hang up his high-tops is surprising given that he's only 32. But the former first-round pick (10th overall by Orlando in 2000) spent 12 well-traveled years with six different teams. His on-court role last season in Boston was minimal (early-season injuries didn't aid that cause) and he was staring at being deep on the shooting guard depth chart this season. With nearly $30 million in NBA contracts pocketed, the grind of another 82-game season might not have had the same appeal it once did for the family-oriented Dooling.
* The Celtics will miss Dooling's off-the-court leadership. His ability to both nurture younger players like Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, and offer unfiltered opinions to veterans like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce made him an indispensable part of last season's team. Dooling will likely pass that leadership baton to Jason Terry, who will bring a veteran presence and voice to the Celtics' locker room this season.
* Selfishly, reporters will miss Dooling next season. Late in the season, he morphed into unofficial team spokesman of sorts, handling the not-so-glamorous task of being the voice of the team when media members were desperate to fill up their notebooks. Dooling had a way of offering a thoughtful take on any topic, whether it was basketball-related or otherwise. Dooling also served as vice president for the National Basketball Players Association.
* The Celtics have enough depth at the guard spot to account for the loss of Dooling (though they still have a small need for a pure backup ball handler). The departure does reopen the door for a younger player. The Celtics' signing of veteran center Darko Milicic Thursday brought the team to 14 guaranteed contracts for next season; the loss of Dooling pulls the Celtics back down to 13. That means the team's three non- or partially guaranteed players -- rookie Kris Joseph and first-year guards Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith -- are still vying for two open spots (along with any training camp invite who could make an impression). Christmas, who already seemed to have the best odds because of the money guaranteed in his contract next season, takes another step toward cementing an NBA roster spot given that he has a similar skill set to that of Dooling.
* With a tip of the cap to salary-cap guru Larry Coon, the Celtics are still on the hook for Dooling's $854,000 salary (he'll actually make $1.35 million, but the league pays the remaining portion of it). Unless Dooling elects to forfeit his salary (or negotiates a low-money buyout), it appears the team will still be billed (which adds a wrinkle of difficulty given its cap constraints).
5dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
6dESPN Stats and Information Group