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The Celtics don't have a pure backup ball-handler behind Rajon Rondo.WALTHAM -- The Celtics might boast one of the league's best point guards in Rajon Rondo, but when he's not in the game, Boston doesn't have a true backup at the position. Avery Bradley might be the best candidate for the job, but until he returns later in the season following surgery on both of his shoulders, it appears the Celtics will take a by-committee approach when it comes to the backup ball handler.
"We have no choice right now, with Avery out," said Rivers. [Jason Terry] and Courtney [Lee can handle the ball]... [but] we’re trying to create offense so that the point guard is not -- it’s not a point guard-dominated offense unless Rondo is on the floor. We’re trying to eliminate all ball pressure."
Rivers said he's been impressed with Terry's ball-handling abilities, which allude to his early years in the NBA, when he primarily played point guard.
"He’s a better ball-handler, I knew he could score off the dribble, but he’s really natural at the point," Rivers said of Terry. "That surprised me, I never saw him that way."
Still, Rivers doesn't want the ball-handling duties to hamper Terry's own playmaking abilities for himself. Terry's true value to the Celtics is his ability to score points, both as a catch-and-shoot player and as a guy who can create his own offense with the ball in his hands.
The Celtics could have tried to remedy this issue late in the offseason -- particularly once veteran guard Keyon Dooling retired -- but salary cap restrictions, along with an appreciation for the trio of young guards vying for the last roster spot, discouraged them from pursuing a veteran at the position.
"We probably won’t bring anyone else in, no, we like our young guys," director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said late last month at the team's charity golf tournament. "We like Kris Joseph, and Dionte Christmas, and Jamar Smith, and they’ll be competing for that last spot."
The remainder of training camp and preseason should give Rivers the time to see how those ball-handling duties work out for what should be a versatile second unit. Terry could easily prove that he can strike the right balance between conducting the second unit and still getting his own points. Or, Rivers could find that pairing Lee alongside Terry at times could lessen the burden on a single player and discourage the defense from pressuring the ball early in the shot clock.
Either way, add it to the list of things Rivers will need to tinker with before the regular season gets under way.