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Friday, March 5, 2010
Doc: Finley 'has basketball left in him'

By Chris Forsberg

Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't profess to know exactly how Michael Finley fits into the Celtics' plans moving forward, but he's confident there's enough left in the tank to help Boston achieve its championship goals.

AP PhotoThe Celtics don't have a plan for Michael Finley, but they know he can help.
"I think he has basketball left in him," Rivers said after the team's morning shootaround Friday in Philadephia. "What he can give us and how it fits, we'll figure it out as we go."

Rivers indicated that Finley, who turns 37 Saturday, will practice with the team for the first time on his birthday, then could play in Sunday's game against the Washington Wizards. Boston visits the 76ers Friday night.

After requesting and receiving a buyout from the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, Finley agreed to sign with the Celtics Thursday for the prorated veteran's minimum of $1.1 million.

Finley's stats have dipped dramatically this season (3.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists over 15.8 minutes per game), but he's regarded as one of the best locker-room presences in the league, and he boasts 111 games of playoff experience, winning a championship with the Spurs in 2007.

"He's got high character," said Rivers. "He's another shooter. We don't know where we're going to fit him in, but adding a veteran can never hurt. Adding a guy who can make open shots can never hurt. Adding a guy who's been through the wars can never hurt. That's how we looked at it."

A two-time All-Star, Finley will find himself behind Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels at the small forward position, but his presence might allow the Celtics some flexibility with Daniels, who can play either guard spot or small forward. In a season in which both Pierce and Daniels have been nagged by injuries, Finley also provides insurance should the injury bug not fly far from the Celtics.

"He's a veteran who can spread the floor and shoot pretty well," said Pierce. "He brings a lot of experience. He's a veteran who has been around the block a few times. I'm sure he'll find his way, and he's played in a lot of big games during his career. He knows how to approach them and play in them. Experience can always help in tight situations."

Materials from the Associated Press were used in this report.