Boston Celtics: RosterRundown2010
Fast FactsPosition: Center
Vitals: 6-11, 255 lbs.
Experience: 14 years
Last season: 13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 apg (Miami)
Salary: $5.8 million
With Kendrick Perkins sidelined for the first half of the year after offseason knee surgery, the Celtics moved quickly to ink O'Neal, a six-time NBA All-Star, utilizing the team's full mid-level exception. It seemed O'Neal would hold down the center spot until Perkins returned, then slide into a reserve role, but the recent signing of Shaquille O'Neal could promote competition for that starting job in camp. Regardless, Jermaine O'Neal's signing has potential to bolster a frontcourt that was exposed in Games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals.
O'Neal is coming off an absolutely dreadful playoff performance in which Perkins limited him to 4.2 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting (this from a player that averaged 12.7 points per game on 71.2 percent shooting in 81 career postseason appearances). O'Neal indicated this offseason that a late-season ankle injury might have affected his performance. What's more, the soon-to-be 32-year-old has a lot of miles on his NBA tires, with more than 25,000 minutes logged between regular season and the playoffs. But O'Neal stressed that he feels fit and hopes to win a couple championships in Boston before riding off into the sunset.
Fast FactsPosition: Guard
Vitals: 5-9, 180 lbs.
Experience: 5 years
Last season: 6.5 ppg, 2 apg, 1.5 rpg (Boston); 10.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2 rpg (Total)
Salary: $4.2 million
Robinson got thrust into a bit of a difficult situation, asked to learn the Boston offense and settle in as Rajon Rondo's primary backup at the point guard position after a five-player swap put him in green at the trade deadline. The Celtics tried to ease the learning curve by letting Robinson run some sets from his time with the Knicks, but a player used to a fire-away mentality (he averaged 11.2 shots per game in 30 contests with New York at the start of the year) seemed conflicted about playing the same way in Boston (he averaged 6 shots per game over 26 appearances with the Celtics).
The irony is that Robinson thrived when he didn't overthink the position and let his natural talents take over (recall the Wizards blowout game in April in which Robinson came off the bench, scored 13 points in seven minutes, and nearly rallied Boston back into the game). That's the type of player Boston needs. Someone who can run the second-unit offense, but isn't afraid to provide the scoring punch the reserves desperately lacked last season. And if that means being selfish, then so be it.
Robinson needs to build off his positive showing in the NBA Finals, where he emerged from the end of the bench to be an integral part of the reserve unit (culminating with the Game 4 exploits that saw the birth of Shrek & Donkey). Robinson looked like a player that had bought into Boston's system -- at both ends of the floor -- and that would provide a nice springboard to the 2010-11 campaign.
Fast FactsPosition: Forward
Vitals: 6-6, 200 lbs.
Experience: 7 years
Last season: 5.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
Salary: $2.4 million
It's impossible to mention Marquis Daniels in one breath, without health in the next. For a player that has missed 172 total games over seven NBA seasons (nearly 30 percent of his potential action, though some DNPs were surely not health related), it's imperative Daniels remains healthy this season. In fact, the Celtics are downright banking on it at this point.
Behind Paul Pierce, Daniels is essentially the only other true small forward on Boston's roster (not including Tony Gaffney, who could still win a job at camp). An injury to Daniels forces the Celtics to jam a square peg in a round hole by shuffling the likes of Von Wafer or Luke Harangody to the 3 (though Harangody will likely get a chance to show he can handle that spot thanks to a roster log-jam in the frontcourt, particularly once Kendrick Perkins is healthy).
Fast FactsPosition: Guard
Vitals: 6-4, 180 lbs.
Experience: 6 years
Last season: 8.8 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.8 rpg (Cleveland)
Salary: $1.07 million
After three tumultuous seasons since leaving Boston, Delonte West returns home with baggage (a 10-game suspension to start the season due to off-the-court troubles), but there's hope that a fresh start and a strong support system will hep the Celtics' former first-round pick (24th overall, 2004) rekindle what made him both a fan favorite and valuable contributor here in his first three seasons in the NBA.
Not only is West walking into a good situation for him personally, reuniting with familiar faces like Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and even Shaquille O'Neal, but Boston's lack of depth at the wing position also provides an opportunity for West to have a major role on this team. While his suspension will allow others to get a jump, West is likely to emerge as the first guard off the bench to spell Ray Allen.
Fast FactsPosition: Guard
Vitals: 6-2, 180 lbs
Experience: Rookie (1st round, 19th overall, 2010)
Last season: 11.6 ppg, 2.1 apg (Texas)
Salary: $1.4 million
The Celtics haven't employed a rookie selected in the top 20 of the draft since Gerald Green arrived with the 18th overall pick in 2005. Even expecting a Green-like type of contribution (7.5 points, 2 rebounds, 0.8 assists over 16 minutes per game in his rookie season) might be too much for Bradley, who joins a squad with exponentially more talent. That will allow Boston to bring Bradley along slowly and ramp up his floor time as his development allows.
Injured during a pre-draft workout, Bradley spent much of the summer rehabbing an injured ankle and missed summer league, so he's a bit behind to start the year. Ranked the No. 1 high school player in the nation by ESPNU two years ago (ahead of even John Wall), his talents should allow him to catch up quickly. The injury, which he said was the first one to ever sideline him for this long, leaves Bradley chomping at the bit to showcase his talents.
Fast FactsPosition: Forward
Vitals: 6-8, 246 lbs.
Experience: Rookie (2nd round, 52nd overall, 2010)
Last season: 21.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg (Notre Dame)
Little is expected of players selected in the back end of the NBA Draft. And despite Boston's success in finding second-round gems, you need look no further than the players the Celtics have selected in Harangody territory -- like Lester Hudson (58th overall, 2009), Orien Greene (53, 2005), and Brandon Hunter (56, 2003) -- to see the difficulty in plucking an NBA contributor out of the final spots.
Despite a stellar four-year college career at Notre Dame, Harangody arrived with cautious optimism. Then he went out and turned the Orlando Summer League into his coming out party, displaying NBA range and a scrappy game that helped land him a two-year guaranteed contract with the Celtics.
Fast FactsPosition: Center
Vitals: 6-11, 240 lbs.
Experience: Rookie (2nd round, 60th overall, 2008)
Last season: 8.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg (Fenerbahce Ulker)
Selected with the final pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Erden showed up in Boston just long enough to get his picture snapped alongside fellow draftees J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker, then promptly returned to his native Turkey with limited expectations of whether we'd even see him stateside again.
But after two more years of overseas seasoning, the 24-year-old Erden is headed back to America in hopes of helping Boston win a world title like the one it earned just a short time before he was drafted. So what can we expect from Erden this season?
We're going to add a slight wrinkle: At our last stop, we used to do a weekly high school football column that incorporated a musical album and the song titles (or lyrics from those songs) were used as part of the breakdown. It was one of the more fun articles to pen and we're hoping to find a way to incorporate it back in this space, so we'll give this a tryout here.
We kick off the series today with a look at the battle for the final roster spot, one of the more intriguing spots to watch at camp (even if the player that ultimately occupies this spot might climb higher in the rotation depending on positional need).
The competitors*Note: Both Gaffney and Lafayette have non-guaranteed deals unless they make the opening-day roster; Wafer is on a one-year deal and the league would pick up a small portion of the contract, that has a total potential value of $992,680 as a veteran with five year's experience.
After the Celtics signed Delonte West earlier this month, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge stressed that Boston would carry the 15 best players out of camp. He reiterated that to both Gaffney and Lafayette, who appear to be the only players on the team without at least a portion of their 2010-11 salaries guaranteed, leaving them on the outside looking in with Boston's roster at max capacity.
According to the insanely valuable salary site, ShamSports.com, Wafer's deal is only guaranteed up to $150,000, which would make him a relatively low-cost cut if the team decided that either Gaffney or Lafayette (or any other potential camp invite) had outperformed him during camp.
Wafer has a little something to prove, regardless of competition. Despite a breakout season in Houston two years ago, there are questions about his attitude after publicly clashing with his coach on the bench during a playoff game. Last year, he signed a lucrative two-year, $10 million contract with Greek squad Olympiakos, but was waived one month into the team's season.
To his credit, Wafer rolled with all the punches while speaking to Boston reporters for the first time at Shaquille O'Neal's glitzy introduction last month. He was self-deprecating when asked about his own defense ("I've heard bad things about my defense," he deadpanned) and admitted he acted out at the wrong time in Houston. He said his situation last year overseas made him mentally stronger. We'll find out just how strong later this month.
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