For the third time in just 16 days, the Boston Celtics are facing a season ending injury to an important rotation player. First it was All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, lost with a torn ACL in a loss against the Hawks. Next it was rookie starter Jared Sullinger, who's sore back led to surgery to correct an injured disc. Now it appears that reserve guard Leandro Barbosa will join his two teammates on the shelf after his knee buckled following a 3rd quarter drive to the basket in last night's loss to the Bobcats.
While Barbosa may not be an All-Star like Rondo, or even a starter, like Sullinger, the team had begun to rely on his ability to score points as soon as he stepped off the bench. Despite averaging just 12.5 minutes per game this season, the 'Brazilian Blur' had chipped in with 5.2 points per game. And since Rondo's injury, his role had grown, as Barbosa was scoring 8.0 points per game over 21 minutes of action.
While it was a huge blow when Rondo went down, the solution was always quite simple: play Barbosa, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee more. The C's had NBA caliber players to fill Rondo's minutes, even if they weren't All-Stars. But now who do the Celtics turn to to fill in for Barbosa? There are only three guards left on the roster, in Terry, Lee and Avery Bradley, and all three already have major roles. Hell, there are only 10 healthy players on the roster in all, and two of them, Fab Melo and Jason Collins, should not be playing if at all possible. Danny Ainge has been holding on to roster flexibility all season, and for good reason, as you never know when a rash of injuries will strike a team. But the time has come to cash in some of that flexibility and bring in a guard. Who's available? Well let's take a look.
Shelvin Mack - The Celtics have a relationship with the Maine Red Claws, so it makes sense that they'll take a look at their roster before rushing into any deals. Mack, a Butler Bulldog when they nearly won the National Championship in both 2010 and 2011, is averaging 19.6 points, 7.6 assists and 4.7 rebounds for the Red Claws and has averaged 3.6 points and 2.1 assists in 75 career NBA games. Mack is probably the only Red Claw ready to step into an NBA rotation right now.
Andre Barrett - The only other player on Maine's roster that could possibly receive a call is Andre Barrett, who could be an option if Ainge is looking for a pure point guard. Barrett, 30, has not played in an NBA game in 5 years, but is currently averaging 8.3 points and 9.3 assists in 30 minutes a game for the Red Claws. It'd be a long shot to see Barrett take Barbosa's role, as he is not an efficient scorer, but considering the C's may have more roster spots opening up (they currently have two, and Barbosa could be released if he's out for the season), he could be on the roster by season's end.
Delonte West - As soon as Rondo went down, there were Celtics fans screaming for the team to bring in two-time Celtic Delonte West, so it's no surprise that he's once again being talked about. The problem with West, as always, isn't his skill set, but his off the court issues. Considering he's still just 29 years old, and coming off a solid season for the Mavs, it's a definite red flag that no other team has taken a chance on him after his ugly divorce from Dallas. Now it is true that West has behaved in both of his Celtics runs, but his personal issues also seem to be getting worse. West is also injury prone, missing 130 games over the past 5 seasons.
Derek Fisher - Another out of work former Maverick who shoots from his left, Derek Fisher, could get a look from the C's as well. Unlike West, who's loved for both his Celtics ties, and history with Lebron's Mom, Fisher is despised around these parts thanks to his Laker past. Personally I'd be willing to let bygones be bygones if Fish could still play, but I don't think he can. He was cut by Dallas just nine games into this season, and is now 38 years old. If Fisher is Barbosa's replacement, the Celtics are in trouble.
Michael Redd - Speaking of ACL injuries, former Bucks star Michael Redd is the poster child for how the injury can derail a players career. Redd appeared in just 61 games from 2008-11 as he recovered from two torn ACL's, and in that time fell from being an All-Star who averaged 21 points a game, to out of work. The former Buckeye did put up 8 points a game off the bench for the Suns last season, but has been unable to land a job so far this year. His athleticism is just about all gone, but perhaps the 10 month hiatus from basketball has helped a bit.
Allen Iverson - Ok I at least had to put the name down considering the ability to score the ball and create your own shot is not something that is available in all that many places on the NBA landscape. So when one of the great scorers of all time is looking for work, and willing to come off the bench - I mean you at least have to bring him in for a workout, right? For those worried about A.I.'s 'locker room' effect, don't be. On a team with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Iverson would either accept his role, or be shown the door. Again I'm not saying this is a sure fire home run, but yea, I'd bring him in for a workout and see if he had anything left in the tank.
Keyon Dooling - Saw his name pop up again last night, but he's already said he wasn't coming back, AND that he's out of shape. I mean, he's a great dude, but the Celtics should be looking for someone ready to contribute right now.
J.J. Redick, Magic - The best name on this list is Magic guard J.J. Redick, currently enjoying a career season for a hapless Orlando team. Redick is averaging 15.5 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 40% from downtown. Seems like he'd be a great fit. Only problem is - who the hell would the Celtics give up? While Orlando is certainly willing to make a deal, they'd want a good return for the 28 year old, and I just don't think the Celtics match-up in that department. With Sullinger out, Avery Bradley and Fab Melo are probably the only two pieces that teams looking to re-build would be interested in, and I highly doubt that the Celtics would want to give up Bradley in any deal. Therefore while Redick would be a great get, he's just not realistic.
Jose Juan Barea, Timberwolves - Northeastern's favorite son, J.J. Barea is quietly putting together yet another strong season for the Timberwolves, putting up 11 points a game off the bench for Minnesota. While Barea certainly would not be free, Minnesota is stocked with a lot of young, talented players that may start to phase Barea out. Ricky Rubio has returned to form after his own ACL tear, and his minutes limit has been removed, while rookie Alexy Shved appears to the shooting guard of the future, averaging 11 points and 4.5 assists a game this year. The C's lack of assets would again be an issue, but the price tag for Barea is sure to be lower than for Redick, considering this J.J. is an undersized guard on a team that has their starting back court set for years to come.
Luke Ridnour, Timberwolves - playing really well which probably raises his price tag, but with Rubio and Shved in place, he could be had.
Eric Maynor, Thunder - fallen out of the rotation in OKC in favor of Reggie Jackson, not a scorer at all, would fill the need for a point guard.
Daniel 'Boobie' Gibson, Cavs - completely out of the mix in Cleveland, seems to have a similar skill set to Barbosa, and most likely could be had if the Celtics could match-up with his $4.7 million dollar salary. Still only 26 somehow, and signed through next season.
Ok so there's a look at the names, but who's the best fit in the bunch? If I were Ainge, I bring in Mack immediately because I think he can give the Celtics 10-15 decent minutes while they figure out what to do. I would also bring Iverson in for a workout, and consult with Pierce and Garnett about what they think. If those two thought his presence in the locker room was too much of a distraction, or he looks like a shadow of himself in the workout - pass. If Pierce and KG gave the thumbs up, and A.I. looked like he could still score a bit, I'd take a chance.
As for the trade targets, I'd be on the phone with Minnesota right now asking about Barea as he's exactly what the Celtics need to replace Barbosa, and probably is a better player than the Blur is at this point. The problem, as mentioned above, is what do the Wolves look for in a deal? You'd have to hope that GM David Kahn is looking to shed Barea's salary as he looks to lock up restricted free agents Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger this off-season.
So that's what I'd do, but be sure to sound off in the comments section about who you'd bring in to take the currently vacant rotation spot the Celtics have.
Follow Mike on twitter - Mike_Dyer13 Michael Dyer 2/12/2013 02:11:00 PM Tweet Edit