When the Celtics shipped Tayshaun Prince to Detroit at the trade deadline for Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome last Thursday, the move was met with a general shrug of the shoulders. The big move of the day was the deal for Isaiah Thomas - obtaining a pair of Pistons bigs for an expiring contract was merely an afterthought.
A week later, Thomas is still clearly the headliner in Boston's deadline moves. But Jerebko made it clear Wednesday night that he's more than a mere throw-in.
The 27-year-old Swedish forward scored a team-high 20 points in a 115-94 pasting of the Knicks, knocking down seven of his 10 shots and four of his six 3-pointers in 21 minutes. New York made just two 3's as a team.
Jerebko was little more than a sideshow for his first two games in green - he played five minutes in his Boston debut against the Lakers Sunday, then didn't play Monday against Phoenix. He reportedly was suffering from an illness, but he appeared fully healthy Wednesday night.
With Jared Sullinger out for the season and Kelly Olynyk still sidelined from a sprained ankle on Jan. 22, Brad Stevens resorted to playing just two post players - Brandon Bass and Tyler Zeller - against the Suns. He expanded that rotation to include Jerebko against New York, even experimenting with some wild combinations that had the 6-foot-10, 230-lb. forward playing center.
Absurd: a lineup that featured Jerebko at center was +15 in six minutes. Him on last time playing position: "I really don't even remember."— Jay King (@ByJayKing) February 26, 2015
While that's probably not a lineup the Celtics can get away with often (particularly against teams better than the atrocious Knicks), Jerebko might be worth a look. In the final year of his four-year, $18-million deal, Jerebko averaged just 15.2 minutes playing behind Josh Smith (now with Houston), Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in Detroit. But he made 46.7 percent of his shots, including 38.6 percent of his 3-pointers, and has worked dramatically to improve his outside shooting over his career.
Jerebko is a plus-2.4 per 100 possessions this season. He has little to no post game and isn't a great rebounder or defender. But he's a competent big that provides size and outside shooting for a team currently starving for both.
It remains to be seen if Jerebko will be a long-term part of the Celtics' plans, and his time in Boston could last just a few months. But with Sullinger out and Olynyk ailing, the Swedish forward has been given an opportunity to prove himself. What he does with that chance will determine what his next contract looks like and where it will come from.
Photo credit: Maddie Meyer, Getty ImagesDan Hoppen 2/26/2015 10:07:00 AM Tweet Edit