A Different Slant on the Roster

There are a lot of perspectives from which fans view their team’s roster. If they are all bubbly and crowing in a bar, they usually lead with the top dogs or strength of the starting five or rotation of nine. If they are pondering with friends on how the team will do, they probably home in on the weakest starter or least capable backup(s). If they are looking at the long haul, they frequently examine the up-and-comers and/or the potential development of the last third of the roster. My least favorite are the irrational fanatics that call for trading the non-rotation guys for a superstar, or maybe the three inactive’s for a starter. Most of us diehards have viewed our team through each of the myopic spectacles cited above, at least from time to time. I have one more point of view—would you swap our worst/weakest/last player for anybody currently unemployed?

Much of the media today, lacking any storylines in the limbo between the last of the preseason games and the starter’s pistol going off next Tuesday, has drifted toward players available due to the final camp cuts or still moldering on the unclaimed free-agent heap. As I perused the various lists a curious thought struck me. Unlike the past three seasons when I would have eagerly swapped out one or more of the 9-15 guys for “upgrades,”
this time I found myself reluctant to even exchange #15 for the cream of the crop. This both surprised me and gave me a flutter of excitement about the upcoming season. My next thought was whether this was due to the strength of this year’s roster, or the weakness of the discard pile? Make the call yourself.

Sam Amico in his new column, Double Dribbles, offered a partial list of the unclaimed from this past summer’s free agent list plus some early cuts:

Center: Erick Dampier (Charlotte); Fabricio Oberto (Washington); Earl Barron (New York); Mark Blount (Minnesota); Earl Barron (New York).

Power Forward: Sean May (New Jersey); Mikki Moore (Golden State); Josh Boone (New Jersey); Ike Diogu (Detroit); Shavlik Randolph (Miami).

Small Forward: Jarvis Hayes (New Jersey); Devean George (Golden State); Ime Udoka (Sacramento); Jonathan Bender (New York).

Shooting Guard: Flip Murray (Chicago); Sasha Pavlovic (Minnesota); Larry Hughes (Charlotte); Jerry Stackhouse (Milwaukee); Rashad McCants (Sacramento); Juan Dixon (Atlanta); Trenton Hassell (New Jersey); Kareem Rush (L.A. Clippers), Michael Finley (Boston).

Point Guard: Allen Iverson (Philadelphia); Rafer Alston (Miami); Jamaal Tinsley (Memphis); Mike James (Washington); Javaris Crittenton (Charlotte); Eddie Gill (New Jersey)

To this we might add a couple of former #3 overall picks, Adam Morrison and Darius Miles.

It occurred to me that Ainge has already dipped into the discard bin with the short stay of Tiny Gallon, who is no threat for a current roster slot but who I heartily agree is a shrewd addition as a Red Claw with ties (if no strings). However for the remnants above, I had little response. Now if Shaq broke a leg next week, I would certainly inquire whether Dampier or Earl Barron might now consider signing for the vet minimum they thus far have eschewed. If Marquis Daniels head butts himself into oblivion next week, Jarvis Hayes holds some appeal. Von Wafer, by most accounts, secured the last roster spot. Barring a need created by long-term injury, there is no one in the above list who I think strengthens the Celtics roster more than our current #15. Bottom line--while the list is pretty weak, the C’s are indeed quite strong.