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It should not be a secret to any Celtics fan that the team is without a true backup point guard. In the 2007-2008 campaign, the team picked up Sam Cassell in March, and he helped guide the team towards their 17th NBA Championship.
Last season, the Celtics again entered the campaign without a true backup point guard (Cassell was on the team, but he never suited up). After disgruntled point guard Stephon Marbury finally worked out a buyout with the Knicks, the Celtics swooped in and signed him. Marbury was not the saving grace that the team hoped he would be, and the Celtics fell to the Magic in the second round of the playoffs.
For the third season in a row, the Celtics will not have a true backup for Rajon Rondo. The team has some options in-house, and there may be some options out there for the Celtics to pick up. So where does the team go from here?
Eddie House is entering his third year as a backup guard for the Boston Celtics. House is a shoot-first, shoot-second, and shoot-third type of guard, and for good reason. House has hit numerous big shots for the team, especially in the playoffs. Despite House’s big shots, he is not a great ball handler, and that is being generous. House has played the role of backup point guard at times during the past two seasons, and has done a serviceable job. However, when the Celtics reach the playoffs, they will need more than serviceable in order to topple the Magic, Cavs, and Lakers.
House has been playing the role of backup point guard for the majority of the Celtics’ first two regular season games. In these games, House has averaged 5.0 points, 1.5 assists, and 0.5 turnovers. House has not taken too many shots so far this season, making 4 of 10 (3 of 7 from behind the arc). We could be seeing a change in mentality in Eddie House, simply because he no longer needs to be the scoring threat off the bench. If Eddie starts to mold his game to benefit those around him, we may see Eddie keep the backup point guard job and hold it throghout the playoffs.
Besides Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels was the biggest pickup for the Celtics this offseason. Daniels comes to the team from Indiana, where he averaged 13.6 points and 2.1 assists in 54 games. Daniels burst onto the scene in his rookie year with Dallas, and has not really lived up to all the hype since. He joins this club in an attempt to revitalize his career and show the rest of the NBA that he still has it. Doc Rivers has stated that he will try and use Daniels as a point guard this season, due to Daniels’ previous experience as a point guard when he was younger.
He was impressive in the Celtics’ preseason game against the Cavs, as well. In 30 minutes, he scored 17 points, recorded 5 assists, and did not turn the ball over. Daniels has played fantastic for the Celtics in these first two regular season games. In them, he has averaged 4.5 points, 3.0 assists, and 1.0 turnover per game. The most impressive part of his game is the way he moves across the floor setting up opportunities for himself and his teammates. Daniels has above average ball handling skills, and as long as he can keep the team in the game, he stands as the best current option for the team.
J.R. Giddens is entering his second year in the NBA after being drafted by the Celtics with the 30th pick in 2008. Giddens was not a factor for the C’s last season, only playing 8 total minutes while playing 6 games. He was a strong player at Kansas his freshman year, and at New Mexico his senior year, but has not shown much that would warrant playing time with the C’s. He did not played much this preseason, only averaging 11.4 minutes per game, showing that the coaching staff does not believe he will be a major factor for the team this season.
Giddens has not received much opportunity in this young season, only playing 8 minutes Wednesday night against Charlotte. His little playing time shows how much Doc does not trust putting him in with the game on the line, and definitely showing that Giddens is not the first or second guard option off the bench.
Lester Hudson is the lone rookie on the Celtics this season. Hudson was a standout player at Tennessee-Martin, but so far it does not look like he will be getting much playing time this season. He is in the same situation as J.R. Giddens, as one of the last guards off the bench. Hudson did get a chance to play in the Charlotte game, logging 10 minutes, but he did not score after taking only one shot.
The Celtics seem to like Hudson’s game and will most likely keep him with the team for a while if they do not choose to send him to the NBA Developmental League. Hudson may be being groomed to be a future star in this organization, especially with an aging Big Three, but for now he will have to take his place at the end of the bench.
These are not the only options for the Celtics. There are still free agent point guards available that the team could sign, however, the Celtics have no room to sign any free agents at this time due to their current financial situation. If the Celtics were to trade a player away or free up cap space in some way, there are a few veteran free agents available that could help the Celtics’ push.
This 36-year-old journeyman point guard has career averages of 9.7 PPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.34 turnovers per game. If the Celtics want to sign Bobby Jackson, they are going to have to convince him to come out of retirement first. With little interest generated around the NBA, Jackson has decided he would be better off taking a front office position. Jackson is a former Sixth Man of the Year winner and plays slightly above-average defense. However, he does not possess the level of athleticism that the Celtics already have.
Brevin Knight arguably played the best basketball of his career when he was a member of the Charlotte Bobcats. In his first two seasons with the Bobcats, Knight averaged 8.9 assists. Considering his supporting cast with the Bobcats, Knight’s numbers are pretty impressive.
However, since that season, Knight’s numbers have sharply declined. He averaged 2.6 assists with Utah last season, but only played about 13 minutes a game. If Knight was with Boston, he would have a fantastic team around him, and would play a fair amount of minutes behind Rondo. Knight would be a solid pickup for the Celtics, especially if he played some minutes with the Big Three.
Tyronn Lue has been a serviceable backup his entire career. However, he has been a non-factor in the NBA since 2006. The best part about Lue’s game is that he does not turn the ball over much, if at all. His ball-handling skills would be a huge upgrade over Eddie House, but his does not have the playmaker ability that Marquis Daniels does. While Lue is a solid player, he would not be the first or second guard off the bench for the Celtics.
According to WEEI, Tyronn Lue has just recently signed on with the Celtics, but as an assistant. This could mean one or two things. First, Lue could be on his way to becoming a midseason replacement for the Celtics, or it could mean that his playing days are over. This is a situation we will have to keep our eyes on.
The Celtics have enough options on the team now to help them win games. They survived the regular season the past two years with Eddie House as their primary backup. Doc Rivers should allow Marquis Daniels to have a trial run as the backup point guard. If Daniels fails at that role, then maybe it will be time for the Celtics to go out and try to sign Brevin Knight, Tyronn Lue, or convince Bobby Jackson to come out of retirement. However, with his performance in the preseason, it looks like Daniels has taken control of the position and does not want to relinquish the role.
Whatever the team decides, they are in a much better situation than they have been in the last two seasons with the Big Three. The future looks bright in Boston after a successful offseason for the Celtics, and Operation: Green 18 is now in full effect.