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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past two years, since the Celtics have won the Championship in 2007-08 the team has been looking for a reliable replacement for James Posey. Last year Tony Allen and Bill Walker didn’t work out as expected. This season we have Marquis Daniels who has been doing a great job playing each and every position, but one thing is lacking, the outside shot. The other day it was rumored that the very versatile player in Andres Nocioni was coming to Boston, and the Celtics would have two people filling in for Posey and would essentially be even better than Posey himself. That rumor was later denied by Boston.com, citing two sources saying that there had been no discussion of the trade with the Celtics.
Nocioni had been rumored to come to the Celtics ever since he was traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Sacramento Kings because he would be an ideal fit for the team and he doesn’t really fit in with the Kings, but it doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon.
The trade would’ve involved the Celtics, Kings and the Philadelphia 76ers. We would have sent Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen to the 76ers and J.R. Giddens to the Kings. In exchange we would’ve got Nocioni. The 76ers would’ve sent Samuel Dalembert to the Kings and Sacramento would have sent Kenny Thomas to the 76ers.
We would of gotten rid of Scalabrine and Allen’s expiring contracts but in return got a player who has three more years on his current contract after this season for a total of $20 million, with the third being a $7.5 million team option. That was the only thing that held the Celtics back because they just spent so much money on Rajon Rondo and still have the uncertainty of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce after the season. Nocioni would’ve complicated matters with the team’s core players and that was something that Danny Ainge and co. don’t want anything to do with. Had he been a free agent after the season then the deal would’ve been done in February when the Celtics initially looked at him, but his contract really kills the deal.
In Nocioni we would’ve got a 6-foot-7 220 pound small/power forward that is a career 37.5% three-point shooter. Daniels is a little smaller at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds and is only a career 23.6% three-point shooter. Daniels can run the point, the two guard and small forward positions. Nocioni, on the other hand, is better suited for small forward and can play power forward if needed.
If there is still a possibility that Nocioni is obtained then we can keep Eddie House and Daniels in the back court and have Nocioni primarily play small forward off the bench. He doesn’t put up Pierce-like numbers but does chip in across the board. For his career, he averages 11.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and shoots 80.6% from the free-throw line. Those are all solid numbers, in which have taken a little hit this season thus far because of the team’s willingness to progress its young players.
Sacramento’s first-round draft pick this past year Omri Casspi plays very similar to Nocioni, and with the Kings projected to finish at the bottom of the league, head coach Paul Westphal would like to further develop his young players. The team also has leading scorer Kevin Martin out 6-8 weeks and starting guard/forward Francisco Garcia out five months so right now is a good time to see where his young players are at in comparison to the rest of league.
Nocioni just doesn’t fit into the Kings and he never has, so if the Celtics picked up a player of his caliber it would’ve been worth the gamble. I know we would have gave up three players for one but right now we have the depth to do that and the trade would’ve made sense. We probably won’t re-sign either Scalabrine or Allen after the season and Giddens hasn’t lived up to his potential so if there was a good time to make the deal it would be now. After back-to-back losses, the Celtics could use a stronger scoring presence off the bench and give the starters even more rest.
Allen and Scalabrine have hardly played this season and the Celtics have multiple players ahead of them on the depth chart so they are very expendable. We also can’t forget about Glen “Big Baby” Davis coming back sometime in December after breaking his thumb in late October. So again, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have someone like Nocioni come in, log minutes and score off the bench.
A bench that would feature House, Daniels, Nocioni, Shelden Williams and Rasheed Wallace would easily be the best bench in the NBA and would provide much relief for the starters. Maybe the Celtics could still bring in Nocioni for this season and find a trade for him after the season so that they will have money to spend on Allen and make sure Pierce doesn’t use his early termination option and become a free agent.
Another player that could be substituted for Nocioni could be Ricky Davis of the Los Angeles Clippers. I know that we had him a couple of years ago, but what people don’t realize is that he performed very well in Boston and never got into any trouble while he was here. He is only 30 years-old, knows how to play in the NBA, is a free agent after the season and he would easily take a bench role backing up Pierce any day.
Travis Outlaw of the Portland Trail Blazers is also an option. I know that he will be out the next 6-8 weeks for surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot, but we don’t necessarily need him right now either. He is a career .361% three-point shooter and will also be a free agent after the season. He is still young and improving, the only problem is that the injury really hurts his status.
Keith Bogans of the San Antonio Spurs could also be an option, even though he is more of a shooting guard rather than a small forward. He is a career .351% shooter from beyond the arc but his role the past few years has been diminished. He hasn’t played much and his career average of 7.5 points per game is lower than what we need. His arrival in Boston isn’t very likely.
There is also the possibility of his teammate Michael Finely. Finley is another veteran who would be willing to come off the bech for the Celtics and he is a career .375% three point shooter. The only problem, he is 36 years-old and it’s unlikely that the Spurs would want to depart with him because he fulfills the same role on their team. Would be nice though.
Another stretch is Kyle Korver of the Utah Jazz. This guy comes off the bench and shoots lights out from beyond the arc. He is a career .404% shooter from deep and owns a career 10.2 points per game. He is a free agent after the season and his salary matches up well with Scalabrine and Tony Allen’s put together, but it’s hard to believe the Jazz would give up his services so easily. He is also out until the end of November with a knee injury. He is a large shooting guard who could spread the floor but it is also unlikely that the Jazz move him anytime soon.
Then there is Wally Szczerbiak. He is a unresticted free agent who came off the bench for both the Cavaliers and the Seattle Supersonics and would probably welcome a move back to Boston. I know I never liked him while he was on the Celtics but maybe as a key bench player he would be better. He is a career .406% from beyond the arc and adds a .860% from the free-throw line. What he does is spread the floor and create offense off the bench and that is something the Celtics could use. Sure, he doesn’t have the size Nocioni has, but he is a much better shooter. He is a strong small forward and would spell Pierce very well, they just can’t play together. We know how that turns out. If his defense has picked up then he might look like a better shooting version of Posey and that is something Danny Ainge might want to look into.
The Celtics are not believed to be in the running for Nocioni anymore because of his contract, but I am sure that the Celtics will still be willing to move both Scalabrine and Tony Allen and possibly Giddens to get a player like Nocioni in return. I think that signing Szczerbiak would be interesting but the likely-hood of that happening is also slim. It’d be nice for the C’s to obtain a true forward and have Daniels play the guard positions but there is the possibility of finding that player within the Celtics bench too. Maybe Bill Walker will emerge and be that strong player we need off the bench. Who knows. All I know for now is that the Celtics are no longer interested in Nocioni, but things could change.