UPDATE (1:31): This list just got a little more relevent, because Yahoo! is reporting Grant Hill has re-signed with Phoenix. Hill apparently believes Steve Nash is about to sign an extension and feels “comfortable” with the direction the Suns are going. Personally, I’m not shedding any tears over this. The C’s could get nearly equal production from a few guys on this list, if not the steadiness and smarts Hill brings.
The Celtics have to find a capable back-up to Paul Pierce. Tony Allen has failed in chance after chance to seize the role, and there is no evidence that J.R. Giddens or Bill Walker will be able to assume it reliably this season. Paul Pierce is 31, played his most minutes since 2006 last season and looked exhausted at times in the playoffs. The Celtics have to rest him more next season. It’s easy now, in July, to think that, hey, the regular season isn’t really that important, so why not see if Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens can gave us 15 minutes per night?
But that’s not how the NBA works–not when teams are going to be fighting hard for playoff seeding.
With that in mind, here are some wing types that remain out there and possibly could be had for the biannual exception–which is the best Boston can offer outside of a complex sign-and-trade. (This means, by the way, that any restricted free agent whose team has tendered him a qualifying offer is now out of our reach. So goodbye Hakim Warrick and Jamario Moon). Consider this your “in case Grant Hill actually makes the ridiculous decision to sign with the Knicks” list:
In no particular order:
• Matt Barnes: At 6’7”, Barnes has the size, range, handle and quickness to be a serviceable Pierce back-up. I once joked to a Suns fan that every time I flipped to a Phoenix game, it seemed like Barnes was hitting three-pointers. His response: “You must not watch many Suns games.” His shooting is overrated (career 32 percent from deep), but he could fit well here provided he plays within his limitations.
• Rodney Carney: Had a solid January and March for the T’Wolves, but otherwise has shown little advancement in his three years in the NBA. His offense is limited, and his rebounding is awful, but he’s been a capable defender of both shooting guards and small forwards. As Kevin Arnovitz at Clipperblog points out, his on/off court numbers–if you believe such things are relevant–were positive last season. An intriguing project.
• Marquis Daniels: A bit under-sized for a true wing at 6’5”, Daniels never lived up to the mid-level type deal he signed with the Mavs after 2004. He lacks three-point range, and his jump shot is shaky. But he generally works hard and, like Carney, his on/off defensive numbers were solid last season in Indiana. He also played more at small forward than at shooting guard, so he has experience playing the three spot.
• Desmond Mason: Mason is coming off a lost season with the Thunder, but he has carved out a role for himself as a solid defender of both shooting guards and small forwards. His offensive game–and shooting range–appear to be eroding, but, like all the players on this list, he could fit well in Boston if asked to do only a few things. Mason is also 31 years old, which seems impossible. God, I’m old.
• Keith Bogans: Bogans is an interesting player. By one measure, he’s a terrible shooter; his career FG% is under 40 percent. But he’s a 35 percent three-point shooter, which means he can be a useful offensive player on the right team and in the right system. At 6’5”, can he guard wing players effectively?
• Ime Udoka: The least experienced of all of these players, even though, at nearly 32, he’s the oldest. He played 75 games for Portland in 2007 and shot 41 percent from deep, but he’s spent the last two seasons buried on the fringe of Gregg Popovich’s rotation in San Antonio. He’s a solid athlete who can defend well, but his offensive game is limited.
• Joey Graham: I cannot evaluate Joey Graham rationally. I have deep connections to the city of Toronto, so I’ve attended several Raptors games over the last two seasons, and Joey Graham has played astonishingly well in almost all of them. He can jump out of the building, his dunks are ferocious, he’s a solid athlete and capable defender, and whenever I watch, he adds a mid-range jump shot on top of it all. The guy is like a junior varsity combo of Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone when I’m in the building.
The numbers show the profile of a below average NBA player. At 6’7”, he’s built almost like a power forward, and his offensive game does not extend any further then Big Baby’s. But he played almost all of his minutes at small forward last season, so he’s familiar with the role.
So, there’s the list. Uninspiring, for sure. But there are useful players here. Who do you like? And who have I missed?