There have been a variety of reports in recent days about the possibility of Keyon Dooling returning to the C’s this season to fill up one of the team’s open two roster spots after the injury to Rajon Rondo. While both Dooling and head coach Doc Rivers spoke of a potential interest of a return to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe, Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald had Danny Ainge stating on the record, the team had no interest in bringing back Dooling at this time.
One day later, it appears the message of that lack of interest has got through to Dooling himself, who posted this tweet earlier this afternoon stating he would not be back with the C’s as a player this year.
— Keyon Dooling (@AmbassadorKD) January 30, 2013
The reasoning for this lack of interest is pretty simple from my perspective and involves a few factors.
1) The C’s backcourt is quite crowded as is. With four very capable guards who are all more talented than Dooling at this stage of their career. They are also in shape and Keyon is not and that process will take a few weeks for Dooling.
2) The team needing flexibility for trades because of their salary cap situation. As we’ve covered before the C’s have a hard cap of $74.3 million dollars this year since they used the full MLE on Jason Terry this summer. If the team decided to sign Dooling (or any) free agent at this point, they would be guaranteed a salary for the remainder of the season, counting against the salary cap, inching the C’s closer to the hard cap. Right now, the C’s are about $2 million dollars shy of it, and with trades of some sort almost certainly on the horizon in the coming weeks, Danny Ainge needs that extra $2 million dollars of flexibility as well as those two open roster spots to keep all possible trade avenues open.
Based on these factors, Ainge has declined to bring in Dooling and probably won’t bring in another other free agent (beyond a 10-day contract) until the trade deadline passes next month. Until then, the C’s will go with who they have, while waiting for the potential trade dominoes to fall in helping this team win now or potentially blow up this core for good.