Vanilla Thunder for a Second Rounder?
Reports of Sam Cassell’s imminent return to the Boston Celtics do not surprise me. As I wrote in July, Cassell might be a candidate to fill the role of player-coach in 2008-09, sitting on the bench in suit and tie for most of the season, but playing Superman in the phone booth when injuries to Rajon Rondo dictate.
Either way, Sam would cost the Celtics a roster spot sooner or later. Knowing Danny (and I know him so well, :), he will hedge his bets and push the envelope, not making a decision until the last minute.
The question then becomes exactly when is the last minute?
If the regular season were to start tomorrow, Cassell might begin the season on the bench in an official capacity as assistant coach. No hit to the salary cap. No hit to the 15-man roster. This could happen if Gabe Pruitt continues to intrigue and show improvement and no suitors line-up for Brian Scalabrine. Both likely scenarios.
What happens once Rondo tweaks a knee or an ankle?
A couple of possibilities.
We trade Scalabrine for a second-round pick (plus a stiff whom we immediately cut, if the CBA requires to make the salaries match). This makes me nervous, because Scalabrine, while not a playmaker, is the ultimate Ubuntu guy. He does whatever is asked of him whenever its asked (within the limitations of his physical gifts, of course). He can play the three, four, or five positions, and the Celtics were 7-2 when he filled in at power forward for an injured Garnett. He’s also taller than Powe and BBD, and lacks the history of knee and behavior problems that mar the resume of Darius Miles.
Another option would be to deal Leon Powe or BBD. Packaged with next year’s number one (or Bill Walker or Pruitt), Powe or BBD might land the Celtics a veteran big of some value. A lot of people say Powe and BBD are interchangeable. I don’t. I like them both, and for different reasons. I don’t like the idea of moving either of them, mostly because they do provide energy and punch off the bench, but also because trading either one would risk upsetting the team chemistry, and until proven otherwise, the assumption is that the chemistry from last year will carry over to next season. So I say Danny milks both of these players this year, barring some unforeseen catastrophic injury to a starter.
Bottom line is that the Celtics can carry more than 15 players on their roster well into October, which gives them time to work things out. Danny will surely have several contingency plans ready by the time camp opens.
My guess is that Pistol Pete’s old number may be available before the season ends. On the other hand, adding Cassell while jettisoning Scalabrine amounts to a trade of Cassell for Scalabrine, or a 39-year-old point guard for a 30-year-old veteran big who plays multiple positions.
That doesn't sound like a particularly good trade to me, especially when we supposedly have three point guards ahead of Cassell on the depth chart.
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