Celtics Contemplate Cutting Garnett
February 14, 1999
VANCOUVER - Walter McCarty already has his spot reserved. Pervis Ellison already has an endowed chair. But someone else will join them on the injured list tomorrow when the two-week concession to the lockout ends and rosters must be trimmed to 12.
The Celtics have 15 players on their roster, the maximum allowed until tomorrow. McCarty still is hobbled by a sprained big right toe. He hasn't played since reinjuring it in the opener against Toronto and has been relegated to cheerleader status ever since.
There are, of course, several candidates for that not-so-coveted third spot. "We'll have to play it by ear," coach Rick Pitino said. Someone may even actually get hurt and warrant a spot. But in the event that nothing untoward happened last night in the game against the Grizzlies, Pitino has the following options:
- Marlon Garnett: He's a rookie and the team wants to keep him around. If he's seen with a copy of "Gray's Anatomy," we can take it from there.
- Greg Minor: He was slowed during the abbreviated training camp by bone spurs, but has not been bothered by them lately. His biggest problem is playing time. Now that Ron Mercer is back, Minor is another step rung down the ladder. He registered a DNP-CD against the Kings. So did Garnett.
- Dwayne Schintzius: He could be the most unlikely of the three because he's a center and the Celtics need big men. But he has had problems with his nose and back, so that's always an option. Probably a long shot.
- Cut someone: The most unlikely situation of all. Pitino already excised Dontae Jones and, other than Garnett, there's really no one on the bubble making short money (in NBA currency).
The Celtics will practice today in British Columbia before flying to Portland. It could be an eventful workout.
The Celtics didn't have much time to dwell on their tough loss the night before in Sacramento. Pitino canceled the scheduled morning shootaround and opted instead for film work and a walkthrough in the team's hotel ballroom. (That's an old Pat Riley move.) The players even dressed in their practice uniforms.
Pitino still is concerned about some pretty glaring shortcomings, namely shot selection and transition/ post defense. The Celtics entered last night's game shooting 41.6 percent as a team, a truly awful figure in most years. This year, there are 10 teams shooting even worse, including last night's opponent (the Grizzlies came in hitting 40.4 percent of their shots).
The problems on defense were crystallized for all to see on the Kings' winning hoop, when Corliss Williamson and Jon Barry beat the Celtics down the floor and Big Nasty turned it into a 3-point play. "We have got to do a better job getting back," Pitino said.
As for post defense, well, you need a post presence. Pitino juggled centers in Sacramento with Andrew DeClercq getting the most minutes (16). Starter Eric Riley played only 11 minutes and had played 41 minutes in the previous three games after going 40 against Cleveland.
The Grizzlies also canceled their shootaround, having gone to double overtime Tuesday night before flying back from Anaheim. They landed at 3:30 a.m. The Grizzlies used the Dallas Mavericks' charter plane because theirs was being used by the Canucks . . . There was an interesting coaching decision late in the game against the Kings which shows how Pitino operates. The Celtics led, 96-94, with 2:26 to go when Pitino called a 20-second timeout and substituted Dana Barros for Kenny Anderson. Why? Because he wanted a quick three from Barros, which would have boosted the lead to 5. Barros got a good look, but missed. "That was the play and I had a good shot," Barros said. "I just couldn't get it to drop. I couldn't get anything to drop." Barros, who was 0 for 4 from international waters, was replaced by Anderson at the next break . . . The Celtics entered last night's game tied as the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA. Among the glass-crashers against the Kings were Paul Pierce (six offensive rebounds) and Popeye Jones (three). Being a good offensive rebounding team does carry an asterisk, however. It means you generally get a lot of chances because you miss a lot of shots.