October 5, 2005
The deal came through late and it came through rather uneventfully, especially around here. But Dan Dickau is on the Celtics. Amid the annual September basketball doldrums and the frightening enormity of Hurricane Katrina, it is understandable a sign-and-trade deal involving a second-round pick wasn't going to ring newsroom bells in New Orleans. Or Boston.
But, in the long run, Danny Ainge might be able to write in his memoirs he pulled off a real coup in bringing the 6-foot Dickau to town for such a bargain. (A second-round pick? For a player whose team pushed him for Most Improved Player and who finished fifth in the voting? Ridiculous.) But the Hornets had a lot on their plate in their post-Katrina existence, they had a new, marquee point guard (Chris Paul) and they had a veteran owed money (Speedy Claxton) and, well, as Dickau put it yesterday, "they had their own ideas. I'm happy to be here."
The feeling should be mutual. Forests have been cleared chronicling the logjam at the Celtics' point guard position, but only one of the purported candidates has anything resembling NBA game experience - and that candidate is Dickau. And why should we automatically pit him against Delonte West in the battle for the No. 1 spot? Wouldn't you like to see those two starting? Talk about a cerebral backcourt. I have to think that combo is on Doc Rivers's wish list. If it isn't, it should be.
Rivers has had Dickau for only a few workouts, but, already he sees things about the point guard that make him, an ex-point guard himself, crack a smile. For instance, a knack for the game. An understanding of who should be where. It's innate, really. You have it or you don't. Dickau has it.
"He has great feel," Rivers said. "That stands out. You can see it. He's one of those guys that guys want to play with because not only does he shoot the ball, he delivers the ball and that's important. When you got a guy who can read better than other guys, it's going to help your offense."
God knows, the Celtics' half-court offense (from last year, anyway) could use any help it could get. While the Celtics did shoot a high percentage from the field, much of that was because of better shot selection and, for a while, a commitment to the running game. Dickau thrives in such situations and he made believers in Boston last season playing for the hapless Hornets.
It can be dangerous to read good things into flossy numbers on a bad team, but that didn't stop Dickau from getting a fair amount of support for the league's Most Improved Player. Five members of the esteemed fourth estate made him their No. 1 pick. He picked up more overall votes than LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire, but not as many as Primoz Brezec. Go figure.
It took him some time. Dickau was drafted by Sacramento in 2002, traded to Atlanta, traded to Portland, traded to Golden State, traded to Dallas and traded to New Orleans. That's six teams (he didn't play for Sacramento and Golden State) in three seasons. But no one gave him the opportunity the Hornets did and, despite New Orleans's horrible season, Dickau acquitted himself well. He averaged 13.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game for the Hornets.
"We watched Dan play a lot of games last year, probably about 20 games on tape," said Ainge, who said he liked Dickau coming out of college (Gonzaga) and his main underlings, Chris Wallace and Leo Papile, liked Dickau even more. "I was very impressed with the way he played last year, how he handled his team offensively. I didn't think they had a lot of great scorers around him, but he was able to be a real asset offensively. On the pick and roll, he was terrific. He made clutch shots. He ran the clock well. We spent more time evaluating him because we knew the Hornets were going to draft a point guard."
Asked about playing last year under such dreadful conditions, Dickau said, "It wasn't hard for me because I had a chance to play. And as a competitor, I wanted to help my team to win. We didn't win many games, but it wasn't for a lack of trying on my part or on the part of a lot of my teammates."
But the Hornets showed minimal interest in re-signing him - "It was interesting, fun, and confusing all at the same time," Dickau said of the free agency experience - and the Celtics showed a lot. "They were there from the start," Dickau said. "And I was interested from the start."
Sounds like a good fit. And, to top it off, he also hates the Lakers.