A year ago February, the Celtics were so desperate to sign a backup point guard they brought in a certified headcase who hadn’t played a basketball game in over a full season. They knew Eddie House couldn’t competently fill the role of point guard, and Sam Cassell’s role as a player-coach didn’t exactly pan out, so the Celtics signed Stephon Marbury off the garbage heap after New York waived him.
So what’s the difference this year? Why aren’t the C’s sifting through that garbage heap one more time? Once again, the Celtics are utilizing Eddie House as their primary point guard. If he was playing in an old man’s rec league, House would be fine handling the ball. But in the NBA? Not exactly. So why aren’t the C’s looking to add another point guard? Why aren’t they once again desperately searching for a ball-handler to back up Rajon Rondo?
Here are a few reasons:
Rondo’s emergence as a stud
More than anything else, the Celtics aren’t so desperate (yet) to find a reliable backup because Rajon Rondo has played so well. He’s emerged as perhaps the Celtics most valuable player (yeah, I said it – and it’s true) while providing Boston with a nightly, consistent effort. Now that Rondo has proved his value, an elite backup just isn’t as pressing an issue.
People forget, but when Marbury was originally signed there was actually some talk he might take Rondo’s starting spot. It seems ludicrous now that Rondo is one of the East’s top point guards, but at the time Marbury was still seen as a super talent, and Rondo was still finding his way.
Marquis can do it
From day one of the Marquis Daniels signing, both Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers have been convinced that Marquis Daniels can run the PG spot.
Me? I’m still not convinced. Daniels’ game seems to be more fit to slashing from the wing and finishing at the hoop. Yes, he’s a good passer and yes, he’s unselfish, but I prefer Daniels on the wing. Even when Daniels was playing, Eddie House was getting a lot of the reps handling the ball; I know Doc has blamed Daniels’ injury with not allowing him to handle the ball, but if he was that hurt all along, what the hell was he doing playing?
The C’s seem to like Lester Hudson
Any time a 58th draft pick gets signed to a contract, the team likes him. It’s not normal for a draft pick that low to get signed, but then again, Hudson isn’t a normal guy.
Everyone seems to rave about Hudson. Rondo credits him with helping him to prepare for games, Doc always has glowing words, and Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have sung his praises too. So why has he played zero meaningful minutes, when the team is badly in need of a point guard, and why was he just sent down to the D-League? Either Hudson has some rough edges to his game the C’s want him to iron out, or they aren’t as high on him as they show publicly. He DID, though, score 25 points with 7 rebounds and 6 dimes in his D-League debut.
Boston’s handy-dandy assistant coach
The ace up the Celtics’ sleeve could come from someone who doesn’t even suit up for practice, isn’t on either the active or inactive roster, and still gets paid by the team. How? He’s their assistant coach, Tyronn Lue. Most of you will remember Lue for being disrespectfully stepped over by Allen Iverson, but I personally remember him for a lesser-known event: When he was in college at Nebraska, Lue was in a tight game (I forget against who) with less than a minute to go, and took so much time dribbling the ball up the court he was slapped with a ten-second violation and his team ended up losing. That one hurts even more than getting stepped over, even though being stepped over is probably going to haunt him for longer; how many times in his life do you think he’ll have to see the replay of that play? A million? Two million? More?
Anyways, despite the two humiliating skeletons in his closet, ESPNBoston’s Chris Forsberg is convinced Lue will be signed as a player later in the season, and says Lue has stayed in tip-top shape and looks good scrimmaging against the guys. Lue wouldn’t be a bad option; he’s been solid throughout his career, and if he’s still in good shape would be able to handle the ball and hit open shots.
It seems like decades ago that Stephon Marbury was last relevant. Strangely, it was only last season… at least to Celtics fans. (And no, I don’t count being all over the news this summer as “relevant.” Not when the newsworthy things he did were eating vaseline, smoking pot on camera, and getting in a televised car accident.)
You see, Starbury didn’t live up to my expectations last season, but he still did a few things to help the Celtics win basketball games. (Note: Can you still call him Starbury if he’s not even close to being a star anymore? I say yes… but only because it’s merely a combination of his first and last names. In no way does the “Star” part fit him anymore.)
It’s strange to say, for a guy who averaged a measly 3.8 points and 3.3 assists, but Marbury was a difference-maker. Sure, he shot only 34.2%, and 24.0% from behind the arc. Yeah, he looked every bit the rusty player who’d missed a full year of basketball before being signed to the Celtics. But Steph’s own stats weren’t where he helped the Celts. He helped by being a pure point guard off the bench, someone who could penetrate and make plays for his teammates. He helped by drawing defenders, using his speed and quickness to be a threat, and handling the ball against full-court pressure.
Eddie House, the one player most affected by the C’s lack of a point guard, played unbelievable basketball when Marbury was around. With Steph in tow, House was able to do what he does best: float around off the ball, find open spots, and release that blindingly-quick jumper that often goes “splash.” This season, forced into the unnatural role of being a ballhandler, House has failed to score with the proficiency he did last year.
It’s weird, but the Celtics have nobody to step into Marbury’s (cheap, poorly-made) shoes as a backup point guard. So far, they’ve had Daniels and House masquerading as PGs, despite both being better-suited to play other positions.
Will they make a play at bringing in a reliable backup point guard? It’s possible, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it. So far, they seem content to hope Daniels can do the job, as Lue possibly lies in waiting if Daniels doesn’t work out. I’d rather see them pick up a new PG, but with an 11-game winning streak I don’t quite think it’s time to complain.
Maybe Marbury would want to come out of retirement?…