The Celtics are going to announce the acquisition of veteran point guard Keyon Dooling from the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, the first day of training camp and trades can become official, according to a league source.
The deal is expected to include a second-round draft pick headed to Milwaukee and it gives the Celtics a veteran backup point guard behind Rajon Rondo, who remains a Celtic after Chris Paul was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers. The deal is somewhat complicated because the Celtics are over the salary cap.
I’m glad the Chris Paul trade was called off. Not just because the league’s (outrageously unpredictable and kooky) decision saved the world from eight consecutive LA-Miami NBA Finals, but also because we won’t view Keyon Dooling as a punchline anymore.
Now that Dooling is no longer a consolation prize Danny Ainge settled on after hunting down Paul with the ferocity of a tiger that hasn’t eaten in three weeks, we can see the acquisition for what it really is: a sneaky-good maneuver by Ainge.
Dooling will never be considered a superstar. He shot less than 40 percent during each of the last two seasons. He’s a decent three-point shooter (34.5 percent, a tick more than one make per game), but not a great one. He won’t light the world on fire with court vision, and nothing about his game makes basketball purists want to do break down and do the macarena. But here’s the catch:
Dooling led the Bucks in on-court/off-court differential last season. He led the New Jersey Nets in the same statistic the year before. If Jeff Green is an anti-gravitational force who looks talented while making his teams play worse whenever he steps on the court, Dooling is the opposite. The best guess for Dooling’s weird (and recent: the trend only dates back the last two seasons) tendency of improving his teams is that his defensive abilities are game-changing. Two seasons ago, New Jersey’s defense was 10.7 points per 100 possessions better when Dooling played. Last year, Milwaukee’s defense was 3.0 points better with Dooling on the court. He stops his own man, too: Dooling’s opponents had a well-below-average PER each of the past two seasons.
Danny Ainge needs to fill seven spots. He has no cash with which to do it. Dooling is a veteran who can contribute, and Ainge acquired him for a second-round pick. I’d say that’s a coup.
P.S. — Wait. The Celtics needed to upgrade their offense, not their defense? And Dooling shot 39.7 percent last season and 39.8 percent the season before? Doh.
P.P.S. — Spending a second-round pick to acquire a combo guard can’t be a good sign regarding Boston’s confidence in Avery Bradley. Maybe he should ask to stay at Doc’s house during training camp and be sure to do all the household chores this time around?