With 13 players on the roster (excluding Marcus Landry, assigned to the Maine Red Claws) and only 12 allowed to play, there has to be an odd man out. So far, it’s been Brian Scalabrine.
While Doc Rivers has told Scal to stay ready, that his time may come, there was a jarring paragraph from Steve Bulpett’s piece in yesterday’s Boston Herald.
Translated, that means that with 15 games left in the season, Scalabrine will play only if: A) Rivers wants an extra forward active; B) a teammate is injured; C) the Celtics decide to rest regulars at the end of the regular season. It is, thus, entirely possible that Scalabrine has played his last game as a Celtic, but he sincerely hopes that is not the case.
Wow. Scal might have played his final game as a Celtic. It’s hard to believe.
Some may see Scal as nothing more than a towel-waving Human Victory Cigar or Human White Flag, but not me. I see Scal for what he is: a professional, someone who’s always ready to play even though he knows he probably won’t.
Before last season, Scal had done little to earn his any of his $15 million contract. He’d been largely a disappointment, becoming the butt of jokes more often than a difference-maker in games. I made jokes about him, too. It was tough not to: He’s as goofy, lumpy and, well, white as NBA players come. He was making $3 million a year to sit at the end of the bench, and once in a while play in a blowout.
But something weird happened last year: Jokes about Scal stopped being funny. He became a valuable member of the team, and played — *gasp* — well. With Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe out for the playoffs, and Mikki Moore struggling to find a pulse, Scal became the first big man off the bench. For anyone who’d seen Scal play in Boston, that would seem to spell disaster. But he was solid. Good, even.
He gave the Celtics 20 legitimate minutes per game, made 45% of his three-pointers, and even somehow found it inside that rounded body of his to defend Hedo Turkoglu and defend him well. The Celtics didn’t end up beating Orlando, but Scal wasn’t at all the reason why. He had proven his worth.
But it’s a new year, and Scal has been ice-cold. His touch has eluded him, and with Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson, Michael Finley, Rasheed Wallace and Shelden Williams added to the mix, Scal is again on the outside looking in. Even with Scal nursing a shooting percentage even Rasheed frowns upon, there aren’t as many Scal jokes going around. We remember how he stepped up when the Celtics needed him, shouldering a load he’d never been faced with in Boston.
A year after proving himself, Scal might have already played his last game as a Celtic. Still, he hopes to be back in Boston next season.
You know what’s weird?
I hope he is, too.