Boston Celtics: Ricky Davis and the Worst C's of the Last Decade
The recent, not even remotely surprising news that Jermaine O'Neal would be lost to the Celtics for the remainder of the season got the old wheels turning.
Jermaine, once an All-Star player, has been so insignificant, so worthless in the face of even the lightest of expectations during his short stint in Boston, it got us wondering: Who else in recent Celtics lore rises (or in this case, falls) to such status?
There's more than a handful who fit the bill. Here's a look at some of 'em, in no particular order.
1. Ricky Davis
I don't want you to feel teased by the headline any longer so let's get right to Ricky, who didn't humiliate himself in Boston the way he did elsewhere, but still managed to wear out his welcome quite quickly.
Davis arrived in Boston in December of 2003, a development that led to the resignation of head coach Jim O'Brien, the C's most successful head coach in 15 years, barely a month later.
There was never anything as egregious during Davis' Celtics tenure as his purposely missed shot at his own basket in an attempt to get a triple-double disaster during his Cleveland years. Sure, there were some needlessly showboaty moments, but never the kind of deliberate, middle finger to the opponent, his own team and the game itself represented by that ill-advised move with the Cavs.
But reports swirled about more selfishness behind the scenes and his failure to execute a through-the-legs dunk in a game against the Lakers signified his time with the C's. He lasted 181 games in parts of three seasons with the C's before being traded to Minnesota.
Lots of athleticism, lots of ability, not a lot between the ears.
2. Raef LaFrentz
When Danny Ainge took over Celtics basketball operations in 2003, he was hellbent on putting a different stamp on the team despite it being in the midst of a second consecutive playoff run.
So Ainge first and foremost ran off one of the team's two best players, Antoine Walker. And in exchange for Walker, who was dealt to Dallas, the centerpiece was LaFrentz, a seven-footer who had once been the third overall pick out of Kansas. He had never averaged more than 14 points or eight rebounds per game despite his size and had seen his numbers decrease in every year of his then six-year career.
LaFrentz celebrated the trade to Boston by missing 65 games in his first season as a Celtic. He would play 80 and 82 games respectively in his next two seasons in Boston, but topped out at 11 points and seven rebounds as his high marks in Celtic green and never seemed willing to do anything but hang out around the three-point line.
He was traded to Portland in June of 2006.
3. Shaquille O'Neal
It seemed like a great idea at the time. Bring in a proven winner like Shaq, use him for only about 25 minutes per game to hold down the fort until an injured Kendrick Perkins was ready to come back and give him a chance to win one last ring with a team that was one quarter away just a year before and primed to make one more run.
It started off well, too. Shaq started 36 games through Feb. 1, 2011 and averaged nine points and five rebounds in 20 serviceable minutes per game while providing size and credibility to a team that would win 41 of its first 55 games.
But the inevitable injury came in that early February game. And Shaq, who was overweight, out of shape and seemingly more interested in making every possible public appearance in the Greater Boston area that he could than rehabbing and coming back to help, would see just 5:29 of regular season action (in a game against the Pistons in which he re-injured himself by basically tripping over the three-point line) and 12 total minutes of playoff action before mercifully hanging it up.
Ainge has claimed that one of the reasons he traded Perkins was because he assumed Shaq would be back at full strength for the stretch run. He obviously didn't know Shaq very well.
4. Vin Baker
One of the all-time busts in Celtics history, Baker came to Boston with high expectations he never came close to meeting.
Having already seen his scoring averages drop over the course of his five-year stay in Seattle, Baker came to Boston in a trade following the 2002 run to the Eastern Conference Finals, presumably as the final piece to a puzzle.
But Baker would play just 89 games over parts of two seasons with the C's, putting up just 5.2 PPG in his first year with them all while battling a serious alcohol problem. Baker, who O'Brien said smelled of booze at a practice once, admitted to binging both on the road and following bad games and was ultimately suspended and eventually released during the 2003-2004 season.
Baker's story was incredibly sad and it's tough to pile on him. But it's undeniable that he will only ever be remembered in Boston negatively.
5. Rasheed Wallace
It's hard to classify just how big a dog 'Sheed was during his one year in Boston. Given that the team came within a quarter of winning a championship despite his tanking of an entire season, he seems to get a pass in some circles.
Wallace never bothered to get in shape or condition at any point during the 2009-2010 season, loafing his way up and down the floor, but hardly ever moving beyond the three-point line on either end. He was the sixth man and played just 22 minutes per game, but averaged just nine points and four rebounds while firing up more three-pointers than anyone on the team except Ray Allen.
Then, even though he finally started to look like he cared come playoff time, when Perkins went down in Game 6 of the Finals and 'Sheed was needed to play 35 minutes in Game 7, he was so gassed by the second half that he had nothing left and basically stood by while the C's were pounded on the glass and gave up an 11-point advantage en route to the Lakers winning their 16th title.
Forgive Celtics fans if earlier this season when there were whispers that the C's might be interested in bringing him back, they felt sick.
6. Sebastian Telfair
Telfair, one of the first point guards to enter the NBA straight out of high school, came to the C's after three very mundane seasons in Portland and guess what? He had one very mundane season in Boston, at least on the court.
Telfair averaged six points and three assists for the C's as they went went 24-58 and finished dead last in the Atlantic Division. His most valuable basketball contribution to the C's was being part of the package that went to Minnesota in exchange for Kevin Garnett.
What Telfair did manage to do was get himself in trouble off the court not once, but twice as a Celtic. First, days before the '06 season began, he was robbed of a $50,000 chain outside a club in New York where one hour later the rapper Fabolous was shot.
Then, barely six months later, he was arrested after getting pulled over for speeding and charged with felony weapons possession and driving with a suspended license.
No wonder Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck announced just days later Telfair's nameplate was off his locker and he wouldn't be back in Boston.
7. Gerald Green
Green was the C's first-round pick in 2005 straight out of high school and even though he could jump out of the gym and would win a dunk contest while wearing a Celts jersey, he couldn't really, actually, you know, play basketball.
After being handled with kid gloves (no pun intended) during his rookie season, Green managed to get into 81 games at 22 minutes a clip in the 2006-2007 season and scored 10.4 PPG. But the team lost more than twice as many games as it won, and when Garnett became available that offseason it was a no-brainer that Green would be included in the deal.
It's a good thing too. It took Green 29 games with the Wolves and one with the Rockets in 2007-2008 to play himself out of the league until about three weeks ago, minus a 12-game stint with Dallas in 2009.
For such a high-flier with so much promise, he was grounded pretty much from the start in Boston.
8. Mark Blount
It was almost too perfect. Blount, a no-name, second-round pick who came from nowhere to become a double-digit scorer, solid rebounder and above average NBA center, signing a big contract extension in the process.
But that extension proved to be his undoing. Blount checked out after inking a 6-year, $40 million deal with the Celtics. He stopped rebounding. His attitude changed and he became surly. He didn't seem to care.
He became something of a villain, a picture of the guy who tries hard enough to get his money, then quits. And if you don't believe me, ask Jeff Clark of CelticsBlog. He'll tell you.
9. Marcus Banks
Yet another first-rounder who didn't pan out.
Banks was the 13th player taken in the 2003 draft, brought to Boston to be the point guard of the future. Instead, he played two-plus years in Boston, never saw more than 17 minutes per game and never tallied more than six points or four assists per game.
Banks would go on to play for four other teams over an eight-year career, with only half of a season being even remotely productive—the 40 games he played with Minnesota after the Celts dumped him, when he scored 12 points and dished just under five assists.
Now in the D-League, Banks, like a few others on this list, is another example of faulty talent evaluation on the part of the C's front office.
10. Jermaine O'Neal
What, you thought we forgot him?
Outside of a handful of playoff games last season in which he blocked a few shots and grabbed some rebounds, O'Neal's time in Boston has been utterly forgettable. He can't, can't, can't stay healthy. Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers can't hide it, responding to a question about one of O'Neal variety of ailments earlier this year by saying something along the lines of, "I don't know, his knee, his hip, his ankle. It's different every day."
It's not O'Neal's fault that Ainge paid him $6 million to basically not play this year. Or that Ainge allowed the team to go into the season with nothing but Chris Wilcox (another constant injury case) and Greg Stiemsma behind him. Or that Ainge traded Perkins last year and currently has zero to show for it.
But it is his fault for not being in the kind of shape to keep his body from breaking down so much. O'Neal was great once, but he could have been greater.