Boston Celtics: 7 Players Who Will Be Playing for a Different Team in 2013
Only eight games remain in the Boston Celtics regular season. And in the playoffs, it can be all over in the blink of an eye.
Which is why it's OK to start speculating on the C's roster for next year, the 2012-2013 season.
Only four players currently on the team—Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson—possess guaranteed contracts for next season, leaving a host of names uncertain to be back in Boston come training camp.
A couple of those unsigned for next year are likely to return. But there are several more who will be elsewhere.
Let's take a look at who those guys might be.
1. Brandon Bass
What a find Bass has been this year for this team.
Since coming to Boston from Orlando after the lockout in exchange for Glen Davis and Von Wafer, Bass has put up career highs in points, rebounds, blocks and field-goal attempts while averaging more minutes than in any other season of his seven-year career.
His $4 million salary for this year has not just been a bargain based on what the team has gotten out of him, it's been a borderline steal (as was the trade with the Magic that Danny Ainge perpetrated on Orlando GM Otis Smith).
Bass has a player option for next year at another $4 million. But given the way he's played this year, why wouldn't he reject that option and look for a long-term agreement somewhere else for a lot more money?
Given how much turnover is coming for the C's next season, they would be wise to try to keep Bass. Just as he would be wise to look to play elsewhere.
2. Keyon Dooling
Dooling, now with the sixth team of his 11-year career, hasn't seen much time with the Celts.
He missed 16 games in January and February due to injury and has played a total of 16 minutes over the Celts last six games, with three DNP-CDs sprinkled in there as coach Doc Rivers has shortened his rotation in preparation for the postseason.
It doesn't help that Dooling has played 80 games just once in those 11 seasons. But someone out there is going to need a veteran backup point guard, maybe even the Celtics.
But with E'Twuan Moore waiting in the wings (and probable to be re-signed on the cheap) and Avery Bradley's emergence, that prospect is highly unlikely.
3. Marquis Daniels
But the eight-year veteran, in Boston on a one-year, $1.2 million deal, hasn't done much in this second tour with the C's. He's played in just 31 games this season, has gotten double-digit minutes just three times since the end of January and has registered a DNP-CD 25 times since then.
Daniels may be done. But if he's not, don't look for him to be either playing or sitting on the bench in Boston next year.
4. Sasha Pavlovic
Pavlovic, buried at the end of the bench for much of the year, has found his way into Rivers' eight-man rotation, averaging just under 13 minutes per game in April and responding by hitting from long distance at a 70 percent clip.
Pavlovic is so cheap, there's always the chance he returns to Boston on a one-year deal similar to the one under which he's currently playing ($1.2 million).
He's a good shooter, plays some defense and has become a good friend and big supporter of Bradley, one of the Celts most surprising contributors.
There are a handful of reasons to keep him around. But don't bet on it.
5. Ryan Hollins
The seven-footer brought in a few weeks ago to provide depth to the C's wounded front line, has been mostly invisible in his brief time in Boston.
Hollins is a garbage-timer, getting no more than 13 minutes in any of his games as a Celtic and those were both blowouts. The guess here is that he sees more time in practices, where ensconced backup center Greg Stiemsma has to sit due to foot injuries.
It was kind of an emergency that led to the C's bringing in Hollins in the first place. Unless there's another emergency come training camp in the fall, don't look for him to be in Boston next season.
6. Jermaine O'Neal
What, you weren't expecting to see Jermaine on this list?
Let's see...$6.2 million, 25 games, five points and five rebounds, so many injuries even his coach doesn't know what's wrong with him on a given day and, well, that's about it.
What a wise investment.
Celtics fans have about as much chance of seeing O'Neal—recently referred to by ESPN's Bill Simmons as, "the team's least popular player, internally, since Vin Baker"—back in a Boston uniform as they do of seeing themselves getting paid $6.2 million to play center.
O'Neal is washed up, finished, etc. He shouldn't have even been re-signed for this season; his occasional rebounds and blocks during last year's playoffs must have convinced Ainge he could help the C's woefully thin frontcourt this year even though O'Neal has played more than 42 games twice in the past eight years.
What a waste. He's gone.
7. Ray Allen
Two months ago, this space would have been reserved for Kevin Garnett and Allen would have been nowhere to be found. But the results since the All-Star break have changed things in a major way.
While KG has found the fountain of youth and is playing vintage, inspired ball in leading the C's (along with Pierce and Rondo) back into the land of title contenders, Allen has struggled with his shot, missed games with injured ankles and found himself coming off the bench in favor of Bradley.
Rivers stayed with Bradley's hot hand when Allen returned from a six-game absence earlier this month thanks to Bradley's excellent defense and the Celts winning five in a row without their sharpshooter. Allen still got plenty of minutes off the bench, but was clearly making a sacrifice.
Now, Ray is out again, set to miss his second straight game tonight in Toronto. Whether or not he comes back at full strength for the C's this season, the writing is on the wall.
Maybe he'll want to come back for one more go with KG, Pierce, Rondo and Rivers, at a salary inferior to the $10 million guaranteed he's made in each of the past two years.
Or maybe he'll be better served with a team in need of a Hall of Fame-caliber perimeter shooter like Miami or the Clippers next season. Those two teams would seem to be closer to a potential title in 2012-2013 than the Celtics.
It seemed a no-brainer for a good stretch that the C's would entice Ray to come back for at least one more go-around. Now, thanks to the circumstances of the past two months, that possibility appears to be a long shot.