Celtics Rumors: Loss of Underrated Greg Stiemsma Would Hurt Boston

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IJuly 19, 2012

April 1, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward/center Kevin Garnett (left) welcomes center Greg Stiemsma (right) back to the bench during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat at TD Banknorth Garden.  Boston won 91-72.   Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Greg Stiemsma may have gone undrafted out of Wisconsin, but he showed he belonged in the NBA last season with the Boston Celtics.

Now it appears the Celtics could lose the valuable post defender.

The Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be in a good position to steal the 26-year-old center from the Celtics, but they were waiting to see if the Portland Trail Blazers would match their offer to Nicolas Batum first.

Stiemsma reportedly hasn't received an offer sheet yet from the Timberwolves, per the Boston Globe, but now that the Trail Blazers matched the offer to Batum, Minnesota should quickly turn its attention to Stiemsma.

Stiemsma has an intriguing story. After graduating from Wisconsin in 2008, he played in South Korea, moved on to the NBA Development League, had brief stints with the Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers, signed with Turkey and then went back to the Development League before landing with the Celtics. To say he's a journeyman would be an understatement.

But Stiemsma proved his worth in the NBA last season. He's not going to be an offensive force by any means, and he's not the greatest rebounder, but he emerged as a defensive stopper in Boston.

Stiemsma averaged 1.5 blocks in just 14 minutes per game last season. He also averaged 2.35 defensive plays (blocks + steals + charges), per Hoopdata.com (the NBA average was 1.38).

If Stiemsma had played enough minutes to qualify, he would have actually beaten out league leader and teammate Kevin Garnett in defensive rating (93 to Garnett's 94.2), per Basketball-Reference.com. That is, he personally allowed approximately 93 points per 100 possessions.

And you can forget about the untested Stiemsma crumbling under the pressure in the playoffs. His defense rating was actually better (90) in the postseason.

Stiemsma is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Celtics have the right to match any offer that comes his way. Unfortunately for them, the Timberwolves have much more money to offer Stiemsma. The Celtics are currently over the salary cap.

Boston, of course, drafted former Syracuse center Fab Melo this year, but he's a rookie and will need time to develop. Asking too much from him from the start may not be a good idea.

Stiemsma is just the kind of defensive presence the Celtics love, and he's proven he can make an impact in the NBA. Losing him would hurt more than it appears on the surface.


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