Ken Berger @KBergNBA
Boston's signing of Terrence Williams has not ended their pursuit of a trade for a guard. Charlotte's Gerald Henderson is one possibility.2/20/2013, 9:31:55 PM
With Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa done for the season, Boston is in need of someone who could add some depth to a now depleted backcourt. At just 25 and playing in his fourth NBA season, Henderson can be that depth.
Charlotte's essential combo guard is presently averaging 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, two assists and one steal per game on 43.4 percent shooting. That 39.6 percent clip of his is also a career high.
During his time with the Bobcats, he has established himself as someone who can provide instant offense, regardless of the role he assumes. Whether he starts or comes off the pine, he's going to put points on the board.
Much of the knock on Henderson's offensive game stems from a deficient jumper. More of a shot-creator who attacks the rim than a spot-up shooter, he struggled to knock down the three-ball during his time at Duke right on through to the NBA. Until this season, he had never converted on more than 23.4 percent of his attempts.
Henderson has been able to correct such a deficiency, though. Despite hoisting up a career-high 1.4 threes a game, he's hitting them at an extremely high rate. Though his mid-range game still needs some work, his improved touch from behind the arc will be of serious value to a Boston team ranked 26th in three-point percentage (34 percent).
Barbosa was the Celtics' best long-ball threat, hitting on 38.3 of his attempts. Bringing in Henderson, then, immediately gives them their most lethal deep-baller.
Known primarily as a scorer, Henderson can also run the point for the Celtics in a pinch. Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and now Terrence Williams will be able to handle a majority of the duties, but as someone with a tight handle, Henderson can run the show if needed.
Defensively, Henderson does need to shore up his stances, but he has the fundamentals down. His lateral quickness is not to be overmatched and he's got great hands when defending off the dribble. And while he's undersized for the 2- and 3-spots, he has spent a majority of his time defending both shooting guards and small forwards.
In fact, per 82games.com, Henderson is holding opposing guards and small forwards to an average PER of 14.4, slightly below the league of average of 15. The Celtics don't have a long list of players who can protect the rim (right now), so it starts with keeping adversarial penetrators out behind the break. Henderson can do that.
And luckily for Boston, he's readily available.
Adrian Wojnarwoski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Bobcats were willing to move him as long as a first-round pick was involved.
Reasonable? I'd say yes, but even so, is it a price the Celtics are able and willing to pay?
Wojnarowski reported previously that Boston had put rookie center Fab Melo on the chopping block in hopes of controlling the future of its draft picks. The Celtics would easily relinquish any and all possible draft picks in the name of a blockbuster, but acquiring Henderson doesn't fall under that category.
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
In pursuit of guard help, the Celtics have made rookie center Fab Melo available in trade offers, league sources tell Y! Sports.2/20/2013, 4:46:48 PM
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
In offering Melo, Boston's trying to preserve control of future picks and its current rotation to fortify for this season.2/20/2013, 4:49:50 PM
More over, it's also unclear who Boston would have to send back in return. Toeing the lines of luxury-tax penalties, the Celtics would likely want to shed payroll in a short time frame, further complicating the matter.
Still, don't give up on Henderson just yet.
He's still on his rookie deal and making just over $3 million this season. If the Celtics can use that first-rounder to put Courtney Lee in the hands of Charlotte, that actually helps them get under the tax apron.
Of course, this deal hinges on plenty of factors, but if Boston can pull it off, Danny Ainge will have preserved the state of this convocation for at least another year.
Best of all, Henderson is due a qualifying offer of just over $4 million next season. The Celtics could decline it and part ways with him or pick it up and perhaps negotiate an extension. Or they just hold onto him for another year (assuming no other team ups the bidding).
From whichever way you look at it, Henderson is a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for Boston. He gives them much of what they need now and does so at a reasonable rate.
If I'm Ainge, I'm tuning out the Paul Pierce-for-Kris-Humphries-and-Marshon Brooks cries coming from the Brooklyn Nets and pestering Michael Jordan in pursuit of a deal that prolongs the shelf life of Boston's current outfit.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.