In an NBA trade deadline full on rumors, but short on substance, the Boston Celtics acquired one of the biggest names moved at the deadline in guard Jordan Crawford. The Celtics sent injured guard Leandro Barbosa and seldom-used big man Jason Collins to the Washington Wizards in return (per Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today).
The third-year guard from Xavier never had difficulty finding buckets after joining the Wizards during his rookie season. He averaged 16.3 points per game in 26 games with Washington in 2010-11, and followed that up with 14.7 points per game as a sophomore last season.
But Crawford was made expendable by the return of a healthy John Wall and the emergence of rookie Bradley Beal. He averaged 26.2 minutes per game this season, but hadn't seen more than 25 minutes in a game since January 4.
Crawford gives the Celtics coach Doc Rivers another ball-handler to help offset the loss of Rajon Rondo (torn ACL). With Rondo and Barbosa removed from the equation, Crawford joins a Celtics rotation featuring just three healthy guards.
While there are certainly minutes available to him, the question becomes how much his arrival will impact the playing time of his new backcourt mates.
Avery Bradley is Boston's newest trend-setter. His relentless approach at the defensive end of the floor has allowed him to be one of four Rivers' players to have started every game that he's played.
His offensive game is still a work in progress (8.8 points per game, 39.4 field-goal percentage). But he sets the tone defensively for the Celtics, and that should be more than enough to keep the minutes coming his way.
As for Courtney Lee, his value extends to both ends of the floor. He's solid defensively, with enough size (6'5", 200 lbs) to not get overwhelmed by bigger guards and enough speed to keep pace with quicker ones. He's one of Boston's only threats from the perimeter (34.9 three-point percentage) and fits point-blank looks on timely cuts.
Jason Terry is a scoring threat anytime he steps foot on the court. He's also a battle-tested former champion, and represented the Celtics' greatest chance to replace Ray Allen.
After spending most of the first half of the season as a starter, Terry moved to the second unit in an instant-offense situation. He's started just one game in 2013, and while his production fluctuated at first, he appears more comfortable with the role. He's scored double-digit points in 10 of his past 12 games, after hitting that mark only twice in his previous 12 outings.
Here's where Crawford's arrival gets a little complicated. Neither he nor Terry are even adequate defensively. They're also both shoot-first players, and while they're both productive, they're also a move away from the fluid ball movement that has keyed the Boston's recent success.
The obvious move for Rivers to consider is moving one of his scoring guards into the starting five.
But it's not as simple as it sounds.
With Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett deservedly expecting a heavy-dose of shots each night, Rivers may not want to disrupt his team's chemistry. Then again, the absence of an intimidating presence near the basket on his second unit may not leave him any other options.
While Crawford's the more effective of the two off the dribble, Terry's the likelier candidate to get the starting nod. He's played alongside dominant scorers before (Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks) and has been far more selective with his shots than Crawford. He also has the right mentality to blend in with veterans Pierce and Garnett.
But a move back to the starting lineup doesn't guarantee Terry will see an increase in playing time. In fact, the 35-year-old could see more checks on his minutes with the 24-year-old Crawford spelling him for an anticipated playoff run.
Crawford gives Rivers some flexibility with his sets. He could emerge as a valuable piece in an up-tempo unit alongside players like Bradley, Lee, Terrence Williams or Jeff Green.
Credit Danny Ainge for turning two virtually useless players (Barbosa was already lost for the season with his own ACL tear) into a productive piece.
But now it's up to Rivers to figure out how to make that piece fit alongside the rest of his players.
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