5 Boston Celtics Players Who Shouldn't Be Part of Rebuilding Process
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Boston Celtics roster may feel incomplete now that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are Brooklyn Nets, but the reality is that Boston already has a full 15 players slated to play in the 2013-14 season, and that number rises to 16 if the team picks up Shavlik Randolph's player option.
However, this rebuilding Celts squad needs more than just bodies if it wants to establish a healthy culture and make moves to regain its status as one of the Eastern Conference's elite squads. Though Boston boasts a number of young players like Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jeff Green who could be potential building blocks going forward, they also have a number of players who do not fit with the team's new direction.
The Celtics' decision to hire Brad Stevens indicated that they were not thinking about immediately vaulting back into title contention, meaning that keeping many of the expensive veterans they currently have under contract does not make much sense.
The 2013-14 campaign figures to be one of major change for Boston, and with that in mind, let's take a look at five players who should not be a part of the C's' current rebuilding process.
Advanced statistics courtesy of Synergy Sports unless otherwise noted.
Kris Humphries is not as bad a player as his numbers indicate from the 2012-13 season, but he is also nowhere near worth the $12 million he will earn this coming year with Boston.
With young, talented frontcourt players in Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, not to mention a project in Fab Melo who could use some real playing time in the NBA if the team keeps him, the worst thing Stevens can do is rely too heavily on Humphries for production and play him for 25-plus minutes per game.
Olynyk and Sullinger will undoubtedly struggle at times, but they represent the future at the 4 and 5 for the Celtics, not the 28-year-old Humphries.
Humphries actually could help the Celts, who have been among the league’s worst rebounding teams after dealing Kendrick Perkins in 2011. Humphries has averaged 11 rebounds per 36 minutes for his career and can be a force on both the offensive and defensive boards for stretches.
However, that was not the case with Brooklyn. Buried on the depth chart behind Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche, Humphries averaged just 5.8 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent in 18.3 minutes per game.
Once a dynamic finisher in the paint, Humphries shot just 40.5 percent on pick-and-rolls and 30.4 percent on offensive rebounds.
Though Boston could attempt to flip Humphries as part of a larger deal early in the season and fully embrace the idea of bottoming out, the smarter play may be to hold on to him and have him prove he’s a better player than he was in Brooklyn, then flip him at the trade deadline.
There should be at least one playoff contender looking to add a big man to its rotation who can control the glass like Humphries, and his expiring contract makes him even more attractive. Depending on how he plays, Boston may be able to snag a late first-round pick for him or at least another young asset.
The Celtics keeping Humphries would not be a travesty, but given the presence of Sully and Olynyk as well as the fact that Boston may be able to get some real value for him in a trade, it makes sense that they would shop the former Mr. Kardashian.
Boston brought Jordan Crawford in at the 2013 trade deadline to provide its floundering bench with another scoring option in the wake of Leandro Barbosa’s ACL tear.
Though Crawford did manage to score 9.1 points and dish out 2.5 assists per game, it came on 41.5 percent shooting overall and just 32 percent from three-point range.
Crawford was a decent catch-and-shoot threat from three with Boston, shooting 37.5 percent, but struggled running the pick-and-roll, scoring just 27.1 percent of the time he handled the ball in pick-and-roll sets.
Crawford is just 24 years old and may still have some untapped potential, but at this point, his reputation as a gunner with uniquely poor decision-making skills is pretty much cemented. He can put up points, but it comes with the caveat that he is going to take at least a handful of jaw-droppingly bad shots to get there.
If there is one position Boston has too much depth, it is shooting guard, where Bradley, Courtney Lee and new acquisition MarShon Brooks all will receive regular minutes.
Brooks in many ways is a superior version of Crawford. He played behind Joe Johnson in 2012-13 but shined as a rookie, averaging 12.6 points, 3.6 boards and 2.3 assists while ultimately taking over the starting 2-guard spot for the Nets.
Though Brooks is a shaky jump-shooter and at times makes questionable decisions, he is a far more complete player than Crawford and one who would be easier to build around than the former Xavier standout.
After a horrendous playoff performance, Crawford’s trade value around the league will not be very high, but for a team looking to establish a new culture after losing its veteran leaders, it is essential that it has as few selfish players around as possible.
Brandon Bass followed up a breakout 2011-12 season with Boston with a frustrating 2012-13 campaign that saw him often disappear for long stretches on the court and do little besides shoot mid-range jump shots.
For the season, Bass averaged 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and one assist per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor. His mediocre play eventually caused him to lose minutes to Sullinger prior to Sully’s back injury.
The 28-year-old Bass made sense in Doc Rivers’ mid-range heavy offense that required big men to space the floor to allow Rondo and Bradley the room to attack the lane or cut without the ball, but this younger Celtics team should make more of a commitment to playing uptempo, a style Bass does not fit.
In fact, Bass attempted only 40 shots in transition last season.
He is still an underrated defender and a fairly efficient scorer, shooting 46 percent from 16-23 feet per Hoopdata, but he is not much of a presence on the glass and is not tall enough to play the 5.
Bass is still a solid role player, but after eight seasons in the league, his ceiling is clear, and playing him 25 or 30 minutes per game will only hinder the development of Olynyk and Sullinger, who both have flashed real potential and are only 22 years old and 21 years old, respectively.
The remaining two years and $13.5 million of Bass’ contract may be hard to find a taker for by itself, but by throwing in a young piece or one of their many first-round picks, the Celts should be able to find some suitor.
Like Humphries, keeping Bass would not kill the Celtics, but it would be a decision that could ultimately hurt the franchise long-term.
If there is one player Boston absolutely needs to get rid of it is Gerald Wallace, whose $30 million contract was the cost of receiving three unprotected first-rounders from Brooklyn.
There was a time when Wallace’s athleticism, explosiveness and defensive versatility made him one of the NBA’s best forwards, but that time has passed, and Wallace was dreadful in his first full year as a Net. He averaged just 7.7 points, 4.6 boards and 2.6 assists on 39.7 percent shooting.
He performed slightly better in the playoffs, but the holes in Wallace’s game are even more evident now that he is not the athletic freak he was during his prime years with the Charlotte Bobcats.
For a wing player, Wallace is a poor outside shooter who connected on just 31.4 percent of his spot-up threes and 28.2 percent overall from deep. His inconsistent jumper would make it tough to play him alongside Rondo and Bradley, who need floor spacing given their own shaky perimeter games.
Wallace was also less of a force on the boards, averaging his fewest offensive rebounds since the 2007-08 season. Wallace was once one of the NBA’s best rebounding wings, but as his leaping ability has declined, he has become less effective in that category as well.
The Celtics have Green slated as their long-term starter at small forward, and he caught fire down the stretch and played phenomenally in the postseason. Green proved during the 2012-13 season he can play 32-36 minutes per game and remain effective.
Though dealing Wallace would leave Boston somewhat thin at the 3 behind Green, there are players they could sign as free agents who would give them roughly the same production without the eight-figure salary.
Years of reckless play have finally caught up to the 31-year-old combo forward, and while it will almost certainly cost them some assets to get rid of him, it is imperative that the Celtics make sure Wallace plays as few games in a green jersey as possible.
Fab Melo could still find himself a niche in this league given his size and defensive potential, but since being drafted by Boston in 2012, he has barely played in the NBA and not given fans much to be optimistic about.
Melo spent most of the year with the D-League’s Maine Red Claws, and though he had some nice moments there, he could never break into Boston’s depleted frontcourt rotation. He wound up averaging just 1.2 points and 0.5 boards as a rookie in six games.
In the 2013 Orlando Summer League, Melo did not show the kind of development many were hoping for. Though he appeared marginally better offensively, he still wound up with mediocre averages of 6.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while only playing more than 19 minutes in a single game.
It would be one thing if Melo were in incredible physical shape or had tremendous athleticism, but the 23-year-old center struggled with his conditioning and still looks awkward running the floor.
Though he hit a few hook shots and showed improvement from the charity stripe, Melo’s offensive game is still a ways away from being NBA-caliber.
Giving up on a project player is a risky proposition, particularly for a Boston team that has lacked a true rim protector for years, but Melo’s lack of growth makes it tough to put much faith in him to mature as a player.
The club could see what happens if he actually receives consistent minutes in the league, but that decision may ruin what little trade value he still has left. No matter what direction the NBA is moving in, size will always be a valuable commodity, and there are sure to be some teams out there who believe they could salvage the career of Melo.
Unfortunately, with Olynyk torching summer league defenses and Colton Iverson looking like someone who could be a rotation big man, there simply will not be many minutes for Melo once more.
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