Damon Stoudamire: Would Mighty Mouse Really Save the Celtics?

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Damon Stoudamire: Would Mighty Mouse Really Save the Celtics?

Damon Stoudamire recently reached an agreement on a buy-out with the Memphis Grizzlies that will make him a free agent once, as expected, he clears waivers on Wednesday.

The teams that have reportedly expressed interest in signing the one-time Rookie of the Year are the Celtics, Raptors, Nuggets, Spurs and Suns.

The Raptors could use some insurance at the point guard position because they are still without the injured T.J. Ford.

The Nuggets have been starting Anthony Carter in place of their own injured point guard, Chucky Atkins. The addition of Stoudamire would definitely strengthen the Nuggets hopes of winning the Northwest Division, but if Stoudamire is hoping to sign with a team that would give him a chance to win a championship, the Nuggets might rank near the bottom of that list.

The Spurs would definitely meet the criteria for trying to win a ring but it seems more like the Spurs are only interested in Mighty Mouse to keep him away from the Suns and Celtics.

Tony Parker gets the bulk of the minutes at the point guard position in San Antonio and back-up Jacque Vaughn, although not a superstar, provides stability and playoff experience, as well as statistics that compare favorably to Stoudamire.

The Suns could definitely use a reliable back-up to Steve Nash, and Stoudamire is remembered fondly in the desert for his contributions to the University of Arizona basketball program.

The problem with the Suns is that Stoudamire and Nash are too small to share the same back-court and Nash already plays about 34 minutes a game. So if Stoudamire is looking for a team where he can play important crunch-time minutes, it's not going to happen in Phoenix.

That leaves the Celtics as his most intriguing possibility. For a team like the Celts that are hoping to win a championship this season, Stoudamire brings the two intangibles that Rondo sorely lacks--playoff experience and 3-point shooting. Rondo is also shooting 58% from the charity stripe this season while Stoudamire is an 83% career foul shooter.

Who would you rather have playing in the last two minutes of a close game?

There are two glaring risks that the Celtics would be making by bringing in Stoudamire-- surprisingly, neither of them involve airport security.

First, what would Rondo think? From the time the Celtics traded for Kevin Garnett up until now the Celtics have touted their affinity for Rondo and their faith in him to man the point on a championship-caliber team.

With the exception of the occasional hiccup, Rondo has done very well. He's not going to score 20 points for them too often, but he doesn't have to on this team. His only job is to not turn the ball over, penetrate and kick, play team defense, and hit the occasional outside shot. All of which he's done with relative success.

His outside shot is definitely lacking but he's shooting 48% on the season. For a point guard, that's pretty good. In fact, he's tied with Devin Harris for seventh amongst point guards in that category.

But what message does it send to a young, impressionable player with ever-increasing confidence when the team opts to hand the car keys over to a guy that hasn't played more than 62 games since 2005 and has averages of around 7 points and 5 assists over his last 91 games?

Since Stoudamire isn't the long-term answer and the Celtics don't have much wiggle room to sign a free agent this off-season, they run the risk of ruining everything they've done with Rondo up to this point to make him the long-term answer.

I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. The arrival of Stoudamire could also light a fire under Rondo and motivate him to prove that he can be that guy. If I were a betting man (if anyone asks please tell them I'm not), I'd put my money on the addition of Stoudamire causing more harm than good for Rondo.

Besides, what has Stoudamire really done since Rasheed Wallace was still a Blazer? Did you know he hasn't participated in a playoff game since 2003?

The addition of Stoudamire would also take the Celtics out of the running for Sam Cassell. Even though the Clippers have yet to state publicly that they plan to unload Cassell, the Celtics would surely kick themselves if he became available once they had already added Stoudamire.

The Clippers would prefer to trade Cassell than give him his outright release so they could get something in exchange for his expiring contract. They probably don't want to add another salary so they'd be looking for another expiring contract and a draft pick in return. They may also look for someone willing to take on Tim Thomas' contract and the two-years and $13 million remaining on it.

If that's the case, chances are the Clippers won't find a willing trade partner for Cassell, and they'll end up releasing him if that's what he wishes. Cassell has already stated that he would like to join George Karl's coaching staff in Denver when he retires and one day be a head coach.

That would immediately make the Nuggets the favorites for Cassell. But if the Jazz and Blazers pass the Nuggets and they drop to seventh or eighth in the Western Conference, then a phone call from KG might convince Cassell that Boston would at least guarantee him a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics couldn't conceivably add both Stoudamire and Cassell. They do have two open roster spots on the team, but I'm sure Stoudamire would want some type of promise when it comes to minutes before he signs on for the rest of the season. 

We will know a lot more about where Stoudamire ends up in the next 48 hours.

This we know—if Stoudamire joins the Celtics, they'd be taking a risk. If he doesn't, they might be taking less of one.

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