The Celtics train appears to be headed straight to the NBA Finals, and one former NBA All Star apparently wants in on the ride. This week, Gary Payton has expressed he wants to join the Celtics. According to a Boston Globe article, Payton told his long time agent Aaron Goodwin that he thinks his experience can help Boston win a championship this year.
As intriguing as this move sounds, it raises a few questions. Would this be a good move for Boston? Can Gary actually help them?
GP has always been a very vocal guy whom young players respect. He could serve as a mentor to the Celtics young point guards Rajon Rondo and Eddie House. Yeah, Rondo has played great this season, but the fact remains he is still only in his second year and it is unclear how he will perform in the postseason. Gary can come in and back up Rondo for 15 minutes a game and be a possible option at the end of games.
Even though he has clearly slowed down, he can come in late in games and bury clutch shots like he did in the 06 NBA Finals against Dallas. Plus, Payton has played in Boston before so he knows Doc Rivers system and he has a good relationship with him. Payton had a rough year in Miami last year, so it would be good to see the Glove go out on a high note and with a championship.
You know what they say, if its not broken dont fix it. The Celtics are on cruise control right now with a 21-3 record, so why risk the chemistry? Sure, Rajon Rondo could benefit from a veteran point guard, but there might be some younger options out there than the 39-year-old Payton. Names that have floated around are Earl Boykins, Travis Best, and Keith McLeod.
Plus, can Gary accept playing only 10-15 minutes per night with the possibility of logging some DNP-CDs (did not play, coaches decision)? Also, can his body hold up? Ever since his Lakers campaign, his skills have been on the decline, and last season with the Heat he averaged a career low 5.3 points per game.
Although it would be a big gamble to sign GP at this point in the season, I think it might pay off. Payton understands that he is no longer an All Star, and if he were to accept a Darrick Martin mentor role, he could really benefit the development of Rondo. Also, you can never take away the competitiveness of a guy like Payton. I can see him being like Robert Horry and not score an entire game, but coming in the final minute and hitting a clutch three.
I know if I were Doc Rivers, I would much rather look down on my bench and see the Glove than the Cs other GP – rookie point guard, Gabe Pruitt. No offense Gabe.