Do the Celitcs need a back-up point guard?

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Do the Celitcs need a back-up point guard?

Yesterday afternoon, the Celtics waived Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, thus leaving an open spot on their once crowded roster. And when you take a look at what the Celtics have, and what they might need, the most glaring hole is at back-up point guard.

After Rajon Rondo, the closest thing the Celtics have to a true back up is Jason Terry or Avery Bradley (when healthy), but considering Terry's effectiveness off the ball, and the fact that Bradley will likely be starting alongside Rondo, neither fills that back-up role in the purest sense of the word. That's why many believe that that's where the Celtics will turn with their open spot. However, I wouldn't get your hopes up.

First of all, because a true back up point guard has never been a priority for the Big 3 (2.0) era Celtics. In that first season, they had Eddie House backing up Rondo, before later bringing on Sam Cassell who was a point guard, but also 85 years old at the time. In year two, it was House, mixed in with a little Gabe Pruitt and eventually Stephon Marbury. In year three, it was House and Nate Robinson (hardly a pure PG). In year four, it was Robinson and Delonte West (a capable PG, but one who can't stay healthy and a tweener in his own right), and then Carlos Arroyo, who never saw the floor. Last year, it was Keyon Dooling again, not a pure point guard.

Second of all, there's not much else available. Derek Fisher's probably going to sign with the Lakers (if anyone). Mike Bibby's useless. Leandro Barbosa probably won't play for the veteran minimum. Johnny Flynn is a train wreck.

Is there anyone out there who you'd want the C's to waste a spot on to fill the 10 or so minutes that Rondo won't be on the court, or do you think they'd be better off leaving that last spot open, rolling with what they have for now, and waiting to see who's bought out later in the season?

I'd go with option two, and won't be surprised if the Celtics do, too. Or if not, history and reality suggest that they won't use it on a back-up point guard.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

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The '86 Celtics Interviews podcast (Ep.8): Dan Shaughnessy

Boston Globe columnist, and former Celtics beat writer, Dan Shaughnessy sits down with CSN for an extended discussion on "The '86 Celtics Interviews" podcast. Shaughnessy talks about the greatness of that team and the players' surprising reaction when they found out he was moving from the Celtics to the Red Sox beat.

Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

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Starter, bench or DNP: Zeller ready for any role with Celtics

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Tyler Zeller. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – The NBA is a league full of highs and lows for players.

There are few who understand this as well as Tyler Zeller, a player who has gone from starting to being a backup to not playing at all – at times in the same week.

And through it all, you never heard him gripe about it publicly or privately to teammates.

It’s among the many reasons you constantly hear his teammates talk about how much they respect the way he has handled some extremely difficult situations.

This past season was especially tough for him considering he was heading into free agency and looking to do all he could to not just win, but showcase what he could do as player.

There were many nights when Zeller didn’t have that opportunity, but he understood.

The Celtics have been and will continue to be a team that’s about finding ways to win and on many nights coach Brad Stevens decided to go in a direction that didn’t include Zeller playing.

As the summer dragged on and the Celtics’ joined the handful of teams that came up short in landing Kevin Durant, Zeller’s return became more likely.

And Zeller’s patience was rewarded with a two-year, $16 million contract with the second year of the deal being a team option.

Now that he’s back in the fold, what’s next?

The ceiling for Zeller: Part-time starter

It may not happen on opening night and it may not happen in the first week, or even first month, of the season.

But at some point, Tyler Zeller will be in the Celtics’ starting lineup.

And when he’s there, he’ll do a lot of good things that he has proven he’s capable of doing.

When it comes to running the floor in transition, Zeller has distinguished himself as one of the Celtics best big men.

The Celtics are big on playing with space and pace and there are few 7-footers who can run the floor as well as Zeller.

In fact, his PACE (number of possessions per 48 minutes) last season was 101.93 which was tops among all Celtics frontcourt players and second overall to guard Marcus Smart (102.46).

It’ll get the Celtics a few easy buckets here and there, but it won’t score enough points with the coaching staff to keep a starting job, which would then relegate him back to being one of the team’s frontcourt reserves.

Still, Zeller is a luxury that few teams have: a player who won’t get (overly) bent out of shape even if his minutes resemble this.

The floor for Zeller: On the roster

Zeller has spent the bulk of his NBA career as a back-to-the-basket center, but showed more desire to score more from the perimeter last season, which is one of the reasons why he shot a career-low 47.6 percent from the field.

He’s trying to expand his game because of the direction that the NBA is going with big men who need to be able to score further away from the basket in addition to providing a presence around the rim.

While Zeller has decent mechanics on his perimeter shot, it’s clear that he’s not yet totally comfortable being a “stretch big.”

According to NBA.com/stats, Zeller shot 30.9 percent from the field last season on wide open shot attempts from at least 10 feet away.

With the addition of Al Horford and the return of Amir Johnson as well as Kelly Olynyk, Boston has a nice group of stretch centers they can put on the floor. And let’s not forget about Jonas Jerebko, who closed out the playoffs as a starter for Boston.

Minutes will once again be hard to come by for Zeller with any kind of consistency.

In fact, there’s a very good chance that he will have some games in which he doesn’t play (coaches decision) at all.

And depending on injuries, he may have to be inactive at times just to ensure Boston has depth on the perimeter.

Whether he’s starting, coming off the bench or not suited up at all, Zeller is an important part of this Celtics squad. Above all else, he provides depth, which continues to be one of the hallmarks for this franchise under Stevens.