Dooling still looking to play in NBA this season

Dooling still looking to play in NBA this season
August 26, 2013, 9:30 pm
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(AP Images)

BOSTON — Like many veterans, former Boston Celtic guard Keyon Dooling is in wait-and-see mode with NBA training camps kicking off in about a month.

The uncertainty as to whether he will be signed by an NBA team has led the 13-year-veteran to give some thought to taking his game overseas this season ... possibly to China.

"I have to play this year," Dooling told CSNNE.com in a phone interview on Monday. "I've made that decision. This year for sure, I am playing."

Orlando had expressed interest in Dooling early in free agency, but at that time he said he wasn't ready to commit to the Magic.

"I thought the free agency would pick up and I would have a better opportunity to win," Dooling said. "A lot has changed from the first couple of days of free agency, until now."

There have been a handful of teams that remain interested in Dooling, a list that includes Memphis which is the team he joined shortly before the playoffs this past season and helped them advance to the Western Conference finals were they were swept by NBA Finals runner-up San Antonio.

And yes, Dooling said he and his representatives have expressed an open-minded approach about possibly playing in China this season as well.

"We've been planting some seeds, but at this point right now, I want to play in the league (NBA)," Dooling said. "You don't want to go the international route unless it's a quality offer and a quality situation."

However, that market which in some ways is similar to the NBA, is looking a lot closer at college players or young, up-and-coming talent that maybe isn't quite ready for the NBA.

As for veterans in China, there's a greater emphasis placed on adding  former NBA superstars past their prime like Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson, both of whom recently retired.

Dooling has been a solid role player throughout his career, the kind of veteran that NBA teams looking to strengthen their roster both on the floor and inside the locker room, have added without hesitation.

But the new Collective Bargaining Agreement has teams more focused on keeping their player salaries from escalating too high.

A team looking to sign Dooling to a one-year, veteran's minimum deal would pay him $1,399,507, with $515,214 of that salary paid by the league office because Dooling is a veteran with more than three years of service in the NBA.

The difference between those two figures, $884,293, is still more than a one-year, minimum contract for a rookie ($490,180) or a player with one year of experience ($788, 872) which is why teams may look to go in that direction rather than add an established, battle-tested veteran.

"Older players, veteran players, cost more at the end of the day," Dooling said. "But we have value; great value. You look at teams that win, win big, they have veterans both with their core group and on the bench.

Dooling added, "And even for teams with young talent, someone has to show them what hard work and work ethic are about. But if you got a team full of young players, how are they going to know what this league is about or what it takes to be successful?"

Prior to the start of the 2012-2013 season, Dooling abruptly announced his retirement which was why the Celtics waived him.

Soon after he retired, Dooling spent some time working for the Celtics in addition to Comcast SportsNet, before getting the itch to return to the floor.

The terms of his buyout with the Celtics would not allow him to rejoin the C's who at the time had a need at his position with Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa both going down with season-ending torn ACL injuries.

Instead, Dooling signed with Memphis in April.

The 6-foot-3 guard appeared in seven regular season games with the Grizzlies, averaging 4.4 points in 11.7 minutes per game.

In the playoffs, he averaged 1.9 points while playing 8.1 minutes per game.