Free agent primer: Shooting guardscombo guards

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Free agent primer: Shooting guardscombo guards

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

With Chicago's Game 4 loss to Miami on Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics hold the distinction of being the only team this past season to not suffer three or more consecutive losses. That success means nothing right now, not with the Celtics watching the playoffs unfold.

The C's aren't in a revisionist mood now.

Instead, it's all about rebuilding for the upcoming season.

Among the areas the Celtics will look to shore up this summer will be finding a backup shooting guard for Ray Allen.

Boston could address the position via next month's NBA draft, but a more likely route will be through free agency.

Here are some of the top free agent shootingcombo guards available this summer.

Top available shootingcombo guards (team they played with last season): Jamal Crawford (Atlanta); Von Wafer (Boston); Rasual Butler (Chicago); DeShawn Stevenson (Dallas); Arron Afflalo (Denver); Rodney Stuckey (Detroit); Leandaro Barbosa (Toronto); Delonte West (Boston); Michael Redd (Milwaukee); Marco Belinelli (New Orleans); Roger Mason (New York); Eddie House (Miami); Anthony Parker (Cleveland); Daequan Cook (Oklahoma City); Mo Evans (Washington); Nick Young (Washington)

-restricted free agents

Best of the bunch: Crawford, Barbosa, Young, Stevenson and Afflalo.

Best fits for the C's: Crawford, Barbosa, West.

Why Crawford?
The Celtics are in the market for a player who can carry them through those inevitable scoring droughts. There's no better free agent on the market this summer to do just that, than Crawford. The 31-year-old has spent the past two seasons coming off the bench in Atlanta where he averaged 18 points and 14.2, respectively. To have a player with his knack for delivering instant offense would be a huge plus for the C's moving forward.

Why Barbosa?
He can play some at the point, but his strength whenever he's on the floor is that of a scorer. A career 12.7 points per game scorer, the 28-year-old also has the kind of speed that few players in the NBA possess. For a team looking to run more, Barbosa could be a huge asset coming off the bench. The biggest knock against Barbosa has been staying healthy. Out of a possible 246 games the past three seasons, Barbosa has played in 172, or 69.9 percent, of them.

Why West?
There isn't a single player on the free agent market at this position more familiar with Doc Rivers' system here in Boston. Like most of the C's this past season, West spent a considerable amount of time out with injuries. West probably helped himself more with his playoff performance than any other Celtics players, which means he'll likely have quite a few suitors this summer. But you have to believe that the way the C's stuck by him through his off-the-court issues heading into last season, that loyalty will be rewarded in West re-signing with the club that originally drafted him in 2004.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

Blakely: Raptors newcomers show Celtics what they're missing

TORONTO – It’s far too soon to say if the Celtics’ decision to stand pat at the trade deadline was a mistake.
 
But the early returns aren’t encouraging.
 
Their 107-97 loss Friday night to the Toronto Raptors wasn’t because of Kyle Lowry (right wrist), who didn’t even play, or DeMar DeRozan, who played out his mind while scoring a career-high 43 points.
 
The game will be remembered by the new guys Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, both acquired at the trade deadline by the Raptors.
 
Ibaka, who was a bad fit, and on most nights a bad player, in Orlando, looked like the O-K-C Ibaka while scoring 15 points to go with seven rebounds against the Celtics – numbers that were better than his two games combined against the Celtics this season with the Magic when he scored a total of just 12 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
 
And then there was Tucker, who got a crash video course on Raptors playbook just hours before the game, and proceeded to show the kind of toughness at both ends of the floor that has made him one of the league’s more underrated defenders as he finished with a near double-double of nine points and 10 rebounds.
 
It was their first game with their new team, but you would have thought they had been with Toronto all season long with how seamless they seemed to fit in.
 
Ibaka draining jumpers, Tucker causing chaos defensively, while absolutely crushing the Celtics on the boards...their play was a painful reminder of what could have been for the Green team.
 
Both were rumored to have been in the Celtics’ crosshairs prior to the Thursday 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Celtics were lukewarm at best on Ibaka (they didn’t want what would have been a 25-game rental) and just couldn’t quite strike a deal and cross the finish line for Tucker.
 
It’s too soon to hit the panic button and rip Danny Ainge for not getting a minor deal done like adding Tucker or Ibaka.
 
Still, his players have to embrace the truth behind what transpired this trade season.
 
Ainge went big-game hunting, focusing most of the team's efforts on landing a major difference-maker, a la Jimmy Butler or Paul George.
 
When that didn’t work out, he settled for the next best thing, which was to keep this group together.
 
The onus is now on them to prove that trust Ainge has in them, was well-placed.
 
Putting too much stock in the first game after the break is a risky proposition that no one should subscribe to.
 
But in the loss, it revealed many of the concerns and weaknesses of this roster that tend to get magnified in defeat while glossed over when they manage to win despite those flaws.
 
Isaiah Thomas may be the best scorer in the fourth quarter, but he’s human.
 
There will be games when Mr. Fourth Quarter can’t get it done.
 
Friday night was that kind of game for him. He scored just four of his team-high 20 points in the fourth.
 
And as the Raptors blitzed him repeatedly with two and three defenders, his teammates failed to step up when the opportunity was there to make impactful, game-altering plays down the stretch.
 
Watching the Celtics’ defense in the second half was painful.
 
DeRozan got whatever he wanted, when he wanted it.
 
And when he missed, the Raptors controlled the boards, got all the 50/50 balls and repeatedly out-worked Boston.
 
It exposed Boston in a way that’s painful to see, especially when those inflicting the greatest amount of damage could have been in the Celtics huddle and not the one on the other sideline.