I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Phil Pressey.
With the trade for Will Bynum completed, Phil Pressey is now the fifth-best point guard on the Celtics roster. Whether or not Bynum is long for Boston, the second-year floor general’s minutes — and possibly his roster spot — are in serious trouble.
Since joining the Celtics as an undrafted junior out of Missouri last year, Pressey has remained in green longer than most expected. The 23-year-old actually started at the point 11 times as a rookie and appeared in more games than everybody but Brandon Bass and Jeff Green in 2013-14. In July, The C’s guaranteed Pressey’s $816,482 contract for this season after he submitted 36-minute averages of 6.8 points, 7.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals in 75 appearances.
At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Pressey may never be a great scorer, particularly among the trees and especially if he can’t improve his outside shot. As a rookie, he ranked as a below average shooter from everywhere on the floor but the straightaway 3-pointer, where he still only made 7-of-21 attempts. Pressey shot 40.0 percent on 85 attempts in the paint, 25.8 on 62 tries from mid-range and 26.4 percent on 106 triples. Still, he proved a capable playmaker — submitting a 2.77 assist-to-turnover ratio that ranked among the league’s best backup point guards — and a willing defender.
Still, the Celtics already have a better starting playmaker in Rajon Rondo and a superior defensive backup in Marcus Smart. Should Bynum stick around, he’d bring veteran stability and superior (albeit not great) shooting as a third-stringer, and let’s not forget Evan Turner has started at the point in Rondo’s absence each of the past two preseason games.
All of that leaves Pressey as the odd man out. After starting the C’s first three summer league games in July, he watched Smart assume the starting role in the last two games in Orlando and the first four games of preseason. Pressey didn’t see playing time until the final 15 minutes of Thursday’s exhibition game, when the Celtics already owned a 20-point lead.
The Celtics like Pressey’s competitiveness, even as they understand his inability to score at the NBA level seriously limits his ceiling. Yet, three months after guaranteeing his contract, they’re faced with his redundancy on the current roster. Pressey’s minimum salary makes him a relatively easy roster trimming possibility — either by release or a trade to a team in need of back-end point guard depth. Even then, the return would be a heavily protected second-round pick with little chance of ever bearing fruit.
Asset Rating: D-
This has been another edition of Asset Management. Check out more Celtics player valuations below.
ASSET MANAGEMENT: Avery Bradley | Jeff Green | Kelly Olynyk | Marcus Smart | Jared Sullinger | Marcus Thornton | Evan Turner | James Young | Tyler Zeller