The Celtics have as many as six free agents heading into this off-season, leaving the team with a number of questions to answer this summer. One of the first decisions Danny Ainge will be asked to consider is, what should the Celtics do with Gabe Pruitt?
The Celtics have a team option on Pruitt for next season at a league-minimum salary of $825,497. Pruitt has expressed a desire for the Celtics to pick up that option. However, the decision is not a clear cut one.
On the one hand, Pruitt is a young player at a position of need. He just turned 23 last month, and it can be argued (as Who has done in our forums) that he's already as good as many of the third string point guards in the NBA. Pruitt has previously looked good in the D-League, averaging 18.6 points and 3.9 assists on an eFG% of .502 a season ago.
On the other hand, however, there is a real question regarding whether Pruitt can play at this level. He simply hasn't shown that he's a very good player by NBA standards. Among NBA point guards, Pruitt ranked 48thout of 78 players in assist-to-turnover ratio, 69th out of 78 in assists per minute, and 74th out of 78 in field goal percentage. To the extent that Pruitt is really a shooting guard in a point guard's body (as demonstrated by his relatively low assist rate and his nearly 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the D-League), shooting guards who can't shoot tend not to stay in the NBA for long. He shot an atrocious 30.7% from the field this season, and offered little in the way of play making ability or defense to make up for that deficiency. Pruitt's poor play impacted games, as the team averaged 11.2 fewer points per 48 minutes when Pruitt was in the game. The simple fact is that Pruitt has proven nothing thus far in the NBA, and that's even without considering his DUI arrest.
Arguably, Pruitt is a low risk, moderate-to-high reward player. Obviously, Danny liked him in the draft, picking him above Glen Davis. However, as discussed on Thursday, Doc wants veterans on this team. Already, this team has two projects on the roster with guaranteed contracts for next season, in J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker. Tony Allen is also on the roster, clogging up space on a player who can't be counted on consistently to play at even an average level. The team may decide to attempt to bring Leon Powe back for a year; certainly, if the choice comes down to Powe versus Pruitt, the fans have made their voice heard. With limited roster space, this team needs to make every available slot possible count. In my estimation, that means Pruitt needs to go.