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Considering One Western Stopper In Green

A Daily Babble Production

Like it or not (and here's guessing where yours truly stands on this has become rather evident), James Posey's days in Boston are over.  The same appears true of P.J. Brown's, and could be as well for those of others (Tony Allen, Eddie House, Sam Cassell) who made up the core of the Celtics' bench down the stretch last season.

But, of course, it is also quite true that the five starters and thus the crux of the green will be returning for the 2008-09 season, and hope abounds here of a repeat performance of this year's capture of the NBA title.  When all was said and done, the championship team featured a bench that included just the right combination of scoring, defense, youthful energy and veteran savvy to make an enormous difference for the Celts, and with much of the core of that bench gone or possibly on the way out, it is no doubt time to begin looking anew for help.

In light of how the Celtics found their way to the first championship in 22 years, it's defense that is on the brain today here at Babble Central.  So a look at Clippers swingman Quinton Ross seems in order.

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Ross is a four-year veteran, an unrestricted free agent and also someone who happens to intrigue me.

Ross has started exactly half of his 302 games played in Los Angeles, and the phrase that comes to mind to sum him up as a player is defensive specialist.  Ross has been referred to in the past as a 'lite' version of Bruce Bowen, and the comparisons come easily upon watching him play.  The guy simply loves to rag people.  He has no qualms about spending an evening effectively trying to get inside the jersey of the other team's top scorer, and he'll run with his man all game if need be.  Ross denies the ball well and plays strong defense when his man does mange to get his hands on that orange sphere.  He is built like the 6-foot-7, 185-pound Bowen as well, standing 6-foot-6 and weighing just 195 pounds.

The real catch here has to do with the fact that Ross' offensive game makes him seem to be far more of a parallel to Trenton Hassell than he is to Bruce Bowen.  Bowen has earned himself a living and a role as a valuable piece on a title team through both his defense and his willignness to take and ability to hit shots, particularly his beloved corner three.  The man shoots with better than 39 percent accuracy for his career from deep, and that has long been a factor in helping the Spurs space the floor for their three stars.

In contrast, Ross is little more than a space-eater on the offensive end of the floor (and with a slight build, he really doesn't do all that much of that).  He isn't an offensive rebounder or great passer or ball-handler, and what little he'll provide on the scoring end won't come efficiently.  Ross doesn't shoot 30 percent from deep, and his true shooting sits at a paltry 47 percent for his career.  He isn't a perimeter shooter or a slasher, and he'll occasionally hit the open lay-up or a baby jumper, but that's about it.  There's a reason why our very own CoachBo described Ross' offensive play as "ghastly."

While there are some teams that might be able to afford Ross' vacuum tendencies on offense, the current set-up of the bench makes one wonder if the Celts wouldn't be too hamstrung by his presence on the floor.  As it stands, Leon Powe currently provides the green's lone scoring punch off the bench, and the Celts don't have many others to feel confident in as far as providing bench points is concerned.  The Celts may not be able to succed by rolling out a reserve line-up that involves virtually playing four on five at one end of the floor.

But even with that in mind, Ross could still be a nice piece to have aboard.  His size likely limits him to guarding swingmen (as opposed to power forwards as well), and his shortcomings on the offensive end are discouraging.  But a team can never have enough tough defenders, and while Ross would be a major liability in a line-up with three or four other reserves, he could provide a timely stopper presence to allow the star scorers to focus more on the offensive end and help defense in certain situations.  Further, Ross has never made so much as $1 million in a season, so there is a chance he would come to Boston for a bargain price.

What that price is and whether Quinton Ross will be worth it remain to be seen.  But in a summer for weak free agency, taking at least a mild interest seems reasonable for the green. 

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