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The Celtics have already had one point guard from Coney Island this decade. And he was more than enough.
Sebastian Telfair gave the green faithful more than his share of headaches in his brief stint in town. Poor play combined with legal troubles plus a 58-loss team and the draft pick it cost the Celts to get him made Bassy quite a pariah in Beantown over the course of the 2006-07 season. There is no doubt that his greatest value to the team came in serving as an asset towards acquiring a certain power forward roughly a year ago at this time. Beyond that, the only concern for his departure seemed to be voiced by the compassionate few who didn't want to see the door hit him on the way out.
Rumor has been circulating now for some time that the Celts could consider acquiring another point guard who not only shares a high school allegiance with Bassy (Lincoln High in Brooklyn) but a family as well: cousin Stephon Marbury.
Chalk up yours truly for spending the rest of the off-season hoping against hope that this guy doesn't end up in green anytime soon.
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Thanks to the presence of Zach Randolph on an NBA roster, Marbury doesn't top my list for least desirable players to have on one's team, but he certainly has to be included somewhere in the discussion.
There is no doubt that the man so often referred to as Starbury has tremendous physical talent. Prior to seeing his production tail off over the last two seasons, Marbury was once one of two NBA players to ever maintain career averages of 20 points and 8 assists per game. The other is none other than Oscar Robertson, who assuredly represents some pretty exclusive company for Steph. Marbury can fill it up, and at one point, he did his share of distributing.
But it has become clear over the last couple of seasons that not only are his best physical days behind him, but Marbury has the ability to tear a team apart with his distractions as well. Now 31 years old, Marbury has been hampered by injuries over the past few seasons, and he has seen his scoring drop precipitously (less than 14 points per game this year and less than 17 each of the two before that) and stopped handing out as many assists (8.1 to 6.4 to 5.4 to 4.7 per game over the last four seasons), and his field-goal percentage has sunk to inside of 42 percent over the past couple of seasons.
The numbers are all thoroughly unimpressive, but they are only the beginning of the problem. Marbury routinely talks about 'doing Starbury,' which seems to refer to acting completely as a shoot-first point guard, breaking plays and doing whatever he has to do in order to make himself the show for his team. He has not guarded and does not guard anyone, and he takes far too many shots (16.1 per game for his career, no single season below double digit attempts per game), many of them ill-advised. While Marbury seemed to make strides in a few inordinately brief instances for the Knicks with regard to becoming more willing to truly be a facilitator of good team offense rather than merely a showman, he has always regressed into doing his own thing simply to prove that he can sitll get his points and be the league's top floor general, which is the esteem in which he holds himself.
When Marbury hasn't been playing bad, self-oriented basketball over the last couple of seasons, he has managed to cause distraction after distraction. Steph was prominently featured as a player in the sexual harassment suit against the Knicks filed by former team empoyee Anucha Browne Sanders. He has established a long legacy of failing to cooperate and work cohesively with coaches (see: D'Antoni, Mike; Brown, Larry; Thomas, Isiah for starters), and he went MIA last season when Thomas told him that his poor play was going to lead to a reduction in his minutes. When Marbury wanted to return, his Knicks teammates (a group not exactly known for its high standard of conduct) voted soundly against his being allowed to rejoin the squad. Though Thomas overruled the players, the message about Marbury came through loud and clear: He is more a hindrance than a help.
Undoubtedly, as we've discussed previously, the Celtics are in as much of a position to take on a high-risk-high-reward guy as anyone in the league. They have excellent team leadership and a coach who -- no matter where you stand on his tactical work -- undeniably has the respect of his players. Coming off a championship, the Celts can make it clear that if Steph doesn't keep his behavior in line, he'll be shown the door in a hurry. And maybe, just maybe, if everything aligned correctly, it would be somewhat possible for Marbury to provide some needed scoring punch off the bench for the Celts.
But given this guy's history as a teammate and his recent track record even as an individual performer, that optimal situation sounds highly unlikely. What seems a lot more likely is that Marbury would whine for minutes, spend a lot of time talking hismelf up, alienate his teammates and his coach, not play defense and ultimately be a distraction rather than any sort of valued addition for the green.
I'm a Celtics fan far more than I am obsessive over being right. If Danny Ainge somehow ends up bringing Stephon Marbury to Boston in the coming season, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'll put as much faith as I have into hoping that I've managed to be completely and utterly wrong about Marbury in green. And if that should come to fruition, I'll be the first to admit it and quite happy about it.
But for now, the thought remains that the green and its faithful will all be a whole lot better off if Stephon Marbury never dons a Celtics jersey.