Unlike Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, and Nate Robinson, Brian Scalabrine has yet to be re-signed by the Boston Celtics this offseason. This summer, the Celtics set out to acquire big men, and perimeter scorers, and even a backup point guard, and through all of the discussion that resulted from that list of priorities, Scal never emerged as a legitimate candidate.
The funny thing is, Scal's sort of become a household name around here. A staple, if you will. He's been a member of the Boston Celtics for the past five seasons - nearly for as long as Doc Rivers has been the coach of this team.
But the fact that we're now used to seeing him on the bench, and used to hearing the "Scal-a-bri-ne" chants during blowout wins and losses at home, most likely cannot justify the Celtics offering him another contract. While it appears as though Danny Ainge is remodeling his team to compete for the next two seasons, the future of the NBA can be difficult to predict (especially with a potential lockout looming), which puts a certain pressure on the legitimate contenders to get the job done during the present, by bringing in the best players available.
In terms of next season, if Luke Harangody does indeed sign a contract soon - as he's expected to - there will be just one roster spot remaining. The Celtics are still reportedly interested in bringing in another big man to bolster their front line, and while Scal technically fits the most basic description of "big man", he's most likely not what the Celtics are after.
Scal's production was minimal over the course of his most recent five-year deal with Boston, particularly once Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen arrived with championship aspirations. The team's most recent playoff run saw Scal play just one minute. Total. And, quite frankly, he only dressed for Game 7 of the NBA Finals because of the knee injury Kendrick Perkins suffered in Game 6.
I harp on this not to criticize Scal, but to shed light on the fact that if the Celtics can sign a more dynamic free agent big man with the Veteran's Minimum, capable of contributing consistently, they will undoubtedly take that route. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Shaquille O'Neal and Kwame Brown are still potential options for Boston. If the team had to choose between Shaq, Brown, and Scal, I'm pretty confident Shaq and Brown would rank as the team's top two choices, even though Scal now has a history with the team. This is one of those scenarios where doing what's best for the team comes before loyalty to one specific player.
Was Scal overpaid these last five seasons? Most likely. But the Celtics own Scal's Bird Rights, meaning they can potentially offer more than the Veteran's Minimum, because they can exceed the salary cap in order to re-sign him. However, if Scal were to re-sign, I can't see it being for anything close to what he made these past five seasons. Here's the problem for Scal: If the Celtics were indeed interested in his services once again, why hasn't a deal been struck by now? Realistically, what's the point in waiting? The deal couldn't possibly be for that much money, and Scal - based on his production - doesn't hold too much bargaining power in terms of how many years he'd like the contract to run for. The Celtics would be the ones in the driver's seat.
However, the fact that nothing has happened thus far might not be all bad for Scal, either. If the offseason rolls along and the C's are unable to add any other big men, but are still determined to add depth in the wake of Perkins's rehabilitation, they just might resort to bringing Scal back.
Scalabrine recently spoke at a youth camp in Maine, and had this to say about the Shaq rumors (he's humorous as always):
"Me and Shaq's games are really quite similar. He's an inside player. I'm an inside player. He's 360. I'm 250," said Scalabrine, the expression on his face hardly changing. "I don't know, if they had to make that choice that there's only going be room for one 360-pound center, I feel like they could do both. They could have me and him."
Unfortunately for Scalabrine, if there is only one roster spot available, and he's in contention with Shaq for it, Shaq's getting the spot.
Again, with a considerable amount of pressure on Boston to win another title next season, they need to add as many productive players as possible. We saw how a lack of depth hurt them at times throughout their most recent playoff run, and if a more proven big man than Scal is available at the right price, there's really no reason for the Celtics to not head in that direction.