Catching Up with Old Friends
A look at where some former Celtics have found themselves this offseason
By Brian Olive
September 11, 2006
This past off-season has seen the Green make some changes to their roster with the additions of players such as Sebastian Telfair and Rajon Rondo. This is also the time of year when there are many former Celtics that are on the move. Here is a quick look at who has gone where.
Former fan favorite Eric Williams was acquired by the San Antonio Spurs in a trade with the Toronto Raptors which netted the Raptors center Rasho Nesterovic. Williams had a less than stellar year, most of which he spent on the Raptors bench. His totals for the season were the lowest that they had been since the 1998 season in which he was a member of the Celtics and played in only four games because of a season-ending knee surgery.
Guards Jiri Welsch and Tony Delk moved overseas to play in Europe. Welsch moved to the Spanish side Unicaja Malaga while Delk moved to the Greek team Panathiniakos. Welsch played in 58 games last season for the Milwaukee Bucks averaging 4.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. In the two years that Welsch was with the Celtics he averaged 8.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Delk played for the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons last season averaging 7.6 points while shooting at a .426 clip from beyond the arc.
Delk was acquired in the middle of the 2001-02 season along with Rodney Rogers from the Phoenix Suns in a deal that saw then-rookie Joe Johnson go to Phoenix with a first round draft pick that became Casey Jacobsen. The Celtics were willing to pay the price as Rogers and Delk provided the spark off of the bench during the Green’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Two players who were traded for each other during the 2003-04 season used solid seasons to parlay themselves new contracts for the upcoming season. Chucky Atkins had a solid season for the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards. Atkins started the season with the Wizards and signed with the Grizzlies in January seeking more playing time than he was receiving in Washington. Atkins averaged 11.4 points and 3.0 assists per game in the 43 games that he was a Grizzly. Memphis boss Jerry West viewed that bringing Atkins back would be an excellent opportunity to have someone with Atkins’ vast experience mentor their young team.
Mike James had a career season in which he averaged a career high 20.3 points per game and dished out a career high 5.3 assists per game. Former Celtic Kevin McHale saw James as a perfect opportunity to help run the offense for the Timberwolves and signed James to a four year contract.
Two players who started last season with the Celtics, Marcus Banks and Justin Reed, adjusted well in their new surroundings, gaining new contracts for the upcoming season. Reed averaged 6.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game after the mid-season trade with the Timberwolves that saw current Celtics Wally Szczerbiak and Dwayne Jones come in return. Banks saw his playing time increase following the trade and produced accordingly. Banks played in 40 games, starting the final 28, for the ‘Wolves. He averaged 12.0 points while handing out 4.7 assists in 30.7 minutes per game. Banks used his breakout second half to gain a five year pact from the Phoenix Suns where he will team up with fellow UNLV alum, Shawn Marion and back-up current league MVP Steve Nash.
While David Wesley (signed with the Cavaliers) and Gary Payton (re-signed with the Heat) just picked up contracts, Kenny Anderson is still out in the free agent market waiting to be picked up by a team. All three players were on Celtics playoff teams. Anderson was part of the 2001-02 Eastern Conference finals team, which was the C’s first appearance in the Conference finals in 14 years. Anderson played last season for BC Zalgiris in the Lithuanian Basketball League appearing in just nine games averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 assists in 17.7 minutes. Wesley appeared in 71 games last season for the Houston Rockets. In the 33.5 minutes per game that he averaged, Wesley dished out 2.9 assists and scored 9.9 points per game. Payton played last season for the NBA champion Miami Heat, appearing in 81 games. He scored 7.7 points and handed out 3.2 assists per game in an average of 28.5 minutes. Payton was able to finally catch his first NBA championship ring this past season after it had eluded him for 15 previous seasons.