So far, MarShon Brooks is doing and saying the right things. He practices hard, he’s receptive to coaching and he supports his teammates on the court despite very little time on the court himself.
Brooks has played in just nine games this season, practically unable to get off the bench for meaningful minutes. For the most part he had to settle for garbage-time minutes, mopping up in blowouts.
For a Boston Celtics team in the midst of rebuilding, a young, talented player like Brooks usually is exactly what a team is looking for. Instead fans are looking for Brooks because he is yet to penetrate the Celtics rotation.
If Boston has a plan for Brooks, only those within the organization know. To the outside world a promising scorer is wasting away on the bench for a losing team when he should be playing to either prove his worth to the team or increase his value for a future trade. Which is Brooks’ value to the Celtics is anyone’s guess.
Brooks is, in part, a victim of a numbers game. The Celtics already had Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford and Courtney Lee before the trade that brought Brooks, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace to Boston.
After assessing his new team, head coach Brad Stevens selected his rotation at the guard positions. It took a little mixing and matching, but Stevens settled on his guys. Brooks and Bogans were the odd men out, with rookie Phil Pressey leapfrogging the veterans.
It should be frustrating to Brooks being a high-paid cheerleader, knowing he has the offensive ability to help a second unit trying to develop better consistency. Brooks has a reputation as a scorer with the ability to create his own shot. He sounds like the kind of player the second unit needs playing alongside Pressey, Wallace and Kelly Olynyk.
Then again, with Stevens’ defense-first approach, Brooks has no one to blame but himself for sitting since he can’t defend a lick. If Brooks wasn’t such a liability defensively, maybe he could crack the rotation.
With little to show for the season, it’s hard to get a read on Brooks’ future with the Celtics. If the idea is to stash him from the rest of the league, then Stevens is doing this perfectly.
So far Stevens has successfully turned Crawford into a serviceable point guard, Bradley into a reliable 2-guard and restored Lee to the productive player Boston thought they traded for in 2012. By getting the best out of these players, Stevens is making these guards more appealing throughout the league. It makes them more valuable in possible trades.
Already this year, with Crawford showing the ability to run an offense as well as score, the Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence said a few general managers identified Crawford as a player the Miami Heat would be interested in acquiring.
If Stevens can continue to build value in his roster of mostly role players, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge can make deals to benefit the Celtics. If any of these deals include any of the guards ahead of Brooks, it would clear the path to playing time for Brooks, as Boston finally reveals the scorer they didn’t want the rest of the league sniffing around.
But if there’s no deception behind Brooks’ lack of playing time, he’s a salary filler in a future deal. While expiring contracts become more valuable as the February 20 trade deadline approaches, Brooks’ $1,276,560 by itself isn’t a significant saving to any franchise by itself. And the chances Boston can acquire a player of significance with this NBA equivalent of chump change is slim to none.
Lump Brooks with another player or two, maybe even some draft picks, and Boston would be rid of a player who didn’t live up to the potential.
For now Brooks practices then waits, fifth in line, at best. The line is only going to get longer when Rajon Rondo returns to action.
All Brooks can do is practice hard and be a good teammate. If his number is called, Brooks has to show his development. Someone is always watching, and maybe they’ll like what they see. Brooks believes he will get his chance to play someday. Somewhere.
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