Starbury’s downside blown out of proportion?

Peter May of writes that if the Celtics decide to sign Stephon Marbury, it might not be such a bad thing.

While I am not a big Marbury fan – and I believe I am in the majority on this – I have trouble seeing a downside to him coming to the Celtics. You have to think he would be willing to accept a backup role – if he isn’t, it’s ‘end of discussion’ – and would be on his best behavior. If he decides to go into Knucklehead Mode, well, that’s what waivers are for. The Celtics wouldn’t eat more than a veteran minimum guarantee, pro-rated.

Ever since James Posey signed with New Orleans last summer and PJ Brown retired, apparently for good this time, the Celtics have known they need to bulk up their bench. While Marbury does not address one need – size – he does address a number of others.

He can handle the ball. That was a concern last year as well, which led to the February signing of Sam Cassell. The Celtics re-signed Cassell, but he still has yet to play this season. The other point guard options – Eddie House, Gabe Pruitt – are either out-of-position players (House) or still raw around the edges for the playoffs (Pruitt.)

Marbury also can, as they say these days, score the ball. Having a reliable scorer in the second unit has been a problem for the Celtics all season. One night Tony Allen looks like he’ll be the guy. The next night he looks the guy who the Celtics refused to extend last summer and whose mere presence on the court last spring inspired dread and fear in Celtics fans.

Marbury also would be insurance if one of the guards got hurt. (The Celtics’ three guard-small forward starters have yet to miss a game this season.) Plus, if he did come in and play well, the Celtics could consider him down the road, as one of the issues on the horizon is that Ray Allen’s deal expires after the 2009-10 season. While Marbury and Allen were taken in the same draft (1996), and, in fact, traded for each other that day, Marbury is two years younger.

The behavior question is really moot. Think Randy Moss and the New England Patriots. The Celtics have a strong locker room and there is no way that Danny Ainge would foist Marbury on his coach or his team without running it by all of them.

This is a well thought out piece, unlike a lot of the “he’s a cancer” arguments I’ve been seeing these days. I’m no fan of Marbury either, but as May writes (and as I wrote last week) there is very little downside to the C’s rolling the dice. The bench is thinner than a year ago and the Lakers have added Andrew Bynum. Boston needs to get better and Marbury, if he behaves (which he has shown that he can do…in spurts), then he can help this team.

The bottom line is that with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen the culture in that locker room is too strong to let him become a distraction. If it doesn’t work out in the first couple of months, the team can cut him and (probably) won’t be any worse for the wear. But I think it would work out, and Marbury would be on the road to rehabbing his career. Mind you, I’m not saying that he will successfully rehab the career, but that he has the potential of completing the first step — helping the Boston Celtics.

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