Friday, March 5, 2010

Michael Finley: 'I'm soon to be a Celtic'

Veteran swingman Michael Finley confirmed to on Thursday that he has reached an agreement to join the Boston Celtics.

"It's official now," Finley told after verbally committing to Boston. "I'm soon to be a Celtic."

Finley, who turns 37 Saturday, requested and received a buyout from the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, freeing him to sign with a title contender while maintaining his playoff eligibility.

The Celtics appeared to only have the veteran minimum available to sign Finley, whose services were reportedly coveted by a handful of other playoff-bound teams, including the Los Angles Lakers.

Finley's stats have dipped dramatically this season (3.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.8 assists over 15.8 minutes per game), but he's regarded as one of the best locker room presences in the league, and he boasts 111 games of playoff experience, winning a championship with the Spurs in 2007.

For his career, Finley is a 37.4 percent 3-point shooter (though he's only shot 31.7 percent from beyond the arc this season), and he has the potential to give the Celtics another perimeter threat after moving Eddie House at the trade deadline.

Last year in the playoffs, Finley averaged 8 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist per game in five games with the Spurs. For his career, those numbers spike to 13.6 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 rebounds per game in the postseason.

A two-time All-Star, Finley will find himself behind Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels at the small forward position, but his presence might allow the Celtics some flexibility with Daniels, who can play either guard spot or small forward.

In a season in which both Pierce and Daniels have been nagged by injuries, Finley also provides insurance should the injury bug not fly far from the Celtics.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed his interest in Finley Wednesday in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI, saying he would be another shooter off the bench who could fill in for Pierce or Allen, and that having that extra option could be useful for coach Doc Rivers. He also played down the potential impact Finley would have.

"I certainly don't consider Mike Finley to be someone that's going to make the difference in us winning the championship," Ainge said, adding that he doesn't want to put that kind of pressure on the veteran. "That's why I keep the pressure on our starters."

Finley and Rivers should be fast friends. The pair both grew up outside Chicago and attended Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois.

"I don't think a veteran ever hurts," Rivers told the Boston Globe earlier this week when rumors first began to swirl about the Celtics' potential interest in Finley. "I think it always helps your team to have one, if it's the right one. Every team has some holes. Shooting is one thing we can't have enough of as far as I'm concerned. You look at some of these other teams, their shooting is ridiculous."

Even after adding Finley, the Celtics still have one empty roster spot.


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