I've been a Telfair supporter since he got here, and I'm still his supporter, even through all his mistakes. I think Rajon has a whole lot more basketball skills to offer, but there's something about Bassy--something about the way he carries himself--that makes me believe in him.
It dawned on me today that Ainge has gone through a bunch of PG's since he took over the Celtics' helm in '03, and has gotten rid of them all--except for Rajon and Telfair. He started out by drafting the highly talented Marcus Banks, but dumped him a couple of years later, after finding that Banks really didn't have a PG's mentality to run a team (Banks didn't pan out for the Wolves either, and the Suns are actively shopping him this summer). For just half a season, Danny brought in Chucky Atkins. Chucky did a nice job for us, but he's not the impact PG Ainge was looking for, so he was let go. Ainge later went on to bring in Gary Payton. Though GP had some success here, Ainge saw that his skills had greatly diminished and he wasn't going to be a factor anymore. So he traded him away (to the Heat, along with Antoine). Ainge then drafted Orien Greene, but likewise dumped him after realizing that he also, did not have what it takes to be a PG in the NBA (the Pacers have recently dumped him from their roster).
That brings us to the present. Of course we know that Rajon is a keeper; as he is an incredibly skilled ball handler, blessed with terrific speed, and a really instinctive basketball mind. Ainge may have found his PG for the present, as well as for the future. If he reaches his ceiling, I think he's a top 6 PG in the league--only Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Chauncy Billups, Baron Davis, and Tony Parker will be better than him in 5 years (maybe TJ Ford, and maybe Mike Conley, Jr.).
But lets think about Sebastian Telfair for just a second. Lets take a look at his situation and where he currently stands. Ainge has brought in a lot of PG's already in his 4 years here, and he clearly sees good things in Telfair, or else he wouldn't have traded away the 7th pick in last year's draft to get him. Bassy's first year with us wasn't exactly how we, or he, had hoped things would turn out. He showed promise early on, began to struggle, lost his minutes, lost his confidence, lost ground on Rajon, and eventually was buried on the bench. To make matters worse, he got into legal trouble shortly after the season ended, that shown negative publicity on himself and the Celtics organization. Owner Wyc Grousbeck did not hold back his emotions as he tore into Telfair publicly.
At this point, for a struggling PG who barely saw any playing time the second half of the season, having lost his starting spot to an up and coming Rajon Rondo, realizing that his team is looking to bring in a veteran PG to stabilize the position, and has a talented rookie PG ready to take his place on the roster (Gabe Pruitt), AND the daunting task to rebuild his tarnished name after his legal incident--WHAT IS THE INCENTIVE FOR HIS TEAM TO KEEP HIM AROUND??!!!
Why isn't he already released and his bridges already burned? We aren't talking about an All-Star talent here. Telfair is no Magic Johnson. He's a short PG (5'11") who doesn't have long arms to compensate for his lack of height, who plays out of control at times, who doesn't have a steady jumper, and who has been more flash than substance so far in his young career. PG's like this are a dime a dozen.
But yet Ainge has a soft spot for Telfair, and despite the threat from Wyc that Telfair is no longer going to be a part of the Celtics organization, Bassy remains with the team and could participate in the summer league games with his fellow comrades. And though the door seemed slammed shut in Telfair's face, it is now open again, and Bassy may have another shot to redeem himself--on and off the court.
Ainge appears to be on Telfair's side. Sebastian said yesterday that through all the headaches he's gone through recently, Ainge has been in his corner. Danny has also been in Big Al Jefferson's corner during his embarrassing ankle injury debacle, and his faith in Jefferson has paid off handsomely. Danny sees the PG that Telfair can be, and he isn't giving up on him right now. Not yet. And I'm not either. I see the magic in Telfair; I see the moxie and the confidence in the way he carries himself on the court. I see his court vision, I see his ball handling, and I see his passing ability. I also see his faults--his confusion in a 5 on 5 setting, his inconsistent jumper, and his propensity to play out of control. But all in all, I believe in Telfair, and I see him developing into a good PG, maybe a fantastic PG. I see his ability to run a team and I see his ability to create plays for himself and his teammates. He doesn't back down when the lights are on, and he appears to have the confidence in himself to remain cool in tight games.
I can't say that Telfair can still be in the running for the starting PG spot on the Celtics, cause Rajon has set a sizable distance between he and Telfair. But nothing is impossible, and we'll let destiny take its course. But if Telfair has seriously learned from his off the court mistakes, and has improved his on court weaknesses, he'll be our backup PG, and we'll be in good shape. And I can certainly live with that.