In my story Thursday about Michael Sweetney joining the D-League, I alluded heavily to the possibility of the Boston Celtics D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, acquiring the former lottery pick. I based that assumption on two factors: the Boston Celtics have shown the most (only?) interest in Sweetney over the past year and the Red Claws had first choice at bringing him in.
Seems like it should have been an easy decision to acquire Sweetney, right?
Well to the naked eye, yes. To someone who has been involved in basketball as long as Red Claws President and General Manager Jon Jennings, however, there were other factors to consider - including that his roster already features a bevy of big men including former NBA draft pick Paul Davis and recently acquired Kurt Looby, one of the best defensive big men in the D-League.
"With the other big men we have, we just feel like we would not have enough minutes to be fair to everyone," Jennings told me. "As you know, it is always difficult to make sure players are receiving a fair amount of minutes and balancing that with making sure we are fulfilling our mission of developing them on and off the court. It is critically important from my perspective to make sure we are fair to the players we have - and also to invest in them."
While that's a great attitude to have - investing in the players already in Maine - I would argue that picking up a player with the potential Sweetney has (had?) could have been a nice pickup both for the Red Claws.
"Chemistry is always a critical component to a successful team. I have had the honor to be a part of teams with great chemistry," said Jennings. "I am not a person who believes in making moves just to make them."
This makes sense - if you're not sure you're going to be able to be fair to everyone in regards to minutes, the chemistry is sure to suffer. Jennings was on the Celtics staff as an assistant coach/scout from 1986-1997, so he more than likely has a pretty good feel for how chemistry is able to affect a professional basketball team.
The Red Claws already employ five players with NBA experience - the aforementioned Davis along with former first round pick's Maurice Ager and Morris Almond, the Boston Celtics-assigned Marcus Landry and the 34 year old captain of the Red Claws, Billy Thomas - so it's pretty easy to see that the chemistry may have suffered if anyone had a problem with their minutes while they're all trying to return to the NBA. This especially could have been true had Sweetney come in out of shape, a distinct possibility considering his previous weight issues and the fact that he hasn't played organized basketball since being cut by the Celtics in October.
That said, wouldn't the Celtics have liked another, extended look at Sweetney?
"We would certainly entertain bringing any player into Maine at the request of Boston or Charlotte (the Red Claws other affiliate)," said Jennings. "We take our relationship with both of our affiliates very seriously and are proud to have worked closely with both NBA teams this season."
While I wasn't able to get the exact answer I was looking for with that final question, it seems to me that Boston may have been able to see all they needed this Fall.