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What do we do with… Fab Melo?

John - Red's Army (@RedsArmy_John) May 23, 2013 Celtics News, Fab Melo 14 Comments

The offseason is here for the Boston Celtics, and in just a couple of months, they will begin the process of putting next year’s team together.  We will take a look at the current Celtics and try to figure out what to do with each of them.  We continue today with Fab Melo.

We really don’t know much about Fab Melo other than he’s a project.  In the Syracuse zone defense, Melo was a fearsome defender.  In the NBA, where even the zone is a lot less zone than the college version, Melo repeatedly got lost in his first action over the summer and in the preseason.

And we’re not even mentioning his offense.

So before the season truly began, Melo was sent down to the D-League.  He finished second in the D-League in blocks (3.16 bpg), which is nice to see.  He had a 10 game stretch where he put up double-digit scoring in nine games.  And in that stretch he recorded an insane triple double (15 points, 16 rebounds, 14 blocks) and nearly a second one (32 points, 9 rebounds, 9 blocks).

But despite those monster games, he finished the D-League season averaging 9.8 points and 6 rebounds.  He’s shown flashes, which his nice.  But it’s not like he dominated in Maine, either.

So what do the Celtics do with their nearly 23 year-old project?  Here are the options.

Trade him

He’s 7 feet tall, and height is always in demand.  But everyone in the world knows he’s a project.  The question with Melo is, how far along do you think he is?  If the Celtics, after taking a close look at him, decide he’s a little further off than they’d like, they might try to include him in a bigger trade if one comes around.

Melo’s salary numbers are only a few dollars lower than Sullinger’s, but the years and options are the same:  He’s due $1,311,240 this coming season, the following two years are team options at $1,367,640 and $2,249,767, and the 2016/17 season brings restricted free agency, which carries a $3,257,664 qualifying offer.

So it’s not a LOT of money in the grand scheme of things.  The big questions in this scenario are (a) do the Celtics feel there is untapped potential still in Melo and (b) does another team covet him enough that his acquisition could help complete a trade?   

Waive him

They won’t do that this year.  If he doesn’t progress this year, they hold team options in the following two years where they can dump him.    

Keep him 

He’s raw.  He’s coal.  And Danny Ainge is hoping to squeeze a diamond out of him.  He has some good help instincts on D, but his man-to-man and pick-and-roll defense is very much a work in progress.  His offense is a bit further behind, but they’ve got a full summer, and another season to put him through the paces either in Boston or back in Maine.  If the Celtics feel there is untapped potential in there, they will work to mine it out of him.

So to recap…

  • They could try to throw him into a larger trade, hoping that his potential is something that would entice teams
  • They could waive him.
  • They could keep him and continue the project

My Take

The bottom line to me is there’s no rush to get Melo into the lineup.

I know… I know… I can already hear you screaming “but we need size!!!”

Yeah, so do about 20 other teams.   But that doesn’t mean the Celtics should throw an unprepared Fab Melo into the fire.  He’s not the difference between the Celtics winning a title or missing the playoffs.  It’s not like having him in the lineup will magically transform the Celtics into anything other than what they’d be without him.  So while they need his size, his ability doesn’t allow him to play just yet.

He’ll play in the summer league.  He’ll work with the team in Boston.  He’ll get preseason reps.  Then the Celtics can take a good, hard look at what Fab has learned, how he is applying it, and how much work really needs to be done.  Then, from there, they can decide whether he should continue his learning in Boston or in Maine.

After another season of development, the Celtics can then make the hard decision (or maybe it will be easy by then) about his future.  Sure, if he’s the difference in an offseason or mid-season trade that brings in a good player, then he should be included.  But I think the Celtics should hold on to him for one more year to see how he puts together the lessons he’s learned, and how he progresses.  If they’re not happy with him after this season is over, they can simply refuse the team option next summer or the year after and be done with him.  If he continues to progress, he might find his way into the rotation at some point this season, or maybe next season.

The Celtics have time and very little financial commitment to Melo.  There’s no need to rush or be impatient.  One more year of development benefits everyone.

Also check out:

What do we do with… Jared Sullinger?

What  do we do with… Jordan Crawford?

What do we do with… Brandon Bass?

What do we do with… Avery Bradley?

What do we do with… Jeff Green?

What do we do with… Courtney Lee?

What do we do with… Jason Terry?

What do we do with… Rajon Rondo?

What do we do with… Kevin Garnett?

What do we do with… Paul Pierce?

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  • knn

    Let’s not forget that Fab Melo was pulling double duty for a while (going between the two teams), so his numbers in the D-League are not necessarily an accurate representation of his full ability. That being said, I agree that he is very raw and needs a lot more time to develop.

    A cheap 7 footer to hold in reserve, I don’t think he should be traded unless the Celts get something already proven and polished in return.

  • ShawnCVD

    Seems like decisions are already made with this guy. Nothing excites me about him at this moment. If he’s a throw in to get a trade done my interest would be in what Cs are getting, not that he’s going . Send him with Bass for Gortat. Or better yet move Crawford if Suns would go for that…

  • http://twitter.com/REDSLOVECHILD RED`S LOVE CHILD

    Melo needs extreme tutelage….he is utterly clueless on the floor. Without a knowledgeable mentor guiding him, Melo will never be ready for the NBA.

    The Celtics have no choice but to invest a few dollars…and immediately enroll him in Olajuwon Univ. {Big Man Camp}.

  • zippittyay

    The real question is how do we draft regarding our feelings about Melo….

  • http://www.facebook.com/kyler.zerr Kyler Zerr

    CAN SOMEONE SAY BUST? (due to Docs innability to allow rookies to “develope”) fab will just go off and be something good for another team. Doc thinks that rookies like jared sullinger are gonna step through the door every day and be able to kick NBA level ass. Doc doesnt know what developement means.

    • yogi

      Rondo, Perkins, Al Jefferson, Glen Davis, Tony Allen, Delonte West, Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley… yeah Doc doesn’t know how to develop rookies. Name ONE rookie that doc didn’t play that went on to have great success elsewhere? J.R. Giddens? Gerald Green? JaJuan Johnson? Luke Harongody? Give me one.

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  • thetitleisours mkay

    Melo should be moved to forward

  • hamai

    I think people really overstate Fab’s problems. He’s a big body, you can feed him the ball for a dunk, clog the paint, block. The bigger problem I see is picking up a project and not having the confidence to let him make mistakes and learn on the big stage.

    • ray

      I agree. I have no idea why he was drafted so high in the first place if they weren’t going to put a lot into developing him.

  • Ryan

    even just his off-season workouts(assuming he’s got the motivation to push himself) should improve his game quite a bit, as he is relatively new to basketball. I’d be very surprised if danny and doc haven’t seen a solid improvement in his game, as well as expecting him to be in better all around shape(conditioning, strength, footwork) when training camp begins. Everything I read about him from past coaches and teammates, is how they could literally see him getting better everyday, especially his substantial improvement between year 1 and 2 at Syracuse.

    • Ryan

      first half got deleted so it prob doesn’t make a whole lot sense….not like it matters ha