LOS ANGELES — With Leandro Barbosa out, the Celtics needed another guard who could score, and they believe they acquired that Thursday by trading for Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford. But Crawford’s character does raise red flags, as he clashed with Wizards coach Randy Wittman and fell out of the rotation during his time in Washington.
“The good thing and the bad thing I hear about him is his confidence,” Doc Rivers said. “You rarely say that, but it’s tough for him there to buy into a role because he looked at himself as, ‘I’m better than them.’ I’m hoping that we don’t have that issue here. Obviously if we do, then it will be a problem.”
The Celtics acquired Crawford by trading the expiring contract of injured guard Barbosa and center Jason Collins. Crawford, 24, averaged 13.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 43 games for Washington this season. Rivers said he doesn’t know if Crawford will be with the Celtics when they play the Suns in Phoenix Friday.
“He hasn’t been a great defender, but he’s an athlete,” Rivers said. “I always look at an athlete (as) if you’re an athlete, then you can be a defender. That’s one thing I’ve always had no problem with. If you’re not an athlete, that’s an issue. But if you are an athlete, then you can beat people off the dribble and you can hold people from beating you off the dribble.”
Rivers lamented the loss of Collins, a little-used veteran center.
“Let me just say this: We lost a very important guy in our locker room in Jason,” Rivers said. “You take away that and then you add something else, you just never know with your locker room. That was very difficult for me.
“I protect my locker room. And to let a guy go like that out of your locker room, for me that was hard to do. Really hard. And obviously if Barbosa doesn’t go down, it wouldn’t have happened. But he did go down and we’re had to do something.”
Losing a center leaves the Celtics with two true centers in Chris Wilcox and Fab Melo, though Garnett is listed as a center despite that he often plays a power forward position. Rivers said they didn’t want to give away a center, but it was the only way that they could ended up getting a guard.
As for how they’ll deal with so few centers, Rivers said Garnett will sit a lot more during games.
“Those are the games that will be an issue for us,” Rivers said. “We’ll be really small. We may have to add a D-League guy. I would be surprised if Kevin played all three of these games coming up. That puts a lot of pressure on us. It’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Rivers said he wasn’t sure how they’d add another center, but that they’d try to find one either in the D-League or on the waiver wire when players start getting bought out in the next few days.
There was plenty of speculation around this trade deadline involving Garnett and Paul Pierce, but nothing ultimately happened involving either of them.
“Nothing was really going to happen,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think it was. There’s always talk. The difference now between 10 years ago is people know about the talk now. It hasn’t changed, it’s just people know about it now.”
Rivers spent the morning playing golf at a course in Bel Air, but he said it was hard to stay focused with everything that was going on.
“It was actually the wrong day to play,” he said.