The default choice?
There’s no such thing as ideal circumstances. Conditions in life rarely allow us to do exactly what we want, however we want.
And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the fact that we have to make decisions based on the given situation, usually associated with so many variables. In most situations, people want to be given a choice. They want options. Choices make us happy because we are in the driver seat. There is a phenomenon, however, known as the paradox of choice: too many options (or even when there is more than 1 option) can cause us to over-analyze, stall on the decision-making process, and worse yet, create some high and unrealistic expectation of how happy our choice will make us.
Sometimes not having a choice is best… I’ll call it the default choice. Not having options can sometimes make you live with a decision and learn to make the most of it.
This is the situation I think Eddie House is in.
Eddie has a choice during this off-season: take the $2.8 million option and then look for a new contract next year in the crazy 2010 off-season, or pass on the Celtics $2.8 million and look for a new contract now. Eddie has a few more years left in him as a role player coming off the bench– maybe 5 years tops. He will be looking for 1 more big contract before he has to settle on some smaller one-year deals in the $1 million range.
Eddie just turned 31 this past May. House set a Celtics record for the best regular season 3-point FG% at .444, just besting Danny Ainge’s .443 from the ’86-’87 season (I was actually at the final regular season game when House was chasing this record: we tried to calculate his average after every shot but our cell phones only went to the hundredths when we needed it to go to the thousandths– it was entertaining). Eddie had arguably his most productive season of his career: he had a clearly defined role (playing off-guard, catching and shooting, and that’s pretty much it), played in 81 games (tying a career high), got plenty of minutes, and became our bench’s “energy guy”– Eddie was our catalyst for offense for the second unit.
We’ve seen House evolve as a player while adorning #50 in green & white. Doc and Danny tried him at the point as Rondo’s back up for the start ’07-’08 season, and that wasn’t good for anybody. Since Sam Cassell, Gabe Pruitt, and Steph took over the reigns as back-up for Rondo since the trade deadline from the 2008 season, House has primarily played the off-guard position. This is, simply put, his most natural position on the court that allows him to be productive. His movement without the ball has improved ten-fold (I’m sure from working with Ray), and therefore his ability to get free has increased. He’s always had a quick release, which is an absolute must for a guard at his size (6’-1”). He really has one job on offense now, and it’s pretty simple: get open and launch bombs. Remember that from about mid-January to April in 2009, Eddie was shooting right around 50% from behind the arc (I just did the quick math in my head from the game splits: 103-209 3pt, give a take a few on each). Whoa. On top of the hot shooting, we continued to see the hustle in House: diving for loose balls, making the hard fouls… and dare I say, we even saw flashes of decent defense in the Chicago series.
As far as we know, Eddie is healthy. He keeps himself in pretty good shape– not too many concerns about wear & tear or age quite yet. So really, House is in the best position possible to go and sign elsewhere to lock up a few more years: just came off his best season in the NBA and is healthy. But herein lies the problem: I don’t think he will be seeing more money than $2.8 million, but he may be able to get some piece of mind in a longer term deal. The only concern around any team signing House right now, which is a big concern, is that no one knows how he will fare down the road. He’s been a streaky guy his entire career. If we pause to un-romanticize ourselves from House and the Celtics just for a second, then we’d probably realize that Eddie fits into an up-tempo system better than our system. The Knicks. The Suns. Golden State. Maybe even the Clippers. But unfortunately, these teams aren’t really in a position to pick up an undersized shooting guard (again, 6’-1”) that had a career year and could potentially see a drop in production over the next few years. Are any of these teams (I’ll even throw Milwaukee in there) really going to give a guy like Eddie $3-4 million for the next few years? No way. There is no way Eddie is going to see more money than he is seeing from the Celtics for the 2009-2010 season ($2.8 million). Again, Eddie might see an additional couple of years with an extended contract, but I don’t think that this is any more realistic than the money. There is no way people are going to sign a bench player for a 2-3 year contract when it will be taking away money for them to bid on the high profile players available in the 2010 free agency summer sweepstakes (Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Pierce (player option), Drik (player option), Kenyon Martin, Yao, T-Mac (I debated whether or not to include his name…), Marcus Camby, Michael Redd, Steve Nash, Amare, Shaq, Manu, and many others worthy of listing but I’m feeling lazy).
Here is another argument for him staying put for this upcoming season: he might not thrive in another organization like he thrives in Boston. Why on earth would Eddie want to go play somewhere else for 2009-2010? He needs to think about the future, of course, but he also needs to think about what is realistic for right now. Eddie won’t see more money, but if he can stay and be an integral part to the Celtics run for #18 then he will have 2 rings that he helped win on his resume. That could earn him a few years for a team looking to add a small piece after their big signings in 2010.
Eddie plays for a competent front office and coaching staff that believe in him and thinks he is part of the puzzle to winning. These guys would chop their children’s arms off to put up banner #18, and Eddie fits in well. House is an emotional guy– he feeds off of the intensity and energy of others while symbiotically giving it back to his teammates. Is Eddie going to find another locker room like Boston? A team with 3 future hall of famers that are now officially tested and true veterans with a ring on their finger? A team that has 2 straight seasons of sell-outs, and counting? Fans that will freakin’ buy his jersey (I guarantee no one else has ever bought his jersey prior to coming to Boston). A team that is easily one of the contenders for a title? I mean come on, all I have to say is Kevin Garnett. House needs to be playing with a guy like KG. I just don’t think Eddie will be effective if he isn’t being intravenously injected with this type of hype, intensity, energy, and drive that is in infinite supply from his Celtics teammates.
Really, though… this economic climate and the uncertainty of the future financial landscape of the association is causing lots of problems for teams, but in this case with Eddie, it’s actually kind of a blessing for Boston. He’s not going to get more money elsewhere. For $2.8 million, I think that Danny and company played their cards just right: this is a great price tag for the value of House… instant offense from a guy who knows our system.
So luckily for the Celtics, they can’t really beat the value of House but hopefully they don’t have to. Sometimes the best choice is no choice. Here, I just don’t see a real choice for Eddie, which works out well to maintain some stability on the Celts bench. Eddie: it looks like a default choice for you.