On July 2nd, the Thunder made an unexpected move by signing Sebastian Telfair to an unguaranteed contract. The player that the national consciousness had come to know as a bust and off-the-court troublemaker was now going to one of the most clean-cut teams in the NBA. Surely, this man couldn't be the answer to the Thunder's issues with backcourt depth. Or could he?
Here's his story.
The Hype Machine Takes Hold, Birth-2004
Sebastian Telfair, otherwise known as "Bassy", grew up in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. He grew up around family members who played (including cousin Stephon Marbury) and a culture that idolized basketball. So, it's only natural that Telfair started playing at an early age. And with Telfair's playing came the publicity. At the young age of 11, Telfair was named by Hoop Scoop as the top fifth-grade basketball player in the entire country. It was the beginning of a whirlwind ride for Telfair, who would spend the next 7 years of his life as one of the most hyped basketball players of all time.
The ride reached its' peak during Telfair's years at Abraham Lincoln High School. Obviously, the team saw a great deal of success. But Telfair's success was unprecedented, as the team managed to win three straight state championships. The streak was a record at the time, causing Telfair to get a huge amount of press during his senior year.
The press didn't come just because of the school's streak, though. Telfair was a show all on his own. His flashy game was legendary on the streets of New York City. Telfair's ability to throw crazy no-look passes and trip up defenders with dangerous dribbles drew celebrities like Jay Z, Ahmad Rashad, and Spike Lee to his games. Though his small 6'0" frame was hardly suited for the NBA, his game seemed to already be at that level. And if you look at a highlight reel from the time, can you really blame their judgement?
After Telfair completed his senior year of high school, he had a big decision to make. Should he honor his commitment to Louisville, or decide to take his talents to the pros? With Telfair a sure-fire to make the first-round, the choice was almost made for him. I mean, the whole world seemed to be at his doorstep. Sports Illustrated had just done a cover story on him, his team had gotten constant publicity from local outlets, and ESPN had even produced a documentary about his journey up to that point. Once Telfair committed to the draft, he was able to swing a 5 year, 10 million dollar deal with Adidas. It seemed like Telfair was destined to succeed as a player, and the only thing he needed was time.
Busting with the Blazers, 2004-2006
Of course, reality hit Telfair once he stepped into the NBA. After being selected 14th overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Telfair put up a disappointing rookie season. He couldn't manage to work his way into the rotation under coach Maurice Cheeks, who was seen as the perfect role model for Telfair to follow. The Blazers were struggling as a team, though. A slew of injuries put them behind the ball fast, along with several players underperforming on the court or finding trouble off of it. Eventually, Cheeks was fired after a 22-33 record. He was replaced by Kevin Prichard, who immediately named Telfair a starter.
With the increased minutes, Telfair definitely had his moments of greatness. He managed to post three separate double-doubles (using assists, obviously), and usually managed to contribute positively on the stat sheet. But even on Telfair's best nights, his glaring lack of defense really limited his potential. Furthermore, his inconsistent jumper would creep up on him, resulting in overall shooting percentages that would sometimes lose the game for the Blazers. But, don't take my word for it. Here's Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge on Telfair's rookie season:
"A few hitches arose as soon as Telfair started playing, which frankly wasn't as much as fans had expected. The guy could shoot, no doubt. Actually having the ball go through the net was another story. His jumper was like throwing a bowling ball into a pipe organ: tons of clanging, everybody winces afterwards. Opposing defenders would back off six feet, sit down, eat a snack, and wait for him to put up a shot. He was Sebastian Telfair so he had to do it. The Legend couldn't let an insult like that pass. (Clang! Clang! Clang! Clang!) Tefair's best offensive night in his first two months consisted of 13 points on 5-14 shooting. That outing also included but one assist, another problem with his game. He was a sweet dribbler to be sure, but all of that was simply a prelude to misery. He didn't see the floor well, he wasn't used to NBA bodies and speed on defense, he was always three seconds late to a two-second play, he made a simple post-entry pass look like differential calculus. The young man just wasn't used to running sets and it showed.
This isn't even counting Telfair's defense, which was a disaster. The Blazers had seen their fair share of poor-defending point guards. Stoudamire was a one-man point leak early in his career. Rod Strickland had been indifferent at best. But Telfair was worse than any of them. You didn't have to be Michael Jordan to score on this guy. Wilhelm Jordan, Jordan Price...heck, Abdullah II, King of Jordan could have dropped 30 on him."
And thus, we arrive at the major problem. Even though Telfair was in his rookie year out of high school, it didn't look like he was mentally ready for the NBA. This was on top of the natural knocks on his game, which didn't bode well for his future.
Telfair's struggles continued into his Sophomore campaign. The 2005-2006 season was a rebuilding one for the Blazers, as they decided to go with a youth movement under Nate McMillan. Telfair was initially the starter, but struggled to post consistent shooting percentages and assist numbers. A sprained right thumb ligament on December 16th kept him out for three weeks, and when Bassy returned he found himself coming off of the bench. Telfair continued to garner minutes though, and would even have a couple more stints as a starter as the season progressed.
Still, it was apparent that Telfair was a bit of a disappointment. The Blazers likely traded down in the 05 draft to avoid drafting Chris Paul and Deron Williams, because they believed in Telfair as the future of their team. Yet Paul and Williams were soaring, while Bassy was struggling to have a positive impact. The situation came to a head on February 15th, when Telfair was found to have carried a loaded gun in his carry-on bag during a team road trip. A fine was assessed, but Telfair wouldn't miss any games. Still, it seemed that the incident was enough to convince Blazer management that Bassy wasn't their man of the future. On Draft Day 2006, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, and second rounder Trent Plaisted were traded to the Boston Celtics for first rounder Randy Foye, Raef LaFrentz, and Dan Dickau.
Collapsing with the Celtics, 2006-2007
For the Boston Celtics, the trade was definitely a salary-chopping move. Theo Ratliff was nothing more than a big contract, and Randy Foye was thought to have much better value than Sebastian Telfair. But the Celtics definitely still considered Telfair an asset, featuring him in team promos and giving him a shot at the starting point guard position.
A strong pre-season won Telfair the job, and he led a unit that featured excellent scorers in Paul Pierce and Wally Sczerbiak. Telfair saw some success early and always found a positive way to contribute on the stat sheet, but the negative continued to outweigh the positives. Telfair's three never seemed to be there, and his field goal percentage was too low to justify him as a legitimate offensive threat. Meanwhile, his defense continued to be a problem, as highlighted by this CelticsBlog post from November of 2006 by Green17:
Seriously, unless this is the earliest tank job in the history of sports, why would you refuse to pull Bassy and his hands up in the air version of the matador defense, late, in a tight game against the Bobcats? Yes it all worked out in the end, blah blah blah, Bassy could not stop Brevin Knight. I'll say it again, Sebastian Telfair could not guard Brevin Knight - not exactly the quickest of PGs. This fact, in turn, allowed the Bobcats to send a game that should have been a comfortable win into overtime. We could easily be 0-5 with that kind of thinking.
Still, there were those who thought Telfair could still live up to his potential. From a late December 2006 CelticsBlog post by BillfromBoston:
It's not coincidental that Sebastian Telfair started the season off shooting well and playing aggressively on his drives. That is indicative of the work he's put into his game and the type of player that he is. But, Telfair plays a traditional floor generals game, he likes to direct traffic and make plays with the ball in his hands like any other quality starting point guard who runs their team. Telfair isn't developed enough to receive that type of responsibility, but that is how he plays and that is how he'll improve the fastest as a player. Standing out on the weak side baseline and hitting spot up shots or secondary penetration is not what a quality lead point guard does.
So basically, the jist is this. Telfair wasn't quite good enough to lead an NBA unit yet, especially one that relied upon him to drive the team. There's simply no way you could account for all of his weaknesses and win games regularly. The Celtics realized this right before the new year, banishing Bassy to the bench for the rest of the season. It's really a slugfest of bad box scores that get worse and worse, though he was really good against Indiana's soft interior D that season.
The situation culminated with another gun possession incident, this time more severe than the first. Reportedly, on April 20th, Telfair was caught driving his Range Rover at excess speeds with a suspended license. There was also a loaded handgun under his passenger seat. Telfair opened up about the situation in a 2013 interview with Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated:
"I was stupid," he says. "I was thinking, I'm not trying to hurt nobody, I'm not going to kill nobody, rob no bank ... you don't understand what you're doing wrong, and as a basketball player, certain things are just not accepted. Certain things society is not going to accept from a basketball player. So if you can't take that, you can't be a pro. I really haven't had any trouble with the law, and then I got in that situation. And it put me in a bad situation. It took a lot for me to dig myself out of that."
Why did he have the gun?
"For no particular reason or particular situation," he says. "Just having it, being dumb. ... If I was thinking about, I want to make sure I'm getting a contract and be an All-Star, [then] for no reason would I have a weapon, at no point in time.
Obviously, hindsight is 20/20, and the Celtics weren't very enthused at the time. Other players, like Kendrick Perkins and Tony Allen, were facing their own legal issues. Meanwhile, the Celtics had just endured a 24-58 season, with little to show for it. Thus, in an attempt to save face, the Celtics announced to the world that Telfair would not return to the team. They were true to their word, and that draft day, Telfair was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a large package for Kevin Garnett.
If there were a "last chance station" for Telfair to revitalize his career, Minnesota would have been it. The 2007-2008 Timberwolves were clearly rebuilding in a Post-KG world, so they didn't stand to lose anything by starting Telfair. After all, he was still only 22 at the time, and could conceivably still develop some of the flaws in his game.
Mucking in the Lotto with Minnesota, 2007-2009
The result was the best season of Telfair's career. Timberwolves fans seemed satisfied with it at the time, though Telfair's only real competitor for minutes was Marko Jaric. All of the flaws in Telfair's game were still present, but his passing and shot selection had seen marked improvements. Looking at footage from the time, it's still reasonable to wonder why this guy struggles to produce in the NBA at all. The complexity of the moves he pulls off is something you rarely see at such a high level of competition, and can make him look like a god among men.
Of course, you'll notice that a lot of these highlights are against bad defenses or slower players. I'm not trying to take anything away from Telfair's skillset, but it was still apparent, even in his best season, that he wasn't the Timberwolves' future. As long as his defense and poor three continued to limit him, it was going to be difficult for him to have a positive impact in a major role. Bassy was definitely a nice holdover for the franchise though. You know, as a flashy player that could put butts in the seats while the team endured moribund seasons.
Anyway, Telfair would finish off the 2007-2008 season as the starter, though a ankle injury on March 8th cut his season short. Over the off-season, Telfair had hoped the team would pick up the 3 million or so option on his rookie contract, but they declined. Eventually, he was inked to a three year, $7.5 Million deal with Minnesota. The third year of the deal was a player option. At this point, it was official. Telfair definitely wasn't a wash out, but if you compared him to his hype, he was washed up.
The 2008-2009 season saw the Timberwolves continue to give heavy minutes to Telfair. That's not saying much though, considering that the team was equally as bad as last year's. Furthermore, Telfair had a bit of trouble holding onto his starting spot, yielding it to natural shooting guard Randy Foye and current coach Kevin Ollie at different times. You could tell that Telfair was becoming a bit more of a scorer this season, as his three point shot returned and he was able to get some more respect on the perimeter. His assists took a hit as a result though, and his percentages were still below what's considered acceptable in the NBA.
Telfair's biggest moments definitely came during the latter part of the season. Randy Wittman was fired on December 8th, 2008. This allowed Kevin McHale to step in, and he responded by benching Telfair for poor play. Telfair eventually battled his way back into the rotation, playing some of the most aggressive offense of his career. When it was all said and done, Telfair had registered 11 games with 18 points or more. Eight of those games were in March or April.
With such a strong late season performance, the Telfair hype wagon had somewhat set itself back into motion. Canis Hoopus had this to say about him after a game against Portland back in March of 2008:
When Bassy had the ball in his hands, the offense moved. Even when he went for his own, Bassy broke down the opposing defense and got into the lane or to an open spot on the mid-wing for a mid-range jumper. He spent the night getting pretty much what he wanted against Steve Blake and you knew that, with him in the game, the Wolves stood a chance with a higher pace and superior ball movement, i.e. things that McHale has been calling for since the injury. More so than any other player on the court, Bassy exposed one of Portland's biggest problems: it's point play.
I think Bassy is proving himself to be quite a serviceable player at this point in time. I really don't think guys like Steve Blake offer anything more than he does (Rodriguez and Bayless clearly don't) and should Bassy have the opportunity to play with superior talent at this point in his career, I think he would do even better. Whatever he is, he's not the worst rotation regular in the NBA. He's not a terrible point. His shot will probably always be broke but that doesn't mean he can't be effective. Is he a starting point in this league? Not next to Randy Foye. But could he be an effective starter with Foye coming off the bench while playing next to a large 2 guard? Steve Blake isn't Steve Blake without Brandon Roy. I doubt he'd be Bassy if he was next to Mr. Foye.
Of course, being a serviceable point guard means absolutely nothing if your team is winning 20some games. After two seasons of Telfair as their defacto starter, the Timberwolves traded him to the Los Angeles Clippers for Quentin Richardson. The move made sense at the time, with the T-Wolves set to bring in rookie PGs Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio.
Battling Injury and Circumstance, 2009-2010
The Los Angeles Clippers were a team in the midst of transition. After some brief success in the mid-2000s, it appeared that they were destined to be terrible team for years to come. The talent was there, but constant injuries kept the team from reaching their potential. However, there was a lot of excitement with the arrival of Blake Griffin in 2009, and many thought that Telfair was the perfect player to dish him assists. In order to do that, though, Telfair would first have to unseat the current starting point guard.
That man was the aging Baron Davis. Boom Dizzle was a far cry from his former self in those times, but he was able to complete a relatively healthy season and rack up some serious assists. Telfair did a good job of establishing himself, though. Though he was hardly the focus of the Clippers at the time, blurbs about him over at ClipsNation were mostly positive. Statistically, he was shooting better than ever, and he hardly ever impacted his team negatively.
But, just as it appeared that Telfair had found a role, disaster struck. A right groin strain sidelined him for 4-6 weeks on January 22nd, and the Clippers promptly shipped him off to Cleveland at the deadline. He was part of a larger deal to bring Antawn Jamison to the Cavaliers and cut costs for the Clippers. The Clippers stood no chance of making the playoffs at the time, so the move made some sense.
When arriving in Cleveland, Telfair found a team that had absolutely no interest in him as a player. He was buried on the bench behind established stars in Mo Williams, Delonte West, and Daniel Gibson. Bassy managed to grab some minutes in irrelevant matches at the end of the season, but didn't see a lick of time in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Bassy's old team, the Timberwolves, was still in desperate need of a PG. Ricky Rubio hadn't come to the USA yet, Jonny Flynn wasn't panning out, and Luke Ridnour wasn't very awe-inspiring. So they decided to dish Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins to the Cavs for Bassy and Delonte West.
Returning to Minnesota to Lose Some More, 2010-2011
2010-2011 was the last year of Telfair's post-Rookie contract. Thus, Telfair knew he'd have to perform well to stay in the league. The first three weeks of the season reflect that, seeing him play some of the most efficient offensive basketball of his career. During that stretch, he averaged 9.8 points on 43% shooting, along with 4.5 assists to 2.2 turnovers. Telfair was even able to take the starting PG spot away from Luke Ridnour for a week. The stretch didn't last though, because Ridnour was simply a more efficient scorer, shooter, and distributor at the time. Furthermore, Telfair was yanked early from a few games for poor shooting or a high amount of turnovers.
Telfair's poor performances soon mounted up, and Jonny Flynn was called in from the D-League. Telfair didn't see his role severely diminished at first, but a plantar fascitis injury in his right foot was the beginning of the end. He missed the rest of December and nearly the entire month of January. Telfair missed only four days due to that officially, but soon saw himself out of the lineup completely. He apparently had other injuries occur, but whether they were legitimate is up to your own judgement. Telfair would make a return in February, registering games that were all over the map. But the Timberwolves apparently liked Flynn a lot more, and Telfair would end the season registering nothing but DNP-CDs.
Despite what you might think, the benching had little to do with on-court performance. From Key Dae's 2010-2011 Season Grades on Canis Hoopus:
For whatever reason, Bassy played in just 37 games this year. Even stranger, most of that apparently was because Flynn was injured to start the season. Rambis and Flynn don't like each other and Telfair was a better choice as a backup anyway....and yet when Flynn returns, Bassy disappears. If I were to guess, I'd say Kahn was making some command decisions here, but ultimately who knows? It'll give me a headache to try and figure it out, so...
If I were to give Telfair a grade, it'd probably be a B- or C+. Like Beasley, Bassy basically hit his marks. But again....37 games. We haven't seen him on the court since February, and that was only because Jonny was "tired"....or something....
With the 2011 season came the lockout, and Bassy found himself completely without a team. He wasn't the type to sign overseas quite yet, but he did manage to get some burn in his old high school gym during the lockout. It was kinda cool to see him get to play next to Lance Stephenson, another Lincoln grad. Still, by all measures, he was pretty much destroyed by Brandon Jennings in the game.
Backing up Steve Nash, 2011-2012
At the end of the 2011 Lockout, Jennings signed a contract with the Phoenix Suns. There, Telfair found an ideal environment in which to flourish. The Suns were a fast team that emphasized offense and passing over defense, two traits that Telfair excels at. Bassy didn't post stats that were as impressive as those made during his time in Minnesota, but he did manage to put in a solid 8-18 minutes behind Steve Nash on a borderline playoff team. His minutes were more limited towards the start of the season, as he competed for minutes with Ronnie Price. But eventually Telfair won the role outright. The last 12 games of the season were particularly bonkers for Bassy, as he shot 53% from the floor and averaged 11.6 PPG. Jacob Padilla of Bright Side of the Sun partially explains the run:
Like the man he backed up, Sebastian Telfair was primarily a pick-and-roll point guard with 43.2 percent of his plays coming as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He wasn't quite the master Nash was, as either a scorer or passer, but he still found a way to be effective despite low shooting percentages. Telfair used screens mainly to create space to pull-up for a jump shot, a shot he missed a ton early and hit a lot in April. That explains his low field goal percentage at least somewhat. Telfair only shot 39.2 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from beyond the arc, but he did hit 14 3-pointers and his shoot-first mentality meant he kept his turnovers relatively low at 11.8 percent. Telfair scored 0.80 PPP, which ranked him 67th overall.
Even though most of Telfair's rankings look pretty decent, his overall performance was less than impressive at 0.85 PPP and a rank of 285. Telfair did well as a pick-an-roll ball-handler and in isolation, but both of those aren't very efficient play types and because they made up the majority of his attempts it hurts his final ranking.
Another thing to keep in mind is the disparity between the way he played at the start of the season and at the end of it. It is difficult looking at his season and judging it as a whole, especially because we don't know which one is the real Bassy Telfair right now.
Arguably Bassy's biggest moment during that season came during a late-season matchup against the Clippers and Chris Paul. Telfair was called upon to play lock-down defense during the final few possessions, and he delivered. There's no video of it, but you can see a partial breakdown via Bright Side of the Sun.
Signed to be Traded, 2012-2013
In 2012-2013, the Phoenix Suns decided that Telfair was good enough to earn a second year on his contract, for $1.5 Million. It was midst some controversy, as there was a great deal of worry about the money the Suns were spending on role players. Others were worried about Telfair's place above the young Kendall Marshall on the depth chart. At the end of the day, Bassy started off the season as the team's backup point guard. He remained in that role until a few games before the trade deadline, though his minutes would fluctuate wildly throughout the run.
As for Telfair's season? Well, the good news is that Bassy continued to develop the defensive aspects of his game. He became known as someone who could provide a lot of defensive energy against opposing PGs. However, his offense came back to reality. Low shooting percentages kept him from being truly effective, though he did have his nights. At the end of the day, no matter how well Telfair did that season, his days in Phoenix were numbered. It did the rebuilding Suns little good to keep Telfair on the roster, as they became more focused on development and less focused on winning.
When it was all said and done, Telfair was sent to the Raptors for a second round pick and Hamed Haddadi. Bassy wasn't too happy with the decision at the time. From an interview with Craig Grialou on azsports.com:
"I think I proved myself at the end of the season last year where I could be a guy that could be trusted to be out there on the floor and then they go draft Kendall," he said. "I guess I was the last one to know. I should've been packing my bags already last year instead of coming back and doing what we did."
The disappointment in Telfair's voice is telling.
"I'm bitter," he said. "I'm a little bitter. I don't have nothing personal against (my former teammates), love them guys but I'm bitter. I'm a little bitter. For one, I got to pick up and leave my family, my kids. Forget the business part of it, I've got to leave my kids home, by themselves now and I'm all the way in Toronto so (expletive) yeah, I'm bitter.
"It sucks for me to be bitter because I got to understand somebody going to get the short end of the stick. Wesley Johnson was sitting on the bench the entire season. He was getting the short end of the stick now he's out there on the floor. It just happens. My guy Shannon Brown, I watched him develop as a player these last two years, do everything they asked him to do, worked extremely hard and now he can't even get on the floor.
Telfair couldn't get on the floor himself while playing for the Raptors. He spent a couple weeks racking up DNPs before he was finally given a chance to shine. That opportunity came against his old team, whom he absolutely picked apart. His final statline wasn't eye popping (13 points, 7 assists, 4 steals), but he did absolutely destroy Kendall Marshall and firmly led the Raptors to victory.
That game would prove to be the peak of Telfair's season. He spent the rest of it trying to find time on the Raptor bench. His defensive rating was apparently the highest on the team, but low shooting numbers kept him from impressing. A knee injury in early April would eventually knock him out for the season, and he was without a contract over the Summer.
Becoming a Leader in China, 2013-2014
Thus, Telfair decided to sign with the Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions of China's CBA. It might sound like a big leap for most NBA players, but Telfair had connections. His cousin, Stephon Marbury, is a staple of the Beijing Ducks. Marbury had won a championship with the Ducks a year prior, earning himself a statue in his honor. Telfair was seen to have communicated with Marbury while in China, so the dots are pretty easy to connect.
The CBA is a very unique animal. The league allows each team a maximum of two non-Asian players and one Asian non-Chinese player. The two non-Asian players are limited to six total quarters in each game. As if this weren't enough, there's another exception to that rule. Because the Bayi Rockets are attached to the Chinese Army and thus cannot have non-Chinese players, all three of the non-Chinese players on the opposing are limited to four total quarters of time.
Thus, when you look at Telfair's stats from last year, keep in mind that he was kept to 36 minutes a game as a matter of necessity. Obviously, given that the CBA is a couple of steps below the NBA in terms of talent, Telfair was played as much as he could. This was the first time since Telfair's Lincoln High days that he would be asked to star for his team, so it was obviously a different role for him.
Telfair took to the role like peanut butter to bread. During his 2013-2014 season in Tianjin, he managed averages of 26 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Telfair even managed to shoot a barely acceptable 40.6% from the floor, and 36.9% from three. The three turnovers a game are still a bit too high, but given the amount of scoring he was asked to do on a bad team, it's easily forgiven.
You see, the Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions are a newcomer to the CBA, having joined the league in 2008. In all of the years since, the Golden Lions have never made the CBA playoffs. Last season, they made it for the first time. The Golden Lions would lose the first round series 3-1, but not before Telfair put in a couple of historic performances. The first, a 37 point, 6 assist bonanza, would lead the Golden Lions to their first ever playoff victory. His second historic game involved him dropping 58 points. On 14 of 35 shooting. The team still lost that game, but it's really hard to blame Bassy for the loss.
Sadly, no video of the 37 point performance exists. But, if you ever wanted evidence that Sebastian Telfair is a pretty good basketball player, the following highlight reel of a regular season CBA game illuminates that perfectly. After Bassy takes a nasty fall in the third, he recollects himself and almost single-handedly lifts his team into overtime.
So, why is Telfair in Oklahoma City?
Well, there's no definitive listed reason as of yet. But I do have three bullet points....
- Came to Oklahoma in 2004 for the McDonald's All-American game, shook hands with members of the state legislature.
- Younger brother Ethan Telfair played for the Oklahoma Magic AAU basketball team last summer.
- Is known to have a relationship with Jay Z, who signed on to be KD's agent last July.
In a nutshell, can Bassy help this team?
Yes. There's no doubt about that. I won't deny that Telfair made some mistakes early in his career, nor will I deny that he wasn't a very viable player for the majority of his time in the NBA. But his off-the court problems seem a million miles away. He hasn't had any incidents in years, and hasn't been known to be a locker-room problem. Meanwhile, his past three years have seen him put in consistent production while dogged by circumstance.
Don't get me wrong. He's not Isaiah Thomas. But I do believe that he can be what Eric Maynor was to this team back in 2011. An excellent change-of-pace guard who can play solid D, dish a few gorgeous assists, and even draw a foul or two. (Maynor hit only floaters and half-court shots, but whatever.) His three will always be spotty, but he should be reliable enough from the corner, and he can create shots if worse comes to worse. Most of all, he's proven himself to be capable of producing at least something on the stat sheet night after night, which is something I couldn't honestly say about Derek Fisher or Caron Butler.
What do you think about Telfair's signing? Let us know in the poll and comments!