By Chris Sheridan
At first glance upon seeing Michael Sweetney in a Boston uniform, you couldn't help but think: Fat chance he'll make the team.
But Sweetney has been lighter on his feet than his enlarged frame would indicate, and the former lottery pick saw action in five of Boston's first six exhibition games, drew consistent praise from Doc Rivers and put up slightly better offensive stats than teammate Shelden Williams -- another of Boston's offseason free agent acquisitions as it added depth to the front line. (Sweetney was shooting 67 percent from the field and 86 percent from the line; Williams was at 46 and 64 percent, respectively, in the same categories entering Tuesday night's game at New York.)
After being out of the league for an entire season and letting his weight balloon 40 pounds above where it is now (we'll estimate his current heft at 335 pounds, since Sweetney declined to provide an actual number when queried him about it at training camp), Sweetney was playing well enough to make the Celtics think long and hard about whether they wanted to find a way to keep him around, which would mean trading or releasing one of the 15 players not named Sweetney who are playing on guaranteed contracts. (J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and the injured Tony Allen are currently the favorites to lead the Celtics in nights spent on the inactive list).
But now, the Celtics will have to judge him on his five-game body of work, because Sweetney's preseason is over.
On Monday, the team sent him back to Boston to recover from a case of the flu.
"Whenever you hear flu, right now, at least the way they've instructed us, you send him away from the team immediately," Rivers said at Madison Square Garden prior to Boston's preseason game against New York. "So we'll see next week. I'll say this: He's been terrific, he's an NBA player and he has a very good shot at making our team, but we would have to do something to get him on the team. If the numbers don't fit obviously it's going to be tough for him, but he can play. He can absolutely play in this league."