At the beginning of last season, Mullin inexplicably decided to decline Patrick O'Bryant's option for the 3rd year of his rookie contract making him an unrestricted free agent. After drafting him 9th overall in 2006, it was understood that he would be a project big that would take at least a few years to develop. He was a late bloomer who didn't start playing organized basketball until he got to high school and was not highly recruited prior to signing a letter of intent to go to Bradley.
It's was evident from the outset that he had a unique combination of skills/attributes that are rarely found in big men: agility, size, wing-span, hands, passing ability, and perimeter shooting. He had tons of potential and was the complete package, skill-wise, for a true 7-foot center. What he lacked was the mental toughness and physical maturity to put out a consistently good effort on the court each time. O'Bryant's work ethic was heavily criticized and he was mentally beat down by the lack of support and patience from the organization.
O'Bryant was labeled a 'Bust' by many fans and the media after his lackluster showing in Summer League 2007. Many failed to take into account his inexperience, introverted personality, and reserved demeanor on the court (similar to Brandan Wright) - taking it as a sign that he does not care, doesn't have the ability to one day dominate, doesn't have 'heart', and that he is a lost cause. He bounced back by working harder than ever and managed to draw praise from coach Nelson in training camp. Unfortunately for O'Bryant, this still wasn't enough to convince Mullin that he was worth keeping.
Possible reasons for abandoning Project P.O.B.:
- Cohan unwilling to go over the luxury tax and picking up O'Bryant's option would have put a $3 million + hit on the books. With the assumption that Davis would stay for his final year and both Ellis and Biedrins would receive lucrative extensions, O'Bryant was a quick way to create breathing room to make all three happen and still not cross the luxury tax threshold.
- At some point, O'Bryant pissed off Nelson and a riff between the two festered. Nelson convinced Mullin that his pick would never amount to anything and that guaranteeing him $3 million + for his 3rd year would be a bad idea. It would be a bad investment to find out if he could play or not and it would be best for the franchise to just abandon the project all together.
- The organization came to the conclusion that O'Bryant will not be worth $3 million + next year and that they could just resign him for less in the offseason if he shows any promise. They assumed that he would not draw interest from other teams and to insure this, he would play limited minutes that would keep him under the radar.
O'Bryant, Perovic hardly centers of Nelson's attention
Janny Hu - 2/28/2008
O'Bryant forms exit strategy
Geoff Lepper - 02/28/2008
Patrick O'Bryant '07-'08 Highlight Reel
The Warriors find themselves needing additional depth at Center and O'Bryant would have fit nicely as Biedrins' backup allowing the Warriors to worry about improving other positions on the team. If Biedrins or Turiaf go down, the Warriors are back to shoddy interior defense, playing small, and being rebound-challenged.
The Celtics ended up signing O'Bryant this Summer for a 2-Year deal ($797,581 T.O. in Year 1 and $855,189 T.O. in Year 2). Early reports suggest that the Celtics are extremely pleased with O'Bryant's play. The fans are thrilled and Ainge has demonstrated once again that he has a good eye for talent.
O'Bryant tries to find his role
The Boston Globe
Game 1 Box Score
Game 2 Box Score
Ultimately, it was Chris Mullin's call and he's responsible for the mishandling of an asset such as Patrick O'Bryant. He did not get any value from the 9th Overall Selection of 2006 and now the Celtics are set to capitalize on Mullin's mistake. I hope it doesn't come back to haunt us too much.
Assist of the Night: Rajon Rondo
For Celtics’ O’Bryant, a golden state - GateHouse News Service