Most of the Celtics have headed off on vacation to enjoy and celebrate their Championship victory. Not GM Danny Ainge. He had to watch many playoff games on TV because he was busy scouting and working out potential draft picks. He hasn't wasted any time jumping in the mix and he's not content to stand pat. There will be some changes around the edges even if the majority of the core stays together.
The highest priority and perhaps the most sought after player in the MLE range is James Posey. Danny gave James the honored 12:01 AM phonecall to kick off the free agency period. Soon after, he made a call to Corey Maggette. This was a smart move in my opinion. Maggette may be plan B, but in the (sometimes) fast pace of free agnecy, you can't wait days and days for your plan A to make up their mind as good free agents sign or agree to terms elsewhere.
For his part Maggette says he's willing to take a pay cut to play for a contender like Boston.
"It's not always about money," Maggette said. "I've been in the league a long time and I've made a lot of money. I'm tired of losing. I want to get back to the playoffs and win."
Are the Celtics serious about Maggette? You better believe they are. If they made an offer, they are prepared to walk away from Posey. Don't forget that before the Celtics signed Posey, they spent a good deal of time courting Reggie Miller last year. Just because Posey was the perfect defensive player for this team last year doesn't mean that Ainge won't fill his spot with an offensive player next year. Corey could be a fantastic 6th man, finally providing the second unit with a go-to guy. In addition, he's not yet 30 years old and may be a guy the Celtics could use to slow the decline of the new big three.
On the other hand, it should be fairly obvious by now why Posey is plan A. After all, he is "Big Game James." He was an emotional leader in the locker room, in the huddle, and on the court. Oh yeah, and he plays a little defense and gets under the skin of the opponents from time to time. Basically the kind of guy that you want on your team and not on the other team. If the Celtics don't retain him, some contender like the Pistons or Lakers will.
In other news, it looks like Ainge is going to have center Chris Anderson in for a visit today. You'll remember Anderson as the guy who was kicked out for 2 years from the league for violating the drug policy. I see a kind of theme developing here. Ainge is willing to take chances on guys that have question marks around the leauge because they come at a cheaper price compared to what their talent might dictate. He's always been willing to do so (see Ricky Davis) but the difference here may be that the Celtics have the leadership in the locker room to keep guys like that focused on the team concept.
JR Giddens has apparently learned from his mistakes and now has a role model in Paul Pierce on how to turn your life into a major success story. Nobody is going to prevent Chris Anderson from taking drugs if he's still struggling with that, but if he's motivated to stay clean then perhaps being around someone as intense and driven as KG just might help him stay focused.
In still other news, the Celtics have to work on extending the contracts of Doc Rivers and his assistants. They also are looking around for a backup point guard (like Ty Lue?). There are a lot of free agents to look at, regardless of what happens in the Posey/Maggette sweepstakes.
Whatever celebrating Ainge allowed himself to do is long over now. The work he did last offseason (and during the season) paid off in a big way this last year. Now he's working on doing the same for next year. I love Danny's creativity and I'm frequently surprised by his moves. He's got a GM of the Year award and a Championship banner. I can't wait to see what he does now.