Hey, the gang's (almost) all back! The good news is that nine players from the playoff roster are back to defend the team's title. The bad news is that our 6th man and our top reserve center are not.
I suppose you could stop reading now because that pretty much sums it up. But what fun would that be? I need to purge my words and you need something to read about the Celtics to either validate your feelings or give you something to disagree with. It is a wonderful symbiotic relationship and I feel blessed to be part of it. But enough with the intro. On to the formulaic article!
We had a pretty good thing going last year. Logic says that the guys that were good enough to win it all last year might just be good enough to repeat. So it helps to try to get as many of those guys back on the team as you can. They are familiar to each other and there is a very real sense of consistency from year to year. The bonds they developed last year can flow into next year and strengthen and grow. It doesn't hurt that most of the team will know most of the plays from day one. So you can work on adding new wrinkles and perfecting the subtle nuances of both the offensive and defensive schemes.
Also, when you take a look at the free agent pool, you have to weigh the available talent with the cost associated with bringing them on. For the price, I like Eddie House more than most of the point guard options available. For the price, I like Tony Allen better than the other defensive wings on the market. Both have flaws, but they are familiar flaws that we know we can win with.
Finally, it isn't just the price, of course, but the length of the deals signed. Ainge achieved his goal of future flexibility by signing both Allen and House to two year deals. We now have Ray Allen, Brian Scalabrine, Patrick O'Bryant, Eddie House, and Tony Allen all lined up to have their contracts expire in 2010. I think that window of opportunity for this team has officially been defined. If they can win together now, great. If not, they'll still be well positioned to retool or rebuild, depending on what the future brings. Many a Championship team sold its future down the drain for a chance to repeat that wasn't worth the cost they paid.
Of course there is the downside. We still don't have James Posey and now that we've used up a portion of the MLE, we are not likely going to sign anyone of his caliber this offseason. Or said another way, we lost our best bench player and have not added anyone that could come close to filling that hole.
Expanding the scope a bit, we lost Sam Cassell, James Posey, and PJ Brown. Unless more moves are made, we're looking at filling their shoes with Gabe Pruitt, Brian Scalabrine, and newcomer Patrick O'Bryant. Of course, we will make more moves, if only to sign our 2 stateside rookies. But they'll have to prove they can win playing time on this roster.
More bad news, we can go ahead and cross Ryan Gomes and Delonte West off our wish list (unless some odd sign and trade happens). Then again, depending on your point of view, crossing Stephon Marbury and Shaun Livingston off the list might be a good thing.
Of course the silver lining is that the summer is far from over and there are still roster spots available. You have to wonder who might guard LeBron James in the playoffs. Devean George is a possibility.
Updated Depth Chart
Now the roster starts to take shape, so it is time to look at the depth chart.
- PG: Rondo | House | Pruitt
- SG: Ray | Tony | (Giddens)
- SF: Pierce | Scalabrine | (Walker)
- PF: Garnett | Powe/Baby
- C: Perkins | O'Bryant
From one perspective, I like the fact that there could be competition at every backup spot. House vs. Pruitt, Tony vs. Giddens, Scal vs. Walker, Powe vs. Baby, and O'Bryant vs. smallball (Powe/Baby at the 5).
On the other hand, I'd prefer a more solid rotation and I'd prefer to have Scalabrine removed from the discussion. I just can't count on that right now, which is why I'm not opposed to the George idea.
Anyway, we are still in July and you can bet that more will happen to this roster before they open camp next Fall. But it is nice knowing that a lot of the gang will be back.