Even though the team returned most of the squad that won the title, this past season was more defined by who we didn't have than who we did.
The story of the year was losing Kevin Garnett and to a lesser degree Powe. The team also dealt with several smaller injuries in the 2nd half of the season. But even before that, the big news of the summer was losing Posey.
It was a "dollars and sense" type of deal. In other words, it made some "sense" to save the "dollars" for future flexibility but that doesn't mean it didn't hurt us a lot this year.
In addition, we couldn't convince PJ to come back and Sam started his coaching career before anyone told him about it. So as Doc put it "we got young quickly" when KG went down.
The free agents that did come back (Eddie House, Tony Allen) did provide some regular season consistency between this year's team and last year's. However, they weren't enough to overcome the injuries when the playoffs came around.
So what is in store for next season? On one hand, consistency beats lateral moves any day. So there's good enough reason alone to bring back Big Baby and Leon Powe at the right price. On the other hand, it seems clear now that the team could use some bigtime upgrades on the bench for next year.
We can start with the late additions. Mikki Moore wasn't a lot more than Patrick O'Bryant in terms of production. Is it possible that he could fit in better with a full training camp under his belt? Maybe. Is it more likely that we can find someone better? Man, I sure hope so. (Prediction: Gone baby, gone)
Stephon Marbury seemed like a gamble at the time. The common wisdom was that Ainge would either hit a home run or sink his ship with Starbury. As it turned out, neither really happened. Marbury was surprisingly average and uncharacteristically well behaved. Low risk, low return. He did give us one shining moment when he helped us come from behind to beat the Magic, but beyond that he was very much a non-factor. Again, a full training camp and fresh legs might help, but it is also possible that his best days are behind him. (Prediction: Gone, perhaps to the Wiz)
I think we are all rooting for Leon Powe to return to the team under some kind of contract. He's a fine player and an even finer human being. He's shown he can return from these injuries in the past and I think it is more than worth the roster spot to see him return to the court in green and white. (Prediction: He'll be back with a 1 or 2 year deal - maybe only partially guaranteed)
Eddie House actually has a player option on his contract, so he could also be a free agent this offseason. He had a nice year and I suppose he could hit the market looking for a longer term deal, but he also might just stick around another year. Hard to tell. I'd like to keep him because he's a game changer when he gets hot. Also, if he stays, then he'll be an expiring contract that we can shop at the deadline if the need arises. (Prediction: He'll pick up the option and return)
I believe that covers the potential free agents. The two rookies are signed up for multiple years while Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen are on the last year of their contracts. I would imagine that both will be shopped around the league this offseason. Scal stepped up big for us, but he will always be limited and his contract will never be more valuable to us. Tony Allen has swung and missed on too many opportunities to be counted on in the future. (Prediction: Scal and Tony are traded this offseason with a young player like Giddens or Pruitt for a servicable veteran bench player)
Obviously a lot depends on who else we can pick up, how much our free agents can get on the open market, and what trades we may or may not be able to make. But we've got all offseason to discuss all those points. As it stands now, who do you think will stay and who will go?
So, to recap - our roster looks like this (with offseason plans). I put these in order of how likely I think they will return next year. Feel free to debate the order if you like.
- Garnett: rest and rehab
- Pierce: rest and rehab
- Rondo: probably working on contract extension
- Ray Allen: rest and rehab
- Perkins: get married, rest shoulder
- Bill Walker: summer league
- House: player option
- Scalabrine: 1 year left on contract
- Big Baby: restricted free agent
- Tony Allen: 1 year left on contract
- JR Giddens: summer league
- Powe: restricted free agent
- Gabe Pruitt: summer league (team option)
- Stephon Marbury: free agent
- Mikki Moore: free agent