We're all disappointed right now, of course, but hopefully we've all cooled off a bit. I have. I feel like I can see things more clearly now, and here's where my thinking stands (caution: it's kinda long, and also subject to change).
My initial thinking -- severely clouded by rage -- was that Danny should blow this team up. Hey, if this older team couldn't get it done this year, it stands to reason that it won't be able to get it done next season, when every old player on this team is a year older. Right?
I have to admit, though, that I don't want to see Ray, Paul and KG go. I guess I'd be open to it, if Danny could find anyone sucker enough to take any of these big contracts in exchange for some good young talent, but I don't think that's gonna happen. Plus, I believe that all three can still contribute. The key, though, is taking a new approach with these guys.
Ray's in great shape -- the best in the NBA, in my opinion -- and he can still shoot the lights out on any given night. KG looked more like vintage KG this season than he had in a couple of seasons. Paul had another good season shooting the ball, and he's the captain. And all three were pretty much injury-free this season.
All that said, none of these guys is still at the point where he can play 30+ minutes a game for an 82-game regular season and still have enough gas for the playoffs. Age, though not silencing them, at least limited them that much.
The solution, then, is to limit their minutes to no more than 25 a game. Whether they start or come off bench is another matter, perhaps an irrelevant one, but their legs have to be preserved.
Furthermore, there are other guys -- including some on the current roster -- who should be playing more, starting with Delonte West. He should be resigned, and hopefully he stays healthy, because when he's got his legs and is comfortable and in rhythm -- as he appeared to be in the last couple games of The Series That Shall Not Be Named -- he can be dynamite: he's at least as crafty and slippery as Rondo, and can shoot from long range and drive, and is a good defender. He should play 30 minutes a game between the 1 and 2 positions.
The other guy I'm thinking of is Jeff Green. I know, I know, he didn't exactly light it up, but I'm eager to see him after a full training camp, and I think he deserves that chance. He runs like a gazelle, can jump, has a great post game for his position, and even showed some good slashing ability in the last couple games of TSTSNBN. I think he should be resigned -- though not at a break-the-bank cost -- and given 30 minutes a game, most of that at the 3.
The Celtics are in clear need of getting some more younger players, guys with roughly the athletic ability of West and Green, and the top priority among these yet-to-be-acquired youngsters should be a center. I like JO, and I'll be glad if he stays; I think he'll make a good No. 2 center. I'm even fine with keeping Curly as our No. 3 center, provided he comes cheap, but Boston needs a young, healthy, athletic buck to man the middle. I realize that there aren't a lot of good options available to fit this bill, but Boston needs to try for this. Two things that Boston must absolutely, positively NOT do this offseason are acquiring players older than 30, and acquiring players with significant injury history. At this point, I'd rather take someone less talented but who's athletic, young and able to stay injury-free. Sam Dalembert would be ideal.
If Shaq could get and stay healthy, I'd love to see him around, but from what I'm hearing, that's likely to not happen. That's sad, because I like him, and because he played so well when he was healthy, but maybe it's for the best. Boston needs a long-armed leaper who can block shots, grab rebounds and just generally wreak lots of havoc in the paint.
Glen Davis must go. Even without the added weight he was a liability -- too short and lead-footed to block shots on defense, too short and lead-footed to be a force on offense. Furthermore, he became a drain on the team, and on the fans: with every missed layup, every shot he had swatted back in his face, every stumblin', bumblin', foolish thing he did (and there were lots), another gallon of energy bled from the team.
Davis, though, is the only "must go." There are certainly several other guys whom Boston doesn't need to keep, and I guess I wouldn't be hurt if they were sent packing, but whom Danny should think long and hard about before giving them pink slips. Von Wafer, for example: he got better defensively as the season went along, he can light it up when's he on, and he's a good third option at the 2 guard behind Ray and Delonte. Why look any further to fill that need?
And since Boston spent about three seasons looking for a true backup point guard, it might be wise to keep Carlos Arroyo -- unless Doc is ready to give Bradley a real shot at the 1. Arroyo's a savvy vet who can knock down the open 3 and can handle the ball well -- just what you need in a third-string PG.
That leaves Pavolic and Murphy to consider. Another of Boston's big needs over the past three seasons, after a legit backup point guard, is sufficient wing depth. If Boston re-signs Green to spell Pierce (which I think is a good idea), I think Pavlovic would make a good third option at the 3 -- he can shoot the 3, has some slashing ability, and is pretty good defensively. Murphy, I admit, was a big disappointment, but he was coming off a long layoff and didn't get much run with Boston. As with Green, I'm eager to see what Murphy could do with a full Boston training camp under his belt, because he's only 30, and has a good track record with rebounding, which is something Boston desperately, desperately needs. Plus, he can stick the 3.
A lot of what I just wrote, though, has to do with looking forward, but I don't want to forget to take a few moments to look back. Each of the last three seasons ended in disappointment, and I burned with rage each time, and I didn't get the 2 or 3 or 4 titles that we could've (or should've) had, but I'm thankful for what the last four years have been like for the Celtics and their fans: four seasons in which Boston was a legitimate title contender, including two Finals trips and one ring; four seasons when Celtics had something to really cheer about; four season in which we got to see several future Hall of Famers put up good numbers and good games while producing lots of Ws. I'm so glad I've had the privilege of watching KG and Ray in Celtic green, and I've come to have a greater appreciation for now-(mostly)mature Pierce. Now that I've had a bit of separation from TSTSNBN, I appreciate those guys more, and what they've done, particularly how they've changed the culture and brought the best franchise in NBA history back to respectability. I look forward to the offseason, to seeing what tricks Danny has up his sleeve, to seeing the beginning of a youth movement in Beantown and the continuation of a good thing with the Big 3, and to seeing the mixed concoction thereof that will take the court next fall.
A big thank-you to Jeff and Roy, and thanks also to everyone else who made meaningful contributions to CelticsBlog this season and who'll continue to do so.