It's almost here. That moment you've been waiting for since the Celtics fell to the Miami Heat in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals. That's right. It's almost time for Darko Milicic to take the court for an NBA team again. Thankfully, he won't be taking the court for a team that any Boston fan knows and lov . . . oh no.
The NBA season is right around the corner and that means it's time to take preseason performances vastly out of context, overreact about the impact certain players will have on the team and try to predict which rookies will be the next great, awe-inspiring franchise player. So if it's that time, I guess that's what we'll do.
The Celtics enter the 2012-2013 season after conveniently dying at the end of the 2011-2012 season. The stagnant and hard-to-watch offense finally sputtered out of control and the defense finally stopped keeping them in games. Actually, that's a lie. Sadly, Kevin Garnett wasn't capable of playing 48 minutes, Rajon Rondo couldn't duplicate his 44-point outing and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade just so happen to be really good at basketball.
Now, the Celtics are back with a different roster. Some of the faces are new to Boston fans. Like Jason Collins. Yes, Jason Collins is still on an NBA roster and, because he isn't under the age of 26 and he can still walk on a nightly basis, he chose to play basketball with the Celtics this season. He chose Boston partly because they offered him a contract and partly because Boston is apparently Dutch for "retirement home."
Jeff Green is back, healthy and ready to play NBA basketball again. He spent last season rehabbing after doctors discovered an aortic aneurism. He's trying to come back into the league, improve his PER, develop better O and DRtgs, and also backup Paul Pierce every now and then. Actually, that's a lie, too. Jeff Green doesn't give any bothers about your advanced statistics. He looked really good during the preseason and might be the next James Worthy. Green has been given a second chance, not just in life, but in basketball. He's trying to make the most of it.
Speaking of second, third, fourth and players who probably shouldn't be given a chance ever again, Darko Milicic! Darko was the second overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, a team that never makes bad decisions, ever. He quickly developed a reputation of being really good at being really bad and made Pistons fans moan and groan whenever he stepped foot on the floor.
Now, after a few years of trying to become a serviceable center, the Serbian Sinner is in Boston with a chance to leave his mark on the Boston Celtics. Hopefully, it's a mark that includes his second (second!) NBA championship and a year of healthy pick-and-roll defense and serviceable minutes as a backup center. Here's a secret: don't hold your breath.
Courtney Lee is in Boston because he met Doc Rivers on the street this summer and decided he was a pretty swell guy. Lee adds youth, energy, perimeter defense and adds his name to a phenomenal list of Celtics players with two first names. (See: Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley)
Ray Allen flew to South Beach and in return the Celtics landed The Jet, Jason Terry. A guy who loves to predict the future, Terry got a tattoo, similar to the one he got in Dallas before the Mavericks' championship season, with Lucky and the Larry O'Brien Trophy. He has also stated time and time again that this Celtics team can, should and will win the NBA Championship. Boston fans have quickly learned that Terry is talented in many areas including but not limited to: talking, shooting, celebrating and motivating. He should fit in nicely this season.
Jared Sullinger is in Boston and, based on his preseason performances, seems to be adapting well to the rigors of being an NBA rookie with a medical red flag attached to his back. Did I read that scouting report wrong?
Fab Melo has done nothing and probably will continue to do nothing this season. In related news, I hear Maine is really nice this time of year.
Leandro Barbosa was recently signed by Boston to provide some depth at the point guard and shooting guard positions while Avery Bradley continues to recover from multiple shoulder surgeries. He only played a handful of games last season for the Indiana Pacers, but he did a really good job at not defending anyone, so he should fit in very well on the Boston bench!
Chris Wilcox is also back in Boston. Wilcox had similar issues that Jeff Green had and was forced to undergo surgery to repair a heart ailment. Now, he's working to return as a healthy and reliable contributor to the Celtics rotation. Wilcox, like Green, was given a second chance and chose to stay with Boston, the team that was by his side as he recovered.
Rajon Rondo is still an acerbic, odd point guard that developed into a phenomenal flag-football quarterback during the offseason. His experience serving coffee in the GQ offices should help his decision making ability and also augment his Hall of Fame resume down the road. Along those lines, it appears as if Rondo also purchased the "Leadership" and "Confident Jumper" expansion packs for his game over the summer. Doc Rivers and the rest of the Celtics' front office have to be giddy about that.
Kevin Garnett is still walking, and according to reports on the internet, he should lose both legs and not be able to shoot a jumper by the time the Celtics open presents together on Christmas Day. There's a reasonable chance that might factor into the Celtics' on and off-court +/- averages, but that remains to be seen.
Lastly, Paul Pierce is still alive as well. His knee and facial hair are back to normal, which happen to both be good things considering the Celtics plan on making a conscious effort to increase its pace this season. Pierce stated at the beginning of training camp that he plans on retiring when Kevin Garnett retires, which was kind of him because planning two retirement parties is a terrible, terrible thing to have to do.
All in all, instead of regressing, the Celtics reloaded. Boston added younger players, went through a bitter and still interesting break-up with Ray Allen and are focused on returning to the playoffs and winning its 18th championship. In a world full of unknowns, a few things remain certain. The Celtics will still be frustrating, the Celtics will still be competing for a championship when the playoffs roll around and the season cannot get here soon enough.