This off-season is critical to the Celtics. Danny has his work cut out for him to continue with a highly competitive team and try to reload/rebuild. Currently, we only have 4 players under contract. I believe he’ll use the draft, Free Agency, trades, and even Amnestied players this summer.
First up is the draft, and we are taking 2 players! I can’t see us trading both picks to move up. It’s been speculated that the best we could do is Houston’s #14. However, the player we get at 14 would be very close to the same talent as we’d get at 21 or 22, in fact, it could be the same player. We can’t trade for an established player because we are over the cap (until we resign or renounce our current FAs) and have no salary to send out with the picks to match incoming players. Picks count zero until signed. Our only tradable players are PP, who do to his age and contract is unlikely to be moved, AB and JJJ who combine to make 2.7M so they aren’t bringing back much and are worth more to us, and RR who if traded would spell the end of this team and a full rebuild (think lottery). Further, the 2 picks will become chips once signed and we all know how Danny likes having chips. Also, Danny committed us for 2 summer leagues; he did that because we have JJJ, ET and 2 first round picks that need PT. Who do we draft? Some combination of a big and SF:
The wild card is Jarrod Sullinger. If he falls to us at 21, it’s a no-brainer we take him, but don’t see that happening. Our 2nd round pick is either a PG or a European who can be stashed for a year or two.
My guess is Nicholson and White. I can live with any of the bigs, but I’d rather take QMiller, I believe he could become a Superstar.
In Free Agency, I see us resigning our own guys - KG 2yrs/20M, Ray 2yr/10M (possibly with trade kicker or option), and MP 2 yrs/3.0M, ET 2 yrs/ 1.2M and Greg Steimsma 2 yrs /2.5 M. Yes, we are bringing back the Big 3 and RR. Nothing else makes much sense. There are no real big name superstar-types and the worst thing Danny can do is overspend on a player who is good but not a superstar. What happens to the rest of our FAs? I think Danny will sign JG 4 yrs/32M and BB 4 yrs/26M. Originally, I thought he might sign only JG or BB, but feel confident they can be signed at reasonably; they will contribute now and later could become assets in a major trade. CW and KD become S&T candidates (chips), although I could see CW being resigned for 2 yrs/7M if we can’t find another big.
However, there is a strong possibility that Danny will find a deal, probably a S&T for a big man someone like: Ersan Ilyasova, Kris Humphreys 4 yrs/32M or Carl Landry, Spenser Hawes or Jason Thompson for 4 yrs/28M deal (a combination of BB, KD, CW and draft pick(s). Some of these FAs have already been linked to us. However, my thinking is that by resigning our own players, who are productive players, they can be added to our young players and draft picks to complete a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline or next summer. We need Superstar(s) not the best available free agent. I don’t like the S&T option at this time.
While filling out the roster, I tried to keep our salary at 65M but it totals 67M for 15 players (using 2 Vet Min players). I did not use our Mini-MLE and could leave 2 roster spots open by not signing Vet Min players. I think Danny might wait to see who is amnestied, team option not picked up or passed over FAs – CJ Watson or Jordan Hill, Elton Brand would be a great pickup; Drew Gooden is another option, or maybe Rashard Lewis (remember these would all be relatively cheap signings). The Mini MLE could be very valuable attempting to sign this type player. Danny might even leave a roster spot open for a move at the trade deadline. I’m sure he will be able to find some Vet Min FA, maybe a Ronnie Price or Jason Collins or similar player. I’d like something better, but those are realistic roster filler options.
I tried to provide flexibility both in 2013 and especially in 2014, because both FA pool are far deeper than this summer. If KG decides that 2013 is his last year and retires, I would expect PP to also retire rather than playing for an also-ran. Their combined contract count 27M, which would put us around 42M, not quite enough for a Max contract but very close depending on how much the cap increases. But in 2014, we could be very aggressive for FAs. We’d have 32M+ coming off the books about 35M on the books, but still have a core of RR, JG, BB, AB, JJJ, ET, 2 2012 rookies and 1 2013 rookie. In 2013, depending on production of our young free agents and rookies we might be able to complete a S&T for a Superstar – DH, JSmooth, Bynum, CP3 and other could be available.
My 2012 Roster:
Starters RR - 11M - AB 1.6M - PP - 16.9 - KG - 10M - BB - 6.5M
Bench - JG 8M - MP 1.5M - GS 1.2M - Ray 5M
Other - JJJ - 1.1 - ET - .4M R1 - 1M - R2 1.0 - 2 VetMin (need a big) - 1.0
We’d still be competitive, very strong defensively, and if healthy, better scoring the ball, but still lack rebounding. We’d also have several trade chips that Danny could use. The key to our season and future would be the development of our young players. This development would allow us to become more athletic, improve our rebounding and we’d be able to rest the Big 3 ensuring they were healthy and well rested for the playoffs.
I know most fans want us to reload now with Superstars. However, the reality is that we don’t have much in the way of movable assets. Our FAs are worth more to us than other teams and we have the ability to out-spend on them. Signing them now provides us future assets to be moved. Hopefully, Danny will be able to resign them at reasonable salaries; close to my predictions so that he doesn’t have any hideous contracts where the player is not producing and no other team will take the contract.
My vision of Danny’s Plan is not flashy, but realistic. I’m like the rest of you, I hope, Danny can work some magic and reload and transform the Celtics into this big, strong and athletic team that wins several championship over the next few years.