As a die-hard Celtics fan and a supporter of good basketball, I am inclined to write about the current condition, for lack of a better word, of the Boston Celtics. Coming off a heartbreaking series loss to the Miami Heat, the Celtics turned their attention to the numerous offseason activites such as the Draft and Free Agency. Evidently, issues needed resolving. I'm here to explain the reasons behind each and every offseason manuever, and to hammer home the fact that the Celtics are in better shape now, versus the beginning of last season.
The goal of each Celtic team at the beginning of each offseason is to improve on the disparaties from the year before. Such issues include age, lack of bench scoring, lack of depth, lack of camraderie between certain players, expiring contracts offensive and defensive rebounding, and injury.
Let's start with the inevitable, age. This one is tough for coaches and management because with age comes unpredictability. If we resign Kevin Garnett to a multi-year deal, when will his knee give out? When will Ray Allen's ankles become too much of a burden? When will Paul Pierce need more sleep than we can provide? Each question lingers as a season develops. However, the decision to sign Garnett for three more years and the two year offer to Ray Allen suggests that Danny and Doc feel age is a nonfactor. Granted, these guys train year-round and keep their bodies in peak condition. We can only hope that injury due to age doesn't squash our chances to compete for a title in the coming years.
Next, we can combine lack of depth and lack of bench scoring into one category; improving the bench. The bench of the Boston Celtics during the 2012 playoffs consisted of an over-enthusiastic pest in Keyon Dooling, a French sniper who couldn't make a shot but could play marginally good defense in MP, a tall white guy knicknamed Steamboat, a seven footer who averages two rebounds a game in Hollins, a dreadlocked wrapper in Marquis, a foreign guy (Sasha), and some Purdue players (E'twaun and Jajuan). Were I in position to make a change to the Celtic's roster, I would start with replacing this collection of hooligans with actual accomplished players, or at least those that have the potential. Fortunately, Danny felt the same way. He went out and signed Jason Terry to a three year deal (assuming the Mavericks don't match). The former sixth man of the year fills many voids in the Celtic's otherwise deplated bench. He can shoot fearlessly, and make it too. He can create off the dribble (rare for a celtics player). He can run the point during the nerve-racking minutes when Rajon sits. And above all, he brings a winning atmosphere, an accomplished resume, and a respectful demeanor to the Celtic's locker room. The signing of Jeff Green, MP, Steimsma, and Wilcox would complete the necessary transformation from a pitiful excuse for a bench to a servicable, competitive second unit. Green provides speed on the wing to run with Avery and Rajon. He can also defend Lebron James and make a clutch three once and a while. MP provides spark to the locker room and the home crowd, as well as a rare defensive intesity. Steimsma and Wilcox are scrappy bangers who can black shots, grab rebounds, and when necessary, commit hard fouls. If Danny signs another bench threat such as Nick Young or OJ Mayo, Doc might have trouble balancing the rotation. We might even be looking at an 11 - 12 man rotation with the emergence of one of the four young players (E'Twaun, Jajuan, Fab, or Jarrod). As of right now, the bench is looking beyond formidable for the 2013 season.
I don't want to spend too much time on the relationships between players on the Celtics. However, the rumor of friction between Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo all but confirms my nagging suspicion of their displeasure. The simple solution to this problem is to allow Ray Allen to explore free agency without making a significant offer. However, Danny offered twelve million. The issue of Ray Allen's Free Agency extravaganza can be summarized in a couple sentences. Ray Allen is a proffessional who will make the decision that is best for his family, his career, and his well-being. To those fans who feel betrayed by Ray's interest in the Miami Heat; get over it. Great players chase success. You are a fool if you believe the heat aren't the overwhelming favorites to win the title next year. For Ray, playing a back-up role that requires standing on the perimeter and shooting wide open three pointers sounds much more enticing than playing third string shooting guard behind Avery and Jason Terry. Don't be mad at Ray, he contributed five great years here and he deserves to make a proffessional decision about the next five years.
During the regular season, the Celtic's biggest downfall was undoubtedly rebounding. Ranking in the bottom three in the league, the front line needed revamping. Danny went out of his way to draft a seven-footer in Fab Melo, who has all the potential in the world to average double digit rebounds in the pros, and a proven rebounder in Jarrod Sullinger, who can score a little as well. However, we all know about the two year plan that Doc prescribes for incoming rookies. So, we might not see a dramatic increase in rebounding numbers this next year unless Doc either speeds up rookie development, or Danny finds a hidden gem in free agency such as Marcus Camby or Hahimi from Dallas. The Celtics were able to rebound in the playoffs, so I don't put much stock into the unorthodox regular season rebounding numbers.
As for injuries, the Celtics can only hope that their players stay healthy enough to compete. Avery's injury during the Sixer's series might have been the downfall of the 2012 Celtics. If injuries are kept at a minimum by the league recognized training staff, the Celtics can compete.
Though the offseason so far has been somewhat a headache for fans, the Celtics are in prime position to make a hard push for banner eighteen. The resigning of Kevin Garnett allowed for numerous strategic signings to iron out the roster. Right now, the Celtics look dangerous. They have a veteran starting front line and a young, extremely talented backcourt led by point guard Rajon Rondo. They have fire-power and defensive intesity off the bench in Jason Terry, Jeff Green, and Mikael Peitrus. The have low post bangers in Steimsma and Wilcox. They have promising rookies and sophomores in E'twaun, Jajuan, Fab, Jarrod, and Kris. They even have the best training staff in the league. However, above all, they have their "leader of men" and the best coach in the league in Doc Rivers, as colorful ESPN writer Stephen A. Smith would say. And the credit for this wonderful offseason goes to the head honcho. As we've said from the beginning,
In Danny We Trust.