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A Study of the Boston Celtics from the Department of Redundancy

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Author’s note:  Much of the following article was written in the days prior to the draft.  I have amended it in a fashion that retains the information on the players that left Boston in the Ray Allen deal and updated the piece with analysis of the trade. The details of my analysis are contained within spreadsheet I created which you can refer to here. The spreadsheet has been converted to HTML format and will open as a new web page in a new window or tab, depending on your browser settings. Click the "Read More" link below to read this six page article in its entirety!

Introduction

The Boston Celtics are a flawed basketball team.  Fans have cited different reasons for the team’s woeful record over the past few seasons – laying the blame at the feet of a sub-par coach, key injuries, and inexperienced players.  Others have called out GM Danny Ainge for his role in the whole affair.  Although he has done well in the draft, acquiring quality talent in the middle to late rounds, Ainge’s trades and free agent signings have certainly been questionable.   Although I believe that Danny has enhanced the roster that he inherited from the O’Brien era, the Celtics are now faced with a different problem:  Years of drafting the "best player available" and attempting to correct prior errors in judgment through sideways trades have turned the Celtics into a case study in mismatched players and roster redundancy.  

Contending basketball teams are often comprised of anywhere between one and three exceptional players with everyone else in the rotation providing some kind of specialized skill (role-players).   These teams have areas of strength and overlap, but where they really succeed is in being able to mix players on the floor that complement one another and atone for each others’ weaknesses.  Although the Celtics have "talented" players (obviously some will debate this point), their skill sets tend to duplicate one another relative to position and available court minutes.  This issue goes far beyond the classic observation that Boston has too many players of similar size on the roster.  Phoenix can get away with having James Jones, Raja Bell, Shawn Marion, and Boris Diaw on the court at the same time even though they’re all between 6’5 and 6’8.  Size is not the primary issue. 

Methodology 

I could spend a lot of time tracing the lineage of how these C’s came to be and shedding many green tears over the state of the roster, but I’m more interested in the future.   In order to do this, I evaluated each of the Celtics in 20 categories, ranking each on a scale of 1-5.  Why 5?  Because 10 would make The Man a little nervous.

1 – Poor

2 – Below Average

3 – Average

4 – Above Average

5 – Excellent

I apologize to anyone hoping for a system with snappier adjectives.  The ratings were determined by both categorically analyzing the player against his peers on the team and then filtered once more against what I’d consider to be the standard-bearers for that particular skill in the NBA.  For example, the standard bearers in the three point shooting category might be Mike Miller, Dirk Nowitzki, Ray Allen, etc.  The categories are largely self-explanatory but I’ll cover them briefly:

Handle – Overall ballhandling ability with particular attention paid to in-traffic dribbling.  Orien Greene graded out at a -5, in case anyone was wondering.

Awareness – General court sense on both offense and defense.  Executing of diagrammed plays, proper recognition on pick and roll, and clock awareness are just a few examples.  My rating of Gerald Green here was generous.

Passing – Court vision of course, but also recognizing what passes can and cannot be made.  Also measures utilization of different types of passes to achieve the desired effect.  Attempts to measure Steve Nash using this scale displayed an E on my calculator.

Creates Own – Naturally, the player’s ability to create his own offense.  For smaller players, generally refers to ability to create a high percentage shot attempt in an isolation or pick and roll situation.  For big men, generally refers to the ability to create a good shot in the low or high post area. 

Short – Shooting efficiency from 4-15 feet.  Leaners, in-betweeners, floaters, quick turnarounds, and the like.

Medium – Shooting efficiency from 15 feet and beyond.  "The Lost Art."

Three-point – Three point shooting accuracy.  Peers were tough here, I discounted a lot of the one season wonders and did a weighted attempt to percentage analysis… which was probably overkill, but hey.

Shooting off dribble – Measures ability to generate shots off the dribble: pull ups, fadeaways, step-backs, ball-fake sidesteps, or driving layup attempts.

Shooting off screen – Measures how effective the player shoots from behind a screen or in a pick and roll situation.

Finishing at rim – Finishing at the rim definitely deserves its own category; how effective a player is at dunks, layups, and putback attempts.

Draws fouls - Self-explanatory – the ability to get to the foul line by creating contact on a shot attempt.

Post up effectiveness – Ability to get a good shot from the low post area and general back to the basket skills.

On ball defense – How well a player guards his assigned man, staying in front of him.  Recognizing proper distance and discipline (not fouling jumpshooters, giving certain players a lot of room but playing chest tight on others, etc.) as well.

Off ball defense – How well a player helps in the team defensive concept, which includes rotational help when a teammate is beaten off the dribble, giving fouls, playing passing lanes, ball denial, and ability to get through screens.  

Offensive rebounding – Obvious.  The Moses Malone category.

Defensive rebounding – Also obvious.  Trust me, I’m exhausted going through these, too.

Blocking – Player quality as an administrator of Spalding tattoos. 

Altering – Ability to challenge shots, altering the opponent’s attempt.  Get a hand up, already!  This skill really deserves its own category since there are many players that are excellent at challenging shots but don’t get many blocks.  Bruce Bowen, Ron Artest, and most other stud perimeter defenders would earn 5s here.

Hustle – Tommy points, quantified.

Intangibles – Leadership, locker room character, passion and desire, and of course, Celtic Pride.

{mospagebreak}

Guards/Swingmen 

When considering these ratings and before screaming, "Dobbs you idiot, Allan Ray is clearly a 4 in xxxx" or similar profanity laced attack on my mental faculty, realize that minutes on the court are a valuable fixed commodity in basketball.  48 minutes available at each position per game does not leave much time for inferior players if winning is the end goal.  The best players should always receive the bulk of the minutes at a position as the first criterion.  It seems crazy, I know. 

Matchups, foul trouble, and fatigue all have to be considered, of course, but it was so rare that the Celtics ever used a philosophy as simple as "play the best players most of the time" as a starting point.  Once the best individual players per position are determined, finding chemistry within lineups and matching players with complementary abilities on the floor together is the next task.  The head coach never was able to determine this, partially due to injury, partially due to the redundancy issues I’m about to discuss, and partially, of course, due to his own ineptitude.  Some of the lineups thrown out there last season really had to be seen to be believed.  It’s almost as if the Celtics were trying to …

[cough]

Let’s begin with the team’s second most visible problem (the first one rhymes with Brock Slivers, for anyone left guessing):  the glut at the swingman spots.

[Refer to the Guards/Swingmen section of the spreadsheet]

The most blindingly obvious conclusion from a cursory glance at the ratings is that Mr. Allan Ray should not be under any kind of consideration for court time.  I’d like to believe that the only reason he saw the hardwood at all was due to injury, but Doc would have discovered a way to gift him 15 minutes a game, regardless.  Ray can’t be lumped in with the point guards since he is far below average in all meaningful categories there, and his only NBA caliber attributes are duplicated by every other player competing with him for minutes.   If he has a place in the league, it certainly is not with the Boston Celtics.  This isn’t to say he’s a terrible player, but his skills certainly do not fill an area of need.

Next up the tree is fan-favorite Gerald Green.  I realize that he is still young and possesses a good deal of potential, but I feel I have rated him accurately and fairly given his body of work.  Right now, he is not deserving of much court time [cowering].  He is a disaster on defense and has the poorest court awareness of any of the swingmen.  This is not new news, but what may be (to some) is that he is the possessor of one of the most redundant skill sets on the Celtics.  Gerald’s effectiveness is limited to taking wide open three pointers and shooting behind screens, mostly due to his subpar ball-handling ability.  He shies away from contact on dribble drives, preferring to force a low percentage but "clean" shot instead of going hell-bent to the rim and forcing contact. 

He is the anti Tony Allen.  Gerald can’t get many minutes at shooting guard due to defensive inadequacies, forcing him to play small forward where he must compete with Pierce and Gomes for minutes – both of whom are superior players right now.  A fully healthy Wally Szczerbiak would still have a better option had he remained on the team; Wally was just better than Gerald in Gerald’s areas of strength while remaining equally limited on the defensive end. 

Prior to his injury, Tony Allen enjoyed a breakout year and gave the Celtics exactly what they lacked from the shooting guard position.  He overcame the fear of reinjuring his knee and fought through a spat of absolutely dreadful play at the very beginning of the season, becoming both a consistent scoring threat and a lock down defender.  Though still a below average ball-handler, Allen’s first step allowed him to get to the rim consistently for a high percentage shot but more often a trip to the stripe. 

His overall hustle and demeanor on the defensive end made fans much more forgiving of the occasional boneheaded pass or dribble off of his foot because his intensity was the fuel for both good and bad.  I recently revisited Tony’s final game before the injury on DVR and he was absolutely dominant prior to going down.  I’m not sure that he will ever be the same after the total destruction suffered to his knee, but if Allen returns to form, it would be a huge boon for the team.  However, with Ray Allen now in the fold, I’m not sure how many minutes Tony can reasonably earn even if he does come back 100 percent.

Delonte West was a bit of an enigma, both on and off the court.  I’m going to sorely miss his goofy personality and on-court resolve.  Nobody, nobody was jerked around more last year than D. West.  Doc had Delonte changing his game on a half-by-half basis, and the poor guy didn’t know who he should be each trip down the court.  West was regarded highly around the league for his basketball IQ, hustle, and intangibles fused with above average shot making ability.  Seattle fans will be fond of him.  To be completely honest, I’d rather have traded Gerald Green.  [ducking thrown objects]  Danny’s banking an awful lot on Gabe Pruitt to fill West’s minutes at backup point guard, and he has nowhere near the intangibles that Delonte brought to the team.  

There’s not much left to say about the outgoing Wally; he was playing up to his usual Szczerbistandards in November, averaging 20 PPG on 46% shooting and then once he got hurt, that was it.  Attempts to return from the sprains were unsuccessful, to put it mildly.  I am not sure that he is an NBA starter anymore, but it’s clear that he still possesses well above average ability in shooting the basketball.  He would be wise to settle into a 20-25 minute instant-offense role off the bench in Seattle where he can carry the scoring load while not giving up too much defensively against the other team’s second line.  But he’s likely to start for the Sonics, so it’s a moot point.  

I’m not sure what more needs to be said about Paul Pierce, but the ratings naturally indicate that he is far and away the best player on the team.   The injury concerns are extremely overblown; Pierce has been incredibly durable through his whole career.  The nonsense I’ve been reading about how he’s suddenly on some kind of rapid decline because of the stress reaction in his foot and leaky elbow is utterly ridiculous.  He was playing the best basketball of his career prior to going down, averaging 27.4 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 3.9 APG while shooting 46% in November, and in ten games in December he was even better, posting 25.4 PPG, 5.8 PPG, 4.9 APG shooting the same FG% while rediscovering a 45% three point stroke not seen since his rookie year. 

What most do not realize about P-squared:  the way he plays basketball will make him effective far longer into the later years of his career than his peers who are more reliant on pure athleticism.  When Vince Carter or Allen Iverson’s wheels go and they lose their trademark explosiveness, they will decline rapidly.  Paul Pierce can score in the post, he can score off the dribble, he can score behind screens, he finishes well at the rim, he has an array of up-fakes and moves that perennially put him atop the league leaders in free throws attempted, and he is cagey enough on the defensive end that he’ll still be able to guard small forwards late in his career. 

Pierce is not a one trick pony that’s going to be completely used up his mid thirties – it just won’t happen.  The Ray Allen acquisition should end all trade speculation, too.  The team has signaled that they are trying to appease their star and put the talent around him to make a championship run.  Thoughts on that are forthcoming, I promise.  Please keep reading; there are only a couple thousand more words to go!

It’s apparent that the swingman spots still are the biggest case of skill duplication on the team, even with the 2 for 1 replacement of West and Szczerbiak with Ray Allen.   The team went ahead and drafted the second coming of Allan Ray in Gabe Pruitt with the 32nd pick, so there’s no net removal of redundancy.   Danny’s "vision" is crystal clear:  stockpile a team with enough quality outside shooting and the wins will pile up.  Someone find me an example of a team that’s won a championship with that approach.

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Forwards/Centers 

I’m not going to waste much space here on Ratliff and Olowokandi – at least not much more space than they wasted at the end of the bench last season.  It’s clear that neither will have a place on the team next year, although I will say that Ratliff could have provided spot duty for about five to ten minutes a game as a defensive center if healthy in 06-07.  Leon Powe has value as a rebounder and as a classic garbage man, but he really shouldn’t try to do too much on the offensive end.  His size makes it extremely difficult to get his shot off against bigger players in the post (I saw him eat a tremendous amount of leather last year) and poor Leon really has no face-up game to speak of.  Powe should stick to doing what he does best – getting under the other team’s skin and hitting the offensive glass with abandon.  Will he be supplanted by Glen Davis?  It’s certainly a training camp battle to watch.

[Refer to the Forwards/Centers section of the spreadsheet]

Brian Scalabrine was a lot better last year, but that isn’t saying much.  On offense, his areas of specialty include making the occasional three, setting screens, and firing the ball right back to the man who just passed it to him a second ago.  Outstanding!  Only three more years left on his deal, by the way.  Scabs did show occasional prowess on the defensive end, and his high awareness keeps him in the right spots on the court.  What’s that saying though – the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak?  Yeah.  Hey, when all you’ve got is hustle and a dream, it’s a hard knock life.

Last year was rough for big Kendrick Perkins.  Plantar fasciitis robbed him of what little mobility he had, crippling the big fella in areas where he is classically strong:  low post defense of his own man, rebounding, and altering shots on penetration.  Offensively, he is a bit of a disaster, having only one go-to move (the right handed laser hook), but he is one of a few players on the team that doesn’t need the ball at all to have an impact.  Perk is one of the least redundant players on the Celtics, as his skills are not duplicated by any of the other big men. 

However, after 4 years it seems clear that he may not be starting center quality for a team with playoff aspirations.  Foul trouble is still a major issue with Perk – a shame considering that he’s generally an effective player when measured on a per minute basis.  I’m willing to give him a pass for last season, but the upcoming year is make or break – if the team manages to eventually acquire Jermaine O’Neal or Pau Gasol, Perkins’ deal is going to look awfully expensive for someone playing so few minutes.  That’s a good problem to have, because it means the C’s landed one of those two whoppers, but I digress… It’s going on Perk’s 5th year and he needs to show that he can excel again in the aforementioned areas.

Is there anything negative to say about Ryan Gomes?  He earned an average rating in just about every category according to my system.  What the numbers can’t show, however, is how much Ryan has improved in the areas he was deficient in from his first season to his second.  In his rookie year, after Doc Rivers discovered, "Hey, this guy is better than Scalabrine!  Heck, he might even be better than Mark Blount!  Maybe I should give him a look?", Gomes was used as undersized power forward that scooped up a ton of points on the offensive glass and hit the wide open shot off the pick and pop. 

Over the summer, he was given a mandate to refine his small forward skills and develop an outside game.  Ever the good soldier, he obeyed and returned to camp displaying an improved handle, a better array of face-up moves, and extended range on his jumper.  He learned that he could swing the ball low under a defender’s outstretched arms and then flail upwards in a shot attempt, drawing a cheap foul.  Ryan then showed that he could hit the three-pointer in the final chapter of last season, a revelation nobody never expected.  I’m interested to see what he has in store for Celtic fans this year – remember:  this is the 50th pick in the draft.  Gomes does everything adequately and isn’t superior at any one skill, but he isn’t incredibly deficient at anything either.  He’s just a solid basketball player – a good glue / rotation guy that is outperforming all expectations.  Sadly, the Celtics are sure to lose him in free agency when his deal is up at the end of next season.

It’s no secret that Al Jefferson is the future of this franchise, but whether it’s as a player in uniform that continues to produce for the team or as a trade chip that nets the C’s something else… nobody can say with certainty right now.  Why the team would put their best asset on any kind of block that doesn’t exist on a 94 foot basketball court is beyond me.  This is a 22 year old kid that the team drafted, groomed, and is just now beginning to reach his potential… and he’s being shopped?   Jefferson is a one of a kind big man with an array of moves that haven’t been seen in the NBA since McHale laced them up, a player who’s sure to be an All Star for many seasons in the future, and he’s being dangled like an air freshener on a rear view mirror?  I could go on for hours about his up and under, feathery jump hook, left and right spins, jab step…

If I seem incredulous, it’s because… I am incredulous!  Al’s already developed into an offensive monster with plenty of headroom for improvement, particularly on the defensive end.  It just doesn’t make any sense to hear his name in trade rumors – even for Kevin Garnett.  My nagging fear is that ownership is worried that he will ask for a max extension this summer, but Wyc and his cohort aren’t sure he’s worth it and are at least flirting with the idea of cashing in on Jefferson  I surmise if the team can’t get an extension done this summer, Al will play out year 4 and go into year 5 as an unhappy restricted FA.  That’s the only reason I can even contrive of Big Al’s name being thrown about in trade rumors.  He is one of the three best young big men in the game with his entire career ahead of him.  Lock him up on July 1 at 12:01 A.M., please. before he walks in free agency.

{mospagebreak}

Point Guards 

Does Sebastian Telfair still get to play basketball without a nameplate on his locker?  Can we get a ruling from someone?  His status with the team is in doubt and though I’m sure the C’s are trying desperately to move him, he’s likely to have very little value around the league.  When I first heard that the Celtics were acquiring Telfair, like many, I was excited that the team was finally getting a true pass-first point guard.  After about twenty games, it was evident that he was not a pass-first point guard at all, but a much poorer shoot-first version of his Coney Island cousin. 

Never before have I seen a player with such speed misuse it so egregiously.  Wait, I forgot about Marcus Banks.  There’s still some time left for Telfair to ‘get it’, but I doubt that he ever will.  He’s a poor shooter, a poor finisher at the rim, and an even worse defensive player.  The coaching staff rightfully buried him after all of these things became evident.  Acquiring this knowledge only cost the Celtics Brandon Roy, who would be another totally redundant player on this team, but at least he’d have trade value! 

[Refer to the Point Guards section of the spreadsheet]

Rondo has a ton of natural physical gifts and is with all likelihood the point guard of the future for the Celtics.  Really.  This time, it’s for real.  He has all of the skills necessary to succeed at the position except for that one tiny small insignificant miniscule problem of not being able to shoot a lick.  I posit the following though:  is it possible to be an effective scorer in the NBA without being an effective shooter?  I don’t mean adopting the Antoine Walker methodology of "take em’ till you make em’" either.  I think that R-squared might be able to get away with it – he just needs to develop one shot:  a pull up jumper/floater in the lane. 

Since Rondo is so adept at getting to the rim even when the defender is playing off him, he’d only need to possess this one shot to make everyone forget that he can’t hit a mid-range jumper or three-pointer.   Pair that one shot with an improved stroke at the free throw line and suddenly he’s in double digits with ease and isn’t someone Doc is afraid of "gumming up the offense" (one of the more ridiculous comments he’s ever made, by the way).  Although Rondo needs to get better at half-court execution, he is one of three players on the team that can actually create for other players (Pierce and Jefferson are the others).  Defensively, he is already well ahead of most rookie point guards.  Rondo needs to add some strength so that he can recover from screens more quickly, but when he does, I can easily see him developing into a second or perhaps first team All-NBA quality defender in two or three years.  No, MikeDFromNP did not just commandeer my keyboard.

{mospagebreak}

Needs, Strengths and Weaknesses

Prior to draft night, the needs most cited by fans around the blog, purely from a positional standpoint without any special attention paid to skill sets were:

  • A backup point guard
  • A face-up style high-post big man
  • A more consistent presence at the center position / overall big man depth
  • A defensive SF/PF type
  • A defensive SF/SG type

I believe that the team would most benefit from:

  • A passing big man that can facilitate the offense (think vintage Sabonis, Divac, Brad Miller)
  • A more mobile defensive presence in the middle (I wonder if Greg Oden would’ve worked out…)
  • Another wing defender as a Tony Allen insurance policy
  • A veteran point guard to spell Rondo and teach him new dirty tricks

My opinions are really just more specific evolutions of the fanbase en-masse.  Now, it’s time to further assess areas of strength and weakness at the team level.  Again, this is prior to draft night. 

Strengths:

  • When healthy, plenty of shooters from medium to long range, creating good spacing
  • Three players capable of creating their own shot and break down a defense
  • Long on hustle and intangibles – good locker room atmosphere even amidst a lost season
  • Decent in getting to and making free throws at the line (11th in FTA and 10th in FT% as a team)

Weaknesses:

  • Very poor ball-handling and passing on the whole with many players below average in these areas
  • Too reliant on screen based jump shooting
  • Lack of defensive specialists both on the interior and perimeter
  • Low awareness but particularly in defensive situations, especially pick and roll defense  (youth excuse goes here)

This was the list of available trade targets prior to the draft; obviously a couple of the names have since changed addresses:

[Refer to the Trade Targets section of the spreadsheet]

Everyone’s dream scenario (still) is finding a way to get Kevin Garnett to Boston without giving up Al Jefferson in the process.  It’s not going to happen, it wasn’t ever going to happen, and it’s as dead as Dillinger now with Ray Allen in the fold.  The team no longer has the assets to get KG, so perish any thought of seeing him in a Celtics uniform.  The next best fit for this team is Pau Gasol, but there’s been nothing on that front for a long time.  He would be the essential yin to Jefferson’s yang – a true high-post big man with passing ability, touch from the outside, and solid interior defense.  I wish Chris Wallace would kindly repay Danny for years of gainful employment, but even with his generosity, I’m not sure the C’s have enough left to land Pau.  Ratliff’s expiring contract, Gerald Green, and junk just isn’t that enticing to Memphis.

I’d definitely be on board for Jermaine O’Neal at a reasonable price.  Boston has committed to winning in the 3 year window with the Allen deal and O’Neal’s shelf life certainly falls within that time frame. The Jazz claim Andrei Kirilenko isn’t available, but like an Ornette Coleman solo, that tune is subject to change.  The Knicks scored themselves Zach Randolph and only had to give up the corpse of Steve Francis and Channing Frye.  I’m sure that a certified nutbag headcase malignant lesion like Zach will be a perfect fit in the Big Apple.  He’s definitely ready for the big city.

{mospagebreak}

Assessing the Ray Allen trade

And now it’s time to talk about the player the Celtics ended up with after it was all said and done:  Mr. Walter Ray Allen.  Here is the logic behind the move, from a front office perspective:

  1. He is an upgrade to Szczerbiak and West.
  2. There are now three players on the Celtics that can command a double team and indeed three potential All-Stars playing together.
  3. It keeps Pierce from demanding a trade.
  4. It makes the Celtics relevant again in the national media and will lead to television appearances and higher ticket sales.
  5. If Cleveland can win the Eastern conference with their steaming pile of a roster, anything is possible.
  6. Everyone saves their own skin if it works out.

The negatives:

  1. Ray Allen is 32 years old, coming off bone spur surgery in both ankles.  The list of aging shooting guards that remained elite well into their thirties is very, very short.  
  2. According to my rating system, he is the worst "available" player of the trade targets.
  3. He does not contribute in any area of weakness, both from a positional standpoint and from a skills standpoint.  In other words, Allen is simply more redundant shooting strength on a team that already possesses plenty of it.
  4. The team’s commitment to Ray Allen signifies a vote of no confidence in the recovery of Tony Allen – a player whom when healthy, fills many areas of need.
  5. The team traded a couple of its most marketable assets and only have the expiring contract of Theo Ratliff and Gerald Green left as true commodities.
  6. Green’s development is further marginalized with both Pierce and Ray Allen claiming the bulk of the minutes at both of his playable positions.  If he’s to ever become the star that many believe he can be, it surely will not be with this team.

I do not like the trade.  Although I’ll surely enjoy watching Ray-Ray fill it up with his picture-perfect jumper, and I’ll surely enjoy watching the C’s back in the playoffs, ultimately I know that it’s all hollow.  When building a team, prior to any move, a GM must look deep into his own soul and ask:  "Does this move help us win a championship down the road?"  I do not believe that adding Ray Allen alone makes the Boston Celtics capable of beating a Western conference opponent in the NBA Finals. 

I do not believe that Danny Ainge’s method of building a team through acquiring layers of redundant strength in important areas can succeed in winning the title.  The Celtics may be good enough to win the East if Jefferson continues his ascent towards All-Stardom and both Pierce and Allen remain healthy, but there are still too many areas of need left unaddressed to term this team as a true contender.  It’s just another lateral move by Ainge, continuing his infatuation with finding a capable second banana / outside scorer / pure shooter to complement Pierce.  Well, he’s landed the purest shooter in the league – there are no more excuses.

Regarding the second round draftees, neither of them seems equipped to make an impact.  Gabe Pruitt is a long shot to make the team and unless Glen Davis really displays that he can get his shot off against NBA defenders, he won’t make it, either.  I hope I’m wrong about Big Baby, because he could provide some needed big man depth.  But at 6’9 and 289 pounds, I expect he’ll be too slow and cumbersome at both ends of the court to warrant much burn even if he does make the squad.

The Celtics probably aren’t going to be big players in free agency.  Despite the owners signaling that they’re ready to win now, I just don’t see them making a lucrative offer to any of the big names.  I do, however, look forward to the team making a splash by announcing that they’ve found their coveted veteran point guard and have inked Chucky Atkins to a 3 year deal. Somewhere in the distance, I hear Bill Simmons lighting himself on fire. 

Should Brevin Knight become an unrestricted free agent, he’s the one to go after.  I’d also love Gerald Wallace, but I’m not sure where he fits.  What am I saying – of course he’d play power forward in one of Doc’s genius small-ball schemes.  Matt Barnes?  I have reservations.  He’d add frontcourt depth at a minimum.  Rashard Lewis?  There may not be enough basketball to satisfy Pierce, Jefferson, and Ray Allen – forget adding Lewis to the mix.

Ainge may not be done dealing, but I’m not sure that’s something for fans to get excited over, given his track record.  I just don’t think the assets are there to land another impact player.

If you’ve just reached the end of this epic, congratulations!  And if you just finished a long session on the throne, please do me the courtesy of at least using the blank side of the printout.  I don’t want to be overly cynical, but I love the Celtics more than anything, and it pains me to see the team mismanaged in every capacity.  I truly hope the team wins a title in the Pierce era; I hope Danny can execute that one key move that puts the team in a genuine position to contend before the window is slammed shut.

Until next time, pass the Kool-Aid, but keep a cyanide pellet handy.  You know, just in case.