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Building A Better Bench

The Celtics lost a shot at the championship last year because Kevin Garnett got hurt, plain and simple.  If the big three are healthy this year, we've got a real great shot at it again.  However, that is a big, big if these days.  As a result, the depth on this squad is increasingly critical.  So far, Danny has done a lot to upgrade the bench and it appears that he's not close to being done.

The biggest piece is obviously Rasheed Wallace.  Together with Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, we might have the best defensive frontcourt in the game.  He also fits like a glove into Doc's offensive schemes.  Consider this: how many times have we seen the center (Perkins, Baby, etc.) at the top of the 3 point arc either setting a pick or looking to pass the ball to initiate one of our offensive sets?  The defense knows that they can sag off him and double down on other players.  Now insert Sheed into that scenario.  The defense no longer has the option to sag off.  They have to respect his range.  Even if they close in on him, he's still got the height to shoot over the majority of players in the league.  Especially in a pick and roll where he might end up being picked up on a switch.  Maybe he would be more effective posting up, but he is what he is and it would appear that the Celtics offense will utilize his talents to their advantage.

Next up is Marquis Daniels.  I'm still becoming familiar with his game, but from all accounts he appears to be somewhat of a mix between Brian Scalabrine (does lots of little things well, not the greatest athlete) and Tony Allen (slasher, defensive pest, no outside shot, maybe a space cadet at times).  Clearly he's got some flaws, but if he didn't then we wouldn't be able to afford him.  What matters, once again, is if he can fit into our system.  Last offseason Ainge talked about using Tony Allen to get to the rim more.  That never materialized but maybe Daniels can fill that role.  Regardless, it appears that we have an upgrade to our small forward backup spot.  Which is very good news for Paul Pierce and his weary legs.

So two pieces appear to be in place but there are still questions to address.  For one thing, it appears that Ainge is working on a sign and trade with the Pacers to bring Daniels in.  The attraction there is to hold onto the bi-annual exception to use on someone else.  Such a deal could cost us as many as 3 bench players but the thinking must be that there are still free agents out there that would be upgrades to those players.  Incidentally, more roster spots also increases the likelyhood that Leon Powe could make a return.

Of course there is also the ongoing Big Baby watch.  The more time passes, the more likely it is that he winds up back in Boston at a reasonable price.  That works great for me since he showed a lot of value last year and I don't see any other options that would fill that 4th big role better than him.

Which brings me back to the injury issue.  The key to this depth is being able to adapt to whatever fate throws at us.  Right now, we've got solid replacements for four of the starting 5 should they miss any significant time.  House at the 2, Daniels at the 3, and Sheed at either the 4 or 5. 

It will also be important to fill out the end of the bench with guys that at least have the potential to contribute if pressed into work.  Last year we got solid fill-in work from Davis but there wasn't much left on the bench to back him up.  Assuming Davis resigns, we'll have a rotation of 4 bigs that can help us win basketball games.

Once again, the longer we wait, the more guys we'll see willing to accept the veterans minimum to sign with a legit title contender.  There are still some quality names out there looking for a home.  Danny also seems to be busy talking to teams about potential trades and sign and trades.

So far so good.  Danny has already upgraded the bench and it appears that he's working on building it up more.  I expect some things to shake out this week as the Daniels deal gets worked out.  We've got August 1st approaching where we have to make a decision on Pruitt (assuming he's still with the team).  I wouldn't be too surprised to see Davis sign either an offer sheet or a reasonable contract with the Celtics.

Even though the rest of the title contenders made moves to bolster their clubs, I'm liking what Danny has done thus far to upgrade ours.  Can't wait to see what he does next.

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