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Celtics' Math: Green Unsigned + Howard In LA + Bynum In Philly = Adding Another Big?

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UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: The tweet has been mysteriously taken down. The plot thickens.

UPDATE: According to Gary Washburn at the Globe, David Falk is optimistic that Jeff Green's deal will close next week. Color me curious. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop, whether it's another signing, non-guaranteed years, or a new medical report with a clean bill of health.

As Jeff Green remains unsigned, there has been some (wild) speculation in the fan forums and mail bag ranging from concerns over his health or a pending trade as to why he hasn't inked the reported 4 year, $36 million deal. Green has appeared at a press conference introducing him, Jason Terry, Chris Wilcox, and Brandon Bass. He's given several interviews about his excitement about starting next season and claiming redemption on a season lost. He's talked like a Celtic and walked like a Celtic, but officially, he isn't a Celtic just yet.

Getting Green's name on the dotted line seems like the last order of business after a very busy off-season for Danny Ainge, but just when you thought it was going to die down, things got interesting for all has not been quiet on Western or Eastern Conference front. For the Celtics, the Dwight Howard blockbuster trade that leveled the NBA has two reverberating aftershocks: 1) it creates a super team out west that is now anchored by the three-time Defensive Player Of The Year and 2) it gives the Sixers--a team that took Boston to the brink in seven hard fought games--a big time center in Andrew Bynum. We've lauded Danny's summer moves in what is his best off-season since 2007 but let's face it, the landscape of the league has changed even before the season has started.

Danny's blueprint seemed to be in line with how the game has changed over the last two years. He built a team that could compete with the likes of Miami and Oklahoma City, conference champs that relied on athletic wings and less on bigs and bulk. This year's Finals was a wake up call. Both the Heat and the Thunder are entering their primes and Ainge read the writing on the wall: he couldn't beat 'em, so he joined 'em. Instead of adding vet 5's like Rasheed Wallace, Shaquille O'Neal, and Jermaine O'Neal, Ainge went small with Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Jeff Green. He committed the team to keeping Kevin Garnett at center and drafted two front court rookies (Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo) who might be years away from contributing.

But then it happened. Dwight Howard went to Los Angeles and Andrew Bynum joined the 76ers. As Chris Forsberg points out, although LA becomes the favorite out west, they make up two games of an 82-game schedule, albeit rivalry games. The real question is how it affects the wild card Sixers. They amnestied Elton Brand, but they hung on to Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen, and Thaddeus Young and bring in Bynum, Kwame Brown, and rook Arnette Moultrie. They're Atlantic Division rivals and depending on seeding, could be a formidable foe come playoff time.

I'm just connecting the dots here, but this is why I think Jeff Green remains unsigned. There's no doubt that he'll start the season as a Celtic, but I'm betting he's not the last person to put pen to paper in Waltham. With the proposed money that he'll be making over the length of his contract, clearly he's a cornerstone in Danny's plans for not just this year, but the future. In a candid one-on-one with CelticsBlog's Josh Zavadil, he said:

"I know there's always going to be negativity. Somebody is always going to find something negative to say. I'm going to just go out there and play, and let my playing do the talking. If we win, I don't care how I play or what I shoot. I'm more of a team player. It doesn't matter. My thing is to help my team in any possible way.

"We're trying to win a championship. That's the main goal and the thing we're trying to accomplish this year."

He's fought hard to get to this point. With a strong and healthy heart, and a renewed resolve, Jeff Green is ready to give back to the team that was there beside him during the toughest months of his life.

Listening to Green, you really get a sense a sense that a lot of goodwill was built between him and Ainge while he recovered from heart surgery. And just as Danny has put his trust in Green by signing him to a contract that makes him the heir apparent at SF after Paul Pierce retires, I think Jeff is willing to be flexible with his contract to allow his GM to put together a team that can bring home a championship now and later. It could be just a matter of him taking $14This is purely speculation, but I think the hold up in Green's contract is just a way to buy time for Danny to shake the tree one last time before training camp opens up in six weeks. Currently, the Celtics have thirteen players with guaranteed contracts with presumably three players jockeying for two spots on the opening day roster (second round draft pick Kris Joseph and summer league stand outs Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith). All three players are projects who will spend more time in Maine or as the 12th man on the bench and frankly, redundancies on a roster already chock-full of guards.

My guess is that Danny is targeting another big. Re-signing Chris Wilcox was good business and good karma; he's a great energy player off the bench as a rebounder and running mate with Rondo and his recovery from heart surgery is just as uplifting as Green's. Danny's also found some insurance with ex-Hawk/Timberwolf/Grizzly/Net Jason Collins and I'm sure he's banking that either Sullinger or Melo or even both can mature quickly next to KG. However, I think Danny's still looking to hit a 9th inning home run before the fall. There's still a lot of value in the free agency bargin bin with ring-chasing vets and amnestied outcasts that never reached their full potential.

To me, it's the amnestied guys that make the most sense. They're already getting paid and they've got a chip on their shoulder. We've toyed with the idea on CelticsBlog with adding the Birdman, Chris Andersen, but what he brings to the table is limited at age 34. Plus, I'm pretty sure Jason Terry already won Best Tattoo of the Year. The guys that really intrigue me are Darko Milicic and Andray Blatche. We're talking about taking out a flyer on a 27 or 25-year-old, respectively, that present a low risk, high reward bet. I am the biggest believer that anybody that spends time in the trenches with KG under Doc's command and completely buys in will come out a winner (see Greg Stiemsma, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, and Brandon Bass).

There was some speculation a month ago that Milicic was being targeted by the C's and Blatche has never been on Danny's radar, but we're now entering the doldrums of the free agency period and I'm sure Danny's done his due diligence on both players. The pitch is simple, "your last team gave up on you and they're paying you not to be there. We can't offer you much money, but we're gunning for a championship, we've got the best point guard in the league, this kid named Kevin Garnett that you might have heard of, and Doc Rivers is going to be your coach."

If we're going to go after another player with the veteran minimum, we can't go wrong with Kenyon Martin. At this point of his career, he doesn't offer the upside that Milicic or Blatche might, but you know he's going to come in hungry and you know he's going to play defense. I also like Louis Amundson or Yi Jianlian if either will take a pay cut. Again, it's a matter of finding players looking for opportunity rather than a paycheck. Danny shouldn't go as far as offering the bi-annual exception to any of these guys because that's a trump card he might need to play later in the season and move you only make for a player that you know will contribute from day one.

As a Celtics fan, I'd be remiss not to mention this name, too: Scal-a-brine! Scal-a-brine! Scal-a-brine! Word on the street is that he's looking for a camp invite even after starting his second career in the CSNNE broadcast booth last season. If anything, Danny should sign The Human Cigar to a one-day deal so he can retire as a Celtic and then take over for Donny Marshall and Gary Tanguay.

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