Aging Celtics In Need of Depth This Off-Season


celtics-big-three

Like we are currently seeing in the NFL, the 2011 NBA off-season is up in the air with a lockout looming.  Free agency could be delayed and completely restructured depending on the new agreement reached by the owners and players.  Still, The Sports Bank continues to break down all thirty NBA teams to see what areas they need to address in the off-season.

The Boston Celtics enter the off-season with only six players under contract for next season.  They must find some depth this summer to prevent their small, remaining window of being among the elite in the league from slamming shut.

By: David Kay

Boston Celtics (56-26 last season)

’10-’11 Season in Review:
Ever since winning the NBA Title in 2009, the story for the Celtics has been anything less than a championship is considered a disappointment.  Boston finished the regular season with the third best record in the Eastern Conference and then swept the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.  However, the Celtics were out-matched by a younger, more athletic Heat team as they were bounced from the second round.

The Boston Three Party did their part but did play at the level they did during their championship run two seasons ago.   Ray Allen proved he can still shoot the ball with the best in the world and Paul Pierce is capable of carrying the load of a go-to scorer, but Kevin Garnett continues to show the wear on his body and finished with numbers well below his career average.

The veterans cleared a space for Rajon Rando who continues to blossom as a true point guard, finishing second in the league behind Steve Nash in assists per game.  His shooting numbers are still painfully low allowing defenses to play off him on the perimeter, but his ability to distribute the basketball is mesmerizing.

The O’Neal’s (Shaq and Jermaine) were signed to add depth in the middle while the team waited for Kendrick Perkins to get healthy.  Instead, the Celtics surprised many by dealing Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic.  Meanwhile, the O’Neal’s combined to play just 61 regular season games with injuries limiting Shaq to just 12 minutes played in the playoffs.

That trade seems to have back-fired for general manager Danny Ainge.  Green never found his niche in coming off Boston’s bench while Kristic played okay but is a free agent this summer.  It also left the Celtics without a true big man to bang down low.  (I know Glen Davis is big, but he is a short big.)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
C: Jermaine O’Neal
PF: Kevin Garnett/#Jeff Green
SF: Paul Pierce
SG: Ray Allen/Avery Bradley
PG: Rajon Rando

Free Agents:
#PF-Jeff Green (RFA)
PF-Glen Davis (UFA)
C-Nenad Kristic (UFA)
SG-Delonte West (UFA)
PG-Carlos Arroyo (UFA)
SG-Von Wafer (UFA)
PF-Troy Murphy (UFA)
G/F-Sasha Pavlovic (UFA)

’11-’12 Team Salary: Approximately $72.5 million

Off-Season Needs:
1. Size:
Shaq retired.  Glen Davis and Nenad Kristic are free agents.  Jeff Green could be a free agent.  The only bigs under contract for next season are Kevin Garnett, who is no spring chicken, and a washed up Jermaine O’Neal.  We also saw how the trading of Perkins left the Celtics without a true rim protector and physical big.  Take into account all those factors and Boston needs to find some size which will not be easy to do since the 2011 NBA Draft is thin on true big men and the C’s are already massively over the league salary cap.

2. Wing Depth:
This past season, the Celtics paraded guys like Delonte West, Von Wafer, Marquis Daniels, Avery Bradley, and Sasha Pavlovic out on the wing to try and find some depth behind Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.  None of them provided the needed spark off the bench and all but Bradley are free agents this off-season.  Boston needs to find someone who they can rely on to score off the bench especially since Allen turns 36 this summer and Pierce will be 34 by the start of next season.

3. Back-Up Point Guard:
After trading Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, Boston was left without a true back-up point guard to Rajon Rando and was forced to sign Carlos Arroyo who did not play a single minute in the post-season.  Delonte West was able to come in and run some point but he is a free agent once again leaving the Celtics without a back-up for Rando unless they feel comfortable having last year’s first round pick Avery Bradley fill that void.  Since Bradley is still a combo guard trying to learn how to run the point, the C’s need to find at least a one-year rental in the form of a veteran who could play 8-12 minutes a night.

OTHER NBA TEAM NEEDS PAGES:
ATLANTA HAWKS
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
DENVER NUGGETS
DETROIT PISTONS
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
HOUSTON ROCKETS
INDIANA PACERS
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
MILWAUKEE BUCKS
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
NEW JERSEY NETS
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
NEW YORK KNICKS
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
ORLANDO MAGIC
PHOENIX SUNS
PORTLAND BLAZERS
SACRAMENTO KINGS
TORONTO RAPTORS
UTAH JAZZ
WASHINGTON WIZARDS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POINT GUARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SHOOTING GUARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT SMALL FORWARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT POWER FORWARD RANKINGS

CHECK OUT MY NBA FREE AGENT CENTER RANKINGS

CHECK OUT THE SPORTS BANK’S 2011 NBA MOCK DRAFT

David Kay is a senior feature NBA Draft, NBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.

You can follow him on Twitter at DavidKay_TSB.

Speak Your Mind