The Boston Celtics’ rallying cry coming into this season was “It’s all about 18”. The Celtics were seeking their 18 championship and fell well short of their lofty expectations with a 4-1 second-round exit at the hands of the Miami Heat. Boston now faces challenges it hasn’t had since the arrival of its “Big Three”.
How does this proud franchise stay among the new NBA elite going into the 2011-2012 season?
The Celtics answered part of that question by inking head coach Doc Rivers to a five-year, $35 million extension just days after their elimination. With Rivers on board for the twilight years of the careers of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, it would appear Boston is set to compete at a playoff level for some time to come. It also ensures that Rivers will help with the rebuilding phase of this franchise. Make no mistake, new pieces will and have to be added. After Boston’s season-ending defeat Rivers said in a very clear manner “We need to add guys.”
Jeff Green, Delonte West, Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic, Von Wafer, Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo, and Sasha Pavlovic are all free agents this summer. How and with who will Celtics GM, Danny Ainge replenish this weary roster?
Green and West make the most sense to be brought back as they both were integral parts of the rotation throughout the playoffs. With Green being added as the principle piece in the trade that sent Boston’s beloved Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City, he almost has to be retained for Ainge to save face. West proved his value playing behind Rajon Rondo and was one of the few consistent players in the series against Miami.
Davis finished third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting this year, but his meteoric fall in production has not made him worthy of retention. He became selfish offensively and stopped taking charges on defense. Unfortunately, the man with the nickname of “Big Baby” is too sensitive and when he doesn’t get his way, his production truly does become infantile.
Of the remaining free agents only Krstic is worthy of note. If the Celtics can re-sign him at a reasonable price his role as a backup could prove serviceable.
The Celtics have a glaring need at the center position. They also lack rebounding and a pure scorer that can get them a basket when the offense goes stagnant as it often does. As a result, free agents like Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert and Nene are being tossed around the Celtics message boards with regularity. For the most part the mentioning of those names is just wishful thinking. Boston is saddled with heavy contracts and had the fourth-highest payroll in league this past season at just more than $83 million. With the league facing labor uncertainty, Ainge will have to be very creative this summer to keep Boston in the hunt for banner No. 18.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com