NBA Free Agency 2012: Who the Celtics Must Target This Summer to Save the Team

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIMarch 30, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 28:  Kris Humphries #43 of the New Jersey Nets attempts a shot in the first half against Louis Amundson #17 of the Indiana Pacers at Prudential Center on March 28, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Chambers/Getty Images)
Chris Chambers/Getty Images

We all know that the Boston Celtics are an old and slow team. They're nowhere near the physical condition they were in back in 2008 when they won the title. 

This season their bench has been extremely thin and their frontcourt has been non-existent after the Kendrick Perkins trade.

Fortunately for them, the Celtics have some big contracts coming off the books. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are both free agents this summer. Rather than re-signing them (unless, of course, they take major pay cuts), the Celtics must scour the market and sign a pair of big men, a scoring guard, and some bench players in order to annually compete for a championship.

With Dwight Howard staying in Orlando for one more season, the Celtics would love to sign some players this year in order to include them in a potential trade during the trading deadline next season for Dwight.

Other than Kris Humphries, there are no legitimate bigs available on the market this summer. And Humphries is nowhere near Howard’s caliber. He’s a solid power forward at best.

Unfortunately for Humphries, he gets a bad rap for being Kim Kardashian's ex-husband. Rather than getting praise for his solid play on the court, people tend to have a negative opinion on him because of his off-the-court lifestyle. 

The Celtics can care less who is ex-wife is. They know Humphries can play. He's averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds for an atrocious New Jersey Nets team this season. 

Humphries can bring some post presence and youth exuberance to a team that desperately needs it. He'll continue to work with an elite point guard in Boston, like he is in New Jersey with Deron Williams, so there won't be a drop off in his production.

He should be a keeper for the Celtics and shouldn’t be included in the potential Howard trade.

Spencer Hawes is a guy Boston could target and overpay in order to use him in a trade. Even if they do spend some extra dough on him, he'll be an inexpensive pickup.

Hawes is averaging 10 points and eight rebounds for the Philadelphia 76ers this season and he has a solid mid-range game to go along with his strength down low.

Hawes has a Player Efficiency Rating of 19.0, which is 13th among centers. The league average for PER is 15. 

Other notable players that become free agents this summer are Michael Beasley and J.R. Smith. These guys can be solid bench players in the Celtics' rotation if they can get them at a good price.

Finally, the Celtics will have a gaping hole in the shooting guard position since Ray Allen will be a free agent. Bringing back Allen would be nice if he takes a pay cut and assumes a bench role.

Another player who will be available is Jamal Crawford. Crawford has been a steady player for the Portland Trail Blazers this season. He’s averaging close to 14 points and should be able to increase his numbers if he plays with an All-Star point guard like Rajon Rondo.

These names may not be too enticing, but it’s all that’s available this summer.

The best possible scenario for the Celtics would be to sign Humphries long term and sign three or four other mid-level guys like the ones mentioned above in order to use them as trading pieces for Dwight Howard during the season.

Orlando would be happy because they’ll get some decent players to build the team around and Boston would become an instant contender with Howard, Humphries, Paul Pierce and Rondo running the show.

It seems like the only way the Celtics will be able to get Howard. They really didn’t have any pieces to construct an attractive deal. All their players are either old or ineffective and the one guy Orlando would want, Rondo, should be untouchable.

By signing a handful of players, the Celtics gain the ability to offer a deal Orlando can’t deny.