Boston Celtics: 5 Offseason Moves That Will Keep Them in Contention
The Boston Celtics have managed to make an unlikely run that now sees them Atlantic division champions. After a slow start that saw the Celts under .500 at the All-Star break, and despite the loss of multiple players, including starting power forward Jeff Green, the Celtics are now in a position that only a select few die-hards could have imagined possible.
The Celtics have managed to make this incredible run through a series of desperate line-up changes due to a depleted roster.
What they lack in the rebounding category is quickly countered with their shutdown defense and stellar back court. The C's will hope to couple their strong backcourt with their experienced leadership to make a legitimate run at championship number 18 this offseason.
Though the NBA season is far from over, some Celtic faithful are already concerned with the future of the franchise. While this concern is warranted, there is hope for the 2012-2013 campaign if these five moves are made.
Re-Sign Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass' ascent into the starting lineup has been a season-saver for the Celtics. With Doc Rivers' controversial move of Kevin Garnett to the center position, someone had to step into the power forward role, and the 6'8" Brandon Bass did just that.
The Boston Celtics are arguably the smallest team in the league with their current lineup. Despite Bass' size disadvantage, he has managed to have a breakout year in his seventh NBA season, averaging 12 points and six rebounds a game.
After coming to the Celtics in a trade for Von Wafer and "Big Baby" Davis from the Magic, Bass has found a nice role in the starting lineup and will supplement the game of returning forward Jeff Green effectively. Bass is a relatively inexpensive player who provides big time production on both ends of the court. Lock this man up.
Don't Re-Sign All of the Big Three
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have given the Celtics more than they could have asked for, but at this stage in their careers, it is time to let them go.
Their numbers aren't the issue, as Kevin Garnett has come into his own in the latter stages of the season and Ray Allen has made an effective transition to a six-man role for the first time in his career. The issue lies in their contracts.The amount of cap space that will be saved if the two players are let go makes this one a no-brainer.
If the Celtics are looking to be competitive and build a championship team around their young star in Rajon Rondo, younger talent needs to be around him.
So thank you, KG and Ray Allen, for your dedication over the past five seasons, and thank you for bringing title number 17 to the TD Garden. Best of luck in your future, but it is time we go our separate ways.
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Paul Pierce is still productive at the small forward position. His 19 points, five rebounds and four assists season averages are a testament to this, not to mention his recent 43-point performance against a young New York Knicks team.
As hard as it is to admit, Paul Pierce is aging. At age 35, we have to wonder how many more productive years the 10-time All-Star has left in him. The 2012 draft could potentially bring Pierce's successor to Boston.
The 6'8," 240-pound Royce White from Iowa State has the potential to be the second coming of Paul Pierce. A big, strong forward who is an excellent defender is precisely what Boston needs from the first round. White has a chance to slide to the Celtics' pick at No. 20, so do not be surprised if he has a Celtics' cap on his head on draft day.
The Celtics are lacking in the front court. They have managed to stay relatively competitive on the boards this season with Bass, Stiemsma and Garnett, but are in desperate need of a post-presence. If the Celtics are to let Kevin Garnett leave via free agency, any subsequent moves need to be made at the Center position.
Jeff Withey of Kansas could potentially be the fit at center the Celtics are looking for. Booked at 7'0" and 235 pounds, Withey's rebounding ability could be the answer to the Celtics' frontcourt problems.
Pick Up a Proven Big Man in Free Agency
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The Celtics desperately need help at the center position. They will look to make a move in the draft, but are still in need of a big man that can rebound. The Celtics could look to trade, but with the potential freed-up cap space, their best bet is to dive into free agency.
Their best option looks to be Roy Hibbert, currently of the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert is averaging 13 points and nine rebounds this season for the currently third-seeded Indiana Pacers. Hibbert's size is most appealing: At 7'2," 260 pounds, he is one of the largest players in the game.
The Pacers should look to retain Hibbert, but don't be surprised if Danny Ainge and the Celtics throw everything but the kitchen sink at the 25-year-old rising star.
The next best option for Boston in free agency is Brook Lopez of the New Jersey Nets. Lopez is another young, up-and-coming talent at the center position. Though his production on the glass isn't on par with that of Hibbert's, Lopez's offensive numbers make him a viable option for the 2013 season.
Lock Up Greg Stiemsma
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Greg Stiemsma has had an incredible season so far coming off of the bench for the Celtics. After spending time overseas and in the D-League, Stiemsma has used his opportunity with the depleted Celtics to prove his worth and earn a spot in the team's rotation.
However, Stiemsma is going to be a free agent at the conclusion of this season. Although he may not be the answer at the center position, his team-leading 85 blocks this season make him a player that is worthy of keeping on the roster. He won't be very expensive to re-sign, and his familiarity with the team along with his young age make him a solid rotation player for years to come.
If the Celtics can lock up Stiemsma and Bass, bring in a shooter and defender in the draft and make moves to sign a young talent at the center position: Watch out.
Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley have proven to be one of the toughest backcourts in all of the NBA, and Rondo himself has emerged as arguably the best point guard in the league. Add in the expert coaching of Doc Rivers, and the Celtics could be poised to stay atop the Atlantic for years to come.