Boston Celtics: Who Could Replace Ray Allen?
When the Celtics' 2011-2012 season ended, few aspects of the team's future seemed certain.
Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen both became free agents as soon as the buzzer sounded to end Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, and pre- and midseason trade speculation had put the futures of Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce into question.
In the weeks since their playoff exit, there have been some developments.
The eventual landing spot for Ray Allen is not so certain. ESPN's Chris Broussard noted that in addition to the Boston Celtics, the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat are both reportedly interested in the sharpshooter.
Assuming Allen signs elsewhere, even with the nucleus of Pierce, Garnett and Rondo, the Celtics would be left with a gaping hole at shooting guard on their roster.
Allen's deep shooting threat allowed him to score in bunches and forced defenses to defend the perimeter and opened up the floor for the Celtics' post game.
There are some current free-agent targets who could fill in the SG position for the C's—here are a few.
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Terry in a Celtics uniform would make a lot of sense; while he isn't the three-point threat Allen is (nobody in the NBA is), his perimeter game is good enough that defenses have to respect it. Jason Terry is also 34, two years younger than Ray Allen, and may have a bit more left in his legs.
This past season, Terry averaged 15.2 points per game, compared to Allen's 14.2, and shot 37.8 percent from behind the arc. (Allen shot 45.3 percent in the regular season, but dipped down to 30.4 percent in this year's playoffs.)
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It shouldn't surprise Celtics fans that the team is reportedly interested in the services of O.J. Mayo, the now unrestricted free agent; the Celtics were close to trading Allen for Mayo in the hours approaching the NBA trade deadline this past season.
Mayo's four-year career in the NBA has been wildly inconsistent. In his rookie year, he was brilliant and averaged 18.5 points per game, only to see that average drop to 17.5 and 11.3 before seeing his scoring average rise to 12.6 points this past season.
A move to Boston would be a good fit for Mayo. With Pierce, Garnett and Rondo on the court, Mayo wouldn't have to carry the load offensively as Boston's fourth scoring threat, and could simply contribute valuable points and minutes.
Bringing in Mayo would also help the Celtics get younger. Pairing the 24-year-old with Rondo would provide Boston with a solid duo to carry the load following the Pierce/Garnett era.
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According to Yahoo! Sports writer Marc J. Spears, Crawford recently declined the player option for a second season on the contract he signed with Portland last season.
Having declined the option, Jamal Crawford is officially an unrestricted free agent. The Celtics have been named as one of his main suitors.
Crawford would offer the Celtics a true scorer. Throughout his journeyman NBA career, Crawford has supplied the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks and Trail Blazers with a quick scoring threat, either as a starting guard or catalyzing sixth man.
Crawford isn't thought of as the same perimeter threat a player like Terry is, but his 30.8 percent three-point shooting percentage in 2011-2012 may have simply been an outlier, as his career percentage from behind the arc is 34.8 percent.
Plus at 32, Crawford still has plenty of basketball left to play.
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Among the speculation about Terry, Mayo and Crawford, mentions of Nick Young have flown under the radar.
With his minutes cut (averaging 30.3 minutes in 2011-12 with Washington and 23.5 minutes with L.A.) after the trade, Young's production slowed. If he returns to a main player role, his scoring could return to the 14.2-16.6 points per game range it was his past three years in Washington.
At 26, Young and Rondo could pair up to be a formidable back court for years to come.