The Boston Celtics have one glaring hole in their starting lineup at this point. They desperately need a shooting guard.
So who will Boston turn to?
With Boston, they don't even necessarily have to be shooting guards by trade. Paul Pierce is versatile enough to play multiple positions, so a shooting guard/small forward hybrid could be in play as well.
Let's take a look at three capable scorers Boston is keeping a close eye on.
According to CSNNE reporter A. Sherrod Blakely, the Celtics have expressed some interest in this seven-year veteran:
Milwaukee Bucks swing man Carlos Delfino, a player the Celtics have expressed some interest in according to league sources.
Delfino isn't a sexy signing, but he's a quality player who wants to win. He's toiled away on poor Toronto and Milwaukee teams for four seasons, and he's not getting any younger.
According to Blakely, the Celtics' best chance to acquire his services are through sign-and-trade scenarios or with the $1.9 million bi-annual exception. As Blakely alludes to, this would be much less money than Delfino is used to, but the winning factor could play a major role.
Last year, Delfino averaged nine points per game for Milwaukee. He shot 36 percent from beyond the arc, and he's an above-average defensive player. Technically, he's a small forward, but his skill set is exactly what Boston needs at this time.
Signing Delfino isn't going to grab any headlines, but he would be a solid addition to Boston's rotation. He's experienced, skilled and scrappy. That fits Doc Rivers' coaching mentality to a tee.
Update: Thursday, July 19 at 6:30 p.m. ET by Ian Hanford
Celtics to acquire G Courtney Lee from Rockets in a sign and trade sending back F JaJuan Johnson, sources tell Y! Details being finalized.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 19, 2012
Johnson became expendable after the Celtics drafted Jared Sullinger in the first round. They needed depth in their backcourt more than they needed Johnson's body down low.
Acquiring Lee likely negates any chance of signing Pietrus, or making a move for Delfino.
----------------------------End of Update--------------------------------
We will stick with sign-and-trade situations. Lee is currently a restricted free agent, and he's been on Boston's radar for weeks now. According to A. Sherrod Blakely, that interest hasn't waned:
With Dallas coming to terms with O.J. Mayo, Courtney Lee sits atop the C's wish list among unrestricted free agents.
Boston's best shot at Lee would be to acquire him via sign-and-trade with Houston. In addition to the Timberwolves, Phoenix also remains a strong contender for Lee.
As you can tell by Blakely's words, it's not a simple situation in Lee's case.
Boston needs a sign-and-trade to make the finances work, and they have competition from other teams. Portland's re-signing of Nicolas Batum should increase Minnesota's interest in the Rockets' shooting guard.
Lee would be worth the price for sure. He fits exactly what Boston needs, and at 26 years old, he's still relatively young.
He averaged just over 11 points per game for Houston last season, so the Celtics know he can score. He's shot 39 percent from three-point land for his career, providing further incentive for Danny Ainge and the Boston brass.
The Celtics are going to have to get creative to bring Lee to Beantown, but he's the most talented option at this point.
Pietrus isn't a new target because he played with Boston last year, but his return next season isn't set in stone. According to Blakely, Boston remains interested in the swingman's services:
In addition to their pursuit of Carlos Delfino, the Celtics remain very much in the picture for Mickael Pietrus.His agent, Bill McCandless, has told CSNNE.com that his client has had a number of teams express interest, but the connection Pietrus made with Celtics players and their fans is very strong.
This may be the smartest option.
Boston's system is built on consistency and continuity, and Pietrus' one year of experience would be an added benefit. He didn't light it up last season for the Celtics, but he is a versatile player who contributes on both ends of the floor.