After limited success last season, the Celtics Mailbag is back. Throughout the past couple of days since I announced this mailbag's return, several people have placed questions on my Bulletin Board. All of these questions will be answered here.
So, if you submitted a question, here's where you will get your answer. And if you didn't get a chance to submit a question, there's always next time.
(To submit a question to the next mailbag, simply post it on my Bulletin Board here. Any and all questions are welcomed and appreciated.)
The first question, which comes from Ben Weiner, delves into Boston's off-season moves and potential alternatives while also questioning what the Celtics' next move should be. (I'm paraphrasing because what Ben actually wrote was a bit lengthy, but I encourage everyone to look at it on my Bulletin Board; it's well thought out, insightful and provides interesting alternatives to the Celtics' actual moves).
Answer: The justification for every past Celtics' move was this: our best chance at winning a title is this year, so let's put all of our eggs in that basket. While making the moves you suggest (which, for those of you who did not read the original question, results in a best-case roster of Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Garnett, Jefferson/Howard/Bynum, Terry, Sullinger, Jones III, Moore, and three other possible players playing at the mid-level exception or the veteran's minimum) would help the Celtics in the future, it wouldn't guarantee them a title now or later, especially considering the one major "if" on that roster—the center. I would like to think that an elite center would come to Boston, but we can't ignore the fact that, for one reason or another, Boston hasn't exactly been the most attractive destination for free agents.
It is unlikely that Howard or Bynum would ever come to Boston. Meanwhile, nearly all lesser teams would be willing to overpay for Big Al. And without one of the big-name centers on this hypothetical roster, the 2014 Celtics drop out of contention.
With the moves the Celtics did make, they are still in serious contention for at least this season.
Though one of the implications of the Celtics active offseason is that, in certain ways, it ties their hands for future moves—which makes the answer to your original question of the Celtics next move more difficult to answer. Ideally, they will add a legitimate center, but that may be hard to do with the lack of cap space. Perhaps the only way they could do it would be through a trade involving some combination of either Bass or Sullinger along with Lee or Barbosa. But that move would have to take place after the season.
So, for now, it is unlikely that we will see any more moves from the Celtics.
Nat Bonde: How do you think the Celtics should utilize Jeff Green. It is clear the C's want him involved, but he has underperformed up to this point. Do you see him more in the starting lineup as a PF with KG at center, or as a backup either at SF or PF?
Answer: I swear, we were really close to seeing a starting lineup with Jeff Green. And maybe we will someday, but for the foreseeable future, Doc is likely going to stick with his starting lineup of Rondo, Terry, Pierce, Bass and Garnett—which keeps Jeff Green in his present bench role.
Coming off the bench, Green should play primarily as a small forward for a few reasons: it gives Pierce more rest, allows more time for Sullinger and Wilcox and promotes Green to use his size and ability to take the ball to the hoop.
Against a taller defender, Green is sometimes less aggressive as a power forward because it neutralizes his post game. This forces him to camp out in the corner.
As a small forward, though, he has more confidence taking the ball to the hoop. Because if all else breaks down, he can resort to his effective post game, considering he has a height advantage on most opposing small forwards.
Regardless of position, however, the Celtics need to set Green up for success more often by drawing up plays for him and encouraging him to be aggressive—like Kevin Garnett recently did. When Green is at his best, the Celtics are a scary team. Hopefully, through a combination of role stability and encouragement, Green can get in a groove and help make the Celtics an elite team again.
Michael Renda: Do you think trade rumors will bubble to the forefront again for Rajon Rondo, or do you think the current roster finally has the depth to move forward?
Answer: Fortunately, it seems that we will not see any more trade rumors involving any of the Celtics.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, some Celtics can't be traded due to their recent acquisition. Then there is the Big Three, which have essentially become untouchable, especially since Rondo decided to become an elite player after last year's trade rumors.
Also, with the bitter taste of Ray Allen still fresh in management's mouth and the impact that trade rumors may have had on his exit, I doubt that we will see Ainge try to float those rumors again.
Nat Bonde (for those of you keeping score at home, that is two questions submitted by Mr. Bonde. And for those of you wondering, yes, you can do that): Out of Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa, who do you think should start at SG for this team? This is of course until Avery Bradley is back from injury.
Answer: After two games with the JET starting and two good wins, I would doubt that Doc will tinker with the starting lineup any more—that is, at least while this lineup continues to play well. On the other hand, besides the first game of the season, both Barbosa and Lee have given Doc little reason to trust them in a starting role.
Sure, Lee has been solid defensively and Barbosa has provided a scoring spark in spurts. But neither one is consistent enough to start at this point.
In contrast, Terry has found his touch as a Celtic. His time as a starter is no doubt helping in that.
Perhaps the better question is, who starts when Avery Bradley returns? Now that will be interesting.
(Update: I initially wrote the answer to this question when it was submitted to me a couple days ago. Since then, the Celtics won another game with Terry starting; Barbosa had an incredible performance and Lee played well, too. This doesn't change the situation for who should start, per se, but it's important to note.)
JT Marie: hey, talk to me about how the return of avery bradley changes this celtics front court
Answer: In all likelihood, "front court" is meant to be backcourt in this question. But honestly, the return of Avery Bradley will not only affect the backcourt, but also the frontcourt.
The obvious and immediate implication of his return will be an even stronger backcourt with more depth, better defense and a new dimension of scoring.
What he brings to the frontcourt is a little less tangible, but equally important. With his smoldering defense on the perimeter, Bradley is a big man's best friend. Opposing guards can't drive by Bradley and into the lane, which means that is one less player for the big men to worry about stopping in the lane. That kind of defensive relief for a frontcourt is invaluable.
Bradley is the type of player that impacts all aspects of the game. I can't wait for his eventual return.
Paul Fischer: Which of the following vets that are new to the C's do you see playing the biggest role in the Celtics season and hopefully their postseason run? leandro barbosa, j terry, darko, and courtney lee
Answer: Hands down, it's Jason Terry. Not only is he playing the best out of all the players you mentioned, but he is also the only one with a lot of real playoff experience. Come playoff time, JET will be crucial due to his high energy and the big shots he will inevitably hit. Lee and Barbosa will also be important, but with fewer minutes, they will not be able to make the same impact as Terry.
John Powers: Boasting the top scorer, the best defense (in both points per game and field goal percentage) and the second highest scoring team, how legitimate is New York and what does their dominance mean for the Celtics? How do they match up and how can they stop them?
Answer: That's a great question considering just how well the Knicks are playing right now.
To be honest, I did not see this coming. For the past couple of seasons, the Knicks have been that team that somehow finds a way to underperform despite their great talent.
Because of this—whether fairly or unfairly—I have had no faith in the Knicks.
This season, though, they have added enough of a stable, veteran presence to have prolonged success.
However, I still like the Celtics' chances against the Knicks. With the exception of Carmelo Anthony at either forward, the Celtics have an advantage at every position.
That being said, the Knicks always bring their A-game against the Celtics and, as we saw last season, that results in some great games. So I'm excited to see the Celtics and the improved Knicks square off this season.
I would bet that the Celtics will win the season series, but the Knicks will win the Atlantic Division—that is, if they can continue their dominance and the return of Amar'e Stoudemire doesn't ruin their team chemistry (a distinct possibility).
Okay, now let's end on a fun question (yes, you can submit a fun question). This one comes form Michael: Rondo right now, Pierce in his prime, Antoine Walker in his prime, KG in his prime and Scal on a three month doping schedule of HGH and low grade beaver tranquilizer VS. the '86 team. Who ya got?
Answer: I'm gonna give this one to the '86 team for one reason and one reason only: Antoine Walker would shoot the entire game. Even with three future Hall of Famers and a (hopefully?) much improved Brian Scalabrine, Walker would still jack up contested jumpers and open 30-footers.
Besides that aggravating aspect of the hypothetical game, there would be some great matchups to watch. Pierce versus Bird would obviously be the most talked about one-on-one battle, but I would be more interested in seeing the Kevin McHale-Kevin Garnett matchup.
The former GM-player duo would make for some great battles in the post. Essentially, it would be the most offensively savvy power forward against the best defensive power forward. I've gone back and forth about eight times on who would get the best of the other.