Burning Unanswered Questions Boston Celtics Are Facing During 2013 Offseason
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There are probably a million questions bouncing around in Danny Ainge's mind right now, questions that he must eventually answer to determine the fate of the most storied franchise in professional basketball.
The Boston Celtics are facing what could conclusively be called a cold summer, one that could feature the official ending of a spectacular run of greatness that will be remembered and celebrated for years to come.
But what if Ainge decides to reload instead of rebuild?
What if he does see some ways he can improve the roster without having to part ways with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett?
The fact is, no one really knows what is going to happen. All we can do at this point is speculate.
There is one thing we do know for sure: When the NBA Finals come to a close, Ainge will really begin to sweat...as will everyone who declares themselves a part of Celtic culture.
Will There Be a Change in Offensive Philosophy?
In case you hadn't noticed, the Celtics are not exactly world-beaters offensively.
This has actually been the case for quite a few years now, and it is absolutely mind-boggling given the amount of talent they have had on that side of the basketball.
Boston ranked 25th in offensive efficiency during the 2012-13 campaign, behind the likes of teams such as the New Orleans Hornets, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Obviously, something, somewhere, is amiss, and it may very well start with the type of offense that Doc Rivers runs.
The C's offense is mainly predicated on a lot of screens to get shooters open for three-pointers and mid-range jumpers. This used to be effective when Boston had Kendrick Perkins, as both he and Garnett would set double-screens to get guys like Pierce and Ray Allen loose for good looks from distance. However, since Perkins was traded, the Celtics have yet to find that good second screener, rendering this style somewhat futile.
Because of this set that Boston commonly runs, we'll often see Rajon Rondo dribbling the air out of the basketball at the top of the key waiting for someone to get free. Once Allen departed, it looked as if we wouldn't be tortured with it any longer, but Allen was merely replaced by Jason Terry in that capacity.
Doc needs to come up with a new system this summer, a system centered around dribble penetration, backdoor cuts and passes into the post.
No more wasting 20 seconds off the clock before forcing a wild shot.
Where Will They Finally Get Some Rebounding?
As good of a general manager as Ainge is, for some inexplicable reason he has failed to address the Celtics' rebounding issue for quite some time now.
Only the Miami Heat were worse than Boston on the glass in 2012-13, and the C's' lack of presence on the glass cost them dearly.
Of course, the Celtics will be getting Jared Sullinger back next season, a 280-pound load who posted a total rebound percentage of 17.5 percent before succumbing to back surgery during his rookie campaign. Many don't realize just how debilitating the loss of Sullinger was to Boston.
Getting Sully back will help. Still, the C's need more than just the 21-year-old, as they were lagging on the boards even with him in the lineup this past year.
There will be a large amount of competent big men on the open market this summer, so the Celtics could certainly find some answers there. They could also look to make a trade, and there is always the draft.
No matter where they get their rebounding from, they need to get it somewhere.
Boston can't keep going into every season knowing that they are at a disadvantage on the glass.
Are They Satisfied with Their Guard Production?
The Celtics entered the 2012-13 campaign with a ton of backcourt depth. They had the likes of Rondo, Terry, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa to start the season, and then Avery Bradley returned from shoulder surgery in January.
Then, Rondo and Barbosa both went down with torn ACLs, forcing Ainge to go out and make a couple of moves, namely signing Terrence Williams and trading for Jordan Crawford. What we saw for the remainder of the year was an erratic guard rotation that simply looked out of control during the playoffs. Williams went from seeing virtually no playing time to getting the bulk of the minutes as the backup guard.
Lee was benched.
Crawford did nothing.
Now, Williams is facing gun charges, Lee is stuck in limbo and Crawford is, well, Crawford.
Obviously, getting Rondo back will be a huge lift, and in a recent interview, Ainge spoke as if he expects Barbosa to return to Boston, saying that he and Rondo have been rehabbing. Barring a trade, Terry will still be in tow, as well.
But then what?
Lee is signed for three more years. Is he trade bait this offseason? Does he even have any trade value at this point? What about Williams? Will the C's dump him due to his off-the-court issues? Does Crawford have a future with the ballclub at all? Will Ainge make an effort to sign a true backup point guard?
Chances are, moves will be made.
It seems hard to believe that the Celtics will go into 2013-14 without making some additions to the backcourt, particularly in the way of a reserve floor general after what happened this year.
Will They Go Big or Small?
We saw the Celtics roll with both big and small lineups this year. We saw groupings with Pierce at shooting guard and units with Jeff Green at power forward. What direction will Boston decide to go this summer?
You have to think that Green is going to be starting next season, and what position he plays may very well hinge on whether or not Pierce returns. If Pierce is back, then you'll probably see Green at the 4. If not, then he will likely assume his natural position at small forward.
Then again, Rivers did experiment with Green at the 3 and Pierce at the 2 this past season, so who knows?
The C's need to find out which way they want to roll, and when they do, they can make moves accordingly. Should they decide to go big and if Garnett is returning for another year, you might see them make a trade for someone like Marcin Gortat and move KG back to power forward. If they want to go small and quick, they'll stockpile combo-type players who can seamlessly play multiple positions.
My personal opinion?
Go with the traditional lineup, as the Celtics have had enough trouble rebounding the ball recently as it is. But I am not Danny Ainge, so it remains to be seen which path Boston actually chooses.
Reload or Rebuild?
This is clearly the biggest question mark for the Celtics this offseason, and even Ainge himself may not know the answer yet.
This was originally supposed to be a three-year plan. Well, it has been extended to six, and now Ainge must decide if it goes seven.
Boston can buy out the final year of Pierce's contract and save $10 million. If that happens (and it must occur before July 1), you'd likely see Garnett either retire or play elsewhere in 2013-14 (I personally think he will hang it up at that point). So, this matter will probably be concluded sometime around draft day.
Should Ainge ultimately choose to cut the cord on this era of Celtics basketball, then a whole new set of questions will be opened up.
It's not an easy decision to make. That's for sure.