There's no doubt that Danny Ainge will still be looking to make any additions to improve the team but passing the draft without a trade most likely means that any changes to come will be made via free agency.
This is undoubtedly a great thing, as the Celtics’ starting five should still be tops in the NBA.
The continued improvements of Rondo and Perkins, as well as the final peak years for the Big Three, should mean incredible production from the starters, but the bench is another story altogether. The Celtics really need to make big upgrades to their bench in order to once again challenge for NBA supremacy.
To discuss the state of the Celtics and the 2009 NBA Draft, here is Celtics Town’s weekly mailbag.
If the Celtics are trying to get a point guard, why don't they try and lure Mike Bibby? He might want a chance to stick it to the LA Fakers and ballhog Kobe Cry-ant. And maybe a backup for KG would mean trying to get Zaza Pachulia, or maybe even Rasheed Wallace to backup for KG or Perks—but we don't need the drama. Hopefully we’ll see if Grant Hill will back up Paul Pierce.—Steve Perez (La Puente, CA)
Of the three positions the Celtics look to improve this offseason, I think point guard is the least important to upgrade.
The Celts already have Rondo, a young guy capable of playing a lot of minutes, and will probably still have Eddie House (he still has a player option on next year’s contract), a guy who, despite a poor handle, has still shown the ability to be a solid backup point guard.
In fact, he received the brunt of the minutes behind Rondo in the 2008 Finals when we beat the “L.A. Fakers”. With the point guard position the least pressing of Boston’s bench needs, I doubt we’ll see them dish out the kind of money it would take to acquire Bibby. I think Lester Hudson may actually be the only new addition we bring in at point guard.
Instead of getting an expensive point guard, I’d prefer to see the Celtics use their money to go after a long, defensive-minded big man and a playmaking small forward. It looks like Rasheed Wallace doesn’t want to sign with the Celtics, but the Celtics could still get a great contributor from the likes of Antonio McDyess, Chris Anderson, Marcin Gortat or Pachulia.
I would really like it if they signed Pachulia. He is a tough big man who knows his role—defending and rebounding—and doesn’t mind doing the dirty work to help his team win. Also, it likely wouldn’t cost as much to sign Pachulia as it would to sign any of those other guys.
At small forward, the C’s are reportedly looking to Grant Hill, Anthony Parker and Linas Kleiza. Any of those guys would be an enormous upgrade over the Celts’ current backup small forwards (Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens and Tony Allen).
In the NBA draft what team do you think was the most successful, and what team made the biggest move in the draft?—Chris (Springfield, MA)
There were a couple teams I thought really helped themselves out in the draft. First, the Sacramento Kings – the Kings were more or less the least athletic team in the NBA last year, with a starting lineup including Beno Udrih, Francisco Garcia and Spencer Hawes. I don’t want to bash that lineup too much, but they leave me no choice. That combination wass a brutal trio of starters, and that’s being generous.
Well, not all of those guys will be starters anymore—the Kings made two picks to really improve their athleticism, adding the freakish Tyreke Evans, a guy with all the potential in the world, and the solid Omri Casspi. They also added the tough Jon Brockman in the second round.
I also liked Utah’s draft a lot. They didn’t have any very high picks, but they utilized their two picks (20th and 50th) very well.
Selecting Eric Maynor and Goran Suton, the Jazz really picked up two guys who will fit right in with Jerry Sloan’s schemes. They are both hard-nosed players, and Maynor will provide a steady hand at backup PG while Suton will provide rebounding and perimeter shooting.
I think both of Utah’s picks will end up being very solid contributors, even next year.
While we’re on the topic of team’s drafts, one team whose draft I didn’t like was Minnesota. They drafted three point guards and a shooting guard. The T’Wolves wound up shipping Ty Lawson to Denver, but were still left drafting three guards. For a fantasy team, those draft choices might have been okay. But for an NBA team? Not even close.
For a team with a gaping hole at small forward, I felt the Wolves should have tried to address more than one of their needs rather than selecting two point guards. I feel they must be trying to trade either Jonny Flynn or Rubio, but until they do Minnesota is my draft day loser.
As far as the biggest move in the draft, it didn’t happen during the actual draft. The biggest move was the Cavs’ trade for Shaq. The Big Aristotle is still a force inside and still commands double teams. For the first time, LeBron will have a true low-post presence beside him, and it should benefit him greatly.
Shaq will also help the Cavs’ interior defense, which was good most of the year but got shredded by Dwight Howard in the playoffs. It won’t be so easy for Dwight against Cleveland next year with O’Neal manning the middle.
Is there any KG update so far? How’s the Big Ticket looking in his comeback?—Rob Murray (New York)
Here’s a quote from Danny Ainge discussing Garnett’s recovery.
“Kevin, it was amazing. His entire countenance over the last six weeks of the season, he was just kind of down and grumpy and uncomfortable. I think he felt pressure to try to come back and he had all this pain in his knee.
"Right after the surgery—I mean three days after the surgery—a smile on his face, he can bend his knee all the way. He can straighten it out all the way. He just went back to the West Coast the other day. Before he left, I saw him doing full weight workouts. He was doing squats—one-legged squats, two-legged squats—he was doing most of his whole routine again. His spirit is returned: his enthusiasm for the upcoming season, his hope.
"All of a sudden, he’s back to being the real Kevin Garnett. His personality has returned. You could just see that once he had that bone spur on the back of his knee, that that was really bothering him.”
That Garnett is already capable of completing full workouts is a great sign. That he is once again happy, focused and enthusiastic about the upcoming season?
What are your thoughts on the C's championship prospects in 2012?—Bradford Scudder (Springfield, MA)
This is a tough one. I’m not even sure what the Celtics’ roster will look like to begin training camp in September, never mind what they’ll look like a few years down the road.
I will tell you this, though—The C’s are in much better shape than most people think for the long-run. Everyone assumes that their run near the top of the East will be over when the Big Three declines, but I think they’re in great shape to maintain a solid foundation even after the Big Three slows down.
First off, they have Rondo and Perkins, two budding stars in this league. To surround them, the Celtics will have incredible flexibility. Ray Allen’s contract (almost $20 million) is off the books after the upcoming season and Paul Pierce’s (another $20 million) is off the books the following year.
That will give the Celts $40 million to spend on improving their roster, a whole lot of flexibility, and two young studs as building blocks. They are in far better shape than most fans think.
But let’s not think too far in advance yet.
Let’s just try to win banner No. 18 in 2010.
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