Cleveland Acquires Shaq, Orlando Lands Vince, Celtics Get ... Rondo?

Sam EsbeContributor IJune 28, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - MAY 14:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics sets up the offense in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on May 14, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Ok, I will bite.

The Eastern Conference is a three-horse race, with the current conference-champion Orlando Magic beginning their defense.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made the first big move of the off-season, essentially acquiring Shaq for nothing, in response to their inability to defend Dwight Howard and find a consistent second scoring option. Orlando countered by landing Vince Carter for promising rookie Courtney Lee and veterans Tony Battie and Rafer Alston.

So, three teams, two of which make a move. The third? The Boston Celtics, a team in the middle of trade rumors for the past week. Whether it was for veterans (Detroit and Phoenix) or draft picks (Memphis and Sacramento), the Celtics trade opportunities seemed to be there.

One could argue, and I would, that the Celtics didn't need to make a big move. With Garnett and Leon Powe, the Celtics should have defeated the Magic and perhaps would have made a run at a second consecutive title.

Yet injuries and old age caught up to the team last year, perhaps pushing Celtics President, Basketball Operations Danny Ainge to shake things up a little bit.

At the end of the day, the only new player the Celtics came away with was 6'2'', and 24-year old, Lester Hudson, a talented player who put up big numbers, albeit in a low-level D1 school.

Now Hudson might make the team, but it appears as if the only new competition on the Celtics 2009-10 roster will be for the third-string point guard position, previously held by Gabe Pruitt.

A few facts stand right in the way of the Celtics being the favorite in the Eastern Conference, besides the additions of O'Neal to the Cavaliers and Carter to the Magic. First, the Celtics cannot count on the health of the roster, as last year proved.

Second, they might not even be able to expect the return of Big Baby Davis, Leon Powe, and Eddie House, three valuable bench players whose future with the team is in doubt, via free agency and in House's case, a player option.

Put all of this together and Danny Ainge is going to have to earn his paycheck, come July 1. He needs to go Theo Epstein on the league and camp out on Grant Hill's front lawn on June 30th.

He should be working the phones of the agents for Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, and Anthony Parker. He should take a picture on his cell phone of his championship ring and text it to Jason Kidd with the subject, "Want one?" And he should slip Kevin Garnett a few bucks under the table to dial up good friends Antonio McDyess, Joe Smith, and Rasheed Wallace.

The Celtics MUST (I don't like using the Caps Lock, but in this case, I really mean it) land another two veterans who can help this team. If Ainge fails to add another piece or two to this puzzle, he has wasted away perhaps the greatest opportunity of his career.

Since the Celtics defeated the Lakers 131-92 to win their 17th championship, the list of players to join the team, well, to say it nicely, isn't very awe inspiring.

  • J.R. Giddens (draft)
  • Bill Walker (draft)
  • Patrick O'Bryant (free agency)
  • Darius Miles (free agency)
  • Mikki Moore (free agency, via Sacramento)
  • Stephon Marbury (free agency, via New York)

Hardly Bill Walton joining the 85-86 Celtics, no?

Ainge wants to emulate the 60s Celtics, who never rested on their laurels, always looking to add another piece. So, put your money where your mouth is, Danny. Re-sign Davis and Powe. Get a piece in free agency. Use Scalabrine and Tony Allen's expiring deals to add a player through a trade.

Don't let the Celtics only move be almost trading your young point guard. Don't come back next season with the same bench as last year with the aforementioned Giddens, Walker and Allen dueling it out for the coveted third wing role.

Don't think that Pruitt and Hudson are enough to handle the backup point guard role, unless you dare think that Stephon Marbury might suddenly remember how to play basketball. Don't expect Powe to be 100 percent recovered from his torn ACL, that is, if he even returns.

Because if you do think this way, Danny, don't expect the Celtics to win another championship, and as a result, don't expect to retain your role as President of Basketball Operations for the Celtics.