With the free-agency period beginning Wednesday morning at 12:01 am EST, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics will hit the phones in hopes of adding a player or two, as well as begin conversations to keep their current group of players without a contract for next season, namely Glen Davis and Leon Powe (I think it is safe to assume that the Mikki Moore era is over).
As I wrote previously, this offseason is an important one in Danny Ainge's career. The Celtics winning the 2009-10 NBA Championship, or at the very least, being right in the discussion, would solidify the organization as one of the elite in the league, making Boston a premier team and destination for any player looking to win.
However, a second-round loss, be it to Orlando or Cleveland, would do just as much damage as a championship win would do good, and would certainly bring an end to the conversation of current Boston team as an elite franchise.
The Celtics have three major areas to address, assuming the return of Davis and/or Powe: a combo-wing player; a backup point guard; and a long defensive-minded big. Listed here are players who satisfy those needs.
(Note: I have only included realistic options for the team. That means that players that are either unattainable because of price or free agent status, as well as those that simply do not make sense, will not be listed).
The target: Grant Hill
Hill would be a terrific fit for this team, with his defense and ball handling ability. Despite his age (37), he remains an effective player and still has some athleticism left in him.
Amazingly, Hill played in all 82 games last year for the first time in his career, averaging just under 30 minutes a game. The Celtics main competition would be Orlando, Hill's former team. However, Rivers coached Hill and the two share a mutual respect for each other.
The backup plan: Anthony Parker
After three solid seasons in Toronto, Parker is a free agent and looking for what should be, his last NBA contract. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv star and Candace's big brother has been very consistent over the past three years for a very inconsistent team.
He now relies more on his intelligence defensively than his athleticism and can shoot the ball well from the perimeter, with an impressive 41.5% career 3-point percentage.
The long-shot: Trevor Ariza
Ariza's postseason performance most likely prices him out of the Celtics range. He should be able to command multiyear full MLE deal, which the Celtics have been hesitant to use in the past (see: Posey, James).
However, he would be a perfect fit, for the both short-term, and long-term, needs of the team. He is an aggressive defender who can shoot from the outside and drive to the basket.
The darkhorse candidate: Jamario Moon (RFA)
Moon was surprisingly extended a qualifying offer from the Heat. However, with Michael Beasley at the 3 and a number of other similar players on the roster, Moon's minutes might be limited.
As a result, don't expect the Heat to match an offer in the 3-year, 12 million range. Moon is an active defender and tremendous athlete who can rebound and defend. He is limited offensively, but at 6'8'' and good agility, he can defend 3 positions.
If all else fails: 1) Matt Barnes, 2) Dahntay Jones, 3) Devean George
Next page: Backup point guard
Backup point guard
The target: Jason Kidd
Dallas might, and should, re-sign Kidd. However, Kidd might just have one chance left at a championship and the Mavericks don't seem to have a roster that, on paper, is a true contender. The Celtics will have plenty of competition if Kidd chooses not to re-sign with the Mavericks.
Reportedly, the Cavaliers, Trailblazers, and Knicks are among the other teams who will pursue the free agent point guard. Kidd would have to be willing to play a backup role, but has the size to cover shooting guards, making him a good fit with Eddie House.
The backup plan: Stephon Marbury
Marbury didn't quite have the impact the team was hoping he'd have, but he did show some signs of competency and seemed to get along with his teammates and be the model player. In fairness, he hadn't played in a game in over a year, and never really appeared to have his legs underneath him, so perhaps an offseason conditioning program and training camp would dramatically help him.
He might not have many options available, and was acceptable as a distributor, so a return to the team may still be in the cards.
The long-shot: Allen Iverson
At this point in his career, The Answer might bring more questions than answers to the table for his future employer. The biggest question might just be, will he even have a team? Iverson didn't appreciate his bench role in Detroit, and doesn't have the skills to be a starting guard on a good team.
His options are limited, and perhaps he will be willing to coming off the bench on a team like Boston. More likely, however, he will end up in Charlotte with former coach Larry Brown.
The darkhorse candidate: C.J. Watson (RFA)
Watson is an intriguing player. The former D-leaguer proved he belonged last season, averaging just under 10 points and 3 assists for the Warriors. He certainly showed his abilities with a 38-point, 9-assist, 7-rebound and perhaps even most impressive 16 for 16 from the free throw line performance against Utah.
With the selection of Stephon Curry and return of Monta Ellis, there are a lot of bodies for not a lot of spots in Golden State and with perhaps the most disorganized management in place, a team could steal Watson away.
If all else fails: 1) Tyronn Lue, 2) Anthony Carter, 3) Lindsey Hunter
Next page: Long defensive-minded big
Long defensive-minded big
The target: Chris Andersen
The Birdman was the best bargain pickup last year and will certainly command a much higher price tag this time around. Andersen was tremendous for Denver, averaging a remarkable 2.5 blocks in just over 20 minutes of play.
The Celtics have had interest in the past, as recent as last season, and Andersen would certainly fill a void that this team lacked after Garnett went down with an injury. Denver would love to keep him and he appears to love it there, so prying him away might be difficult.
The backup plan: Joe Smith
"Patience is the companion of wisdom." If the Celtics had just waited a few more days before signing Mikki Moore, Joe Smith would have been a Celtic and one can only wonder if that would have made a difference in the postseason.
Smith played reasonably well for the Cavaliers, but found himself out of the rotation against Orlando, and with the addition of Shaquille O'Neal, might find himself looking for a new employer.
Smith is a close friend of Garnett from their days in Minnesota, and would help out the team in a very similar way to P.J. Brown.
The long-shot: Rasheed Wallace
Wallace, via Ric Bucher's Twitter, does not want to come to Boston. He reportedly is only interested in Orlando and San Antonio. While it appears as if there is no chance of seeing Sheed in green, it isn't an impossibility.
Ainge pursued Wallace years ago while he was in Portland, and he certainly would help the team with his help-defense and perimeter shooting. He most likely wouldn't be willing to come off the bench and his cantankerous attitude might clash with the ubuntu, so perhaps we shouldn't even get our hopes up.
The darkhorse candidate: Robert Swift
Thank goodness for Seattle. Had the Sonics not selected Swift with the twelfth overall pick in 2004, he may have been a Celtic, and we would have never known Al Jefferson.
Injuries, inconsistency and general suckiness have left the the 7'0'' center without even a qualifying offer from big-man started Oklahoma City. However, if there is something beneath the tattoos and red hair, Clifford Ray would certainly be the guy to bring it out.
If all else fails: 1) Antonio McDyess, 2) Francisco Elson, 3) Aaron Gray (RFA)