The Boston Celtics are publicly stating that they are the team to beat in the East, and they have a right ot say that.
As the current defending Eastern Conference champs, it will remain so until the end of the 2010-11 Conference Finals.
The only thing that could jeopardize the team's conference title is if they are unable to find a wing defender that can guard multiple positions.
They will not find another 6'4'' hawk of a defender like Tony Allen. Instead, they must go back to the future and find another James Posey-type player.
They might be able to entice the New Orleans Hornets to trade for the real Posey.
The Hornets may want to start clearing cap space now by doing a sign-and-trade with Boston. This is a franchise in upheaval with Jeff Bauer gone and a new head coach in Monty Williams.
It seems like they are preparing for the inevitable with the rumors of Chris Paul being traded.
I am sure he is not pleased and may just be watching closely how the new triumvirate in Miami works out.
The net has been all a buzz (no pun intended) with news about Paul and Carmelo Anthony possibly teaming up with Amar'e Stoudemire on the New York Knicks in 2011.
If that does happen, the East will boast the top two small forwards in the NBA with Paul Pierce on the decline.
The question is with Luke Harangody opening eyes in the summer league, can he be the new-age Larry Bird type player that the NBA and Boston needs?
I know it is a reach, but his throwback game looks like it can translate well in any basketball venue.
The Houston Rockets may also be in a similar predicament with Yao Ming entering a contract year. Yao's injury gave him an excuse to finally rest his oft injured foot and may just finally have a full healthy season in him.
Rocket management can ill afford to lose him. They understand that he is always hurt, but he is still 7'6" and has great feel for the game.
Trevor Ariza and last season's acquisition Kevin Martin may just make Shane Battier expendable. Ariza is a more athletic defender than Battier and is a younger experienced prospect.
Martin is a scorer who will eat up most of the remaining minutes with Ariza on the floor.
A one-for-one trade here would work well for both parties. Houston would get salary relief when it buys out Rasheed Wallace's contract.
Boston will gain a defender that is on par with Ron Artest.
Remember in 2009-10 season when the Yao-less Rockets gave the Lakers fits with Battier and Artest leading the defensive charge. They would also gain some salary relief as the Celtics would only be committed for one year due to Battier's expiring contract.
Both Posey and Battier can and will make the open three. They can also play and defend the likes of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony at the wing position.
The wise choice would be to pursue a deal with the Rockets because Battier is the younger off the two and has less of a history of injuries.
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