NBA Free Agents 2011: Top 10 Targets Boston Celtics Must Acquire to Contend
Only eight teams in NBA history have recovered from a 3-1 deficit, although both Celtics teams who have accomplished this feat (1968 and 1981) went on to win the NBA championship.
If this series wraps up the way most expect it to, the focus will begin to shift towards next season. Regardless of whether the Celtics advance in the playoffs, they'll have some work to do.
The C's have nine unrestricted free agents, including Ray Allen (who is likely to pick up a $10 million player option for next season), as well as one restricted free agent (Jeff Green). Only Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, and Avery Bradley are officially under contract for next season.
It's unlikely we see either O'Neal back next season, and Nenad Krstic's (FA) future with this team is shaky at best. Glen Davis' poor performance in the playoffs might mean the end of his tenure in Boston.
The C's will have a lot of roster space to work with this offseason. Pending the new collective bargaining agreement and the possibility of a hard cap, the C's could also have a decent amount of cap space.
Assuming Ray Allen returns and both O'Neals retire, the Celtics will have approximately $53 million in committed salaries next season.
Dan is a Boston Celtics featured columnist. Follow him on twitter @dantheman_06.
2010-2011 was pretty much a lost season for Delonte West. After missing the first 10 games of the season due to a weapons-related arrest and suspension, West broke his wrist just five games later. He was never fully healthy again, suffering ankle and shoulder injuries in addition to his wrist.
West was a disappointment, playing in just 24 games (career lows) and averaging just 18.9 minutes per game (lowest since rookie season).
But, the Celtics should give West another chance. West is a talented role player with a troubling history. West, for the most part, was a model citizen during his time in Boston.
Maybe it was Doc Rivers'—the man who drafted and developed West—open arms, or the fact that he was on his last strike that finally got through to him. But, it doesn't really matter: West behaved.
While his regular season was full of injuries, his performance in the last two games of the Miami Heat series was admirable. Despite playing with a bad rotator cuff, West was phenomenal while pressuring the ball, facilitating, and looking for his own offense. He may have even outperformed starter Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics have searched for eons for a suitable backup to Rajon Rondo, and West is that guy. He's a true combo guard who is equally effective at either the one or the two. He can shoot, score, ballhandle, pass, and defend.
West won't be expensive to re-sign, and he's already played under Doc Rivers for a number of seasons. Assuming he doesn't miss the same egregious amount of time next year, he should be a solid re-addition to the squad.
While Jeff Green is a restricted free agent, the Celtics shouldn't let another team outbid them for Green's services. In addition to the uproar that letting Green walk would cause, there are a number of reasons why the C's should want Green around next year.
Jeff Green is a walking mismatch. At 6'9, Green provides a conundrum for opposing teams on both ends of the floor. He has the body and athleticism of an elite scorer, and he has the ability to develop into a legitimate sixth man, capable of playing upwards of 30 minutes a game off the bench.
Green's inconsistencies with the Celtics should be dismissed. It sounds like a cop-out to say that his issues weren't his fault, but they weren't his fault.
Green changed everything midway through the season. He went from averaging 37.0 minutes per game as a starter to 23.5 minutes per game as a reserve. He saw more time at the three than he had ever seen previously.
He transitioned from a freewheeling offensive team like the Thunder to a disciplined halfcourt offensive team like the Celtics, who stress ball movement and getting everyone involved in the scoring load.
And still, if you look at his per 36 minute averages, Green didn't perform all that terribly.
Given a full training camp, Green should grasp a better sense of his identity on the team and what the coaches want out of him, which should do wonders for his production and effectiveness.
Add the Boston Celtics to the large list of teams who could be in on Tyson Chandler this offseason. Simply put, Chandler would be a great fit with the Celtics.
Defensively, he has the ability to anchor a unit. He was 10th in the league in rebounding this year (9.4 RPG), and he does good work on the offensive glass as well (2.8 RPG).
Offensively, he's long and athletic. While he might not provide much halfcourt offense, he could work great in tandem with Rajon Rondo on alley oops and on the fast break, and he's capable of creating his own points.
Chandler is going to be expensive, but he would be a great fit with Boston.
Chuck Hayes draws similar comparisons to Glen Davis. If Baby leaves this year, Hayes could be a nice replacement.
Hayes is undersized (listed at 6'6, 238 pounds) for his position. Offensively, he doesn't have a jump shot or a consistent game. His size makes it difficult to finish around the rim.
Still, Hayes is a plus defender with quick hands for a big man. His steal per game ratio (1.08) was third among all NBA centers this year; only Dwight Howard and Nene were better.
He rebounds well considering his stature, averaging 8.1 in 28.1 minutes per game last year. He averaged 3.0 offensive rebounds per game as well, clearly an area where the Celtics could use improvement.
Hayes would be a good defensive-minded big off the bench for the Celtics.
Far-fetched, I know, but the addition of a player with West's caliber would make the Celtics legitimate championship contenders in 2012.
West, who is currently rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn ACL, has a clause in his contract that would allow him to opt out of the final year of his contract.
He has to notify the Hornets of his decision by June 30, the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement.
West would be similar to Lamar Odom: a perennial All-Star coming off the bench. Kevin Garnett is a free agent for the 2012-2013 season, and West would the heir apparent to KG.
West would bring two things that the Celtics are lacking: athleticism and pure offense. If he were to buy into a backup role, albeit one that would give him starter's minutes, the Celtics would have one of the most dynamic benches in the league, especially if paired with the likes of Delonte West and Jeff Green.
West may very well return to New Orleans for his final season. The road to free agency would be marred by his injury status and the impending lockout.
But, if Chris Paul were to make it clear that he doesn't plan on sticking around, and West decides to leave, he would be one of the top free agents on the market.
Quick, who played the most minutes for the Celtics this year?
It was Ray Allen, whose 2,890 minutes were the highest of any Celtic and 13th overall in the NBA. Allen is the oldest of the Big Three, and while he's in impeccable shape, having the opportunity to rest him wouldn't be a bad idea.
The C's never really found a suitable backup two for Ray-Ray. Even when Delonte West was healthy, he operated more in a combo-guard role, spending most of his minutes at the one.
Sasha Vujacic would be a suitable backup for Allen. He's a dead-eye shooter with a history of heroics and a career .371 three-point percentage. He can handle the ball better than most shooting guards and he's a capable defender who poses some matchup problems with his height (6'7).
The Celtics have struggled to find adequate backcourt backups during the big-three era, and Vujacic could put that to an end.
He's a gritty player whose style could be honed to fit the Celtics very well. He could work wonders spotting up behind the arc, working in tandem with Delonte West.
Obviously, Parker lacks the upside of some other potential free agents. But, Parker is the type of veteran player that a championship contender would love to have at the back end of their rotation.
Defensively, Parker is a solid option. His experience and size at the shooting guard position make him a tough player to go up against. Offensively, he won't contribute much more than some spot up jumpers, but that's alright.
He likely wouldn't be a major part of the Celtics' rotation, but his veteran presence and the peace of mind at having him in a pinch would be a plus for the Celtics.
For a team looking to add depth in the middle, Dalembert could be a good fit. He rebounds the ball at an incredibly productive rate and he remains one of the better shot blockers in the league (1.9 BPG career average).
Offensively, his game is inconsistent, but he wouldn't be counted on for much more than garbage buckets in the Celtics' system.
He would give the C's a shot-blocking presence and an above-average rebounder in the middle.
Landry gives the Celtics an above-average scorer at the four. While his numbers took a little bit of a hit when he was traded to Sacramento, he still remains a solid backup option at the four.
He doesn't rebound the ball all that well (career 5.1 RPG), but he has a career 54.1 shooting percentage and a 59.7 true shooting percentage.
Landry would be a bit of a project defensively, but he wouldn't be the first player to revamp his defensive game in Boston. At age 27, he still has room to learn.
Tracy McGrady's name has been thrown around in connection with the Celtics before. While talks between the two sides never became serious, McGrady is now an unrestricted free agent and is free to sign where he pleases.
Doc Rivers coached McGrady for years in Orlando, and T-Mac remains one of his favorite players. Last season, we saw McGrady healthy for the first time in years, averaging 23.4 minutes in 72 games for the Pistons. He shot better than his career averages from the floor and from three.
While most of T-Mac's athleticism is gone, T-Mac–an underrated passer–can still facilitate and shoot.
McGrady would be an inexpensive addition to a bench looking to add backcourt depth. His familiarity with Rivers' system would make for an easy transition.
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