The Celtics ended their season earlier than expected. They ended it on injuries, battered, and beaten by the trio of Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, and Chris Bosh. Two of which I am convinced are not entirely human.
Wade may be part tiger, and Lebron is half-man, half-train. Meanwhile, Chris Bosh isn't human what so ever, just a dinosaur that got instead of going extinct, knocked its head, and began to believe that it was also a human. For the Boston Celtics, the only thing more dangerous then Chris Bosh's dinosaur ancestry is the window of opportunity for the team's 18th championship.
So, where do the Celtics go from here?
They have one final year, just one, before rebuilding. After which, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce simply won't have enough in the tank to make a run for the finals again. I expect the starting lineup of the Celtics to be the same, save for the center position, which I am not entirely convinced Jermaine O'Neal is capable of holding down.
If the Celtics were healthy, who knows what could of happened. However, let's not focus on the what-ifs of the past. Let's focus on the what-could-be of the future.
The current roster needs to be changed up. The Celtics before the trade were a lot better then the Celtics after the trade, maybe it was the energy and confidence, or the size factor that made the Celtics so feared. Either way, the Celtics need to get back that energy and size factor to have another chance at a championship. Here are the current players that are going as free agents, and whether Boston should keep them or not.
Ray Allen (P) - Yes, do I really have to say it?
Carlos Arroyo - No
Glen Davis - Undecided
Nenad Krstic - No
Troy Murphy - No
Shaquille O'Neal (P) - No(Tough decision)
Sasha Pavlovic - No
Von Wafer - Yes
Delonte West - Yes
Jeff Green- Yes
Has Shaq played his last game?
Why? Ray Allen and Delonte West are obvious in the yes department. Carlos Arroyo, Nenad Krstic and Troy Murphy, are players who shouldn't come back, 2 are just looking for a championship, and Nenad Krstic plays like he's a center for the Hawks.
Sasha is a no because I don't think he fits into the team very well. While I'm undecided on the undersized Glen Davis, who does deserve more minutes, but is also selfish at times, Shaq was the toughest choice by far. When healthy, the Celtics are a much better team, but with the lack of health, the Celtics may be better off trying to get a younger center who has a better record and less miles.
Von Wafer provides a lot of energy off the bench when he does play, and is still young, he's about Rondo's age. Though if the Celtics get a better target, they should consider letting Wafer go. Jeff Green is a great player and if he finds his rhythm with the Celtics, this team would be a lot more dangerous, he was slowly finding his way, next year he should be ready.
So what do I expect the Celtics team to look like next year? This is my (dream) roster for the Celtics without the draft, based on free agency, and 1 pickup from the NBA D-League. Before I begin, know that I am someone that loves a strong and deep team.
That being said, I think if the aging Celtics want to compete with the Heat, Bulls, Knicks, and western conference teams, they can't settle for a bench that isn't reliable and deep. Here is what I would have the Celtics roster as:
Point Guards -
Do the Celtics need a better bench for one last finals run with the big 3?
Shooting Guards -
Anthony Parker (Cavaliers)
Small Forwards -
Tayshaun Prince (Pistons)
Power Forwards -
Leon Powe (Grizzlies)
Chris Johnson (D-League pick up)
Aaron Gray (Hornets)
Is my roster capable of bringing the Celtics banner 18?
Now, you may be asking yourself a few questions. Why add these guys to the Celtics? Well, I don't want to trouble the point guards, with three already, you don't need anymore. So let's go to the two spot.
Anthony Parker is in the same position as the big three, an aging veteran looking for a title. I think he's a lot like Ray Allen, not so much a poor-man's version, but a respectable player who can split time with Ray and Von Wafer to keep all three healthy down the stretch of the season and post-season.
Small forwards up next. Paul Pierce has been apart of the Celtics since he entered the league, but that's the problem. He entered the league a long time ago. Jeff Green is a good backup(and future replacement) while Tayshaun Prince is a great defender, big for the three spot at 6'9", and overall a great veteran piece for the squad. These three splitting time should yield the same result as the shooting guard position. Strong and helping prevent any extra stress to the core.
Power Fowards are a tad of a question mark. Glen Davis is undersized, needy, and sometimes down right annoying. However, he plays with Heart. If he decides to stay, expect him to get more time to keep Kevin Garnett rested until the postseason, and while Leon Powe is about the same size as Glen Davis, and even though I haven't seen him play, he's supposedly a great defender, so that will fit well with Boston.
Finally, the center spot. Here's a bold prediction, Shaq retires, and Jermaine O'Neal comes back and stays healthy season round, Chris Johnson comes back to the Celtics and ends up being a big time defensive backup. (When he first joined the Celtics, Chris managed three blocks in his first game, and played great defensive until he was dropped so other players could join the Celtics. Aaron Gray decides the Hornets aren't for him and joins the Celtics in a quest for a title.
So, why choose these players in particular? Simple.
While many would be veterans, they all have a specific characteristic that the Celtics really need on their team. The bench and third rotation would provide very little drop off.
Cap space wise, this should be very doable. Anthony Parker is a veteran that should go for the minimum. Tayshaun Prince may not go for the minimum, he's getting nowhere near the 11 million that's currently on his expiring contract next season. Maybe he'll settle for around five million, or a little less.
Leon Powe is barely earning a million this season. Glen Davis is earning three million, maybe he'll settle for a short term contract that isn't much more then his current contract, and sign a better one later. That is very unlikely, and it may be better to sign another power forward, preferably a taller one with a smaller ego. Resign Jeff Green, West and Wafer, get Aaron Gray, and this team should be set for the 2011-2012 season.
So there you have it. Let me know what you think and if you would do something differently, I'd love to hear about it. Also, if you have any ideas about an article that you would like me to write, I'd be more then willing to write it. With that being said, I hoped you enjoyed my article. Thanks for reading.