The Boston Celtics find themselves falling just short of making a third straight Eastern Conference finals appearance in four seasons, as LeBron James and the Miami Heat closed out the Celtics 4-1 in the second round of the 2011 NBA playoffs.
Throughout the series, a lack of bench production and inconsistent play from the Big Three were the deciding factor in the series, as Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and James would make the Celtics pay down the stretch. In the fifth and final game of the series, the Heat would close out the game on a 16-0 run, taking Game 5 from the Celtics 97-87.
With the offseason now beginning for this Celtics team, President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge and the front office will have their hands full with decisions to make over the next several months. Ten of the Celtics 15 players are currently free agents, with nine of the 10 listed as unrestricted free agents.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Jermaine O'Neal, and shooting guard Avery Bradley are the only players currently under contract with the Celtics going into the 2011-2012 season.
Who will stay and who will go? Here are each of the Celtics free agents this offseason and analysis as to which players will stay in Boston and who will find a home elsewhere.
Boston Celtics guard Von Wafer is a player that doesn't always stand out on a roster filled with veteran talent. Not to mention, Wafer is only given an average of 9.5 minutes per game.
In those 9.5 minutes, Wafer averaged 3.2 points and shot the ball just over 42 percent from the field.
He is not a player the Celtics must bring back and one they probably won't bring back. The 25-year-old out of Florida State still has plenty to prove in the league, yet it will likely not be in a green and white jersey as the Celtics will elect to open up roster space for offseason transactions.
Sasha Pavlovic is known as a player that gets the job done defensively and shoots the ball as well as any forward in the league, yet might not be a player the Celtics should resign.
Going into the offseason, the Celtics may be able to pick up a player like a Peja Stojakovic, a Caron Butler from the streaking Dallas Mavericks or even Wilson Chandler from the Denver Nuggets. Getting any of these three players might be a most costly move, but certainly more worthwhile than resigning Pavlovic and taking up roster space.
This season Pavlovic played in just 17 games and averaged 8.8 minutes per game. He scored 1.8 points per game and hit 50 percent of his three-point shots. Pavlovic did not play this postseason as Rivers elected not to use him in either series.
The 31 year-old star point guard out of Puerto Rico was a positive addition for the Boston Celtics this season, and may just be the right fit going into next season.
With the Celtics quite secure at the point guard position—as Rajon Rondo looks to be a lock as the starting point guard for years to come—expect the Celtics to keep a guy like Arroyo to spell Rondo. Having a player like Arroyo in the backcourt rotation provides starters minutes experience and veteran talent off the bench that head coach Doc Rivers would be more than happy to keep around.
This season in just 12.7 minutes per game with the Celtics, Arroyo averaged 2.4 points and 1.7 assists per game, while shooting the ball 60 percent from three-point range.
Come next season, Arroyo should still be wearing green and white.
With the Boston Celtics looking to re-arrange their frontcourt unit this offseason, possibly out the league's free agent market, Troy Murphy will more than likely find himself out of Boston after this season.
Murphy would play in just 17 games this season, averaging just over two points and two rebounds a game.
He provides size for the Celtics in the front court, yet he comes into this season at 31 years of age. With an aging frontcourt that seemed a step slow in the playoffs against the Miami Heat, expect the Celtics to seek younger, fresher legs for next season and have Murphy packing his bags.
Although Nenad Krstic looks quite displeased here, he will be sure to put a smile on after he enters the 2011-2012 season with the Boston Celtics.
The free agent acquired in the infamous "Kendrick Perkins trade" with the Oklahoma City Thunder will make a key asset in the frontcourt rotation. Despite not earning himself a starting job with the Celtics, look for Krstic to earn roughly 20-25 minutes a game. This season Krstic played 23 minutes a contest.
Krstic provides offense at the center position, and spreads the floor with defenses having to commit to his solid mid-range game on offense. Defensively the Celtics would have to consider him somewhat of a liablity, but on a team where team defense is preached, Rivers will surely work with Krstic this offseason to improve him in that regard.
This season in 23 minutes a contest, Krstic put in 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, as his production proved key for the Celtics in closing out the regular season.
When it's all said and done, Delonte West will resign with the Boston Celtics by the end of the 2011 offseason months.
Yes, West will be back with the Celtics.
More than ever, this postseason West proved himself as a valuable part of the Celtics back court rotation. Off the bench he would score 6.6 points a contest in just over 18 minutes a game, while managing to play scrappy, full-court press defense that made opposing guards watch every dribble.
Offensively 6.6 points per game might not jump out on the stat line, yet his ability to hit open jump shots and finish at the rim strong, defenders were forced to play perimeter defense on West. Rajon Rondo on the other hand, has defenders playing eight to 10 feet back.
Delonte West will in no way take over Rondo's starting job, but will play a significant role in his limited minutes on the court. Expect West to sign an extension with the Celtics this offseason.
By no means was Jeff Green an impressive stat-line filling, scoring machine, but he fulfilled his role on the Boston Celtics team as well as any Celtic did.
At the trade deadline, the Celtics would acquire Green in the Kendrick Perkins trade, which sent Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic.
Since coming to Boston, Green has had his ups and downs, with his ups coming at just the right time. This postseason Green would average 7.3 points, nearly three rebounds, and would shoot 43 percent from three-point range in 19.2 minutes per contest.
Defensively Green was key against the Knicks and Heat in this year's playoffs, playing consistent defense including several defensive stops against LeBron James late in ball games.
Expect Green to resign with the Celtics this offseason.
Despite the trade rumors and talks of Glen "Big Baby" Davis finding a home elsewhere, Davis will be a member of the Boston Celtics going into the 2011-2012 season.
Davis is an unrestricted free agent that can potentially test the trade market, yet he seems to have found his place in the Celtics organization. There is an understanding of his role and he has fulfilled it well, despite his struggles in the 2011 NBA playoffs.
In the postseason stretch, Davis averaged 4.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and shot 39 percent in the 21.2 minutes he would play a game.
Davis' struggles this postseason have produced his name in trade rumors throughout the league, and it is warranted. Yet come opening night, expect Davis to suit up with the Boston Celtics.
Shaquille O'Neal made great noise coming into the 2010-2011 NBA season after signing with the Boston Celtics in August of last year.
In his 20.3 minutes a game with the Celtics this season, O'Neal averaged 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and made a whopping 66.7 percent of his shots on the year. After injuring himself late in the regular season against the Detroit Pistons, O'Neal's contributions to the team would soon diminish.
This postseason O'Neal would make his first appearance in Game 3 of the second-round series against the Miami Heat, and would end up playing six minutes a game while still showing signs of injury.
This offseason Danny Ainge will seek youth and talent in the front court, which will likely have Shaquille O'Neal on his way out of Beantown.
The burning question: Will the future Hall-of-Fame inductee, the best three-point shooter in NBA history be back with the Boston Celtics next season?
Yes. Without question.
At 35 years old Allen stands as the eldest player in the Big Three, yet might just be in the best physical shape of any of the three. According to a piece in AOL news, Shaquille O'Neal says Allen will continue to play basketball for several more seasons before calling it quits.
"He's always been in great shape, perfect shape," O'Neal said. "He can probably play five more years."
Like O'Neal, Rivers has also claimed Allen to in the best shape of anyone on the team. The numbers speak for themselves.
This past season, Allen was a productive performer for the Celtics this season, averaging 16.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, and shooting a career-high 49.1 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three-point range.
Re-signing Ray Allen will be a priority for the Boston Celtics front office this postseason, as keeping the Big Three intact will be significant in making one last run—or two—at an NBA championship.