NBA Trades and Free Agents 2011: 12 Players the Boston Celtics Need to Pursue
With the draft over, the Celtics seemed to have found two legitimate bench pieces for next season and possible starters in the future. But that does not mean there is not still work to be done.
The Celtics have six players who are technically on their roster and own the rights to two more. That means, at minimum, they need to find four more pieces to complete their roster.
The Celtics currently have a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O'Neal. That would be simply terrifying if this were 2001, but it's a decade later. The Celtics need some help off the bench for next year and need to get some long-term solutions to help Rondo and Doc Rivers past 2012.
JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore were nice pieces to start with, but the Celtics still have some loose ends to tie up in free agency and with potential trades.
It's not likely to happen soon with an impending lockout, but here are 12 players the Celtics should move on to make a run at banner 18—and more.
Greg Smith, PF
Smith went undrafted this year it partially because he was not ready to be. He was under-developed, in terms of his game, and it was said he took plays off on defense.
Smith certainly should get a shot at a roster spot. He would likely play behind Garnett, O'Neal and Johnson, and whoever else the Celtics throw out in the front court.
Going after Smith would be a long-term project. The team could let him get some playing time in the D-League and bring him up if injuries struck.
Smith has the body and potential to be an NBA player. He just should have waited until after he developed his game more.
If the Celtics strike, Smith would find himself on a team that would not let him take plays off and would develop him as a player on both ends of the court.
The Celtics and Smith would be better off for this pairing.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning, PF
Bryan-Amaning is a little undersized and needs to add some bulk to his frame to truly bang down low. The reason he wasn't picked in the draft was because he lacks defensively.
The good thing about having athletic guys on your team is that you can always teach them to play defense. Rivers knows how to get guys to buy into his system. Bryan-Amaning should be able to translate what he is taught to what he does on the floor.
Since he will no longer be a focus of the offense, Bryan-Amaning will have nothing but time to work on developing his post moves and interior defense. The upside to adding him outweighs having to teach him.
If anyone can get Bryan-Amaning to play defense, the Big Three can.
David Lighty, SG
Lighty was a key component of Ohio State's recent success. While most of the focus this past season was on Jared Sullinger, Lighty was a consistent producer on both ends of the floor.
Lighty is one of the most intelligent basketball players in this year's draft and plays mistake-free ball. He knows what his team's goals are and goes out and executes.
After his ACL tear, Lighty has regained most of his speed back. Combine that with his shooting stroke, and he would be an excellent backup to Allen.
Lighty could also create a mismatch at the point guard position, as he has played there in the past. Using his size and defensive prowess, he could certainly substitute for Rondo if needed.
Lighty will never be a star in the NBA, but he would fit a combo guard role the Celtics may need if Delonte West goes elsewhere.
Glen Davis, PF
Yes, Glen Davis is a bit problematic at times and left the team high and dry in the playoffs this year.
We are quick to forget that in place of KG in the playoffs two years ago, he was a godsend. During the regular season this past year, he provided a spark off the bench the Celtics sorely needed.
Davis may find suitors who are willing to give him more money, but his value is as a reservist in Boston. He is undersized and may wear out with starters' minutes over the course of an 82-game season.
He has chemistry with the team, and Boston may need to cough up the dough for at least one more year to make a run.
Delonte West, G
Delonte West had trouble during the regular season finding a rhythm on the Celtics this year, mainly because he missed so much time. Up until the playoffs, it may have been his final season due to his underwhelming performance.
Once the last month of the season came on, West seemed to find some of his rhythm, scoring an average of almost 6 points, with 2.7 assists per game. It wasn't until Rondo went down against Miami that West truly showed his value.
Stepping in when it was apparent Rondo couldn't take much more abuse, West came in and averaged 10 points a game and shot 52 percent from the field, 46 percent from beyond the arc.
While West may not see consistent time like that again, it is nice to have a combo guard who can take over either position for a long period of time and only see minor production falloffs.
David West, PF
David West has a player option this year. Though it may not be wise for the oft-injured Hornet to test the waters, it doesn't mean the Celtics shouldn't look his way.
With Garnett taking a beating down low and Johnson needing time to bulk up to adjust to the NBA game, West might be perfect coming off the bench or even starting in place of KG.
West is a scoring power forward who is efficient getting to the basket and has focused more on his defensive play over the past few years. Splitting time with KG would give West time to prevent any more major injuries.
This one might be a pipe dream, as an All-Star power forward might be a bit much to take on given the salary cap restrictions the Celtics face. But it would help keep KG fresh and would be a bridge to the post-Big Three era.
DeAndre Jordan, C
DeAndre Jordan is a restricted free agent so the Clippers would be able to match whatever offer the Celtics threw his way. However, Donald Sterling is fairly cheap and has been known to let talent leave rather than pay for it.
Jordan is young and ready to have a starting role all to himself. The Celtics are without a true starting center (apologies J.O., but you are a backup at this point,) and Jordan would provide them with someone who is nearly entering his prime and could use some tutelage from KG.
Jordan is gifted offensively and defensively, and he can bang down low. He would give them the presence they have missed since Kendrick Perkins was traded and Shaquille O'Neal never panned out.
It's not likely the Celtics are the only bidder for Jordan, but it's a nice thought to have the center position locked down for a few years.
Marcus Thornton, SG
Marcus Thornton may be the odd man out in Sacramento, but he will surely find a home elsewhere. With Allen getting older, it might be a good idea to find someone who can eat up minutes so Allen is fresh for one last title run.
Thornton is able to score from anywhere on the court and brings an athleticism Allen just doesn't have.
The downside of this acquisition would be Thornton is a chucker who doesn't shoot for quality, just quantity. Rivers won't stand for that, and Rondo would be able to control some of that running the offense.
Thornton also turns the ball over at a high frequency, but he is often handling the ball when he shouldn't be.
With Rondo secure as the point guard of this team, bringing in a athletic shooting guard to play alongside him in the future wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Greg Oden, C
Yes, the Greg Oden. The one Danny Ainge probably would have drafted had the Celtics won the draft lottery in 2007. Oden's value has plummeted, as he is the new-age Sam Bowie, but in a reserve role or starting with limited minutes, Oden could remain healthy.
The Celtics' training staff is one of the best in the league. They have to be with so many worn-down bodies. Oden might benefit from this.
This signing might turn out to be a bust, but it has a huge upside. Besides, last year the Celtics rolled out Shaq and thought his body could take the NBA grind. This can't turn out any worse.
Richard Hamilton, SG
Richard Hamilton seems like the type of player the Celtics would want to avoid. He is aging, overpaid and has too many years left on his contract. The Pistons want to get rid of him in an effort to shed payroll and start rebuilding.
But Hamilton is the type of player that a contender this year could use to get their team over the top.
Hamilton certainly isn't what he used to be when the Pistons were dominant and winning titles, but he can still score and get to the basket. The Celtics' bench scoring was horrific last year, and they need to address that now.
Unfortunately, they also need to get younger to make Rivers re-signing not look foolish.
Hamilton could be a stop gap between the current and future Celtics. Unfortunately, the Pistons' price might be too high. The Celtics do have protected pick from the Thunder (via the Clippers) that they could swap, but that may be too valuable down the line.
Monta Ellis, SG
This is one of the more hair-brained trade rumors I have ever heard. But if the Warriors want Monta Ellis gone that bad, the Celtics should at least consider it.
Allen is an aging shooting guard. Productivity for jump shooters falls off a cliff at a certain point, and there is no getting it back. While Allen probably did not pick up his option to be traded, the Celtics need to get younger. E'Twaun Moore probably isn't ready for a starting role if Allen goes down.
Ellis is a scorer, plain and simple. Capable of dropping 50 points on any given night, Ellis would spread the floor but add considerable speed Allen just doesn't have any more.
This would have some drawbacks, as well. Ellis is a ball stopper and has yet to meet a shot he did not call a friend. The Celtics work because they move the ball. Ellis would put an end to that. Ellis gets his fair share of assists as well, but that might be more a product of Nellie Ball than of his ball-sharing skills.
Ellis might be an athletic upgrade, but he might not be right for the Celtics next year. Beyond 2012, he might be worth taking a look at.
Josh Smith, SF
The Hawks have been said to be looking to trade Josh Smith for some time now, and Smith would prefer to find his way to a contender.
With the Hawks going after a center in the draft, it may finally be time for Al Horford to play his more natural fit, power forward. That would bump Smith from the starting lineup, unless he plays at small forward. But he is not quite fast enough to keep up with smaller, faster forwards.
The Celtics would need to find the right pieces to get this to work. Jeff Green and the Clippers' protected pick might be enough for the Hawks to shed Smith, but Smith would likely have to restructure his contract for salary cap purposes to make it worth his while.
This would be the ultimate steal, and Ainge should consider doing this without hesitation. Green doesn't look comfortable in his role, and even if he is starting, having Celtic star Pierce waiting on the bench is enough to make any person nervous.
Smith is capable of coming off the bench and would add athleticism and youth to an aging Celtics team, while giving Rondo a legitimate, All-Star caliber player to pair with for the future.