Free-Agent Targets for the Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics do not have a lot of money to spend in free agency this offseason. The team will surely be on the lookout for some affordable mid-level talent to address a few weaknesses going into what is most likely the last year of the Big Three era.
While players like Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith, Nene and Tyson Chandler would all be great additions, their price tags are a little bit out of the Celtics' range.
Boston's biggest areas of concern going into the 2011-2012 NBA season are depth, size and scoring. Last season's squad was decimated by injuries to Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O'Neal and Marquis Daniels, all of whom were expected to be big contributors. Unfortunately, their inability to stay healthy led to the shocking trade for Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jeff Green.
We all know how that turned out. Shaq never really recovered from his injuries, and the Celtics were stuck with Jermaine O'Neal and Nenad Krstic for the playoffs. Not good.
Going into this season, Boston has a lot of questions to answer.
Who is going to be the starting center? Should they re-sign Green? Where are the C's going to find depth?
With all of that in mind, here are five undervalued players who the Celtics should target in free agency.
Delonte West, Guard, Boston Celtics, Age: 28
Delonte West should remain with the Boston Celtics. He wants to return, and the Celtics could really use his steady hand as the leader of the second unit.
West, who was expected to be one of the most important players on Boston's bench last season, injured his wrist in just his fifth game. The devastating injury kept him on the shelf for nearly the entire year, as West became almost an afterthought for most Celtics fans.
However, West didn't let it keep him down.
He returned for the tail end of the regular season and Boston's short playoff run, making his presence felt in a big way. In the second round of the playoffs against the hated Miami Heat, West scored in double-figures each game, while shooting a magnificent 53 percent from the field. He hit seven threes in the five-game series and was definitely the Celtics' most consistent performer.
West's capabilities allow coach Doc Rivers to rest star point guard Rajon Rondo without worrying about a significant slip in team performance.
I expect the Celtics to re-sign him the first chance they get.
Grant Hill, Forward, Phoenix Suns, Age: 38
I get it, he's old. Who cares?
Grant Hill has been a terrific player for the Phoenix Suns for four years now, and he doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Hill, who is known for his great shooting and scoring abilities, actually proved to be one of the top defenders in the NBA last season. He finished seventh in the Defensive Player of the Year voting, just ahead of athletically gifted youngsters Andre Iguodala and LeBron James.
Pretty impressive for a guy turning 39 in October, huh?
Despite Ray Allen and Paul Pierce being the clear starters in the Boston Celtics' lineup, Hill would fit perfectly into the second unit. With Delonte West running the point, Hill at the 2 and Jeff Green playing small forward, all the Celtics would need is a big man to round out what could be one of the most complete benches in the NBA.
Hill would provide great versatility on defense, and the ability to knock down any jump shot. Imagine Ray Allen, only if Allen was a great defender and relied mostly on two-pointers. That is Grant Hill.
He might come at a higher cost then some of these other guys, but he will still be undervalued because of his age. The Celtics should unquestionably try and snatch up this ageless wonder.
Chuck Hayes, Forward-Center, Houston Rockets, Age: 28
Chuck Hayes uses a combination of hustle, determination, strength and smarts to make himself a valuable asset for any team in the NBA.
Although he is undersized (6'6"), Hayes is able to corral eight rebounds per game, including three offensive boards, all the while defending the other teams' biggest player. The Celtics could undoubtedly use his rebounding and defense (Hayes finished 12th in Defensive Player of the Year voting). After losing Nenad Krstic, who fled to Russia, and Shaquille O'Neal, who retired, Boston's frontcourt is severely depleted.
Hayes may not look like a big man, but he sure plays like one.
While on the Houston Rockets, Hayes was the team's starting center. The Celtics would most likely insert him into the Glenn Davis role (if he is not re-signed), or just use him as a backup center (if Davis is re-signed). The center position is probably Boston's main concern heading into the 2011-2012 season, and Hayes would provide depth and reliability behind the ridiculously injury-prone projected starter—Jermaine O'Neal.
Tracy McGrady, Guard, Detroit Pistons, Age: 32
Tracy McGrady, or T-Mac, was quietly very solid with the Detroit Pistons last season.
As a starter, he averaged: 10 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.9 TO.
Those numbers may seem small compared to his overall body of work, but he did that in only 27 minutes per game on a really, really bad Pistons team. Some Boston Celtics fans might remember this game, when McGrady single-handedly put the C's away in the fourth quarter. Clearly, he's still got something left in the tank.
In Boston, he would be part of a three-man rotation with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green (assuming he's re-signed). All three are very long and terrific at getting to the hoop. Oh yeah, and they can score too.
After spending the year in NBA version of Siberia, T-Mac will probably be less expensive than his name and past performance suggest.
Considering this tweet, I am almost certain that McGrady wants to play for a contender in 2011. The Celtics should contact him and see if he wants to battle for an NBA title with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Reggie Evans, Power Forward, Toronto Raptors, Age: 31
Reggie Evans is exactly what the Boston Celtics need: a rebounding machine.
Just take a look at some of these numbers before you call me crazy:
- Boston Celtics: 7.8 offensive rebounds per game (last in the NBA)
- Reggie Evans: 17.2 offensive rebound rate (third in the NBA)
- Boston Celtics: 38.8 total rebounds per game (second-worst in the NBA)
- Reggie Evans: 25.6 rebound rate (first in the NBA)
You may be wondering how Evans is considered the best rebounder in the NBA according to ESPN's John Hollinger, considering Kevin Love led the league with 15.2 RPG.
Well, let's just say that Hollinger's formula takes everything into account, and the simple "rebounds per game" statistic does not.
Hollinger's formula recognizes that Evans grabbed 11.5 RPG in only 26 MPG.
Love? He played 36 MPG.
Don't forget the outrageous offensive rebound numbers either. Evans was a total beast on the offensive glass, securing four offensive boards per game. Again, he only played 26 MPG. Dominant.
In Boston, he would be the energy guy/vacuum cleaner off the bench when the C's are struggling to rebound. Evans has played through injuries the last two seasons for the Toronto Raptors, and will be overlooked in free agency. His price tag should be minuscule, and he would fill a hole that Boston has struggled to fill the last few seasons.
Evans would be a great addition to the Celtics bench for the 2011-2012 NBA Season. Now all we need to do is wait for this lockout to be over...
Let me know what you think in the comment section below.
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