Boston Celtics Mailbag Questions Answered
Since last week's mailbag, I have received more questions for this week's mailbag. Unlike last week though, the answers will probably be filled with even more optimism, given the great play of the Celtics over the past week. However, many of these questions do regard potential additions the Celtics could make in order to increase their championship odds.
(If you would like to submit a question to next week's mailbag, just write your questions on my bulletin board)
Robert Cayer: What is the status of all the injuries on the roster right now?
The Celtics currently have four players sidelined with injuries. Ray Allen, who both hurt his ankle and had his fourth son born, will likely return on Sunday. After hurting his wrist, Rajon Rondo appears to be game-ready again. And Sunday seems to be a likely return date for Jermaine O'Neal (who has a bone bruise on his knee) and Keyon Dooling (hip) as well. It will be great to get these four very valuable players back from injury, even though the Celtics have managed to play well without them.
Jack Papadinoff: Patrick, do you believe that the Big 3 are overdue, if yes when do you think was the best time to lose them?
I don't anyone would disagree with the notion that every member of the Big Three is past their prime, with Kevin Garnett the farthest gone. However, I do not think that trading them this year would be the best option for the Celtics. Sure, they need to start the rebuilding process somehow, but I think that the Celtics can still contend with this old core and, additionally, besides Pierce, they have little trade value.
After this season, both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett become free agents. I see two options for them at that point. They could either retire or take big pay cuts and return to the Celtics. I don't see any reason why they wouldn't want to take a pay cut to play a complementary role on a potential championship contender. Either way though, the Celtics will lose their big contracts and be able to go after big free agents like Dwight Howard.
John Zimmerman: As the Celtics' season progresses, what do you think is the most important issue that needs to be addressed?
I think that the biggest issue for the Celtics right now is the center position. Jermaine O'Neal has not played great this season, and his current injury shows that he cannot be counted on for consistent health, especially at his age. The only other center on the roster, Greg Stiemsma, has shown he can block shots, but not much else. Going small has seemed to be the only option for the Celtics at many points and while this can work for short spurts, they need one more center. Chris Kaman is looking for a trade and I think the Celtics should look into it, only I'm not sure who they would give up.
Joe Shmo: Do you think that the Celtics will be active in looking to make a trade before the trade deadline?
Danny Ainge is always active in looking for trades, particularly before the deadline. Whether any of the deals he will inevitably pursue will come to fruition, I don't know, but trade discussions will take place. In any case though, I doubt that, should the Celtics make a move, it would be for a big name. Don't expect the Celtics to try to trade for Dwight Howard. However, as I said to John, I could see the Celtics trying to make a move for someone like Chris Kaman.
Matt Casieri: What are the chances the Celtics get Dwight Howard?
Dwight Howard recently added the Celtics to the list of teams he would like to play for. However, if the Magic do trade Howard this year, it is unlikely the Celtics will try to trade for him, mostly because they don't have the assets to do so. If Howard stays through the rest of his contract and becomes a free agent though, I think that the Celtics will have a very good chance of signing him, especially with Allen and Garnett's contracts coming off the books.
Howard coming to Boston would be a win-win situation for everyone involved. Dwight would get to play for the most storied franchise in NBA history with the best young, passing point guard in the league, and the Celtics would get a great big man and be championship contenders for years.
Lou B: Given the Celtics great play amid all of these injuries, what can we expect from them once Allen and Rondo return?
Obviously, the return of Rondo, Allen, O'Neal and Dooling will help the Celtics a great deal. However, the Celtics seem to have a nice groove with Pierce running the offense and it will be interesting to see how the offense changes once Rondo returns.
That being said, I see the healthier Celtics continuing this winning streak through the rest of the month. Once February rolls around though, the Celtics will really be tested with two games against the Bulls, the Knicks, the Lakers, the Thunder and the Mavericks. But with the way they have played in the past week and how much healthier they will get, I could see the Celtics winning a majority of these games.
All in all, the expectations for this team have increased sharply because of their great play. I think we should expect them to extend this winning streak to at least seven games, win over half of their tough games in February, and move up to first place in the division before the end of February. These are some lofty expectations, but with the way they have played without Allen and Rondo, I don't think these expectations are too high for this team once they get all their talent back.
Aaron C: What do the Celtics need to do to increase their depth?
With the way the Celtics have played in the past week amid all of the injuries, I think that they have shown that they have more depth than many thought. The guard position has decent depth with the defensive menace Avery Bradley and sharp shooters Keyon Dooling and E'Twaun Moore backing up Rondo and Allen. Paul Pierce has an able backup in Mickael Pietrus who has played very well lately, and Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic are available as well. At the power forward position, the Celtics have Garnett, Wilcox and Bass.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the biggest issue for the Celtics is depth at the center position. Right now, I think the Celtics best option might be going after Chris Kaman. Otherwise, there does not seem to be much talent at the center position available in free agency.
Caleb M: Does the "barfight" game mean that the Celtics will turn it around or will they continue to remain in mediocrity?
I think that the past four games have shown that the Celtics have finally turned things around. In the past four games, the Celtics have beat two good teams, dominated one, made a huge comeback and played great defense. And they have done all of this without Allen, Rondo, O'Neal, and Dooling. If this isn't a sign they have turned things around, then I don't know what will be. That being said, I could see the Celtics dropping back into mediocrity at some point this season, but I think for the majority of the rest of the season, we will see the Celtics that we have seen the past four games, only better, with everyone healthy.