Predicting the Boston Celtics Roster Next Season
The upcoming offseason is poised to be one of the most eventful in recent memory for the Boston Celtics.
Of "The Big Three," two could be gone next year.
The rest of the roster? If you include Brandon Bass and his team option the Celtics have five of 15 roster spots under contract next season. That's 10 open spots and $26 million in open cap space to fill them with.
The possibility exists that the team Celtics fans see take the floor in late October of 2012 bares very little resemblance to the one that eventually finishes the current season.
What will it look like? Here's a preliminary rough sketch.
Starting Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
The NBA Trade deadline came and went and through it all the only uniform change that Rajon Rondo made was home whites to road greens.
Get used to it.
Rajon Rondo is one of the league's better point guards and he's signed to a contract that makes him a rare, long-term value. He's not going anywhere—not unless a team calls up Danny Ainge and makes him an absurd offer.
Rajon Rondo won't ever be known as a great scorer from the point guard position. Luckily, the position is about far more than scoring. Rondo can pass, rebound and defend as well as anyone in the league and at an average of $11 million per season for the next three years his place in the Celtics starting lineup seems as secure as anyone's.
Starting Shooting Guard: Gerald Green
Gerald Green is currently showcasing the athleticism and talent that made him the No. 18 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.
He was only 18 at the time and he looked like he'd be a part of the Celtics long-term future. That is until the Celtics decided to trash plans to gradually rebuild long-term and instead enact a win-now philosophy by bringing together The Big Three.
Green was dealt to Minnesota as part of the trade for Kevin Garnett and from that point on his NBA development atrophied. Green bounced around the league, never establishing himself, and eventually landed overseas playing in both Russia and China.
He's back though. Green has been playing impressive basketball for the New Jersey Nets after being recalled from the NBA Developmental League. He's an unrestricted free agent following this season and his play as of late will net Green a contract from some team.
That team could be Boston. Green won't be D-League cheap but he'll be cheaper than many other NBA free agents.
Green left when the Big Three were formed so it's only natural for him to return as the era concludes.
Starting Small Forward: Paul Pierce
As Paul Pierce continues to move up the all-time scoring ladder among Celtics greats, the likelihood of him finishing his career in a different uniform decreases.
If Pierce does ever play for another team it won't happen in this coming offseason.
Pierce is signed through the end of next season. The potential does exist that the Celtics could deal him at next season's trading deadline but it's not likely and it's even less likely that he's not the starting small forward on opening night this coming October.
Starting Power Forward : Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett's current contract, which pays him $21 million a year, is set to expire. The "Big Ticket" will be an unrestricted free agent able to hock his services to any NBA franchise willing to pay him enough and provide him with enough minutes along with a chance of winning.
He's only spent five years in a Celtics uniform but they've been five very good years and as his career winds down it's not out of the question that Garnett may accept slightly less money in exchange for stability and comfort.
He's going to take a pay cut next season regardless of where he eventually sings. He's just no longer a max-contract type of player. He's still a solid power forward who provides toughness and leadership.
As the Celtics get younger the need for that type of leadership increases. More importantly, without Garnett the Celtics would have a fairly large void at starting power forward. Re-signing him solves that problem as well.
First Round Draft Pick and Starting Center: Tyler Zeller
The Boston Celtics have two first round picks in the 2012 NBA Draft. It's a draft that is expected to be among the deepest in recent memory.
Both Tyler Zeller and John Henson are starting front court mates for the University of North Carolina. Henson is expected to go slightly higher than Zeller but both are expected to go somewhere between the No. 10 and 18 picks.
If Zeller were to last until number 16, he'd seem like a natural fit on the Celtics. Zeller is a tireless worker who can out-rebound larger opponents and has a number of creative and effective low-post moves.
The Celtics can't spend big money to fill every hole and this upcoming draft, with it's depth of talent, should provide the Celtics with more than one future every day player.
Forward: Brandon Bass
In a season of inconsistency, one of the more dependable members of the Boston Celtics has been Brandon Bass.
Bass, who came to Boston as a result of the Glen " Big Baby" Davis trade, has been, for the most part, as advertised.
A physical, offensive-minded power forward who's not always the best defender but can be a major contributor of points when needed.
Bass has an affordable team option for next season, translation he'll be back.
Guard: Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley is still only 21 years old.
The former first-round draft pick out of Texas was at one time one of the nation's top high school recruits. He hasn't developed quite as quickly as the Celtics would have liked. The Celtics are a long way from parting ways with him though.
Bradley's minutes should continue to increase next season.
Forward: JaJuan Johnson
JaJuan Johnson hasn't made much of an impact this season but it's too soon to give up on the former Pre-season All-American out of Purdue.
His lanky body and strong build still hold promise and the Celtics will enter next season expecting more from Johnson off the bench. With a slew of new players arriving in Boston next season, Johnson will finally get his chance to prove himself.
Whether he is able to take advantage of the chance is the big question.
Guard: E'Twaun Moore
JaJuan Johnson wasn't the only well-regarded player out of Purdue the Celtics selected in the 2011 NBA Draft.
E'Twaun Moore was selected late in the second round.
That type of position in the draft rarely assures anyone of any playing time, but Moore has eked out some minutes and has even played well enough to make one think that he'll be back next season.
Forward: Jeff Green
First, Jeff Green was a first-round pick of the Celtics. Then he was dealt as part of the Ray Allen trade. Then Green returned to Boston as part of the controversial Kendrick Perkins trade. Green was poised to become a key part of the Celtics rotation until just before the current season started when he was diagnosed with a heart irregularity that has caused him to miss the entire season.
In spite of it seeming like it's just not in the cards for Green to ever succeed while wearing green, he'll get one more chance next year.
Green is an unrestricted free agent but given the uncertain nature of his health he seems unlikely to command a sky-high salary
Boston will sign Green in hopes of finally witnessing the type of talent they thought they were landing way back in 2007, when he was the fifth overall pick in the draft.
First Round Draft Pick: Andrew Nicholson
With Boston's second first-round pick in the 2012 draft the team will take a flier on a player who could be a very potent offensive force in the NBA.
Andrew Nicholson is a lanky 6'9 senior combo-forward out of Saint Bonaventure. He's a bit of a tweener. His defensive game is more that of a power forward yet his offensive strengths are those of a versatile small forward. He can slash, shoot threes and even post up a bit.
With Paul Pierce in the final year of his contract the Celtics will need to start to think about who is next in line at small forward.
Nicholson might get a shot.
Center: Nazr Mohammed
With Tyler Zeller manning the pivot as a rookie, the Celtics will need to sign a veteran to come in off the bench or even to grab a few starts when needed.
Nazr Mohammed has been in the league for 14 seasons and he's played on numerous teams. Mohammed isn't a game-changer type of signing.
On a team that may end up starting a freshman at center he could prove critical.
Center Greg Stiemsma
Doc Rivers loves tireless workers and that's what Greg Stiemsma has been for the Celtics all season. It's that type of work ethic that will earn him a return to the Celtics next season.
Stiemsma will once again be buried on the bench, but once again he'll end up playing more than you think he will or should.
For the most part, Stiemsma doesn't seem like the type of player who can really succeed in the NBA. Then again, he's already exceeded the limited expectations he arrived in Boston with.
Next year that will change but not too much.
Guard: Keyon Dooling
Keyon Dooling is yet another low-cost who veteran who could easily find his way back onto the Celtics roster. Dooling has been in the league for 12 years and can provide some stability to the back-up point guard position.
Dooling won't be expensive and he won't make a huge impact, but he's going to be as asset nonetheless.
Second Round Draft Pick: Kim English
With Ray Allen having departed, the Celtics know they can't replace his three-point prowess.
They can try though.
Kim English isn't a great athlete but he's one of the best pure shooters in all of college basketball. He's tall enough to get his shot up and over defenders as well.
If English slips into the Celtics hands they'll pounce at the chance to grab him.