Quiet But Effective, Celtics Make Key Free-Agent Signings and Aren’t Done Yet

Quiet But Effective, Celtics Make Key Free-Agent Signings and Aren't Done Yet The Celtics may not have planned any hour-long specials in prime time to announce it, but in their own quiet way, they've gone out and gotten the job done in free agency this July.

By re-signing Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, they've ensured that the old gang will be back for next season. So is that enough or will Danny Ainge make another splash in the free agent pool?

The Celtics have a decision to make going forward — are they content sticking with the same old group that got them to the NBA Finals or are they feeling the itch to go out and explore some fresh new blood for next season?

Seeing a big name like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or even Joe Johnson in Boston this fall was a pipe dream. The celebrity star power of a guy like Shaquille O'Neal is appealing, but that's about all he brings to the table.

So would the Celtics pull a surprise from out of their sleeves or would they simply go the conservative rout and keep their nucleus intact for the future?

Gradually, they answered that question.

The first order of business was keeping Pierce. The Celtics' captain and 12-year veteran opted out of his contract just before the July 1 deadline, but Ainge and the Celtics were quick to sit down with Pierce to ensure he would stay. They quickly reached an agreement, for four years and $62 million.

Next was Allen, who began the month as a free agent. The Celtics locked him up with a two-year deal worth $20 million.

Now they've got the old band back together for one last farewell tour. Isn't that enough?

Besides the Shaq rumors, there were rumblings of Brad Miller, a gritty big man who put up a fight for the Chicago Bulls against the C's in the 2009 playoffs. Additionally, there's the unrelated Mike Miller, a flashy outside shooter that could bring a spark to the Boston bench.

The Celtics have passed up all those possibilities, though, and it now appears they're ready to spend their whole mid-level exception on Jermaine O'Neal.

O'Neal's 31, injury-prone and he was thoroughly outplayed by the Celtics in the first round of the 2010 playoffs. Not the most appealing alternative for the C's.

But at the same time, O'Neal is a capable big man who will defend the rim, score in the post a little bit, and give the Celtics a steady presence in the middle while they wait on the return of Kendrick Perkins.

Rather than do something eye-catching and crazy in free agency this summer, Ainge has instead gone about quietly plugging up the Celtics' biggest need.

Next year's Celtics team will look eerily similar to the squad Doc Rivers coached last season. Pierce and Allen will be back; joining them will be Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. At some point Perkins will rejoin them with his knees intact.

Instead of Rasheed Wallace, you've got O'Neal. Call it a wash. But what about the rest of the bench?

Tony Allen, Nate Robinson and Marquis Daniels are all still out there. And most likely, those are the exact three free agents Ainge will target next.

So no, it's not about making a big splash this summer. It's simply a matter of taking care of business, restoring the Celtic team that nearly won an NBA Finals this June. The C's aren't broken, and Ainge isn't fixing them.

NESN.com will answer one Celtics question every day in July.

Thursday, July 8: Will the defense be strong without Tom Thibodeau?

Saturday, July 10: Will the Celtics' starting five still be the best in the game?

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