We're three weeks in. The C's are sitting at home watching the Heat take on the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. We're still weeks away from the draft, and God only knows when free agency will get underway, as the impending lockout remains the storm cloud hovering over this season.
The C's have a long way to go before they can even think about another attempt at Banner 18. Lots of time, lots of introspection and lots of thought about what the next step might be. That's where you guys come in. This week's mailbag is loaded with your thoughts on how to improve the C's for next season, whenever that might be.
Thanks to you all for your questions. Keep on firing away next week.
Will next year be a throwaway year for the Celtics, positioning themselves for 2012?
–Celticsbanner, via Twitter
First of all, if there's one thing we've learned in this town in recent years, it's this: Never, ever, ever use the term "bridge year." Boston sports fans would rather jump off a bridge than wait to cross it.
Here's what I think of the Celtics' outlook for next season. They're going to keep the core group together and make another run at a championship, but realistically they know their chances are getting weaker. They're getting older, and they have a lot of holes to fill if they want to be a top-tier contender. Their bench needs a significant overhaul.
But to call it a "throwaway" year? No, I wouldn't go that far. The C's still have four All-Stars in their starting five, and with a little sprucing-up, their roster could still be a serious threat.
You're right that 2012 is a major realigning summer. But until then, the mindset is all about making one more run at winning it all.
I just read your article on Glen Davis, and I think he's a goner. Big Baby thinks he can be a starter in this league, and he can't. He wants that big contract, and he's going to take the most money.
I'd lean toward agreeing with you. Baby spent the first four years of his career learning from Kevin Garnett and the rest of the Celtics' veterans, but I think now his outlook has changed. He's sorry of being — excuse the pun — babied, and he wants to be in a situation where he can be respected as a grown man. That means more minutes, more money, more respect, more everything.
The Celtics can't really offer him that. If he comes back to Boston, he still won't be a starter, and while he may get a raise, it won't be a humongous one. And he'll probably continue to take flak from Doc Rivers in the press every time he makes a rookie mistake.
It wouldn't surprise me one bit if the Celtics make Baby an offer, he contemplates it a bit, and then he says "no thanks" and signs elsewhere. There's reason to believe at this point that Baby's outgrown his Celtics uniform. And it was a pretty big uniform.
Would the Celtics be better off with Jeff Green than Glen Davis?
It's a good question, Brian, because I think you've hit the nail on the head with Danny Ainge's motivation for trading Kendrick Perkins this winter. One of the many reasons he pulled the trigger: In getting Jeff Green, he was getting a smarter, maturer, more athletic forward to build his bench around. Now that Ainge has Green, he can afford to let Davis walk if the price isn't right.
The best thing about Green is his versatility. He can play on the wing or in the post. He can defend threes and fours; he can knock down long jumpers and shots around the basket. Keeping Green gives the Celtics all kinds of flexibility with their future personnel moves.
Jeff Green was a No. 5 overall pick in the draft four years ago. You don't get that high in the lottery without tons of potential.
Besides getting Dwight Howard, what's the best way for Danny Ainge to make up for the Kendrick Perkins trade?
Make up for the Perkins trade? Uh oh. Here we go again.
The Perkins trade didn't work out for the Celtics in the short term, obviously — the C's are at home watching while the Heat vie for a championship. But the best way for Boston and its fans to get over the Perk trade is simple: time. Perk's health is starting to deteriorate, and he hardly played at all for the Thunder during their Western Conference playoff run. Green is still only 24, he's got lots of upside, and he may ultimately be remembered as the real prize of this trade. The longer we wait, the more we'll start to see the deal pay dividends.
As for Howard, that's a possibility, but don't hold your breath. Getting the Orlando big man is a long shot, and it's also a year away. The Celtics have other things to focus on in the meantime.
What are the odds that the Celtics could land Nene?
Not good, Michael. In my opinion, the Denver Nuggets' big man is the very best free agent available this summer, and he's going to demand a monster contract. The Celtics are way over the salary cap and have no way of paying him.
Basically, the only possible way I can think up is a sign-and-trade for Paul Pierce. Not happening.
Nene would look really good as the Celtics' center, especially with Shaquille O'Neal retiring and a big gaping hole there at center. But someone with cap space will probably snatch him away — think New Jersey, the Clippers or maybe Houston. (The Thunder could have been the ideal candidate, but they went and threw a whole bunch of money at some other guy named Kendrick Perkins. Weird.)
The Celtics appear to have two very large needs — a big man and a consistent backup point guard. Who might be available in those areas?
As for a backup point guard, I think the ideal situation would just be bringing back Delonte West. Both Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen play a ton of minutes all year long, so breaking the bank for a backup to either one of them would be overkill. Delonte, however, brings the versatility to back up both guys. He's the perfect third guard. Beyond that, the C's can just fill in the cracks with a couple minimum-salary guys as injury replacements. One suggestion would be keeping Carlos Arroyo. Other names on the market this summer: T.J. Ford, Earl Watson, maybe even one of the Miami guys (Mike Bibby, Mario Chalmers).
The big man thing, I've been beating to death for weeks. I still like Kris "Mr. Kardashian" Humphries as a young, physical big man that can rebound and play D. Jared Jeffries would be an interesting pickup, too. The big-ticket bigs — Nene, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Yao Ming — are probably off the table, although Greg Oden remains an interesting wild-card possibility.
I've been reading the mock drafts and can't see anyone that might help us next year. I really think Danny Ainge might trade the pick for a young, athletic and cheap player like Anthony Randolph, Marreese Speights or maybe someone more productive. We have some holes to fill for the Big Three to make their last run at a championship, and this might be a way to do it without a lot of cap space. What do you think?
It's a really creative idea, but I seriously doubt the Celtics' No. 25 pick is going to get them a player like Randolph or Speights. Both of those guys were mid-first rounders in 2008, a very solid class that's already produced three All-Stars (Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love). The Celtics have a lower pick in a weaker draft. It'll be hard to get anyone to bite.
This is one of the weakest drafts we've ever seen. People are going to compare this 2011 class to 2000, whose only three All-Stars were Kenyon Martin, Michael Redd and Jamal Magloire. It really could be that bad. No one wants to trade for a No. 25 guy in this class that could be out of the league in two years.
Besides — if you're stuck with the No. 25 in this draft, why not just let Danny Ainge use it and roll the dice? Here's a list of guys Danny Ainge has found in the twenties in previous drafts: Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, Tony Allen and … oh, yeah, that Kendrick Perkins guy. Why does his name keep coming up?
Can the Celtics use Glen Davis and/or Avery Bradley, this year's pick and next year's pick to move in the top 10 in the draft? This draft is weak and they could use an impact rookie to put in work now.
First of all: No, they can't trade Davis. He's a free agent, and they won't even have an opportunity to re-sign him until July 1 (at the very earliest, and that's assuming no lockout-related delays). Between now and the draft, the Celtics have no contractual control over Davis.
But to answer your main question: Why would the Celtics want to move up in this draft? They're not looking to find a long-term project kind of player in the draft lottery. They're still in "win now" mode, not in the business of trading an asset to get into the top 10 when that top 10 offers no guarantees.
Danny Ainge has said that if Avery Bradley were in this class, he'd be a top-five pick. Sounds to me like he's got no interest in trading up.
Am I letting my pro-OKC bias delude me, or do you agree that it's going to become a regular thing for the Thunder to go farther than the Lakers in the playoffs? If Dirk Nowitzki hadn't had a great-even-for-him playoff series, we would be watching Thunder-Heat rather than Mavs-Heat right now.
Sure. That makes perfect sense to me.
The two teams are trending in opposite directions. Eight of the Lakers' 10 best players are over 30, including Kobe Bryant with 40,000 minutes on him; the Thunder have a pair of 22-year-old All-Stars and lots of other young talent. Pretty obvious which direction things are moving.
That said, I don't share the popular view that the West will become OKC's cakewalk for the next five years. They may finish with the best record in the conference next season, but there's still competition out there. Teams to worry about down the road include Portland if they stay healthy, Memphis if they keep Marc Gasol, the Clippers if their young stars keep improving and the Hornets as long as Chris Paul still has a pulse. Also, traditional powers like Dallas, San Antonio and the Lakers may not be built to win 60 games, but they'll still have some fight left come playoff time in 2012.
The future is bright for OKC. For the Celtics? We'll have to wait and see.