Celtics Mailbag: Grant Hill to Celtics, Never-Ending Rasheed Wallace Speculation and Rajon Rondo’s Brilliance


Celtics Mailbag: Grant Hill to Celtics, Never-Ending Rasheed Wallace Speculation and Rajon Rondo's Brilliance One of these days, perhaps not too far off, we might see an entire Celtics mailbag column that doesn't reference Danny Ainge's potential moves at the trade deadline.

OK, that's definitely not too far off. The deadline is now just a week away, and we're heading down the home stretch as the C's and the rest of the NBA look to make any last-minute tweaks. Then comes the third act of the NBA season — the mad dash for playoff seeding over the final two months.

In the meantime, I'm drowning in trade deadline questions. The Celtics may be 40-14, atop the Eastern Conference for the time being, but no record is too good for a little panic. Let's dive headfirst into your inquiries.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions. Please do keep it up.

With the lack of big men right now, and all the talk that Danny Ainge wanted to add a shooter, which route are the Celtics going to take between now and the trade deadline? Or will they keep things how they are? Personally, I don't want to see them trade any of their young kids this year.

I definitely agree with you on one thing, Donald — no giving up the young kids. It's way too early. Avery Bradley is an athletic marvel, loaded with potential, and his value to the Celtics down the road is much greater than whatever he'd fetch on the open market. He's absolutely got to stay put. As for Luke Harangody and Semih Erden, they probably don't have a lot of value around the league, and the C's are better off holding on to those guys to develop them further.

What we'll probably see next week is either one very small move, or no move at all. The lack of big men isn't a long-term concern, since they have guys on the shelf now that can help out come playoff time. As for the other need, the C's very well may go after a wing player — not necessarily a shooter since they have tons of those, but definitely a bigger guy that can guard opposing small forwards. Paul Pierce needs a backup who plays tough D.

More on that in just a second.

Assuming a Marquis Daniels buyout, which available, strong, defensive small forward should the Celtics go after? I think Shane Battier would be perfect, but I don't see how the C's could get him.

First of all, that's a big assumption. The biggest obstacle facing Danny Ainge right now is that he can't assume anything about Marquis Daniels' injury. The spinal cord condition is an unusual one, and it takes time to bring in the specialized doctors and run the appropriate tests. At the moment, the C's have no idea what the outlook is. If the condition isn't too serious, you could see Daniels back in a month. But otherwise, yes, a buyout is possible.

In that event, the C's would have plenty of options. Agreed on Shane Battier — he'd be perfect, but it wouldn't be easy for the Celtics to put together an enticing package for Daryl Morey and the Rockets. There are a lot more reasonable possibilities, most of them coming from losing teams that could cut salary this week — Jamario Moon (Cleveland), Anthony Parker (Cleveland), Rasual Butler (L.A. Clippers), Roger Mason (New York), Arron Afflalo (Denver) and Josh Howard (Washington) are all on the table. A trade would be difficult for the C's, who don't have many assets, but watch carefully to see if any of these guys get bought out in the coming days. Danny might come knocking.

As a C's fan living in Phoenix, I've heard that Grant Hill could be available before the trade deadline. Do the Celtics have any chance of putting pieces together to swing a deal for Hill to replace Marquis Daniels in the rotation? Is there any interest from Boston in Hill?
–Dan Hernacki

Good thinking, Dan. Hill is one of those respected veteran guys who puts the team first. At 38, he's itching to win a ring before it's too late. And he's already got a strong relationship with Doc Rivers, who was at the helm in Orlando when Hill's health took a turn for the worst. It would be a great story to see them reunited.

Hill's a good fit basketball-wise. He's big for a small forward at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, and he can guard just about anyone at the position. He's also still a decent scorer in his old age.

But what would Phoenix want in a trade? They're at the point now, with Amare Stoudemire long gone and Steve Nash in his twilight, that it might be time to rebuild. The Celtics don't have a lot of young talent that it makes sense to offer up — they don't want to give up Bradley for Hill, for example. Nate Robinson for Hill? Would the Suns do that? Would the C's even want to? I'm not so sure.

In theory, Hill in Celtic green is a nice idea. But getting it done would be really tricky.

How long can the Celtics go having Glen Davis as their only backup big man? If Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Semih Erden are going to be out for an extended period of time, would it be wise for the Celtics to go after a big guy?

Whoa there, hold on. The Celtics may be lacking the three bigs at the moment, but they're not expecting all three absences to be too extended. Shaq might be back within the next couple of weeks; the same for Semih.

With that in mind, the C's have to be careful about giving up too much to add big man depth. If you give up a lot of young talent to pick up a center for a four-month rental, you might be mortgaging your future. If the C's stand pat, they're in pretty good shape. Out of Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal, and Semih, they really only need one to be healthy for the postseason, and they'll have enough depth to get by. They could end up having all three.

As for Big Baby, he's holding his own right now as the lone backup big man. It would be nice if he got some help soon, but it doesn't have to come via a trade.

Given the injury problems of Jermaine O'Neal, the age of Shaquille O'Neal and the inexperience of Semih Erden, do you see the Celtics bringing back a familiar face in Rasheed Wallace, who has expressed an interest in playing down the stretch and into the postseason? He could significantly decrease some of the minutes the big men play down the stretch and help add that extra pop for the playoffs.

I think this is becoming less likely every week, honestly. Danny Ainge has said that he's OK for now with his corps of big men, which to me implies that he's expecting them to get healthy sooner or later. Bringing Rasheed back would be a major hassle for a lot of reasons — Doc's depth chart, the team's chemistry, and also the roster, which is currently maxed out at 15 guys.

The Sheed possibility was alive a few months ago, but it's starting to look like that ship has sailed.

Could the Celtics trade the contract of the un-retired Rasheed Wallace? If so, Shane Battier would be a good fit, as mentioned in a previous mailbag. I also thought of former Celtic James Posey. He has a mid-level exception contract expiring next year. He knows Doc Rivers' system and would be a great fit.

It's a clever idea, but unfortunately, Sheed is completely retired and off the Celtics' books. This was something the C's experimented with originally — Sheed hinted at retirement after Game 7 of the Finals but didn't make it official until later. So the C's had all of July to shop him around, and things looked promising. An expiring contract is always desirable. But they had no takers, so they bought Sheed out on Aug. 10. His career is now 100 percent over (we think).

Battier or James Posey would of course be great in Boston, but pretty unrealistic given their contracts.

Rajon Rondo was more aggressive offensively against the Magic last week. Should Rondo look to score more?
–Chris Aeschliman

Yes. Absolutely. I think this is something you'll see the Celtics experiment with more and more over the last couple of months of the regular season, giving Rondo the ball to create for himself.

He's always been aggressive at slashing to the basket and scoring, but if he can flesh out the 15-foot jumper, that'll make him really dangerous. The Celtics are a much more efficient team offensively when teams can't slack off Rondo and double someone else, like Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. If Rondo can hit that midrange shot with more regularity, it will make everyone better. They need him scoring to keep opposing defenses honest.

When do I get my chance with the big club? I've been doing really well up here in Maine.
–DeShawn Sims

What an honor! Always nice to get a question from a D-League standout.

In all seriousness, DeShawn Sims has been the best player this season for the Maine Red Claws. The undrafted former Michigan Wolverine has turned a lot of heads with his performance this season, leading the club in both points per game (18.0) and rebounds per game (8.2). He deserves a shot at being a legit NBA player.

But not with the Celtics — at least not this season, while the C's are chasing a championship. They're not about to insert another rookie into their already-crowded group of young guys. Sims is a high-energy power forward, a bit redundant with Luke Harangody already here, so he doesn't exactly fit the big club's current needs.

A year or two from now, it would be great to see Sims in Boston.

It would be interesting to see if the strategy of Rondo guarding LeBron James is used again in the playoffs. Because James has no real post game, it worked pretty well.

Agreed, it's a fascinating wrinkle for the Celtics to throw at the Heat, and you might see it again in May, should the two teams meet. Rondo may be seven inches shorter than James, but he makes it up in wingspan (estimated at around 6-foot-8), and he's quick enough that James can't beat him off the dribble.

What's most interesting about Rondo guarding James is that it was his idea. Doc Rivers told him to pressure the ball, and Rondo started pressuring it on every single possession, even when James had the ball. It worked, so the Celtics stuck with it.

Rondo has the right combination of confidence, competitiveness and brilliant on-ball defensive skills that he should definitely stick with it. Provided, of course, that the gets the chance. The Eastern Conference finals are still far, far away.

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