2011 NBA Offseason: Boston Celtics

Written by Paul Banks of the Washington Times, David Kay and Peter Christian of the The Sports Bank. Send Paul an e-mail here: paulb05 AT hotmail DOT com.
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Boston Celtics (Last Year: 56-26)

2011 NBA Draft Team Grade:

Doc Rivers’ son played college basketball at Indiana, so I am sure the Celtics coach knows of JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore pretty well. With the championship window closing on Boston, they needed to try and find players in this draft who could help them out right away. I think Johnson and Moore could become role players right away in Boston. They may not have the upside as some of the younger or foreign guys, but they could help the team right away since they have such a thin roster. (Team Grade: Makes sense)

Live 2011 NBA Draft Grades:

27. JaJuan Johnson, F, Purdue
The Celtics moved down two spots and still got the guy I predicted they would grab. Boston has a need for frontcourt depth and Johnson’s pick and pop ability and his length make him a nice fit. He just needs to get stronger. (Pick Grade: Makes sense)

55. E’Twaun Moore, G, Purdue
First JaJuan Johnson, now E’Twaun Moore. The Celtics have gained a whole new following in West Lafayette, Ind. Moore is an outstanding pick this late especially for a team that needs immediate help behind Ray Allen at the two. (Pick Grade: LOVE IT!)

*** 2011 NBA Offseason Needs and Free Agents listed below this comment box. ***

2010-11 Season Summary:
Ever since winning the NBA Title in 2009, the story for the Celtics has been anything less than a championship is considered a disappointment. Boston finished the regular season with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and then swept the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. However, the Celtics were out-matched by a younger, more athletic Heat team as they were bounced from the second round.

The Boston Three Party did their part but didn’t play at the level they did during their championship run two seasons ago. Ray Allen proved he can still shoot the ball with the best in the world and Paul Pierce is capable of carrying the load of a go-to scorer, but Kevin Garnett continues to show the wear on his body and finished with numbers well below his career average.

The veterans cleared a space for Rajon Rando who continues to blossom as a true point guard, finishing second in the league behind Steve Nash in assists per game. His shooting numbers are still painfully low allowing defenses to play off him on the perimeter, but his ability to distribute the basketball is mesmerizing.

The O’Neals (Shaq and Jermaine) were signed to add depth in the middle, while the team waited for Kendrick Perkins to get healthy. Instead, the Celtics surprised many by dealing Perkins and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic. Meanwhile, the O’Neals combined to play just 61 regular season games with injuries limiting Shaq to just 12 minutes played in the playoffs.

That trade seems to have backfired for general manager Danny Ainge. Green never found his niche in coming off Boston’s bench, while Kristic played OK but is a free agent this summer. It also left the Celtics without a true big man to bang down low. (I know Glen Davis is big, but he is a short big.)

2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:

C: Jermaine O�Neal

PF: Kevin Garnett/#Jeff Green/JaJuan Johnson

SF: Paul Pierce

SG: Ray Allen/Avery Bradley/E’Twaun Moore

PG: Rajon Rando

NBA Free Agents:

#PF-Jeff Green (RFA)

PF-Glen Davis (UFA)

C-Nenad Kristic (UFA)

SG-Delonte West (UFA)

PG-Carlos Arroyo (UFA)

SG-Von Wafer (UFA)

PF-Troy Murphy (UFA)

G/F-Sasha Pavlovic (UFA)

2010-11 Team Salary: Approximately $72.5 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Size: Shaq retired. Glen Davis and Nenad Kristic are free agents. Jeff Green could be a free agent. The only bigs under contract for next season are Kevin Garnett, who is no spring chicken, and a washed up Jermaine O�Neal. We also saw how the trading of Perkins left the Celtics without a true rim protector and physical big. Take into account all those factors, and Boston needs to find some size which will not be easy to do since the 2011 NBA Draft is thin on true big men and the Celtics are already massively over the league salary cap.

2. Wing Depth: This past season, the Celtics paraded guys like Delonte West, Von Wafer, Marquis Daniels, Avery Bradley and Sasha Pavlovic out on the wing to try and find some depth behind Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. None of them provided the needed spark off the bench, and all but Bradley are free agents this offseason. Boston needs to find someone whom they can rely on to score off the bench especially since Allen turns 36 this summer and Pierce will be 34 by the start of next season.

3. Backup Point Guard: After trading Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, Boston was left without a true backup point guard to Rajon Rando, and was forced to sign Carlos Arroyo who did not play a single minute in the postseason. Delonte West was able to come in and run some point but he is a free agent once again, leaving the Celtics without a backup for Rando unless they feel comfortable having last year’s first-round pick Avery Bradley fill that void. Since Bradley is still a combo guard trying to learn how to run the point, the Celtics need to find at least a 1-year rental in the form of a veteran who could play 8-12 minutes a night.

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