2012 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: 39-27)

2011-12 Season Summary:
All season long for the Celtics, it was a matter of getting through the shortened regular season, getting to the playoffs with a healthy roster, and having a chance to win another ring. That is exactly the position Boston put itself in, but the team just didn’t have the depth to see that plan all the way through.

Their Big Three did what needed to be done before elevating their play in the postseason. Kevin Garnett proved that despite having a ton of miles on his legs, he still has plenty left in the tank thanks to that always dangerous mid-range jump shot and was especially impressive in the playoffs. Paul Pierce was typical Paul Pierce; being the Celtics No. 1 offensive option and clutch late-game performer. Of the three veterans, Ray Allen showed his age the most. He missed 20 games due to injury and posted his lowest scoring total since his rookie season.

Despite having his name attached to trade rumors after the team sputtered to a slow start, Rajon Rondo dethroned Steve Nash as the league leader in assists. He still struggles with his perimeter shooting, allowing defenders to sag off him on the perimeter, but his quickness remains on display and his blow-by ability can seemingly get him to the rim at anytime.

Outside of those four stars, Doc Rivers was forced to juggle a hodgepodge of roles players. Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Wilcox suffered season-ending injuries and were eventually released, which magnified Boston’s already lack of depth inside. Brandon Bass did a solid job of replacing O’Neal in the starting lineup, but that left the Celtics with an undersized front line. Journeyman rookie Greg Stiemsma did his best to provide some size inside, as did mid-season free agent pick-up Ryan Hollins.

Another major development was the growth that Avery Bradley showed during his second year in the league. Bradley was pretty much a non-factor as a rookie, but did a respectable job filling in for Allen at the two when the veteran was banged up. Other “old-timers” Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, and Mickael Pietrus filled out the roster, but really didn’t add much pop off the bench.

2012-13 Projected Depth Chart:

C: *Greg Stiemsma

PF: JaJuan Johnson

SF: Paul Pierce

SG: Avery Bradley/E’Twaun Moore

PG: Rajon Rondo

NBA Free Agents:

PF-Kevin Garnett (UFA)

SG-Ray Allen (UFA)

PF-Brandon Bass (UFA)

F-Jeff Green (UFA)

SG-Marquis Daniels (UFA)

G/F-Mickael Pietrus (UFA)

PG-Keyon Dooling (UFA)

C-Ryan Hollins (UFA)

*C-Greg Stiemsma (RFA)

2012-13 Team Salary: Approximately $31.2 million

NBA Offseason Needs:

1. Frontcourt: Ummm … yeah, there’s no way in hell the Celtics can head into next season with a starting frontcourt of Greg Stiemsma and JaJuan Johnson. The biggest decision will come from Kevin Garnett and how much/long of a contract he is looking for this offseason, and whether Boston is willing to bring the 36-year old back. Brandon Bass has also opted out of the final year of his contract leaving a gaping hole up front. The good news is that the team has a pair of first-round picks, as well as the cap space to find some better talent and depth.

2. Re-sign Ray Ray?: The Garnett decision is much more vital than what to do with the soon-to-be 37-year old Allen, who unlike Garnett, has definitely lost a step. If the Celtics end up parting ways with Jesus Shuttlesworth, they will need to find a replacement; not necessarily a starting shooting guard since Avery Bradley could fill that role, but definitely somebody who can stroke it from deep.

3. Depth All Over: Besides the aforementioned holes up front and at shooting guard, Boston really needs to add depth and an upgrade of talent at every position. The Celtics have to find a backup point guard for Rajon Rondo and a wing to play behind Paul Pierce.

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