Early Celtics preview

So the ink is not yet dry on the new CBA agreement (if there is any ink on it yet at all) so I figured I could end my own personal NBA lockout and write my first blog about the Celtics.  Of course the big news before the lockout was that Doc Rivers signed a new long term contract extension with the team and will oversee the end of the Big 3 era and the beginning of the next one.  Let’s take a look at one they have in the lineup, on the bench, and what they need to add for the 2011-2012 season.

Returning starters: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Ray Allen, SF Paul Pierce, PF Kevin Garnett – It’s basically been the big 4 for the past few years and the big 4 are all returning for this season – for now.  I don’t even know who to put as the incumbent center since Kendrick Perkins was traded and Shaq missed the second half of the season.  I’m not sure if the supposed Rajon Rondo trade goes down.  Unless Paul or Howard come back (and I don’t think they will) I just don’t see equal value out there for Rondo.  I think it’s a safe bet for these four to be in the starting lineup on opening day, certainly the big 3 at least.  The question is how much do the big 3 have left in the tank.  Maybe the lockout helped them if they kept in shape.  There is no doubt they will be hungry to make that one last run.  They are all competitors and they may well have beat the Heat last season if Rondo were healthy for that whole series.  I’d imagine the 5th starter at C comes through an acquisition.

Returning bench players – SG Jeff Green, PF Jermaine O’Neal, PG Avery Bradley – Jeff Green is the type of solid swingman that every team loves to have but he was acquired at the expensive of the team’s starting center.  Still if the team can replace Perks’ production in the middle Green will have a huge role on this team.  O’Neal is basically KG support and you just hope he can make it through the season.  Avery Bradley probably won’t get much time unless somebody gets hurt or they can’t acquire any good back-up guards in free agency.  In other words hope Avery Bradley doesn’t get much playing time.

Impending Free Agents – PG Delonte West, PF Glen Davis, C Shaquille O’Neal, C Nenad Krstic, SG Von Wafer, PG Carlos Arroyo, SF Sasha Pavlovic – Obviously Shaq is retired so he’s not coming back.  The biggest names on here become Delonte West and Big Baby Davis.  I’m leaning towards West, who was hampered by injuries all of last year, as the guy they need to bring back.  There is already talk of a sign and trade for Big Baby and apparently the Celtics brass haven’t been happy with his weight.  I could take or leave Krstic, he’s not a bad player but not someone I would try and use heavy resources on, and Wafer, who is a decent enough complementary guy.  Arroyo and Pavlovic are gone.

Draft Picks – F JaJuan Johnson, G E’Twaun Moore – I am not an NCAA draft expert, especially since most of these kids play two years tops at college anyway, but it should be interesting to see if these two former Purdue teammates can make it on the Green together.  Rivers hasn’t extensively used rookies since Big Baby and Rondo but due to cap constraints these guys might be asked to contribute early.

I’ll dive into the guys who are available to the Celtics next week but the wish list is pretty straight-forward.  A starting center as well as some additional size for the middle.  A back-up point guard and more depth for the front court.  Insurance for the aging big 3.  This will look like a different team this season but with the Big 3, and possibly the Big 4 returning, expect another deep playoff run for the C’s.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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