The Boston Celtics wrapped up their off-season yesterday by re-signing forward Jeff Green to what is rumored to be a four-year, $36 million deal. This was the latest of many good moves Danny Ainge has made in the past couple months. With the Red Sox free falling, the Patriots waiting for the regular season, and hockey currently in limbo…I felt that this was as good a time as any to talk about some off-season basketball.
The Celtics came into this off-season with three players under contract: Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley, and Rajon Rondo. They knew they had to make some big moves and they had a lot of money to play with.
Ainge knew that he had to make a choice this summer: attempt to reload a team that took the NBA Champion Miami Heat to a seventh game or make Rajon Rondo the centerpiece by getting rid of veterans and adding younger talent. Danny chose to re-load and he did a heck of a job doing so.
First came the 2012 NBA Draft, where the Celtics had two first round picks. There was speculation of them trading both picks up to grab a premier talent but Ainge had a feeling that he could get two impact players at 21 and 22. Fortunately for the Celtics, top 10 talent Jared Sullinger was falling down down the draft board because of a rumored bad back. The Celtics medical staff did not see this as a big deal and they snatched up the Ohio State post man at 21. Next up, they grabbed Syracuse seven foot center Fab Melo at 22. Melo is a premier shot blocker but it will take a year or two to shape up his offensive game and team defense knowledge.
Number one on the list of things to do was re-sign KG. A few weeks after their season ended, Ainge and Rivers spoke to KG about coming back. There was speculation of Garnett retiring after this past year and it took some time for him to decide what to do. He finally decided in late June that he wanted a few more runs at another title in Boston. KG agreed to ink a three year deal worth around $34 million.
Right when free agency began on July 1st, Doc Rivers reached out to Mavericks guard Jason Terry and he told Terry that the Celtics needed him. They needed someone who could give them 15-20 points off the bench on any given night and someone who could spread the floor for guys like Rondo and KG. Terry immediately signed a three year $15 million deal. Easy pickings.
Next, the Celtics decided to re-sign power forward Brandon Bass. After he opted out, the Celtics decided that Bass was too valuable to let walk. They re-upped him for three years worth $20 million.
The Celtics then looked to a couple other forwards to shore up their front line. Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green were both under contract with the Celtics last year but they both missed good portions of the season (in Jeff’s case, the entire season) because of heart problems. They both had successful surgeries and have been rehabbing to get ready for the season. As I mentioned above, the Celtics recently inked Green to a four year $36 million deal and a few weeks ago they signed Wilcox to the veteran minimum. Wilcox is an energy guy who hits the boards hard and can get out in transition. But the Celtics are expecting big things out of Green in the next few years. They gave up Kendrick Perkins to get this guy, so they saw that something that showed he could contribute in a big way.
Finally, the last big move of the summer for the Celtics was acquiring Rockets guard Courtney Lee. The Celtics sent the former Boilermakers Jajuan Johnson and E’Twuan Moore to Houston to acquire Lee. The Celtics needed Lee (40% three-point shooter) to spread the floor on offense and give other shooting guards headaches on defense. Avery Bradley will probably miss sometime at the beginning of the season due to shoulder surgery, so you should see Lee snagging some quality playing time this year.
The Celtics also signed Dionte Christmas, Kris Joseph, Jamar Smith, Keyon Dooling and Jason Collins to minimum deals. These players will probably be towards the end of the bench and Christmas, Joseph, and Smith could see some D-League action.
The one major loss for the Celtics this off-season was shooting guard Ray Allen going to the Miami Heat in a three-year, $9 million free agent deal. The Celtics offered him more but apparently he was clashing with Rondo and didn’t like the Jason Terry signing. I appreciate what Ray did for the Celtics but he’s the enemy now.
I give Danny Ainge an A for his work this off-season. He brought back KG, Bass, Wilcox, Green, and Dooling, along with signing Jason Terry and trading for Courtney Lee. He had two solid draft picks, and Sullinger should be able to help this team out right away. This gives the Celtics an incredible amount of depth; something they haven’t had in the last couple years. This gives them the option of playing veterans like KG and Pierce less than 30 minutes a night so they can be fresh for the playoffs. It also gives them a huge scoring punch off the bench. When Bradley comes back, they’re going to have Terry, Lee, Green, Sullinger, and Wilcox all ready to provide a boost for the first unit. They now have one of the best, if not THE best bench in the league.
Although they lost Ray, they definitely improved in the off-season. I look for them to finish in the top three in the East next year and I think a re-match of last year’s Conference Finals will be seen as well. There are a lot of new-look teams in the East, but I think the Celtics are ready to make a push for Banner 18.