2010-11 record: 56-26 (1st place Atlantic Division, 3rd place Eastern Conference – Lost in theEastern Conference Semifinals to the Miami Heat 4-1)
Guards: Rajon Rondo – $10,000,000 this year, 4 years remaining$46,000,000 total
Forwards: Paul Pierce – $15,333,334 3 years remaining$47,000,000 total
Centers: JermaineO’Neal $6,226,000 1 year remaining
Delonte West – G Unrestricted Free Agent – likely to be signed
Glen Davis – F-C Unrestricted Free Agent – team will let himtest the market
Carlos Arroyo, Nenad Kristic, Troy Murphy,Sasha Pavolvic, Von Wafer – Unrestricted Free Agents likely not to be re-signedby the team
JuJuan Johnson – Rookie 1st RoundPick
Rasheed Wallace – F-C Retired, but counts against cap this season$6,790,640
Danny Ainge, President of BasketballOperations for the Boston Celtics, faces a two prong challenge. He must fill out a roster with only sevenplayers under contract. He also has 4 ofhis starting 5 players all over the age of 33. Believe or not, Jermaine O’Neal, bad knees and all, is the youngster ofthis group, followed by Peirce at 34, Garnett at 35 and Allen at 36. Put an asterisk besides KG because he cameright out of high school and has many more NBA miles then he wouldotherwise. However, on the bright side,the Big 3, as Pierce, Allen and Garnett are known in Boston, are savvy veteranswho knew the importance of keeping themselves in shape during the lockout. Rondo has marveled publicly about the workethic that this group has, calling them the hardest workers on the team.
Unless Danny Ainge once again channels RedAuerbach, as he did in 2007 in getting Allen and Garnett for the C’s, the Celtics’roster has some serious holes. Thecenter spot is primary among them. Jermaine O’Neal is their only remaining center, with the Celtics losingNenad Kristic to Europe, Shaquille O’Neal to retirement, and Kendrick Perkinsin the shocking trade to Oklahoma City that had then brought Kristic and JeffGreen to the Celtics last mid-season.
The last part of this trifecta of need is ascorer to back up Pierce and Allen. JeffGreen is penciled in here but last year he was unable to regain his OklahomaCity form, performing well in spurts only to regress with uneven play. In deference to Green, he not only had tochange his role from starter along side Durant and Westbrook to coming off thebench to spell Allen and/or Pierce, but he came in mid-season and had to pickup the Celtic’s system on the fly. Thissystem has both offensive and defensive complexities that have brought seasonedveterans to their knees (I am talking to YOU Stephon Marbury) and got themglued to Doc Rivers bench.
So what has Dannygot to work with? First and foremost, hehas one of the best coaches in the NBA, Doc Rivers. Doc had his coming out party in the 2007-08 ChampionshipSeries where he ate Phil Jackson’s lunch, drank all Phil Jackson’s beer and thenhad his way with Phil Jackson’s woman, the estimable Jeanie Buss. Okay, not literally. But, figuratively? ABSOLUTELY. Phil did not get that constipated look from eating too many doublecheese tacos, okay? Doc out-coached himat every turn, from substitutions to game management to play calling toleadership of his players. The NBA had Docmiked up during the game when the C’s were getting smoked by the Lakers only tocome back and steal that game. The boysin the truck monitoring the feed marveled afterward about how Doc kept hisplayers calm and focused, giving them the confidence to succeed. That’s coaching at the NBA level. Doc was recently resigned to a multi-yearcontract and provides stability at the helm for the Celtics. Under Doc, theCeltics will continue to be a defensive force in the league, as,,,all togethernow: “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!”
Age has not calledon Paul Pierce just yet. He is aremarkable clutch player. Last shot iseither Ray or Paul (and sometimes KG) but Paul is the MAN. What KG did for Paul when KG joined theCeltics was to unleash a defensive side to Pierce’s game that made him acompete player. It is Pierce who willget the assignment to guard the team’s best player and make him disappear (I’MTALKIN’ TO YOU LEBRON!)
Thanks to @TalkinAllSports for the GREAT preview!!!