Celtics Move On Minus Ray Allen
The Boston Celtics should remain among the top teams in the Eastern Conference in 2012-’13 even without Ray Allen. Kevin Garnett’s decision to return to the Celtics, just before he was set to become one of the biggest free agents on the market, takes the sting out of the Celtics losing Allen.
The Celtics added guard Jason Terry with a three-year contract at the mid-level exception ($5 million). Jeff Green will return to the Celtics with a reported four-year, $36 million deal. Free agents cannot sign until the moratorium period ends on July 11th so the details are not fully known.
While the loss of Allen hurts because of how much he has meant over the past five seasons with his outside shooting, the Celtics should be relieved that Terry chose to come to Boston. Terry gives the Celtics an option in the backcourt. The 34-year-old guard can play the point and he can create his own shot. He can shoot from anywhere on the court as he was a 38% shooter from beyond the 3-point line in 2011-’12. Also, Terry can work the pick-and-roll game and he is a better at moving the ball than Allen. Terry is not a great defender, but he is a savvy veteran who was able to help the Dallas Mavericks win a championship in 2011 with their changing schemes from man-to-man and zone defense.
Green is a 6-foot-9-inch athlete with length. The 26-year-old who was traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Kendrick Perkins in February 2011 missed last season because of an aortic heart aneurysm. He has an undefined position, but he can fill the “4” position with Brandon Bass when the Celtics play small. When Green joined the Celtics, he had an unfamiliar role coming off the bench since he was a starter in his four and a half seasons with the young Thunder squad. His 3-point shooting has dropped from 39% to the low 30’s, but he was producing offensively for the Celtics when he shot 48% from the floor. Green fits in with the Celtics because he has never been a great rebounder. He could be fun to watch considering he is young and he can run with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley in transition. Lastly, he can fill in for Paul Pierce and defend forwards like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Andre Iguodala.
Bass also came to terms with the Celtics on a three-year pact. He came to the Celtics last year in the trade that sent Glen Davis and Von Wafer to the Orlando Magic. Bass was an effective jump shooter off the bench early in the season, but he was inconsistent on the defensive end. Over the course of the season, Bass improved defensively to the point that where the Celtics used him to guard James even thought Game 7 resulted in a loss. Bass proved he is a positive force. In the second half of the season with injuries in the frontcourt, Doc Rivers inserted Bass into the starting lineup along with Garnett in the frontcourt. The Celtics benefitted from this lineup since they went 24-10 in the final two-plus months of the season.
ESPN.com reported the Celtics are interested in acquiring Houston Rockets guard Courtney Lee. The Celtics and Rockets would need to come to a sign-and-trade agreement. Lee became an unrestricted free agent when the Rockets decided not to extend a qualifying offer to the restricted free agent. Lee’s game is similar to Avery Bradley since they are both exceptional at cutting to the basket, but Lee is a better outside shooter even though Bradley has improved in that area. Both are among the better defenders in the league; however Bradley is better at pressuring the ball. Bradley is expected to have more surgery on his right shoulder. This was the result of an injury that he suffered in the midst of the Celtics’ postseason run and it could keep Bradley out until December.
The Celtics made a qualifying offer to backup center Greg Stiemsma for $1.1 million. Stiemsma visited with the Minnesota Timberwolves during the weekend. Even though the Timberwolves have expressed interest in signing Stiemsma, they have not made an offer because the Wolves are waiting to see if the Portland Trail Blazers will match Nicolas Batum’s offer of $45 million.
Allen’s acceptance of the Miami Heat offer further hurts the Celtics because they cannot take the $6 million they offered to Allen and give the money to another free agent. There could be a sign-and-trade option for Allen, but the Heat don’t have enough assets on their roster. The Celtics would have to either work out a trade, which is why they are attempting to get Lee, or they will just have to hope they can bring in veterans for the bi-annual exception at around $2 million or the league minimum.
There are plenty of players available such as Mickael Pietrus, Keyon Dooling, and Chris Wilcox who were valuable to the Celtics last year. All three would be effective end-of-the-rotation players if they are willing to accept low money. Pietrus is coming off knee surgery and has said he would love to come back. The Allen saga put Pietrus on the backburner. Dooling battled through injuries to become a backup guard who helped the Celtics win some postseason games. He also was a leader for Rondo in the locker room. Wilcox is coming off aortic heart surgery in March and, if he is healthy, he would be an interesting option in the frontcourt because he has developed a chemistry with Rondo.
Overall, the Celtics should be able to compete in the Eastern Conference next year, but it will not be easy because their division has gotten stronger. The New York Knicks added Jason Kidd. Even though Kidd (39) is broken down by age, he is still a leader and he will be able to help the Knicks off the bench with his deft passing ability to the Knicks superstars’ Anthony and A’mare Stoudemire. The Brooklyn Nets resigned point guard Deron Williams and traded for Joe Johnson. The Nets are close to getting Dwight Howard in a four-team trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Additionally, the Philadelphia 76ers signed Nick Young and they will bring back most of their roster that proved to be quite a challenge for the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals during this past season.