Monday, May 06, 2013

Celtics Are in Need of a Quick Fix – Six Moves Boston Can Make to Get Back to Being Elite!

This may or may not come as a shock to some NBA fans, but the Boston Celtics are absolutely finished as we've come to know them over the last five seasons!

Oh sure… we've all seen the signs coming the last couple of seasons. The trade of Kendrick Perkins was the first blow to a Celtics team forged in togetherness. The departure of Ray Allen in free agency was the most recent blow to Boston’s former Big Three era ballclub, but now, the end of Boston’s stature as an elite Eastern Conference title contender is finished as well. 

Clearly, this is a team that is going to be in need of a ‘quick fix’ this summer if they want to get back into title contention next season. Only time will tell whether or not the Celtics can upgrade their roster to complete this task, but here are six moves I think the C’s need to make in order to improve on the mediocre campaign they unveiled during the 2012-13 NBA season. 

1. Trade Rajon Rondo
There’s a couple of reasons the Celtics have tried to move Rajon Rondo on more than one occasion since making the mercurial point guard the 21st pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. First and foremost, the guy can’t shoot a lick from outside of six feet from the basket. While Rondo is an outstanding passer and defender, his inability to consistently make a shot from the perimeter is a hindrance that not many teams can afford to have in today’s guard-dominated game.

Rondo also isn’t the most respected guy in the locker room and has been cited as a cause for locker room dissension on more than one occasion. Lest anyone forget, Hall of Fame-bound shooting guard Ray Allen said it was Rondo that he had a problem with in 2011 and that point was confirmed a bit this season when Rondo went down with an injury and more than one of his current teammates said it was more pleasurable playing without their floor leader’s on-court presence. Simple and plain…it’s time for the Celtics to get whatever they can for Rajon Rondo.

2. Find a New Floor Leader
Well, if the Celtics are going to trade Rondo, they’re going to need of a new starting point guard, although that may be a lot harder to accomplish than said, which is likely the main reason Rondo hasn’t been moved by now.

Nevertheless, the Celtics should try to get a point guard in return for Rondo or make another trade for a potential starter unless they find themselves in a great position to draft one out of this year’s draft. Here is a look at several veterans that will become unrestricted free agents following the conclusion of this season and ones that could very well surprise Celtics fans in the near future.

Point Guard Free Agents: Mario Chalmers, Mo Williams, Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, Rodrigue Beaubois, Jarred Bayless, D.J. Augustin, Darren Collison, Patrick Mills.

3. Green’s Gotta’ Start
I don’t care whom he replaces in the starting lineup, but right now, it’s easy to see that Jeff Green has to start somewhere next season. The problem is that Green is a forward and Boston’s two starting forwards are Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. However, I believe that Pierce should come off the bench next season with Green starting at the small forward spot next to Garnett, who should be moving to the bench himself in the very near future.

Green is extremely versatile with his unique ability to hit shots from three-point distance or throw down hellacious dunks over dazed opponents. The only problem I have with Green is that he can go M.I.A. for stretches when his talent and skill level say that he should be playing on par with the game’s elite superstars. Still, Green is too gifted to not start right now, especially with Pierce and Garnet really starting to show their advanced ages.

4. Get some big bodies – that can contribute!
Speaking of Garnett, he clearly needs help. The Celtics haven’t been the same fearsome defensive juggernaut that they once were ever since they traded former center Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Green, a forward that doesn’t play center and couldn’t replace their former underappreciated big man.

Now, here it is three years later and Oklahoma City is a perennial powerhouse while Boston has become a team with a huge hole in the middle. While Garnett has some advantages when he moves over to the center position, he’s always been a power forward and that’s where he belongs.

The Celtics are going to need a new power forward and another center or two and there are a few available.

Here is a look at some intriguing names that are on the board for the Celtics to choose from this offseason. At the forward position, you have, Josh Smith, David West, Jason Maxiell, DeJuan Blair, Marreesse Speights, Carl Landry, Elton Brand, Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche. At the center spot, there’s, Tiago Splitter, Chris Andersen and Zaza Pachulia.

5. Get Some Sweet Shooters
Not having Ray Allen on the roster has exposed the Celtics as a team that struggles to hit shots consistently from the perimeter. Now, the Celtics need another shooting guard because Courtney Lee hasn’t been the answer (and neither has Jason Terry).

I’m thinking the Celtics should go after a least one of the following veterans while juggling their guard-heavy roster a bit.

Here are some potential perimeter shooters for the Celtics.

O.J. Mayo, Kevin Martin, J.J. Redick, Nate Robinson, Corey Brewer, Rashard Lewis, Randy Foye, Will Bynum and Wesley Johnson.

6. Wake-Up Call for Doc Rivers!
Okay people, last but not least, while Doc Rivers is one of the most respected head coaches in the NBA and that he has firmly established himself with the Celtics and their rabid fan base, I think the hoarse-voiced taskmaster needs to make a few changes in his coaching style moving forward.

Unless the Celtics can put together a roster that mirrors the defensive-minded unit that won it all back in 2008, Boston’s beloved head coach needs to make some significant changes to his team’s style of play, particularly on offense.

Instead of playing like an aging ‘old’ team that relies on superior defense and well-executed half-court offense, I believe the Celtics will need to get younger moving forward while playing a bit more of an up-tempo, free-flowing, offensive brand of basketball.

I suspect that I’m not the only Celtics fan that is sick and tired of seeing the Celtics come down court as slow as a snail only to set up for an offensive possession that ends in a one-and-done missed shot and defensive rebound for the other team. Basically, the way Boston has played the last few seasons, you’d think a fastbreak was a cancer-causing carcinogen the team has been told to steer clear of.

Whatever the roster makeup is as the team gets set to transition away from the leadership of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, Rivers is going to have to adjust his offensive approach to play to the strengths of his roster and not the other way around!

If the Celtics can pull off the majority of these six moves successfully, they could very well find themselves back in legitimate conference title contention as early as next season. 

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