Wednesday, August 01, 2007

With the KG Trade Finalized ...

I'm very curious to see what Boston does to round out the roster. As detailed in a previous post, I felt this was a great trade for the Celtics and thought it was a no-brainer to use the Ratliff bargaining chip in conjunction with Jefferson to give themselves a shot at winning now. Allen, Pierce, and KG are all fantastic players and - even more importantly - they should mesh well together given their different strengths.

However, it will be very interesting to see where Boston goes from here. They obviously must round out the roster in advance of the 2008 trade deadline because while these guys aren't ready for retirement, they aren't young either. Boston is probably only going to get 2 or 3 years of elite level play from this trio, so they must complete the roster and aim for the Finals immediately.

I personally think Rondo will make a big step forward this year and now that the Toronto contingent has ruled out a Calderon trade, I think Boston can stand pat at starting point guard. Rondo can push pace, apply pressure on defense, and get into the lane to create for Allen on the wing. He'll be more than adequate as a 30-35 minutes a game guy. However, Boston needs more than rookie Gabe Pruitt to back him up. In fact, I would contend that Boston actually needs a veteran 20 mpg point guard that can spell Rondo early and actually replace him late to run the offense. Boston could definitely get by with a platoon featuring the young buck and an experienced vet out of the Avery Johnson mold. My buddy Josh Stump wondered in an email today whether Brevin Knight had signed with anyone and I thought that was a perfect fit for Boston. Knight is fragile and can't log huge minutes (not can he shoot at all), but he knows how to run a team and could be a perfect closer as well as a tutor to Rondo.

In fact, it is Boston's bench that concerns me. In my previous post, I discussed why the inclusion of Al Jefferson shouldn't bother Celtic fans, and I stand by all the points I made at that time. However, I will note that the proposed deal didn't include Ryan Gomes. I think his inclusion will be costly for Boston. He was a hard worker and a versatile player that really would have given this team some help as the first forward off the pine and now he's off in the land of lakes where his subtle skills will be totally wasted.

That is why I would argue that Boston needs to focus on the bench. Rondo is going to be fine as long as they bring in a vet to help him out. Perkins is going to be fine with KG there to mentor and protect him in the middle. I really think the starting lineup is set. However, they can't feel great about a second unit that features Pruitt, Tony Allen (recovering from an ACL tear), Scalabrine, Big Baby Davis, and Leon Powe. That is zero centers, zero natural point guards, zero shooters, and about 10 total years of experience. I'm actually expecting Powe to give them some punch in the middle, for Allen to make it back (he was playing great last year), and for the rookies to come along nicely. That said, they still need to add two pieces to the bench.

The first is covered above, as Boston needs to add a veteran point guard on the cheap. Again, Knight would be ideal but even a guy like Jason Hart would do. Notice I said "like" Jason Hart, because the real version already signed with Utah. Then they need to add a versatile small forward type that can guard people and allow Boston to shift Pierce down or Garnett up to go big or small. Getting some shooting from that player wouldn't hurt either. Morris Peterson would have been ideal, but he just signed with New Orleans. Perhaps James Posey? He seemed washed up last year, but as recently as the 2006 Finals, he was a beast. Ime Udoka would be a huge add, but aren't the Spurs rumored to be offering him quit a bit of cash? I'm not sure how much coin Boston could throw at him. Ruben Patterson seems like a pretty good option. Matt Barnes is appealing but probably won't want to sign for less money to come off the bench when he's got such a good thing going in Oakland.

All told, here are the players Boston might want to target to fill those two positions, with only a midlevel to split between them:

PG - Brevin Knight, Earl Boykins, Troy Hudson (ironically, as he was just bought out by the Wolves), Darrick Martin, Eddie House, Mike Wilks.

F - Ime Udoka, Ruben Patterson, Matt Barnes, James Singleton, James Posey, P.J. Brown, Devin Brown, Austin Croshere, Kelvin Cato, Jumaine Jones.

As you can see, the pickings are pretty slim. And that proves that the biggest problem with the KG trade wasn't all the guys that Boston had to give up, but the fact that they couldn't get it done until now, when all the decent free agents were already locked up to deals.

Still, hope is not lost, as there are some decent players on that list. If Ainge can get even one veteran to sign for less than $1 mil, he can spend $2.5 mil each on two other guys. It seems plausible that his $6 million midlevel could net a combination like Knight, Patterson, and P.J. Brown.

With those three players, suddenly the roster looks like this:

PG Rondo
SG R. Allen
SF Pierce
PF Garnett
C Perkins
B - Knight
B - T. Allen
B - Patterson
B - P.J. Brown
B - Powe
B - Big Baby
B - Pruitt

With Big Baby and Pruitt moved all the way down to the 11/12 spots on the depth chart, suddenly the bench doesn't seem so thin. And Knight, Allen, Patterson, and Brown would give Boston some real quality defense coming off the bench.

With a few more quality moves, Ainge can have this team positioned as the favorite in the East.

1 comment:

Bobby Jones 2.0 said...

Why not: Eddie Jones, Derek Anderson, or Corliss Williamson - seems like those guys could contribute for Boston. Anderson, since he can play the point, but Eddie Jones would be a great backup to Pierce and Allen, and the Big Nasty cause he cheats...