…can be a cruel mistress. Especially when thinking back to how excited Celtics fans were last off season. The Celts had just earned banner 17, a feat I couldn’t imagine with the years of watching team after team lose, draft poorly, and have just enough to make it to the conference finals, but not enough to put them over the edge (although in my youth I do remember thinking how great the Pierce/ Walker tandem was, how Eric Williams was a force in the post, and how the Tonys, Delk and Battie, were so good. Anyone remember Erik Strickland….okay, digression ends here). Finally my years of devotion had paid off and I was given a bonafide “I remember where I was when the Celtics won…” (Cheers in Faneuil Hall for those of you keeping score at home).
This win made the off season inherently optimistic. When a team has three superstars beating the Lakers convincingly in a game 6 clincher, everyone had to feel that the only way the Celtics could go was up. Well, they didn’t.
We all know how PJ Brown retired, Sam Cassell got a one-year deal no one felt good about, and Po-Z fled for greener pastures in New Orleans. Still, there were hopes on the horizon. Rumors started circulating about Corey Maggette coming to Boston. Not only that but fresh off his suspension, fan favorite energy player Chris Anderson came for a try-out.
These seemed like perfect candidates for what the Celtics needed last off season- a swingman to back up Pierce, and athletic big man to defend and spell KG.
What do we need this off season? See above.
The Celtics didn’t get either, opting to sign Patick O’Bryant and banking on him breaking out and Maggette took more (way too much) money to play for Golden State where he would be a starter. The kicker, of course, on the Maggette story was that he didn’t even end up starting for the Warriors by the end of the season. Still, had Maggette played back up minutes for the Celtics, rather than being relied on for major contributions, there’s no doubt in my mind we’d be in a different situation right now. Also, we all know what “Bird Man” is doing right now, and if you don’t tune in to ESPN tonight at 9.
The Celts further addressed the Po-Z departure in the draft when they bought Bill Walker from the Wizards and used a first round pick on JR Giddens. I still say these are great moves. Obviously neither were going to make an impact this season (although I did predict Bill Walker to make a few highlight reels). However, last year the Celtics addressed a major concern- age and athleticism. The Celtics are old and losing their athleticism. Walker and Giddens are young and athletic. These two are pretty much the prototypical player the Celtics want, both are slashers who are athletic enough to become elite defenders, should they ever see the court.
This off season I expect the Celtics to look for one more athletic wing player (preferably established), someone who can shoot to spread the floor, and one more athletic big man who can defend (Chris Andersen maybe?). I mean last year Mickael Pietrus was available, we didn’t want him, and now we’re scraping the egg off our faces given how badly he killed us last series with athleticsim, outside shooting, and defense. In another words, everything we were and still are looking for.
First, let’s get Big Baby sewn up, Marbury to come back, Leon Powe healthy and, oh yeah, rest. Regardless of how you feel about Doc’s injury explanation (Zach vs. Brian) everyone on the Celtics team deserves to rest up and get healthy.
When healthy, we still have a great team, but there also a lot of other great teams out there. Perhaps the loss this year is a blessing in disguise. If we want to win again with this team, we needed an ego check, and we need to always be thinking about ways to get better.
So aside from discussing what the Celtics need to do in the off season, why did I make you remember all that? Because I did, and misery loves company.