Alright comment barrage-ers. Do your worst. I’ve listened to my high school basketball’s warm up CD exactly 67 times and with the help of Eminem’s “Till I Collapse,” MOP’s “Ante Up,” Jay-Z’s “Bring ’em Out” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” I feel like I’m ready for anything.
Everyone knows the Celtics would be a better team this coming season if they were able to free up some roster spots by working a sign-and-trade for Marquis Daniels– hell, I think we’ve written about it enough here on Celtics Hub. However, as the offseason drags on, it becomes more evident that the continuous reports of “Celtics still looking for a third team” are putting a damper on our collective hopes and revealing that the Celtics will have both Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine occupying roster spots this season. This prospect is even more troubling when thinking about how much better the Magic and Cavaliers could be this upcoming season.
In the beginning of the free agency period, Celtics Hub as well as many other Celtics related news sites and blogs clamored for the C’s to sign guys like Anthony Parker, Matt Barnes, Jamario Moon, and Leon Powe only to see each one of them go to either the Magic or the Cavs. If that wasn’t bad enough, the C’s also missed out on guys like Grant Hill and Anthony Carter. With respect to the fans perspective of how the Eastern Power’s free agency coups have panned out, the C’s are not on top- or are they?
Even with the Celtics not making a big splash on draft day as expected, or signing any of the aforementioned big time role players, the Celtics are still a team to be reckoned with. Despite the fact that making such claims that include phrases like “if healthy,” “had Marbury panned out,” or “had Moore not forgotten how to play defense” it’s fair to say that the Orlando series would have gone differently if the Celtics had even capable bodies to play, let alone a healthy KG and Powe. Taking a great team like the Magic to seven games down two players and without capable replacements is enough to show how great a team the Celtics were last year.
The overall point to this post, besides the title, is that the Celtics next year will be a far better team than last years, while I think the jury is, in fact, still out on the Magic and the Cavaliers. Even though both the Magic and the Cavs did extremely well this offseason, they are still unproven entities. Anytime you break up your team’s core and lose the player that runs your offense, there will be an adjustment period- even if you replaced that player with a Vince Carter. Not only have the Magic broken up their core, but they have also lost Rashard Lewis in a bizarre performance enhancing drugs positive test (personally, I think Lewis should be allowed- no required to take steroids. He and his Hyperize battery mate Kevin Durant. Have you seen how skinny those dudes are?). The Cavaliers, while adding quality role players such as Moon and Parker, they’ve also added Shaquille O’Neal. When Shaq went to Miami, they won a Championship, when Shaq went to Pheonix, they got bounced handily in the first round. That’s a 50 percent success rate for the post 30-year-old Shaq and he’s only getting older.
Meanwhile, the Celtics still have their starting five intact and have added Rasheed Wallace, retained Glen Davis, and will soon have Marquis Daniels to back up Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. What’s lost in all of the offseason aquistions by the East’s other teams, is the fact that the Celtics have Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins, and (for the sake of argument) a healthy Kevin Garnett. The C’s have also retained their key bench players like Eddie House, Glen Davis, and Brian Scalabrine. It will also be exciting to see how much guys like J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker have progressed and to see if the C’s can get anything out of Shelden Williams (I’d argue that they’ll be able to see vastly better dividends than the signings of Mikki Moore and Scot Pollard produced).
I know we are all diligent and caring fans and that is why we worry about things like third string point guards and roster spots 12-15, but that is just the point. Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine are guys that are going to round out the bottom third of the Celtic roster should they be on it next season. The bottom third of a team’s roster is reserved for players that fall in to the category of “whatever we can get out of these guys in terms of production will be a positive.”
Another thing to note is that it’s not like these players bring nothing to the table. Last season, Brian Scalabrine played admirably in the wake of KG’s injury and Tony Allen has shown productive flashes in the past. As long as Scal can avoid getting hit in the head and the C’s don’t play every game in Chicago (or any other city TA brings security concerns) than I’m confident that they can both fill out next season’s box scores with ample “5 minutes” and “DNP’s.”
Lest we not forget, last season Brian Robb wrote an article accurately claiming that Scal would be an X-Factor in the playoffs. He came out, hit some threes, played quality defense, and most importantly played fearlessly after coming back from injury. I wrote about how well TA gets to the line which should still be true today barring any drastic changes in game.
In a perfect world, the C’s would be able to swing and sign-and-trade sending Scal, TA, and a young gun for Daniels and backup/ third string point guard- and it may still happen. Two things*, however, will not happen. 1) the Celtics will not be able to trade Scal and TA for a rotation player such as Keyon Dooling or Raymond Felton straight up; and 2) having Scal and TA on the roster next season will not make or break the Celtics.
*The Celtics will also not resign Gereld Green- not even to sweep up the Garden after games. Too risky.