The Celtics roster is chock full of holes right now. These are holes that can be filled mind you, but still are quite daunting on a couple parts of the roster, most notably the wing and big man spots.
As we’ve covered here repeatedly at CH, the C’s have spent their entire Mid-Level Exception on Jermaine O’Neal, leaving just the veteran’s minimum and Rasheed Wallace’s expiring contract as the obvious means to improve the C’s roster for next season.
Zach Lowe has covered potential bargain basement possibilities for the veteran’s minimum in the past week for both wings and big men. I strongly encourage you to check out both lists to understand exactly what Danny Ainge is working with here.
With that in mind, I’m left with a question. With two glaring positional holes on the bench and just seemingly one tradeable asset in Sheed’s contract, what positional need is the team better off going after in a deal using Sheed’s contract?
On the surface, the obvious answer is the wing position. With the departure of Tony Allen, the team’s bench looks ultra thin in the backcourt and at the wing spot, with Nate Robinson being the only guy bringing any NBA experience to the table. Avery Bradley could potentially play some 2, but his size 6’3” and age (19) makes him more likely to be watching than contributing next season when it matters.
Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney have recieved training camp invites and have good chances of making the squad, given the team’s needs for bodies, but can’t be expected to be regular members of the rotation either. Hopefully they surprise us, but we can’t count on it.
So it’s pretty clear then; The wing is the bigger need, right? On the surface, the answer is yes, but is it easier void to fill with a trade? That I’m not so sure. Zach explored some trade possibilities last weekto fill that wing spot with Sheed’s deal and didn’t find any feasible matches.
When you combine that with the fact, there looks to be a few more possible contributors on the wing market right now, compared to the big man bargain bin, it’s worth thinking twice about trading for a wing. A look at the available big men shows the most enticing and affordable options there consists of Kurt Thomas (whom I’d take in a second), Theo Ratliff and Joe Smith, shows it’s not pretty out there.
With Kendrick Perkins expected to be out until the end of February, your starting frontcourt for the first 50 games right now for the C’s consists of a 34 year old with a bad knee, and a 32 year old with plenty of miles on the odometer. There is some potential help at the end of the depth chart in the form of Luke Harangody and Semi Erden, but again it’d be foolish to count on either for meaningful minutes at this juncture. And I love Big Baby, but he can’t backup two positions.
In order for this team to succeed come May and June next year, the minutes onus has to be reduced on the old man contingent of the starting lineup in the 2-5 spots. Ray Allen and Paul Pierce can handle more minutes obviously than KG and O’Neal at this point of their careers, so if given the choice I’d rather see a thin front line behind them as opposed the big men logging too many minutes during the regular season. It’s not a scenario though I want to see either group face.
So, we are left with the conundrum. Where to allocate your limited resources? Trade Sheed for a serviceable big man and pray a flawed wing like Antoine Wright can get the job done off the bench? Sign Kurt Thomas, trade Sheed for a shooter/swingman that may not evem be available on the trade market and go without a true backup center for the first 50 games?
Use a 1st round pick and potentially more for a guy like Rudy Fernandez? Or maybe the best solution of them all, pray Sheed reconsiders retirement and returns for one more good around, which seems possible but certainly not probable.
I don’t know the answers to these issues, but I open the question to the masses. What’s your realistic blueplan for tying this roster together?