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Offseason Review: The Early Returns

 

It’s still too early to make a clear judgment on Danny Ainge’s offseason acquisitions. Delonte West has barely given us a glimpse of what he might bring to this team and Jermaine O’Neal has missed most of the year. More importantly, this team was built for the playoffs and its mettle will only truly be tested after the spring thaw.

But coming into tonight’s matchup with the Sixers, the Celtics are 22-4 and they wouldn’t be nearly that strong had the Celtics’ brass not spent the offseason retaining its own free agents (both starters and reserves) while loading up on bigs. Boston has benefited from Glen Davis’ strong start, surprisingly effective minutes from Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo’s assist-party, but if last year’s Celtics team had suffered the kind of injuries that have felled this year’s team, it’s distinctly possible they’d have been .500 at Christmas and blown-up at the all-star break.

But in 2010-11, despite no Kendrick Perkins, a batch of  missed games by Shaq, near season-long absences from West and J.O., and an increasingly worrying number of DNPs for Rondo – the Celtics are the class of the league.

The success so far this season stands in stark contrast to last year’s Celtics squad, which featured the infamously lazy Rasheed Wallace phoning in the first 82 games as a core rotation piece, and an overall lack of depth behind the starters (to be fair, re-upping Rondo at the beginning of last season was a masterstroke).

Despite all this depth across the C’s roster, Ainge has retained Boston’s cap flexibility, keeping them in the running for key 2012 trades and free agents, and positioning them well for any harsh vagaries in the coming CBA.

Just look south to Orlando to see an alternative approach. Otis Smith has locked the Magic into a not-so-frightening core of Dwight Howard, Gilbert Arenas (over $22M in 2013-14) and Hedo Turkoglu (almost $12M in 2012-13, an unguaranteed $12M the year after). Not only that, Smith has multi-year money committed to a number of role players, further limiting his flexibility.

We’ll revisit this more comprehensively as the season progresses but save for lingering concerns about J.O. proving a waste of the mid-level exception, the overall assessment on Ainge’s offseason has to be overwhelmingly positive right now.

  • Jay P

    At this point it's hard not to say we'd of been better off spending part of, if not all the mid level on Matt Barnes, who has been a very useful player for the Lakers, and would provide some solid back up minutes to El Capitain.

    But I don't blame Danny for that, at the time he signed JO, it was a good move, I don't think he, nor anyone else, really saw Shaq coming over for a vet min deal, and at that time, if I had the choice of big men (and he had to get one, no matter what) for the MLE, I'd of spent it on JO over Shaq any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

    So I have no qualms with his move, even though in hind sight, seeing how well Shaq has worked out, I'd obviously rather have seen that money spent to bring Barnes.

    • What More Can I Say?

      Interesting post. I always felt Matt Barnes D is pretty pathetic. I think he developed a great rep on D because he can be physical…but the guy can't move his feet all that well. I think Ainge did well to stay away from that guy.

      He does a good job guarding Kobe for some reason. He looked GOD awful guarding Pierce last year.

    • zappo777

      JP —Nutcase speaks as Nutcase is—Shaq is a better player than JO 8 days a week and 4 times on Sunday—JO can not even leave the GATES!!!!!! JP go in the corner and wear your DUNCE CAP!!!!

  • Batman

    I have a feeling Jermaine is going to make up for lost time
    I always liked Jermaine, going back to his Indiana days
    But right now he is disappointing

    • zappo777

      Batman you got that right–Boston would have been better off getting Barnes period–this JO appears like a SCAMMER—-bad trade real BAD..

  • Trent Davis

    Ainge outdid himself. This year’s signings and acquisions was masterful. Same core. More depth and more offense from the center position. Losing Wallace was also an improvement.

  • phreesh

    I have to agree with the earlier posters. Great job of keeping the core for the short-term, but not crippling the team long-term with albatross deals. It really is a well-balanced group that has not only withstood numerous injuries, but excelled. A+ for Danny.

  • Mr B

    Mr Danny , well done , I would have taken Shaq over the other Jo. sooner but that is my opinion. I like the team and have been a Celtic for Life. ten years old and I an now 66. I believe it will be one of the best in history if no more injuries occur. I don't see a team better than them one on one. Position for position over all.

  • Alberto A. Ramirez

    Mr. B, we're on the same boat. I've been living in the Philipines more than 7,000 miles away I think but my affinity for the Celtics dates back to the days of Bill Russell when I was just a teenager and NBA games were televised here once in a blue moon and months after they've been played. Now I'm 58 and my love for the Boston Celtics has even become stronger. You're right, no team right now can beat these Celtics. Only a major injury stands in the way of an 18th banner, no matter what the Heat, Lakers and Spurs have to say about it.

    Cheers! Ubuntu! Banner 18!

    Bert A. Ramirez
    938 Schuyler St.
    Mandaluyong City 1550
    Philippines

  • brad

    I like the moves too but I think Doc should try to get the younger players some playing time.
    That is my problem with Doc is he has his favorites, like Toney Allen, and will play them
    to the end. Doc play some of the younger players some more, please!

  • zappo777

    Doc your a Great Coach and I am impressed how you have held this team together through all those injuries–I hope you make it to the Finals and play the Lakers and Beat them 4-0….That should relieve the frustration of 5 minutes of 4th quarter game 7—and i pray that Perkins will make a full recovery!!!! And play HAMMER-Time at the HOOP like SHAQ!!!! Best of Luck–GO CELTICS with or without Carmelo Anthony…

  • Larry

    Danny made some great moves and the team is looking good. Jermaine O'Neal remains a questionmark but the other acquisitions are paying off. The only move that really got my goat was when Danny and the owners let James Posey get away from them. That was a mistake over a relatively small amount of $$. Has probably cost us one NBA Championship already.

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