Friday, June 29, 2007

Boston Celtics Rebuilding Plan, Version

Let me begin by saying one thing: I'm not much for using my imagination any more than I have to. I prefer to have things cut and dried, laid out before me. I choose what I like or don't like, and that's that.

Which is why last night's NBA draft threw me a complete curveball. For the past week or so, all Celtics' fans have heard about was "We're getting KG... no, Marion... no, Jermaine O'Neal... wait, maybe Kobe?" Then, for awhile, it looked like the C's were going to package Paul Pierce up and start from scratch. Again. Which probably would have made me cut the last shred of a tie that I have with the team.

Then came yesterday. The news started crawling along that a package was in the works with Seattle, basically centering around Ray Allen for the #5 overall pick in the draft, with contracts to be added. When I first heard about it, I was not a fan. Ray Allen, though a great scorer when his shot is on, is essentially a better outside shooting version of Paul Pierce, or worse yet, Antoine Walker. Plus, he's coming off of double-ankle surgery this offseason - not exactly a gold star for someone who relies on a jump shot. And naturally, he's on a max contract.

Not to mention my assumption that any trade offer for a guy with Allen's reputation would probably have to include either Gerald Green, Al Jefferson or the only real trading chip the C's had, Theo Ratliff's contract.

But then the reports started trickling in - Ray Allen and the Sonics' 2nd round pick for the #5, Delonte West and Wally Szcerbiak's yearly knee injury. Well hey now, that's a whole different story. Somehow, Danny Ainge managed to pull off what, on the surface, looks like a no-brainer trade. They gave away a the #5 draft pick in a 2-man draft (3 if you count Horford), a 1/2 hybrid player in WEst who, though he improved immensly last year, will probably never be able to handle PG or SG duties exclusively in the NBA, and a major contract for a very good shooter who can't play defense or stay on the floor.

What they got in return was a major contract for a very good shooter who can't play defense or stay on the floor and a hugely underrated big man in the second round ("Big Baby" Davis), assuming he can get his weight in check. Plus, Davis should have a chip on his shoulder, since he was expecting to go in the teens and somehow slipped to #35 overall.

Right now, the C's have an Opening Night starting five of Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Al Jefferson and either Davis or Kedrick Perkins. That's not too bad - two max veterans with something left to prove in pursuit of a ring, and a handful of very good, very affordable young guys. Plus they managed to hold on to their only real tradeable contract, and the player with the most "Imagination potential" in Gerald Green.

Sure, they might give up 115 points a night, since Ray Allen has never played defense well, and Paul Pierce has slipped lately (in fact, that could be a real problem since players will drive the lane and draw contact calls on Jefferson, Perkins and Davis), but if they can score 120, the numbers will even out.

They probably don't win the East next year - I'll settle for an Atlantic Division title and a Top-4 playoff seed, preferrably advancing at least one round. But they just got a hell of a lot better than the team that was desperate to land a top-2 draft pick three months ago.


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