We're all having a grand old time (no pun intended) with the signing of Shaquille O'Neal. The Big (insert nickname here) fills a big need (pun intended this time) for the Celtics and he does so at the right price.
And that gives the C's something you don't see anymore in the NBA: depth at the 5. When the playoffs roll around, they'll have Kendrick Perkins, Shaq, Jermaine O'Neal and even Semih Erden guest starring as Shelden Williams… not to mention Big Baby and KG as your bigs on the other block.
Actually, the Celtics have depth on the other end of the spectrum too. Look at the guards. The C's have Rondo, Ray, Nate Robinson, Von Wafer and even Mr. NBA-defender-right-now Avery Bradley they can throw out there. There's plenty of ball handling, speed and sharp shooting out there at the 1 and 2 slots.
But what about our wings? What about that 3 spot?
Right now, the Celtics have Paul Pierce, Marquis Daniels and Luke Harangody. And how much can we count on Luke Harangody this season?
So with all the Celtics depth… there is still one man on this team that can be the weak link in the chain: Marquis Daniels.
Don't get me wrong… I like Marquis. And when I say "weak link" its not a commentary on him as a player because I like what he can bring on both ends of the floor. But the fact remains Marquis hasn't played more than 74 games in a season… and that's something he's only done once. In his 7 year career, he's averaging a smidge over 57 games per season.
That leaves one big question hanging out there after everything the Celtics have done so far this season: Are they done yet? Are the Celtics comfortable going into the season Marquis Daniels as the only traditional backup for Paul Pierce?
I was talking to Chuck about this earlier today and he made a good point. The C's didn't have one last year either. After Quis went down, it was a patchwork lineup that ultimately got a few minutes from a title. Marquis never worked his way back into the rotation… blah blah blah we've all heard that before.
But this is a new year. And the Celtics face new challenges. When the C's face the Heat (aside: I just misspelled it "Hate" on my first try… even my subconscious is pissed), they'll face LeBron AND Wade on the perimeter. Last year, Tony Allen came in off the bench in each series to do an admirable job on those guys. But he's gone now… and now they're both on the same team.
Who do we call on if Pierce gets into foul trouble again? A healthy Marquis Daniels is a great option. But what if we have an injured Quisy on the bench in civvies? I have doubts about Harangody contributing much to the C's this year. And even if he does get some burn, will he be the guy called on to guard LeBron when Pierce gets whistled twice in 8 minutes?
No, he won't. Which means the C's will either find some other way to defend that 3 headed Cerberus (good luck with that, Lawrence Frank)… or they're going to have a Mr. X in there that we don't know about yet.
I'm going with the Mr. X option. I don't happen to think the Celtics are done. I don't think the C's are ready to go into the season with Rasheed Wallace's contract in their back pocket and one glaring weakness still in their roster. Is that greedy on my part? Yes, probably. Every team in the NBA has a weakness. But the Celtics are sitting on a commodity and they have a pothole in their lawn.
Of course, the follow up question becomes "Ok wise-ass making late 80's rap references… what do you propose we do about it?" The follow up answer is "I don't know voice in my head… I'm not Danny Ainge. That's his job."
What's out there? That's hard to say. I know your gut reaction is to say "Rudy Fernandez"… even though he's more of a 2 than a 3… he could still fill the need to some degree. The problem is he makes about $1.5 million and in this case, someone making relatively little money is a bad thing because Sheed's deal is worth $6.5 million and we have to trade the whole thing or none of it. I think Rudy is out.
Larry Hughes' name has been coming up recently. But the problem is whenever I hear his name I have a stroke. And while my recovery time from name-related strokes has increased greatly over my sports fandom… this might be the killer.
I honestly don't know what the answer is, but that might be more of a function of my own lack of intelligence than lack of an answer. Remember one thing here: My role in the basketball blogosphere is more "guy in the back of the class that makes people laugh with appropriately time hand-in-armpit-fart-noises" than "guy in the front of the class that does his homework and knows the answers."
But I do know there's an answer out there. And I know that there's no way the C's just shake Sheed's hand and say "thanks for the memories" and just take the luxury-tax savings. This is money in Danny's pocket… and Danny is a sailor on shore-leave. Someone out there is going to give him what he needs for the money he has in his pocket.
It's just a matter of finding it.