Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
A PLAYER-FRIENDLY COACH. Salary-cap space. Veteran leadership. Banners in the rafters. What — besides brutal winters and unintelligible accents — is not to love for NBA free agents?
Even the city's longtime racial tensions, which once made it one of the last places a black NBA player wanted to play, have faded. "When I first got in the league I would never have thought about Boston," says Bucks swingman Stephen Jackson. "Ever. The way they embraced KG was a big part of changing that."
Today, Jackson says he and Pierce "have actually talked about me coming there while we're standing at the free throw line. And Rondo is one of those point guards who can make the game easier and extend your career with the shots he gets you. They're not done. You can't write off a veteran team with a young point guard."
I love how Stephen Jackson reacts to how Boston embraced KG as the sign racial attitudes have changed. Is Paul Pierce not black?
Anyway, this is a piece Ric Bucher wrote for ESPN The Magazine, and you can't see the whole piece unless you're an insider. His point is that, unlike other teams (like the Lakers), the Celtics are actually in a better position to either reload rather than rebuild, or have a very short rebuilding process. This line is encouraging, especially when you consider it includes Jeff Green:
Now consider the Celtics. Krstic's contract expired as of July 1. Green already has a qualifying offer for this season of $5.9 million and would become a free agent along with Allen and Garnett next summer, presumably when a new labor deal will have been struck. As of right now, the Celtics have $29 million in committed salary for the 2012-13 season. Worst-case scenario, KG and Allen ride off into the sunset. Fiscally, that should make keeping Green even easier, and a nucleus of Green, Rondo and Pierce "is definitely a playoff team, especially in the East," says an Eastern Conference executive who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has a $1 million gag order on its employees during the current lockout. "Outside of Miami and maybe Chicago, who has a better core than that?"
I know how the Jeff Green thing will go over. I still contend that he has a great chance to get better and his true proving ground is still coming up. He may never really be a #1 or maybe even a #2 option… but I'd like to really withhold judgement until this upcoming season.
The Celtics are, in fact, in a good position to add pieces in a couple of years. This coming season will be tough, though. Seven guys under contract (if you count Jeff Green) and a couple of rookies that may be needed to round out the roster isn't exactly ideal for an alleged championship contender. Let's face facts, the team is nowhere near complete enough to determine whether the Celtics can actually contend this season or whether they're just a dangerous middle of the road playoff team. Sure, the Big 4 are the Big 4, but Jermaine O'Neal is fragile, and the bench is made up of Green, two rookies, and Avery Bradley. So Danny's work is cut out for him.
How will he re-shape this roster? Obviously, we have to wait until the labor deal is done to find out the parameters under which he'll be working. But even if he has things like the mid-level exception at his disposal, you have to wonder how many longer-term deals he'll be handing out. With just Pierce, Rondo and Bradley locked up for 2012/13, Danny will most likely want to fill the roster with cheap, one-year deals this upcoming season and then try to make a bigger splash after that.
The point in all of this? I'm not even sure myself. Danny can't find four to six one-year minimum wage guys and think we're going to buy that. He might try to bring Delonte West back for a few years at a number that won't affect his pursuit of a big-name free agent. But he will not fill the roster this coming season with two or three year deals that will piss away the cap space, which may be insanely precious should a hard cap become a reality, to make a run this season. Is he really going to wait until 2015 to create his next contender?
No. This season, Danny is going to ride the Big 3 as far as they can go knowing that 2/3 of them will very likely be gone after this year (unless either Ray or KG come back at a short-term bargain). He's going to hope Rondo ups his game, that Jeff Green has an epiphany, that JaJuan Johnson is a diamond in the rough, and that the free agents he finds are title-hungry… and he's going to hope it all combines for a title, even if the car falls apart Blues-mobile style once the C's reach their final destination.
All the while, he'll keep his fingers crossed hoping Dwight Howard isn't traded away or locked up long term. That's the plan. Or at least, that's the plan that seems to fit Danny's MO. It's actually a bit more flexibility than the Lakers or Heat, who are capped out for the next few years. So Bucher is right. The C's will have the ability to remake their roster more quickly. Let's hope we're not sacrificing this coming season to do so.
The rest of the links: