I like Jeff Van Gundy. I think he's one of the best analysts out there… which isn't saying much in a landscape where Reggie Milller is one of the main guys. Still, I like him.
And he makes a good point about the Celtics next season.
“Some people never consider that change can be bad for a team,’’ he said. “Radical change at that. If you don’t have anybody in free agency that you can target, bringing back Garnett for one year at big money makes complete sense. And then go at it again next year to see where you’re at.’’
I know… we've got bigger things to worry about… like a Game 4 tonight that could be the beginning of the end of the Celtics season, or the game that starts this series all over again from scratch. But since Jeff brought it up….
The Celtics are built to blow up after this year, with only four players guaranteed to be under contract (Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson). The Celtics can make a qualifying offer to Greg Stiemsma and make him a restricted free agent, and Brand Bass has a $4 million player option. And that's it.
The free agent pool next year is thin. Dwight Howard is not coming to Boston, because the Celtics have no one to trade for him (remember, he picked up his option, so he's not a free agent anymore). Deron Williams is not going to sign with Boston, so that leave the field even thinner. The names in 2013 are better, so why not give it one more run with a modified version of this team?
Will KG come back? That's something that's been discussed over the past couple of days. Doc thinks KG is coming back, but there's been talk about him leaving on a high note. I'd obviously love to see him back, playing about 30 minutes a game. You bring Bass back to be your starting power forward and you run with the same starting 5 that started the playoffs in Rondo, Bradley, Pierce, Bass and KG.
I think you bring E'Twaun Moore back and slowly work him into the mix, possibly even preparing him to play the Ray Allen role of shooter off the bench if Ray doesn't return. You bring Jeff Green back to come off the bench as a 3 or a 4 (primarily a 3 to back up Pierce). You bring Stiemsma back as a solid backup center and then you hope JaJuan Johnson materializes as a potential back-up 4.
Yes, the plan involves a lot of faith in a pair of guys who barely played this year. And you still don't know what the #21 and #22 picks in this year's draft will turn into. I'd still like to see Ray Allen return in a bench role for the Celtics. And you still need to find a capable back up point (I'm not sure Moore is the guy for that). But still, a bench of Ray, Green, Stiemsma, Johnson and Moore has the potential to be pretty good (emphasis on potential).
I'll stop here since this is more of a discussion that should be had in July, when free agency is actually happening rather than June, when the team is still playing. But I think bringing some of these guys back as part of the transition to the Rondo-led Celtics of the future is worthwhile. If there's no real way to improve your team this offseason, bring most of the gang back and try to make another run as a 6, 7, or 8 seed (or higher… you never know how things shake out). Either way, you're still working young guys in, but this way you're giving them the veteran leadership to continue to carry them along, and you probably set yourself up for another shot in the playoffs.
To me, it just makes sense.