2011-12 Record: 39-27, Atlantic Division champions, eliminated in Eastern Conference finals by Miami Heat
Offseason Losses: G Ray Allen (signed with Miami Heat), G Sasha Pavlovic (traded to Portland Trail Blazers), G E’Twaun Moore (traded to Houston Rockets), F JaJuan Johnson (traded to Houston Rockets), F Sean Williams (traded to Houston Rockets), C Ryan Hollins (signed with Los Angeles Clippers), C Greg Stiemsma (signed with Minnesota Timberwolves)
Resigned: G Keyon Dooling (1 year, $1.35 million), F Kevin Garnett (3 years, $34 million), F Chris Wilcox (1 year, $1.35 million), F Brandon Bass (3 years, $20 million), F Jeff Green (4 years, $36 million)
Projected Starting Line-up: PG Rajon Rondo, SG Avery Bradley, SF Paul Pierce, PF Brandon Bass, C Kevin Garnett
OFFSEASON GRADE: B +
When Ray Allen left for the warmer temperatures of South Beach, a lot of fans in Boston felt that it was the beginning of the end for this Celtics squad.
The championship trio of Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett was officially broken up. The 3 key cogs of the Celtics 2008 Championship team would no longer be playing together. Allen wasn’t exactly playing like the 10-time NBA all-star he once was, but he was still an integral part of the Boston Celtics success these past 4 years.
Luckily for Celtics fans, Team President/GM Danny Ainge has done an outstanding job in replacing the productivity Allen once gave them, and possibly even exceeding it.
Jason Terry comes over from the Dallas Mavericks and immediately becomes the teams new 6th man, a role Ray was not ready to hold down. While Allen is a more one-dimensional player in the sense that he likes to stay behind the arc and nail three-pointers, Terry can give Boston that same consistent shooting while also offering a fearlessness and enthusiasm to attack the basket. He may be 35 years old, but Jason is a spark plug of instant offense off the bench that this Celtics team desperately needed.
The trade with Houston for Courtney Lee adds further depth to a guard rotation that was hurt severely by Allen’s departure and Avery Bradley’s recent injury. Lee is a tremendous defender on the perimeter and is also an unbelievable three-point shooter in his own right (40.1%). A 5-man guard rotation of Rajon Rondo, Terry, Lee, Bradley and Keyon Dooling is actually a step up from what this team showcased last season, and that was with the NBA’s all time leading three-point shooter.
Re-signing Kevin Garnett was an absolute must. His statistical contributions are still going strong at an all-star level pace, but Garnett is the clear-cut emotional leader/heartbeat of this team and losing him would have been devastating to the players, fan base and the organization as a whole. Keeping K.G also puts less pressure on the shoulders of the newly drafted Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger, as both players will not be expected to produce at a high level immediately as they may have been asked to do if Kevin departed.
The signing of Jeff Green is a little puzzling, but only in a financial sense. If Green was putting up the kind of numbers he did in Oklahoma City, then I could see why the Celtics offered him a $36 million dollar deal. However, in only 26 games played in a Boston uniform, Jeff saw his numbers dwindle down to below 10 points a game and barely over 3 rebounds. Danny Ainge must love his upside, but Green is going to have to show some huge improvement in his 5th (full) season in the league to warrant his contract.
Overall, it’s hard to find any real flaws with what the Celtics managed to accomplish this offseason. Losing Ray Allen hurt in more ways than one, but acquiring Terry and Lee will certainly help cover up any wounds left behind by his departure. Keeping Brandon Bass and Jeff Green on board for the foreseeable future as well as drafting 2 high potential bigs in Sullinger and Melo has solidified the Celtics front-court for the post-Garnett era.
They may not be the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but come the playoffs, I doubt anyone will want to find themselves matched up with this new and improved Green Machine.
OTHER OFFSEASON RECAPS: Atlanta Hawks
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports