Recent chatter surrounding the Celtics roster and legitimacy has been making the rounds. Rajon Rondo was rumored to be on the market, but the Celtics have brushed off those ideas (and Rondo has played better even). Celtics fans can't be too happy with the seventh spot in the East. If the playoffs started today, the Celtics would be battling the Miami Heat in the first round. Going up against the Heat is something that may need to happen in the post season, but it's certainly not wanted in the first round. This begs the question: should the Celtics make moves to climb up the standings and contend this summer?
Last weekend I hopped on CLNS Radio's postgame and discussed this. First off, Rajon Rondo should NOT be dealt. Not only is Rajon Rondo integral to the entire team prospering, he, as an individual, is a tremendous talent. Surely the Celtics understand that and the chances of him going are slim.
As far as the whole team goes, a trade is necessary. While Jermaine O'Neal is slated to return in mid-March, the Celtics need a rough and tough big who's focus is defense and rebounding. If that's the solution, can't the Celtics just make a move to accomplish this goal? It's a lot easier said than done.
The amount of players like this are slim, not to mention the Celtics have few pieces they want to sacrifice. Let's back track in order to further define the player the Celtics need. When did the Celtics have a player who's focus was defense and rebounding and how did they finish that season?
The Celtics had such a player in 2008. His name was Leon Powe and he did work! Leon Powe rebounded, battled and made things happen for the Celtics. That year, the Celtics went on to win an NBA title. Clearly the Celtics succeeded with a player like Powe.
Who's out there now that's like that and who can the Celtics offer in return for them? Ivan Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks comes to mind. He's 6-8, just like Powe and he brings similar attributes to the game. Ivan Johnson is tough, resilient and full of Celtic-friendly qualities.
How can the Celtics acquire Ivan Johnson and what are the roadblocks? The Celtics could offer up any of these guys: Keyon Dooling, Chris Wilcox, Greg Stiemsma, JaJuan Johnson and/or future draft picks. While this is a nice mix of young and old guys, giving up one or two of them in order to acquire Johnson (who's making about half a million this year) could work. Greg Stiemsma's salary is the closest to Johnson's. That deal not only works straight up, but it saves the Celtics money this year.
Problem is the Hawks are missing Al Horford likely until playoff time. They may not want to part with Johnson for a more finesse player in Greg Stiemsma. Either way, it's worth making some calls about.
Other options to get another banging big man? Sign free agent Leon Powe (as this article hints at). Positives of this are Leon Powe has played here before and he'd have some familiarity with the Celtics. Down sides are it's unclear what kind of shape he's in and how long it'd take him to really get into gear on the court.
The Celtics have many things they could do. This shortened, crazy quick season and a small amount of flexibility (until this summer!) make it a challenge. The Celtics organization needs to continue taking and making calls and looking to fill this void. While it won't be easy, it's also not simple to accept losing. With those ends of the spectrum at work, the Celtics organization will do all they can to try and make the most of what they can do.
What changes (if any) should the Celtics make to their roster? With those changes (or as currently constituted) how far can the Celtics go in the playoffs?
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