A lot of folks are saying that this trade
makes the Celtics one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. I'll admit, I'm intrigued, but mostly because how the Celtics end up doing this year might very well suggest whether the Bulls need to part with some of their integral parts in order to contend. Matt
, it seems to me, has always been of the mind that the Bulls need
to contend now
, before the window on Big Ben closes. I've always felt that view was a little too impatient, that we have stockpiled some of the best young talent in the league, and we just need to allow them the time to mature. None of them (with the possible exception of Lu) might end up being brand name, capital-S "Stars," but even without that big-time wattage, our starting backcourt remains one of the nicest in the league (if a bit undersized), and young, talented guys like Thabo, and Noce (despite his overly generous contract), and Ty, and (possibly) Noah give us a deep bench (to say nothing of Lu or Big Ben). That, it seemed to me, would carry the day in 07-08 and 08-09, as the Heat and Pistons aged themselves out of contention, and the Cavs remained LeBron's Merry Band of One. (Milwaukee and Toronto are threatening, but not menacingly so.) Now, though, Boston has went and upped the ante, bringing in two high-caliber (if aging) All-Stars to go with Pierce (their aging, high caliber All-Star). Will that be enough to threaten the Bulls?
Honestly, I don't think so, but maybe I'm simply underestimating the importance of All-Stars. Obviously your team needs good players, but does it NEED stars in the playoffs? I thought the Pistons' recent teams proved otherwise, and it seemed to me like Pax was essentially copying that team's blueprint: Good starting players, playing great defense, and a deep bench, but no out-and-out All-Stars. (Chauncey and Rip and Sheed are nice, but, league-wide, they're a notch below the very top-tier of players talentwise.)
If the Celtics (assuming they even meet) can knock off the Bulls this year in the playoffs, I guess I'll have to re-consider this, but I just don't see that happening. Deng and Hinrich, it seems to me, would be likely to give Pierce and Allen fits on the defensive end (and do more than hold their own offensively), and though Rondo might be able to blow by Gordon, he's not really the type of physical point guard who typically gives Ben problems. That leaves us with KG but a) we can throw a ton of bodies at him (including The Body himself) and b) he's never proven to be the type of player who simply takes over games at crunch time.
And that's seriously IT
for the Celtics. Look at their roster
(keeping in mind that Green, Jefferson, Gomes, Bassy, and Ratliff are gone). Their starting center is Kendrick Perkins. They have two sub-average backup PFs in Leon Powe and Brian Scalabrine. Their backup guard (singular) is Tony Allen. And that's it. Oops, I forgot Brandon Wallace
, but actually he's instructive. Because unless they're willing to take on a massive amount of luxury tax, they're going to fill out the rest of that roster with Brandon Wallaces---undrafted free agents and 2nd round picks who got cut from other teams. (UPDATE: It occurs to me that the happiest man about this deal might be... Jannero Pargo!
It could save him a trip to Greece.)
It seems to me that this trade makes the Celts a little more souped-up version of the New Jersey Nets, maybe good for 50 wins and a first-round win, but I can't see them going much farther, and certainly not competing with the Bulls. But maybe I'm wrong, and All-Stars really are the key. In which case, next post-season, I'll be howling that we need to get us some of those. But for now, I'm still feeling really good about this team.