A look at what could have been at the Garden
I’m not quite sure what to make of this year’s Celtics squad. They have the talent to win it all. When healthy and motivated, the roster appears to have every conceivable hole filled. However, health and desire both appear to have waned as this team’s moon has waxed, and I highly doubt the C’s will make it past Cleveland should they face off.
Since Ray Allen was not moved at the deadline for a younger piece to form a new, younger trio with Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, it appears this team will fade over the next couple of seasons before Kevin Garnett’s massive contract expires. That means no title in the near future, and paints a somewhat dismal future. If that’s the price you have to pay for winning a championship and competing for two years thereafter, you shut up remember beating Kobe when it counted.
However, in this vein of uncertainty, I’ve been giving quite a bit of thought to what could have been. So, I dug up some old writing I did back when I was a fervent sports blogger in college, and took a look at the team that could have come together had GM Danny Ainge decided against just one move.
Ainge shipped the draft rights to Randy Foye (selected one pick ahead of Brandon Roy) and dead weight contracts of Raef LaFrentz and guard Dan Dickau along with cash considerations to the Trail Blazers for Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff’s sooner-expiring contract, and a 2008 second-round pick. Without the deal, neither Ray Allen nor KG come to Boston. But, a different, much younger and more viable group in the long run shapes up starting in 2006-2007 should Boston simply select future All Star Brandon Roy.
1. Rajon Rondo
2. Brandon Roy
3. Paul Pierce
4. Al Jefferson
5. Kendrick Perkins
*Tony Allen, Ryan Gomes, Delonte West, Leon Powe, Wally Szczerbiak, Gerald Green, Brian Scalabrine, Raef LaFrentz
Al Jefferson’s new deal, roughly equivalent to the one he signed in Minnesota, would replace Raef LaFrentz’s cap number after 2008, while extensions to Allen, Gomes, et al would take care of most of the potential cap space that would come from Wally Szczerbiak leaving as well. New draft picks and veteran signings could supplement the roster, but no major players would be arriving any other way than via trade - a scenario much more difficult without expiring deals on the cap.
Essentially, the team would have put up 105 points per game at its apex, but learning to defend would have been the real challenge without a leader like Garnett. The starting line-up would have featured four players who have warranted All Star selections since then (Jefferson has yet to receive that nod and picked up a DWI recently during a down season so he may never actually get back to that level).
We’ll never know what that team’s ceiling would ultimately have been, and we have Green 17 to be thankful for, but as the wax begins to gather around the current crop’s wick, one can’t help but dream about a brighter future.