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One way or another, expect Celtics roster shakeups

May 13, 2011, 11:48 AM EDT

Boston Celtics Delonte West, Paul Pierce and Jeff Green walk off the court at the end of their overtime loss to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series in Boston Reuters

It looks like Boston is going to make one more run at it — Doc Rivers is coming back, Ray Allen will pick up the option on his contract, Rajon Rondo will get healthy and whenever next season starts the Celtics will get the band back together.

But expect changes around them. And maybe even in the starting lineup.

Danny Ainge emphasized that in comments he made on WEEI Radio.

“We need to make changes for sure. I don’t think (the roster as is can win a title). But having said that, that’s my job is to evaluate the reasons why we didn’t play the way we’re capable of playing…

“Maybe there’s a change of roles. Maybe Paul (Pierce) comes off the bench, cuts down on his minutes. Maybe we find a way to get Jeff (Green) more minutes. His role will expand if he’s back here next year. There’s no question about that…. It wouldn’t totally shock me if there’s a change in the starting lineup.”

It would shock me if Green starts for Pierce next year — Green remains a shadow of the player Pierce is, even as Pierce ages. Last season Pierce shot a better percentage overall and a much better percentage from three, was much better setting up teammates and was a superior defender. Put it this way — with Boston last year Pierce had an All-Star level PER of 19.7, Green had a below-average 12.9. Doesn’t matter that Pierce will be 34 and Green 25, Pierce is still the better player. Rest Pierce by giving Green a few more minutes, but to change starters seems trying to justify a trade after the fact.

The place the Celtics need to make a change is at center. Shaquille O’Neal has a $1.4 million option for next season, and even if he decides to pick it up and come back Ainge learned a hard lesson about trusting Shaq to be there in the end.

Jermaine O’Neal also sounds like a guy who may walk away from the game after a season of injuries, as he told the Boston Herald.

“The most important thing for me right now is my family and my kids. Basketball has dominated so much of my life for so long that I have to really take an honest look. Now, every time I leave the house my son is asking when I’m coming back. When I call home, it’s, ‘When am I coming back?’ My daughter has been forgiving of it, but it may be time. I don’t know. I don’t want to suffer when I’m 45.”

Potential center free agents this summer include the big names that the Celtics likely cannot afford (Tyson Chandler, Nene) as well as guys like Samuel Dalembert, Jeff Foster, Dan Gadzuric and Alexis Ajinca. There also are restricted free agents like Marc Gasol, but again it’s not likely the Celtics could make a big enough offer that the “home” team wouldn’t match. (And who knows what the rules will be in a new CBA.) Maybe a trade is a better option. But one thing the Celtics need to do is get a center who can give them some points in the paint and defense.

Boston also needs to get younger and more athletic off the bench. To have an energy group of guys that can get some easy buckets when they are in.

The Celtics may be bringing back their core, but changes are coming. They need to if they want to get past Miami or Chicago next season.

  1. frankvzappa - May 13, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    it would also help if in next years playoffs, the refs didnt eject them without cause, call non-existent travels and fouls, or refuse to call fouls on their opponent…but i guess the story was too good for David Stern to pass up, so he had his minions join forces with the Heat…NBA is rigged, thats a fact

  2. 1historian - May 13, 2011 at 1:30 PM

    Changes are needed but they do have a good starting point and getting Doc back for 5 years helps too – he might attract players the Celts could use .

  3. jamesbmckay - May 13, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    PP will start. I’d use Ray as the sixth man for instant offense and start West instead as he flourishes as a SG but not at PG. Bradley can be the back-up PG. If Shaq wants and is healthy he should get the opportunity as they were 20-4 with him healthy. Green definitely needs more minutes. Need a rebounder off the bench (consistent 8-10 per night) and for all the starting 5 to concentrate more on rebounding. As Riley use to say “no rebounds, no rings”. It is so true. Go Cs…

  4. bigdak - May 13, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    Maybe they should trade Jeff Green and Nenad for Perkins, you suck Danny Ainge

    • icu84bs - May 13, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      I am still puzzled by this trade but it may not have been Danny Ainge’s call (in fact I doubt it was). H. Irving Grousbeck, Wycliffe Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca own the team, Danny is an employee.

      heers.

  5. loungefly74 - May 13, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    Like the Lakers and the Spurs, the C’s need to make some tweeks. no need to overhaul the roster.

  6. philtration - May 13, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    They do need to make some changes but they have few options.

    Everyone is signed and they went for broke when they brought in Garnett and Allen.
    It worked because they won a title right away but the clock is ticking and they are not going to be a good team 2 years from now.
    I don’t mean not good enough to win a ring good… I mean not even good enough to be a serious playoff team.
    Other than Rondo what are they going to have going for them in two years?
    Three 37 year old starters?

    • philtration - May 13, 2011 at 7:44 PM

      Instead of voting thumbs down, tell why the Celtics are going to be a good team in two years.
      Are they suddenly going to trade Shaq for Howard?
      Is Chris Paul going to join the team?

      When they brought in Allen and Garnett everyone know that they had better win a title right away because they were not built for the long run.
      They did win the title and now the predictable consequences are coming and there is little that they can do about it at this point.
      Last year they stumbled into the post season and looked slow and injured.
      This year was more of the same and they did not even make the conference finals.
      They are not going to get any younger after going through another 82 game schedule.

      The writing is on the wall.
      The Celtics fall is going to be hard and it is going to be fast.
      That is the price that they will pay for getting that one instant ring.

  7. pukpokito - May 13, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    They still have to pay everyone before majority of their contracts end next season.So might as well make the best of it. 2012 must be the year they make a splash at free agency.do your best this offseason for this year but do not compromise the positon for the free agency next season.I think th e Celtics need a starting center.Don’t know where to get that.I think Pierce should still be the starting 3. It is Ray who we need to go to the bench and provide the team some scoring there.I would trade Green and a first round pick to get a better starter at 2 like… Even Turner. He would go well with Rondo.He will not be SHY like GREEN.Green is too much of an introvert. We need people who will be assertive.none of that hide in my turtle shell personalities.

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