By: Alex Reimer
It’s early June, and you just told a Celtics fan that their team would lose a game 7 to the Lakers. He’s pulling his hair out.
You then proceed to tell that fan that the Celtics lost Kendrick Perkins for game 7, and will be without Perkins until at least February. The fan continues to pull.
Next, you say that the Celtics promptly resigned Paul Pierce to a 4 year deal and Ray Allen to a 2 year deal to begin the offseason, letting go of any cap space they may have had to remake the roster. The fan now starts to think back to the early 90’s, when the old “big 3” stuck together for too long.
Lastly, you proclaim that the big offseason additions were the signings of Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal. The fan starts to sob.
That’s the situation today. The Celtics have gotten older than last year, and they’re selling it off as “one last run.”
The mantra to this Celtics season should instead be, “we had no other options.”
Danny Ainge did not opt to try to get younger and overhaul this team. Joe Johnson received over 100 million dollars guaranteed by the Hawks, Carlos Boozer signed a huge deal in Chicago, and neither LeBron James nor Dwyane Wade was coming to Boston for obvious reasons.
Doc Rivers agreed to come back, and that was all Allen needed to hear to play 2 more seasons. That was all Pierce needed to hear to come back.
With Pierce and Allen returning, the only option was to go after a mid-level exception guy like Jermaine O’Neal. Never mind the fact that O’Neal played like he was 70 during the Celtics/Heat playoff series. He said he was hurt! Don’t you believe him? (Maybe…70 year-olds do get hurt).
With Perkins out, the Celtics needed one more big guy. So they went all the way. They brought in Shaq.
For where this team is right now, there’s nothing not to like about the Shaq signing. He’ll be the second lowest paid player on the team next year, just ahead of Von Wafer. He’s here because he wants to play with Pierce, Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo. He wants to play for Doc Rivers, and he wants another crack at the Lakers.
Shaq gives them a presence to bring off the bench, and he certainly gives the Celtics a presence outside of the court. The team is more fun to watch with Shaquille O’Neal.
But the problem is, the Celtics don’t have to be in this position. It’s likely not going to end well.
Is it realistic to count on all of Garnett, Pierce, Allen, Jermaine O’Neal, and Shaquille O’Neal to be healthy come playoff time? Even if they do “mail in” the regular season, can they be ready to grind through a 2 month playoff?
The Celtics “mailed in” the 2009-2010 regular season, and still finished as the 4th seed. What if in 2010-2011 “mailing it in” with an improved Eastern Conference equals the 6th seed?
Even if all are relatively healthy, in the year 2010, what’s a better nucleus? James, Wade, or Chris Bosh all in their mid-20’s, or Garnett, Allen, and Pierce all in their mid-30’s?
Who has the better collection of role players? The Celtics with Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal, an underachieving Marquis Daniels, and Nate Robinson, or the Heat with Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard, and Zydrunas Ilgauskus?
If you’re going old, you might as well go all the way. Unfortunately, going old was the wrong decision.
Alex Reimer is the host of the Red Sox podcast, “Without a Curse.” “Without a Curse” is available on both www.thesportsstuff.com and in the iTunes store. Alex is also the host of “The Alex Reimer Show,” which airs Saturday’s from 12-1 PM EST on 1120 AM WBNW Boston and www.moneymattersradio.net. Alex can be reached at, Alexredsox076@aol.com.