The Boston Celtics entered the 2012 offseason facing an uncertain path forward. Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, and Avery Bradley remained under contract, but little else was known about the immediate future of the organization. From uncertainty, Danny Ainge and the Celtics once again reloaded and put together a deep talented roster that should keep them in the hunt for at least the 2012-13 season.
The 2011-12 season saw players dropping left and right even before the actual games started. Jeff Green missed the entire season due to an aortic aneurysm. Chris Wilcox's season ended after 28 games when he too was found to have a heart condition that required surgery. Key injuries to Pierce, Bradley, Ray Allen, and Greg Stiemsma left the Celtics hobbled and further shorthanded during their playoff run. And despite all those injuries, this team was just 12 minutes of basketball away from the NBA Finals.
Ainge has spent the 2012 offseason reloading the roster, making it younger and deeper in preparation for a normal season that should be less of a game of attrition. Keeping Kevin Garnett in green was priority one for the Celtics. As long as Garnett can lead their defense and Rajon Rondo runs their offense, the Celtics will remain a force. Garnett's new deal was the first and most critical move to make Boston a contender for the near future.
By the 2011-12 season's end, the Celtics' major weakness was a lack of scoring depth. Too much of the burden was placed on the shoulders of Garnett and Rondo. The defense was enough to carry them deep into the playoffs, but eventually their lack of firepower proved to be a fatal flaw. The Celtics addressed this weakness directly when they used their mid-level exception to add 2009 Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry.
The Celtics brought back Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, and Chris Wilcox to solidify the forward positions. Drafting Jared Sullinger and trading for sharpshooter Courtney Lee further improved the bench. The starting lineup should remain the same as last season's: Garnett, Bass, Pierce, Bradley (when he's ready to return), and Rondo. Terry, Lee, Green, Wilcox, and Sullinger give Boston quality depth and a second unit that can be a handful on both ends of the court.
Many of the new additions also represent players who can run the floor with Rondo and take advantage of his fast break skills. In years past, far too often Rondo looked to run only to find himself alone in transition. Wilcox meshed well in his limited time with Rondo last year and Green, Terry, and Lee give him a capable set of targets on the break.
Ainge continues to explore ways to add additional talent, but there's little flexibility left and he's already done an excellent job. As currently constructed, this Celtics roster has a chance to be significantly better than the 2011-12 version. They added depth and offensive talent without compromising the defensive core of the team.
Boston Celtics, Yahoo! Sports
Chris Forsberg, "C's introduce Green, Terry, Bass, Wilcox," ESPN Boston
Kurt Helin, "Jeff Green 'finally' officially signs deal with Boston Celtics," NBC Sports
William Menna is a native New Englander and longtime Boston sports fan.
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