UNDER CONTRACT: F-C Kevin Garnett, F Paul Pierce, G Rajon Rondo, G Avery Bradley, F Jeff Green, G Jason Terry, F Brandon Bass, G Courtney Lee, F-C Chris Wilcox, C Jason Collins, C Darko Milicic
DRAFT PICKS: F Jared Sullinger, C Fab Melo
FREE AGENTS: G-F Mickael Pietrus
MOVES: VP Danny Ainge deserves a lot of credit for what he has done this offseason. Ainge ignored the tremendous temptation to break up the “Big Three” – Ray Allen’s departure to Miami notwithstanding – and has reinforced his roster while making it somewhat younger. When Kevin Garnett decided to continue playing, the Celtics didn’t even allow him to get to free agency, re-signing him to a three-year, $34 million deal that provided some flexibility beneath the luxury tax. In free agency, Boston used its mid-level exception on Jason Terry, committing $15.6 million over three years. Terry is not the shooter Allen is but is two years younger, a better scorer off the dribble and a better defender. The Celtics also re-signed a handful of their own free agents. Brandon Bass, who flourished as a starting power forward after Garnett moved to center, was retained with a three-year, $20 million deal. Jeff Green – who missed all of last season due to career-threatening heart surgery – was brought back with a four-year, $36 million contract, which sounds like a bit much. Green is said to be ready to resume his career and will provide great depth at both forward positions. And forward Chris Wilcox – who also had his season shortened by a heart ailment – was re-signed to a one-year veteran’s deal. And while Avery Bradley misses the start of next season while recovering from shoulder surgery, his starting spot likely will go to Courtney Lee, who was acquired from Houston. The Celtics sent JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Sean Williams and two second-round picks to the Rockets for Lee, who will get $21.5 million over four years. All of that activity left the Celtics with only their $1.9 million bi-annual exception – which was not enough to match Minnesota’s $3 million offer to Greg Stiemsma. But Ainge kept the exception by signing Jason Collins and re-signing Keyon Dooling to veteran’s minimum deals. Late in the offseason, the Celtics also signed well-traveled bust Darko Milicic for frontcourt depth and waived Dooling, who said he would retire. We have said throughout the offseason that the Clippers may have the best 1 through 10 roster in the league, but the Celtics are darn close.
TO-DO LIST: The Celtics still have not made a significant move toward Mickael Pietrus. They have said they want to bring back Pietrus, who had knee surgery after last season. But Pietrus has been pushed down Boston’s list of priorities, and his agent declared that one of the better remaining free agents will not play for the veteran’s minimum.
PROJECTION: Yes, the “Big Three” era is over. But if you look closely, you will see that Terry bears considerable resemblance to Allen. And Boston’s issues of depth – a huge factor in coming up just short of the NBA Finals – have been addressed. Ainge also made good use of his draft picks, who likely will help preserve the older core during the season, then drift into the background in the postseason. Even with Allen’s flight to Miami, the Celtics have closed the gap on the Heat and should be taken very seriously.
(RELATED: WHAT GRADE DID THE CELTICS GET?)
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