By DERRENMATTS Ok, we bombed in the lottery selection and won't get a blazing superstar. We may still land a star caliber player with the 5th pick, but it all depends on how much of their potential they reach.
We can still move toward bigger and better things, even without Oden or Durant--but we gotta make the right moves and sign the right free agents.
Lets assume Pierce is not going to ask to be traded, or that Ainge is not going to trade him away. That gives us Pierce, Jefferson, and Rajon as the most probable starters. Perkins may wind up getting the starting nod at the 5 (though I'm hoping we land a stud big man in the draft or via trade/free agency) and if Tony and Wally come back fully healthy, they may battle for the starting 2 spot (unless Green emerges over the summer and takes it away from them). Frankly, that lineup does not thrill me into thinking we'll be serious playoff contenders.
We need to bulk up our roster with better producing players. There are a few good names out there via free agency who I hope Ainge will strongly consider: They are unrestricted and won't cost us players or draft picks.
James Posey Andres Nocioni Jerry Stackhouse Steve Blake Chauncy Billups Mo Williams Mike Bibby Rashard Lewis
Rashard Lewis (who has a player option) is intriguing. I was never a big fan of his and I don't consider him a big time player or a go to guy. But on a team with Jefferson and Pierce, he'll be an incredible 3rd scorer, and he'll definitely give our opponents a big mismatch problem. I think Billups is out of the question, but Mo Williams is a tempting PG to seek, and he could push Rajon to the bench (temporarily). Some fans want Bibby, but I feel he's over the hill and will be on a downward spiral from this point on.
I like Posey for his defensive presence on the perimeter, and Iike Nocioni's solid all around game. Since we need better defense, Posey would be the better option to go for. But I will still rather have Lewis.
There aren't any good Centers who are unrestricted free agents, but one intriguing player to look at is Darko Milicic. Orlando will need to give him a qualifying offer to keep him in Orlando, but talk is that they can't afford to keep him long term (Dwight Howard is going to command big bucks soon). Word is lot of teams are interested in him, and I'm one of them. I've seen him play and know that he can be an exceptional Center--maybe not a star caliber player, but a very solid and consistent producer. He's an underrated rebounder and shot blocker, and he's got the offensive ability to be our 3rd scorer who chips in 15 ppg. I feel he will be an upgrade at the 5 because of his ability to be an offensive threat. He won't be a downgrade defensively over Perk--in the past 2 seasons, in under 22 mpg, he's averaged 2 bpg. From what I've seen, he's got excellent feel for swatting shots. Peg me down as a guy pushing to sign Darko.
The only big trades I see happening that will significantly alter our current team are the ones that include Pierce. We tend to hear Pierce rumors every summer, and it shouldn't be any different this offseason. Pau Gasol may be one of the players linked this offseason, but it would have to include a 3rd team because Pierce is not going to want to go to Memphis. I've been instigating this for some time now, but I think the 3rd team could be Golden State. With Jason Richardson's name popping up recently in trade talks, we may play musical chairs, where Richardson goes to Memphis, Gasol comes to Boston, and Pierce goes home to Golden State.
The Suns may be looking to change the makeup of their team, and Shawn Marion could be the one looking for a new home. I've also heard about Amare possibly going, but I highly doubt this. Marion is an excellent role player, and at times can step in and be the "man". But if we move the Truth to get the Matrix, Marion may be expected to carry a heavier load than what he's capable of, and it may not bode well for him. I'd rather combine Marion with Pierce instead of trading for him, but I don't think Phoenix wants anyone else but Pierce.
Turning to the draft now, with the 5th pick, Corey Brewer seems like a good selection. He's a long (6'9") and athletic SG/SF who's defensive minded, and he also likes to get out and run. He's a capable shooter who can be a weapon with more development in this area. He'd be a perfect role player in our starting lineup because he can mesh his all around skills to fill in the holes we have. One of his attractions is he's a team player willing to do whatever needs to be done to win. He'll sacrifice his own spotlight and willingly play behind the scenes, or he'll step up his game and attack if that's what's needed. Unselfish and content to play the sidekick role, he'll fit in well with Pierce and Jefferson.
I've got interest in Joakim Noah and Yi Jianlian, but if we use the 5th pick on either of them, we'd lose out on Corey Brewer. In order to fill that defensive void at the wing, we'll need to bring in James Posey--and he's only a short term fix because he's getting older. The other route to go is with Brewer with the 5th pick and sign Darko Milicic to upgrade our 5 spot, and in my opinion, this fills both our needs (C and SG). While Noah is a good defensive player with some offensive skills, and while Yi may be a versatile offensive player with a questionable defensive game, Darko Milicic is solid in both scoring and defending, and he's just as young as both of them, with 4 years of NBA experience already under his belt.
This lineup may not be good enough to win a title, but it certainly does seem to have enough strength to be contending for the eastern conference title.
I'll chime in with more of my thoughts on how to improve our team in the coming weeks. But for the time being, I think we can chew on these thoughts and ideas, and debate whether they'll work or not.