The Celtics need a back up center. We can't go into the season with just Perk at center. Sure, Al can play some center but should be playing power forward. Last season Al and Perk proved that they play very well in tandem. We need a back up center and a back up point guard. But who is out there? Let's look at some possibilities at the center position.
The most obvious choice is becoming Theo Ratliff. He says he is healthy and stronger than ever. He is in a contract year and we all know what a contract year can do for a player (see Blount, Mark). If Ratliff can play and can stay healthy, we have our veteran back up center. But, that is a big if. If Danny doesn't trade him for his contract before the season, we could see what he can give us and then his contract would be worth even more at the trade deadline. Or, if he plays well and stays healthy Danny may decide to keep him for the rest of the year and use his money to extend Jefferson's contract. Also if Perk plays as well as I expect him to, Ratliff won't have to play all that many minutes and may make it through the season. When healthy, Ratliff is one of the best shot blockers in the league.
With Milwaukee signing Jake Voskuhl, they won't be signing free agent Jared Reiner. Reiner is a 6'11 center who is going into his 3rd season and averaged 1.2 points and 2.6 rebounds last season. The key is that he played well against us and Danny seems to go after players who do well against the Celtics. That is one of the reasons we have Scalabrine. He had a very good game against the Celtics and a couple months later, Danny signed him. It wouldn't be a big signing but he would be reasonable to sign and would work as a back up to Perk and Ratliff.
Melvin Ely is another possibility. San Antonio may try and bring him back but he is an unrestricted free agent. He could be our #1 big off the bench. He is a 6'10" PF/Center with 5 years of experience who averaged 3.0 points and 1.8 rebounds in 10 mpg for the Spurs. He has playoff experience and knows how to play on a winning team. As a starter for Charlotte last season, he averaged 11.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks on 50.8 percent field goal shooting. He made 3.3 million dollars last season and we could use the midlevel exception to try to sign him.
Washington has made it known that Brendan Haywood and Etan Thomas are both available. Both have contracts that go though the 2009-2010 season. Haywood is set to make 5 million this year while Thomas will make 6.3 million this season. Haywood is a 7' center who averaged 6.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game last season. He is entering his 7th year as a pro but has been inconsistent. Etan Thomas is also entering his 7th season and is a 6'10" center who averaged 6.1 points, 5.8 points, and 1.4 blocks per game last season. Thomas is a hard nosed player and fierce rebounder who plays good defense and would be a good fit for our team.
Marc Jackson is a 6'10" F/C who played for New Orleans last season and is an unrestricted free agent. He has 7 years pro experience and averaged 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season in 18 mpg. He made 4.875 million last season so would be in the mid level salary range for us. He has a good midrange shot and good hands and is a banger in the paint.
Jake Tsakalidis is a 7'2" center who played for Houston and Memphis last season. He played only 36 games and averaged 2.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in 11 mpg last season. He made 2.9 million last season and is an unrestricted free agent. He has been in the league for 6 season and is an intimidating presence in the paint with a decent hook shot. He is foul prone and lacks mobility but has size.
The Blazers have mentioned Joel Przybilla in some trade talks and may be available for the right player. His contract runs until the 2010-2011 season and he is set to make 5.7 million this season. He is a 7'1" center who has played 7 years in the league. He averaged 2.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 16 mpg last season. He plays hard in the paint and is a banger, but is also foul prone and is a poor free throw shooter.
Marcus Camby has been a name that has surfaced in several trade rumors. Camby has 3 years left on his contract and will make 8 million dollars this season. He is a 6'11" center who has played 11 years in the NBA and is 33 years old. He averaged 11.2 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game last season on his way to the defensive player of the year award. He is an outstanding defensive player, rebounder, and shot blocker. He doesn't have a lot of low post moves and has been injury prone over his career.
Indiana has made it known that Jermaine O'Neal is available. He is a 6'11" PF/C who averaged 19.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks last season. He is athletic and can score, rebound, and play defense. He will make 19.7 million this next season and has 3 years left on his contract. He has been injury prone.
Michael Doleac has one year left on his contract with the Heat at 3.1 million. The Heat need a point guard and may be convinced to trade for Telfair. Doleac is 6'11" and has played in the league 10 seasons. He averaged 3.6 points and 2.8 rebounds last season. He has a big body and an excellent shooting touch but lacks defensive toughness.
There has been a lot of talk about Andrei Kirilenko in trade rumors. Utah has said that he is available and apparently there was some interest from Danny. He is a 6'9" forward and wouldn't solve our need for a center but would add another quality player. He is going into his 7th season and averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.1 blocks last season. He has 4 years left on his contract and will make 13.7 million this season. He is an outstanding athlete with a big wingspan. he can post up or hit the outside shot and has very good defensive skills. He had an off season in Utah last season and complained because he wasn't involved in the offense enough. With Pierce, Allen and Jefferson, he wouldn't get more touches in Boston.
PJ Brown is a 6'11" F/C and is an unrestricted free agent. He has played 14 seasons in the NBA and is a very tough player. He is a good defender and rebounder and is very good at setting screens. He averaged 8.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season. We could certainly do a lot worse than to sign Brown as a back up center.
While a lot of the top free agents have already been signed, we still can find a good player who can help us as a back up center. As listed above there are quite a few players available who would fill the need. Of course, there also may be others who haven't been mentioned that Danny may be targeting. A trade makes more sense than a free agent because we already have 16 players if we sign our two draft picks. But a sign and trade of a free agent is also possible. And, then again, there are the ever present Garnett rumors, although that is looking less and less likely. [Discuss this topic on the Celtics Green Forums!]