I know it was a short off season but it seems like I have been waiting forever for the season to start. Maybe it's because we didn't have summer league to break up the summer. But, the season is finally here bringing lots of questions with it.
We can expect the players to all voice their readiness to repeat when they speak to the media today. We will hear how they have been preparing for their title defense by working out on their own and in Boston, at least for the last few weeks. Hopefully we will hear that they are ready to commit to team and defense again this season and that they feel that they are just as good this year as they were last and just as hungry.
But, the questions surrounding this team won't be answered on media day. They won't be answered until the season is in full swing. Here are some things we will be keeping an eye on as training camp and then the season progresses:
Will Sam Cassell be signed? All indications are that Sam will be signed to a non guaranteed contract. If he doesn't play better than he did at the end of last season, he shouldn't be kept on the roster. If they do indeed sign Sam, who will be cut? Or will Danny make a 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 or 2 deal to make roster space? If Danny does make a trade, who is likely to go? It seems as though Scal, and either Big Baby or Leon, along with Pruitt if Sam sticks might be possibilities. From early reports, Darius Miles looks good but if he can't cut it, he would be the most likely because of his non-guaranteed contract. Or, maybe Sam will come in for training camp as a player and then move to the coaching staff for the season. Lots of questions that we should find the answers to by the start of the season.
Another question is can Patrick O'Bryant cut it as the back up center. He had plenty of potential when he came into the league as the 9th pick in the draft, but was stifled by Nellie's system with the Warriors. Can Clifford Ray work his wonders with the young center or will be he a bust in Boston as well. I do know that the last center who was considered a bust with Golden State and who had been mentored by Clifford Ray worked out just fine for the Celtics. But that was many years and another championship ago.
There are lots of questions about knees coming into this season as well. Bill Walker has impressed the coaching staff and has the potential to make an impact but his knees are a question mark after 2 major surgeries and another minor one before this season. Darius Miles is trying to become the first player ever to come back from what has been determined to be a career ending injury. I have seen estimates of his readiness anywhere from 75-95%. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett both mentioned that they were impressed with him so far. If his knee can hold out and he is able to get to even 95% of his previous shape, he should make the team and go a long way toward filling the Posey void. Leon Powe also had 3 major surgeries after ACL tears and seems to have come back very strong from them. His knees haven't been a concern and we saw him take a jump in his play in the Finals. I expect him to have a bigger role this season and to improve even more.
The biggest question mark will be Tony Allen's knee. Last season he played with a bulky knee brace on and never seemed to get his confidence back 100%. Reports are that the brace is gone and that Tony is ready to take a bigger role. He is capable of replacing the defense that the Celtics lost when Posey left. When Pierce was out, Tony stepped up and we saw what he is capable of on both offense and defense but then he re-injured his knee and last season he couldn't seem to get his confidence back. Tony will be crucial to this team and we will be watching his play and development very closely. If their knees can hold up, between Tony, Darius Miles and Bill Walker, the Celtics might not miss James Posey quite as much. But, that is a big "if" considering their histories.
Another question coming into camp is whether Gabe Pruitt can contribute this season. He has shown flashes of being a very good point guard and he played well in the D-League last season. But, is he ready to step in and back up Rondo in his second year in the league? If he is, why are they bringing back Sam? And where will Eddie House fit in?
Finally, since the announcement that Perk wouldn't be ready for the start of camp, the biggest question on everyone's mind is will Perk's shoulder hold up? As last year's finals proved, Perk is crucial to this team's success. Today's Herald reports that Perk should be ready to play by the third week of camp.
Kendrick Perkins [stats], recovering from the third shoulder surgery of his young career, is not ready for full contact, though Danny Ainge indicated yesterday the Celtics center should be ready once the exhibition games start.
“Perk will do everything in camp except live contact for the first week,” the team’s director of basketball operations said. “Then we will progressively add things on as the second week goes on, to the point where we’re hopeful that by the third week we’re hopeful he’ll do everything, including playing in exhibition games.”
He has had 3 surgeries on the troublesome shoulder so far in his 5 years in the league. Reports are that this time they put a screw in it. They have tried everything else so maybe this will hold it. I sure hope so. It may be a good thing that Patrick O'Bryant will be forced to show what he can do early.
After today's media day, the Celtics will go full force into training camp tomorrow and the first game will be on October 8 against the revamped Philadelphia 76ers who have some questions of their own to answer. The Celtics had questions entering last season and they answered them all emphatically. I am looking forward to seeing them do the same this season as they seek to become the first Celtics team since 1968-69 to repeat.