I don’t mean exactly who, so much as how many. Danny has done pretty well over the years in the draft and I think it would foolish not to give him whatever picks can be acquired. In years past there have been few roster slots available but surely that has changed with only six players under contract right now (5 if Sheed retires). In addition the cumulative age of this year’s rotation left the valiant Green literally staggering to the finish line. The clock is ticking on the expiration date of the aging stars and it is time to infuse some new, young blood.
Maneuvering has been seriously limited by the Luxury Cap but buying draft picks is not restricted, nor do those expenditures incur the dollar-for-dollar matching that salaries do. True, drafted players have to be paid, and first-rounder’s are guaranteed for two years, but in the late-first range that appears available the cost is very comparable to the vet minimums which have been the only possibilities (beyond the MLE and LLE) in recent years. While Doc has been loath to play youth (and endure their mistakes of inexperience), can anyone really argue that a rookie with a regular season of experience under his belt is going to be any more prone to miscues than say Shelden floating up an inbounds pass to no one in particular, or Nate jacking up a 1-on-3 bomb with 13 seconds left in a quarter and an unlit shot clock, or Scal bouncing an inbounds pass toward the zig when his teammate just zagged? Will the youth’s shot attempt be any more hurried (and errant) than Tony’s bricklaying from anywhere outside 15 feet; or his percentage outside dip any lower than Sheed’s looong stretch in the 20’s or his insistence to persist remain undiminished; or will his dunk attempts be blocked by rims, flat-footed bigs, or even guards more often than Davis, Williams, or all-too-often our leg-weary stars?
No it’s time to bring in new recruits, and play them! Play them enough to work out the nervous. Play them enough to give the oldsters significant rest game to game throughout the season. Play them enough to reach the playoffs with battle-tested novices no longer dewy-eyed and hungry for more. So what are we talking about?
Memphis, Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Portland, and even the Lakers are rumored to be sellers. Toronto, Orlando, and San Antonio reportedly are already looking to buy. Wyc, open the checkbook and give Danny some more picks with which to work. Don’t make him choose between near-ready role players and high-risk high-reward potential. Get some of both. Rather than just #’s 19 and 52, let’s arm Ainge with those plus two or three more of the #’s 18, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, and 35 rumored to be available. Shoot, make it five more and stash a couple in Europe.
One final note, if Sheed really is going to retire, there are a few options that might allow him to give the Celtics a nice boost going out the door. Several teams are still looking to shave salary either to be bigger players in the free agent market or to position themselves below the Luxury Cap and get the league distribution as well avoid the tax. A trade obliging one of these clubs might pick up a useful piece as well as a draft-pick sweetener. For instance would Chicago deal Hinrich and a pick for a soon-to-retire Sheed and maybe Scalabrine (and when they waive you, come right back and join the staff as an assistant coach) signed to a non-guaranteed contract allowing the Bulls to shave $9M off their commitments and leave them able to sign two max/near-max free agents. Hinrich would be an expensive solution to backing up Rondo and Ray but the contract expires conveniently enough in 2012 along with Garnett’s (and perhaps extensions for Allen and Pierce?) A more onerous contract, at least longer, would be that of DeSagana Diop who would provide the length and strength lacking when Perk is out (as he may well be most of the year). Once again would Charlotte add a pick for the salary relief? How bad does Miami want to get out from under the contract of Michael Beasley and add a third big name? Golden State has been rumored to be eager to be free of the contract of Brandan Wright ($3.4); would a sign and trade of Anthony Morrow (for say $4M) fill out a deal for Sheed? Would it be worth a pick as well? Personally I think each of these options has merit.
Bottom line is that I would wish for roster slots 11-15 to all be filled by draft picks. The hope would be that by year’s end two or three of them would have played their way into meaningful minutes allowing our aging stars to morph into half-time guns going at full speed during their reduced minutes. I have no idea what five players those might be but I am certain that Danny has put in hundreds of hours weighing the options. If next year’s team is to be stronger rather than another day older and deeper in debt, some inventive machinations are called for. Wyc, pony up the dough to buy picks. Sheed do the Celtics right the way your year-long semi-retirement did not. Danny, use your normal inventiveness to take full advantage of these windfalls. [Discuss on CG Forums!]