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This is how fast things can change in the world of professional basketball. Shortly after Gordon Hayward's injury, there was little talk of an NBA Title in Boston. Now with 11% of the regular season gone, Boston has a seven-and-two record, a seven-game winning streak, and things are looking bright. So where does Boston sit for the 2018 and 2019 NBA playoffs?

Most teams, including Boston, are using 10-12 man rotations. In the playoffs, these rotations usually tighten up to 8-10 players. Without dismissing the difficulty of getting past the Eastern Conference foes, the Celtics need to field a rotation that can handle the Warriors. Boston currently has two open roster spots, including the DPE. The NBA now has a number of disgruntled players that speak their minds. That is how we acquired Kyrie Irving. Danny Ainge will be always looking for another one. The 76'ers Jahlil Okafor is always in the mix.

Danny has many options for this season Don't forget that he signed P. J. Brown out of semi-retirement in 2008, and Brown played a significant role in Boston's championship season. Ainge also tried to recruit 42-year-old Reggie Miller, who was then working as an NBA broadcaster. Here is the Boston Globe's Shara Springer on that attempt:

In August 2007, Celtics president Danny Ainge tried to coax Miller out of retirement. Ainge said he “felt like the team needed experienced shooting, someone who was unafraid to take shots at big moments of games.” Ainge saw Miller as a secondary scorer, someone who could make shots when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were double-teamed.

During a week of intense training, the then-42-year-old Miller shared the same vision. The former Indiana Pacers shooting guard went through two workouts a day, trying to will his body back into shape with five hours of basketball and conditioning drills.

Reggie's situation at that time seems to coincide with Paul Pierce's situation, doesn't it? The player that the Celtics bring in needs to be able to fill a need and to make a difference in the playoffs. I don't see any free agents out there that fit that bill. Beyond Jahlil Okafor, how about other bigs that might be disgruntled or out of place. Nerlens Noel seems to fit both profiles in Dallas. Would he fit in Boston? He is tall, athletic, nimble and mobile. Like Okafor, he can score in close, rebound and block shots, but he is much quicker. He doesn't score from distance, and his free-throw shooting still needs work, but he is primed to play Boston's switching defense.

With a one-and-ten record, the Mavericks seem to be going nowhere this season and may be looking for young potential talent via a trade with Boston and/or acquiring draft picks. Noel was unattainable for Boston in the past, but things have changed. This is CelticsLife's Josh Coyne on the past situation with Noel:

The frontcourt log-jam for the Philadelphia 76ers caused a lack of significant playing time for Noel, who was moved to Dallas last year, where he averaged 8.5 points, 1.1 blocks and 6.8 rebounds in an average of 22 minutes played per game. The Celtics can no longer afford the big man but where will he end up?

Noel's salary fits the DPE, and his contract expires at the end of this season. And he grew up in the Boston area. Looking at the current Boston roster, Al Horford needs to remain at the power forward spot. He is having an All-Star season thus far. My guess is that Noel would love to return home and play a role in a winning season. He definitely is injury-prone, but his minutes would be somewhat restricted and hopefully would ensure his continued health. So for this season, Ainge will be looking for a veteran, preferably one with playoff experience, to improve the Celtics hopes of getting by the Dubs.


As far as next season, that veteran we have been talking about is Gordon Hayward. He will add a whole new, vital element. Daniel Theis is signed for this year and next. If he keeps improving, he will be in that 8-10 man playoff rotation, probably even for this season. Aron Baynes is only signed for this year. Anyone playing for the Celtics seems to have his League-wide value rise significantly, and that will happen to Aron. He will be in demand, and the Celtics will have to evaluate his situation. Boston achieved its present winning record without Marcus Morris and he is a possible trade candidate.

I strongly feel that Semi Ojeleye needs to get more floor time. He is a classic three-and-D guy. He moves very well on man-to-man and switching defense. He can score from beyond the arc, and he is signed for four years at a bargain as a second-round draft pick. Semi looks like he has a solid NBA future, and he may be helpful in the playoffs. So far, I am not convinced that Guerschon Yabusele has a fit with the Celtics. But he is signed for four years. Hopefully, he will start to improve.

Boston's history with Golden State over the past two seasons, gives us even more hope. In those four games, Boston won both of the games in Golden State. The Celtics lost both games in Boston, but one was a double-OT nail-biter. It is important to note that Kevin Durant did not play in Boston's victory last season, but the numbers remain positive.

Don't look for Danny Ainge to remain pat. He has a number of tools at his disposal to bring in a player or two to get us to the Finals and beyond this season. It doesn't have to be a star, but merely someone to fill an important role in the title run for this season. The core players are here. We just need another chess piece or two.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Top photo credit: Charles Krupa/AP photo
Bottom photo credit: L. M. Otero/AP photo

Tom Lane 11/05/2017 10:28:00 AM Edit
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