The best way to get over the disappointing end of the season is to embark on the 2010-2011 campaign. That starts with the off-season. There are a lot of questions marks for the C's entering free agency. Here are my top 5 off-season priorities and my take on the upcoming months.
1. Re-sign 'The Truth": Paul Pierce is an integral part of the Celtics team, vibe, and image. He has been the face of the Celtics for close to a decade, although he has shared the spotlight with Ray, KG, Big Al, 'Toine, Ricky Davis, and a slew of others. He can still carry the team on his back for short stretches of time and is one of the all-time best Celtics.
He may not be on the same level as Bird or Russell but his blood flows green throughout his body. As I've mentioned before, I fully expect him to opt out. He'll get more money in the long-term and have security in case he gets injured. This may also be a good thing for the Celtics. They may be able to sign Pierce to a three year deal, and at the same time open up $3-4 million in cap room. There is little doubt the captain is a Celtic for life. I'd just like to see Danny and company get him locked up early so they can focus on other issues.
2. Sign a head coach: I want Doc back. The fans want Doc back. The players want Doc back. And I'm sure Danny Ainge and the rest of the C's front office want Doc back. However, there is a strong possibility that may not happen. Would anyone blame him to step back from coaching and focus on being a father and family man? Of course not. If Boston can't retain Rivers, they should search for a similar coach, a player's coach.
Doc always knew how to treat his players. He rested them when they needed to be rested, and always involved them in huddles. With three future Hall of Famer's he essentially used them as assistant coaches in practices and on the sidelines. Getting a hard-nosed coach would be a bad idea. Doc closed the void when the locker room began to split young vs. old. I think Doc is the second most important piece to keep behind Pierce. Without him, I don't think the Celts would have made it past the Cavs this year, or won the championship in '08. 3. Retain Ray or Acquire a Comparable Shooter: This is a tough one. Part of me wants Ray back, but another part of me knows he's a liability in crunch time. He's had god awful performances in all three of the postseasons he's donned the green and white. My strong sense of loyalty wants to see him back next year, but I feel like bringing in a younger, more durable shooter may be more financially efficient.
Ray has said he doesn't expect the same $18+ million he got this year, but I don't see him taking too much less. I feel like making a run at a guy like Joe Johnson may be a better use of money. I'm not sure exactly how much room to spend the C's will have, but I think it will all come down to just how big a pay cut Allen is willing to take.
4. Make the Most of the Draft: Boston has picks 19 and 52. We've seen what Danny can do on the big stage. Personally, I would much rather bring in a player that can make a difference now than draft a raw rookie. I certainly would not take a player without serious college experience or a player from overseas. I'm no draft expert, and I won't pretend to be. On ESPN's mock draft, the C's are slotted to take James Anderson form Oklahoma, and Jon Scheyer, from Duke.
Both seem like players who could make an immediate difference. Anderson would be a nice upgrade from Marquis Daniels, and maybe TA as well. Scheyer would provide a backup point guard presence that Boston's clearly lacked in past seasons. I trust Danny to make good decisions on draft day and hopefully he can pull some strings like he did in 08 bringing in both Ray and KG.
5. Bring Eddie Back!: I'd love to see Eddie House back in a Celtics uniform next season. I can't imagine he would be much more than the veteran's minimum and I would put money on the fact that he'd love to return to Beantown. Eddie's a fan favorite, second behind Scal. He's a lights out shooter and brings energy every night. The Nate Robinson experiment wasn't a failure, but I think Eddie is a much better defender.
This is my loyalty showing through again. This is the reason I would make a terrible GM...well one of the reasons. I don't foresee this happening, but a guy can hope right? It will surely be a very telling off-season for the Celtics; one that will have a serious impact on the long-term future of the team.
Stephen Bailey designed Beantown Banter, writes the majority of the pieces for the site, and controls the social networking among other things. Bailey is currently a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in Sport Management. He is a diehard Celtics and Red Sox fan, but also actively follows the Bruins and Patriots. Additionally, he serves as a contributing writer at Celtics Life. Earlier in 2010, Bailey interned in the Sports Department of the New Haven Register, interviewed multiple athletes, including ex-Celtic Ryan Gomes, and worked as part of a team to get the section done every weeknight. He covers both Swimming & Diving and Women's Tennis for The Daily Orange, SU's school paper. In his free time, Bailey enjoys playing pickup basketball, beating his floormates in NBA 2K11, and sporcling for hours on end. Although he is unsure exactly what he wants to do for a career, it has always been his dream to cover the Celts and Sox.