”That doesn’t make a lot of sense to radically change the team when you’re trying to compete to win it all. We have been and will continue to look to upgrade our team, but I think it’s always more unlikely that that happens than likely. You have to produce. It’s my job to look at the bigger picture. We have to live in the moment and try to win and help our team have success, but at the same time, if it’s not happening on the court, than there has to be changes made, absolutely.”
–Danny Ainge via WEEI
Is Danny Ainge right?
There’s a certain validity to the concept that major shakeups could disrupt team chemistry. But let’s be honest: The Celtics are not a team without holes.
The C’s currently rank near the bottom in the following statistical categories:
- Points in Paint 37.7 (25th in league)
- Three Point Production (28th, 16.5 ppg)
- Offensive Rebounding (29th, 8.3 per game)
- Rebound Rate: 47.8 (28th)
- Shot blocking (28th, 4.0 per game)
- Fouls per defensive play: 25th, 19.7 percent
- Free Throws Attempted per off play: 22.3 (23rd)
- Opponent three percentage (22nd) 36.6
- Fourth Quarter Offense 23rd (22.5 ppg)
A cursory glance of those weaknesses reveals a reoccurring theme: lack of interior presence.
It may be obvious without analyzing those stats, but the C’s need an inside presence. Ranking near the bottom in points in the paint, all rebounding categories and shot blocking clearly demonstrates that the C’s need a true center.
Fab Melo is still a couple seasons away from being the answer there, and Kevin Garnett is still a power forward pressed into duties at the 5 spot.
The thing is, Ainge has to be aware of these facts, and yet he isn’t seeking to change the team?
Let’s key in on two words from Ainge’s statement though: “radically” change.
Some minor tinkering is definitely in order, and it’s not as though there is a shortage of available bigs to help fill the glaring deficiencies.
The Heat have expressed interest in Timofey Mozgov. Shouldn’t the Celtics, too?
Mozgov was praised by Nuggets coach George Karl, as he said he “belongs on the court.” But Denver can’t accommodate that. They already have Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee usurping all the minutes at center.
That makes Mozgov, who only gets paid $2.6 million a year, entirely expendable. And the C’s have the assets to move for him. It would require a little bit of creativity on Ainge’s part, but a combination of lesser players could snag Mozgov, or even a second-round pick.
If the Nuggets wanted to take on Chris Wilcox to be a third big on their team and a second round pick, they may pull the trigger.
But Mozgov may not be the best big available.
Samuel Dalembert is seldom used on the Bucks, a team with more bigs than they know what to do with. They already have Joel Przybilla to fill his role as third center…making Dally a costly redundancy.
Dalembert receives $6.6 million per season, but it’s quite possible the Bucks buy out his contract. That would make him available for a low price, even possibly the veteran minimum.
The best part about Dalembert is that he would go a long way towards shoring up the shot blocking weakness. He still averages three blocks per-36 minutes, and can still play. He’s 31 years old, but just two seasons ago in Philly, he averaged a double-double with blocks to boot.
Ainge said he is opposed to making major changes, but some minor tinkering is order, especially after Darko Milicic departed to take care of his ill mother in Serbia.
Now’s the time to work those wires, Danny, and bring the C’s a big man capable of helping in the paint!