The Boston Celtics have several important decisions to make during free agency.
Most of the debate will focus on which players the team will pick up. However, first and foremost, the Celtics need to decide what they will do with the players on their own roster.
It’s all about priorities.
For the upcoming 2013-14 season, Boston has 12 players on the book for an inclusive total of $73,885,332. Only Paul Pierce ($15.3 million) and Terrence Williams ($947,907) have non-guaranteed contracts. (via Hoopsworld.com)
But before the Celtics even begin to worry about the non-guaranteed contracts, they need to decide whether the players with expiring contracts are worth bringing back or not. More importantly, the team needs to figure out if these players are worth taking up the cap space in a year that will prove pivotal to the franchise’s future.
As it is, Boston has three players scheduled to become free agents: Shavlik Randolph, Chris Wilcox and D.J. White.
Let’s take a closer look at these three.
It’s been quite the fall from grace for Wilcox.
After a productive 2011-12 campaign for the Celtics, the 30-year-old was re-signed over the offseason. He averaged 5.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game, while shooting 59.8 percent from the field. In four starts, Wilcox only got better, averaging 11 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Unfortunately, this season hasn’t brought about the same success.
In 61 games, Wilcox averaged 4.2 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.6 minutes a night. He also shot 71.9 percent from the floor.
Sure, Wilcox was a more consistent shooter this year. However, his defense and rebounding have suffered.
After posting a defensive rating of 97 last season, Wilcox’s rating jumped up to 101.6 this year. Furthermore, his rebounding percent dropped from 15 percent in 2011-12 to 12.5 percent this season—the lowest in his 10-year career.
All that, paired with poor defensive rotations, left Wilcox as a frequent feature in head coach Doc Rivers’ doghouse.
With the power forward only logging six minutes during Boston’s first-round series with the New York Knicks, it’s become quite clear that he has no future on this team.
The Verdict: Let him walk
Randolph has been one of the biggest surprises for the Celtics.
Initially brought in from China on a 10-day contract, Randolph has quickly proven that he belongs. In 16 games, he averaged 4.2 points and 4.4 rebounds over just 12.4 minutes per night. That averages out to 12.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per 36 minutes—the highest rebounding average on the team.
Randolph has also shown that he will put his body on the line for the team.
In just a short amount of time, the 29-year-old has jumped up to fifth on the Boston roster in charges drawn. He has taken an impressive seven charges in 16 games. In comparison, Paul Pierce led the team with 22 in 77 games.
It’s these little things that make a coach favor a player. So it was no surprise to see Randolph rise up in Rivers’ big man rotation.
For a team that desperately needs help inside the paint, Randolph is a player that the Celtics just can’t afford to lose.
If a tree falls in the forest with nobody around, does it make a sound? If White is on an NBA roster but never sees any floor time, does he still possess talent?
Sure, the answer to both questions may be quite obvious. But at the same time, there’s really no proof to back it up.
In White’s case, he appeared in just 12 games for Boston this season. In that time, he averaged 2.4 points and 1.1 rebounds over 7.2 minutes a night. White also shot 52.2 percent from the floor.
There’s no doubt that it would be unfair to criticize a player that rarely saw the floor. But from the short amount of court time White did have, he never really did anything to raise eyebrows.
In fact, in the two contests he logged more than 10 minutes, White averaged just 5.5 points (3-of-11 shooting) and 3.5 rebounds over 22 minutes per game. Not to mention, he had several blown defensive assignments and failed to make much of an impact inside the paint.
It’s become clear that the only role White has played for the Celtics this season is to simply provide the roster with another big man to boost their thin frontcourt depth. Going forward, that’s a role Fab Melo can easily fill.
No need to bring back White.
Verdict: Let him walk
Summing It All Up
In what’s quickly shaping up to become one of the most important offseasons in recent memory for Boston, the team can’t afford to bring along dead weight.
The Celtics are at a crossroads. This offseason will determine whether the team is still a contender or in the beginning of rebuilding.
With the current roster, Boston still has a good mix of young and experienced players to make another run at the title, while also building a solid foundation for the future. However, it’s all about putting the pieces together the right way.
While getting rid of Wilcox and White is a good start, a lot more work has to be done.
But hey, even Rome wasn’t built in a day.
All stats used in this article are courtesy of NBA.com's Media Central (subscription required)