The Quest For 18 Banners: Issues Facing the Celtics This Offseason

Barry WallContributor IJune 23, 2009

The end of the NBA season has passed—Kobe finally triumphed over his critics, LeBron still could not close it out alone, and the Celtics were left outside looking in on a championship they could have contended for.

The playoffs would not have been what they were this season if not for the first round series between the Bulls and Celtics. It was this series that proved to be the catalyst for the best rated NBA playoffs in years.

The Celtics are the darlings of the NBA, but "the big three" cannot continue to dominate the league as more time passes. The Celtics have an opportunity to either build for longevity by making moves this offseason, or to make minor modifications to their current roster for immediate contention.

Without Kevin Garnett the Celtics were a mediocre team. They struggled offensively, but defensively the team crumbled without their floor leader. Clearly there were problems with defensive assignments against the Magic. Those issues, combined with the extreme work load left for Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, left the Celtics vulnerable in the conference semi-finals. The Celtics have to address the issue of solid backups now that James Posey is gone to take the load off the big three, and help maintain a strong defensive presence when any of Boston’s four key starters are on the bench.

Free agency could be a very lucrative market for the Celtics this offseason. Many great prospects such as Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu are available for the Celtics to look into, but one of the most important things the Celtics have to do is sign Glen Davis to a mid-level contract in order to maintain the little bench presence the Celtics still have.

With only one pick in this year’s NBA draft, the Celtics need not even concern themselves with trading to gain a substantial first round draft pick because this year’s draft class is mediocre at best, and therefore will not yield the type of immediate impact player the Celtics need off the bench.  

The ideal situation for the Celtics would be to bring Hill back into the Doc Rivers fold in order to provide them with a great sixth man who can split playing time with Allen, and give Hill a championship to add to his historic, but rocky career.  Hill already deeply understands how Doc runs his team, given their history in Orlando, and Hill provides an awkward defensive matchup at the guard with the length to play forward.  

The Celtics have most of the tools and opportunity to acquire the depth to return to dominance in the east, but one thing stand in their way. It’s not the Orlando Magic; they will have a decimated roster next season due to free agency. Nor is it the Cleveland Cavilers; who, despite LeBron's best efforts, do not have the talent to make it to a championship. The Celtics greatest enemy lies within their own front office; Danny Ainge’s willingness to trade any player on such a great roster is foolish. It is these types of front office follies that are the only hurdle between the Celtics and 18 banners hanging from the rafters of The Garden.