Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team's offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.
Trades and Claims
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
For most of last season, GM Danny Ainge and the Celtics were inundated with questions about whether 2011/12 would be the Big Three's last run in Boston. With Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen on expiring deals, there was a chance the core of the Celtics team that won the NBA Finals in 2008 would be dismantled, with an eye toward rebuilding, or at least retooling, the roster.
In retrospect, speculation about the end of an era in Boston was probably overblown. Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, who both had bigger roles on the club than Allen, weren't going anywhere, and it was hard to imagine Garnett retiring after putting up the numbers he did in '11/12. Allen headed to Miami in July, but you could easily argue that if there was still a "Big Three" in Boston, Allen was no longer a part of it.
With most of the team's key pieces returning, the potential cap space the C's could have gained by letting its major free agents walk didn't materialize, which may have been for the best. Rather than fighting for players on the open market, the C's looked to their own free agents, armed with the Bird rights to players like Jeff Green and Brandon Bass. Neither forward is a star, but both have proven to be very useful complementary players alongside the bigger names. The price for Green was a little high for my liking, but committing less than $20MM for three years of Bass is a solid investment.
Having managed to stay below the tax threshold, the Celtics also had the full mid-level exception at their disposal, allowing them to lock up Jason Terry. Not only can Terry do many of the things that made Allen a good fit in Boston, but he has the ability to handle the ball and create his own shot, something Allen didn't bring to the table.
Even after signing Terry, the Celtics had enough assets to bring aboard another player at a mid-level price, sending out four players and three draft picks, none of which were exceptionally valuable, to land Courtney Lee. Along with Leandro Barbosa, who signed a minimum-salary contract, Lee helps provide the Celtics with the sort of dynamic scoring backcourt the team didn't have a season ago.
There's not much upside to be had with Jason Collins, Darko Milicic, and Chris Wilcox, who all signed minimum-salary deals to bolster the Celtics' bench. However, in Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, the team added youth to its frontcourt through the draft. Sullinger, who slipped to No. 21 due to a medical red flag, is ready to contribute immediately and could be a steal. Melo is too raw to enter the rotation right away, but having plenty of bodies to play NBA minutes allows the C's to develop the young center in the D-League for now.
The Celtics' original Big Three may not still be intact, but Ainge certainly didn't go until rebuilding mode this offseason in Boston. Retooling mode though? Sure. Only five players that finished last season with the Celtics returned to the club this year, meaning there figures to be a bit of an adjustment period while the new players adjust to Doc Rivers' system and Rivers figures out which groups of players best complement one another.Once the Celtics work through that adjustment period though, this is a deep, talented team that looks better on paper now than it did when it took the Heat to seven games in last year's Eastern Conference Finals. They'll need to stay healthy and establish chemistry, but if they do, the Celtics are poised to make a deep run again in the playoffs in 2013.