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Celtics free-agent options at shooting guard

We’€™re 12 hours and counting from the NBA lockout, but that doesn’t mean we can’t examine who will be available to the Celtics [1] through free agency for the (fingers crossed) 2011-12 season once commissioner David Stern [2] and players association executive director Billy Hunter hash out their differences. Since we have already analyzed the centers [3], we’€™ll move on to the C’€™s next-greatest need: Shooting Guards.

Just as the Celtics seemingly solidified the center position prior to the 2010-11 season, the same could be said for two-guards. They featured a Hall of Fame starter (Ray Allen [4]) along with a tough combo guard (Delonte West [5]), a lengthy swingman (Marquis Daniels [6]) and a shoot-first scorer (Von Wafer [7]). The latter three are unrestricted free agents this offseason, and there’€™s a chance any of the trio could return.

As we’€™ve noted  before, the Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett [8], $21.2; Paul Pierce [9], $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo [10], $10; Jermaine O’€™Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley [11], $1.53), and Jeff Green [12] is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason.

However, unlike the center situation, there will be a ton of quality available shooting guards. As a result, Celtics president Danny Ainge can more easily upgrade the team as a whole by dedicating what little money he’€™ll have available to a two-guard once the collective bargaining agreement is in place.

Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at shooting guard, separating the current free-agent players into four categories ‘€¦

THE VON WAFERS

Is it possible that Von Wafer is the homeless man’€™s Von Wafer? The Celtics ranked 23rd in points per game this past season, and they desperately need scorers who can provide instant offense off the bench. Obviously, Wafer himself is a last resort, but these guys would obviously provide an upgrade ‘€¦

OPULENT MAN: JASON RICHARDSON [13]

RICH MAN: JAMAL CRAWFORD [14]

COMMON MAN: NICK YOUNG [15]

POOR MAN: MIKE DUNLEAVY [16]

THE DELONTE WESTS

Obviously, there can only be one Delonte West (as evidenced by his NSFW freestyle rap about KFC [17]), and he may be the best available option as a guy who can spell Rajon Rondo or play alongside him in addition to providing defensive toughness at both guard positions. If the Celtics aren’€™t willing to or capable of ponying up enough money to retain the injury-prone West, these guys are worth a look ‘€¦

OPULENT MAN: ARRON AFFLALO

RICH MAN: MARCUS THORNTON

POOR MAN: SHANNON BROWN [20]

HOMELESS MAN: EDDIE HOUSE [23]

THE MARQUIS DANIELSES

While Daniels hasn’€™t ruled out a return to Boston [25], he may not be ready to start the season after undergoing spinal surgery in March. These alternatives are also long and athletic, capable of guarding either wing position defensively and scoring double digits off the bench offensively ‘€¦

OPULENT MAN: J.R. SMITH

RICH MAN: WILSON CHANDLER

COMMON MAN: DESHAWN STEVENSON [28]

POOR MAN: TRACY MCGRADY [31]

HOMELESS MAN: ANTHONY PARKER [33]

THE SASHA PAVLOVICS

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, like Pavlovic, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be much of an upgrade over anybody at the league minimum (NOTE: Belinelli and Weems might be exceptions, but the former is due at least $3.4 million in 2011-12 and the latter — while he does ‘€œthe little things’€ — is a shooting guard who can’€™t really shoot). Thanks, but no thanks ‘€¦

*Restricted ($3.4 million qualifying offer)
**Restricted ($1.1 million qualifying offer)
***Restricted (Thunder issued $3.1 million qualifying offer)
****Restricted (Nuggets issued $1.0 million qualifying offer)
*****Team option ($1.1 million)
******Team option ($0.8 million)

Right now, E’€™Twaun Moore is your backup shooting guard, so needlessly to say the Celtics will have to sign at least one and probably two of the players listed above. (Unless, as noted previously, the C’€™s can sign and trade Big Baby or Green, or discover an undrafted free-agent gem out of college or overseas.)

Personally, I’€™d love to see Delonte West and Marquis Daniels back in Celtics uniforms but not if another team starts raising the price much higher than the veteran minimum — considering their injury issues severely impacted the C’€™s ability to maintain first place in the Eastern Conference this past season.

So, what to do? Like I said, if I were Ainge, I’€™d dedicate what little wiggle room the Celtics will have after the CBA to J.R. Smith, Jamal Crawford or Marcus Thornton (probably in that order). And then I’€™d offer Tracy McGrady the veteran minimum (seriously). In my eyes, that combo would be a massive upgrade.