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Irish Coffee: Have the Celtics upgraded their roster?

12.12.11 at 1:22 pm ET
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When Brandon Bass is your biggest offseason acquisition, would you consider that a success? The Celtics needed to get a lot better, and without knowing who the 15th man on the roster will be it’s hard to say they did.

Here’s your 2011-12 Celtics roster, with 14 of the 15 available roster spots all but filled.

Kevin Garnett: $21.2 million
Paul Pierce: $15.3 million
Ray Allen: $10 million
Rajon Rondo: $10 million
Jeff Green: $9 million
Jermaine O’Neal: $6.2 million
Brandon Bass: $4 million
Keyon Dooling: $2.2 million
Avery Bradley: $1.5 million
Marquis Daniels: $1.3 million
Chris Wilcox: $1.3 million
Sasha Pavlovic: $1.3 million*
JaJuan Johnson: $0.9 million**
E’Twaun Moore: $0.5 million***
Total: $84.7 million (plus $14.4 million luxury tax)

*Pavlovic is expected to re-sign for one year at the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
**Johnson has yet to reach a deal, but the rookie pay scale suggests he’ll get just under $1 million.
***Terms of Moore’s guaranteed deal have not been disclosed, so I’m slotting him at the rookie minimum.

Did the Celtics improve themselves at any position from the team that lost the Eastern Conference semifinals in five games to an improved Heat squad? Let’s attempt to answer that question.

Pierce, Green, Daniels and Pavlovic make up the small forward corps, only Green and Pavlovic will have a shortened training camp to further familiarize themselves with the C’s schemes. Pending Green’s improvement in the system, Daniels’ health and any contribution from Pavlovic, this should be a deeper unit.

Dooling has essentially replaced Delonte West as a backup at both guard positions, and that may sound like a downgrade, until you realize West averaged just 5.6 points and 2.7 assists in only 24 games. Meanwhile, Dooling compiled 7.1 points and 3.0 assists in 80 games for the Bucks a season ago. Regardless, the development of Bradley first and Moore second will go further in determining whether or not this group behind Rondo is better than the West-Carlos Arroyo-Von Wafer triumvirate that finished the 2010-11 season.

Wilcox is your new Nenad Krstic, only with more explosion, less range and the same injury risk (he hasn’t played more than 62 games since the 2006-07 season). Bass is your new Glen Davis, only with more maturity, less baggage and the same skill set. And Johnson is your new Troy Murphy, only with more potential, less range and the same toughness. Like Bradley, the C’s first-round pick’s ability to contribute meaningful minutes will go a long way in cementing the group behind Garnett and O’Neal.

Really, the only question mark that remains is what Ainge will do with his $3 million mini mid-level exception. The Celtics could still use a scorer and another big, but will have to settle for one of the two.

Here are the scorers still available via free agency: Kelenna Azubuike, Josh Howard, Andrei Kirilenko, Anthony Parker, Michael Redd, Peja Stojakovic, Al Thornton, Reggie Williams and Shawne Williams. Howard, Kirilenko and Thornton are probably the only players on this list worth that $3 million, and all three would play a role supposed to be filled by Green.

Would the addition of another big like Reggie Evans solidify the Celtics' frontcourt? (AP)

And here are the available bigs: Kwame Brown, Reggie Evans, Carl Landry, Leon Powe and Joel Przybilla. Considering the C’s have been linked to all five players during the free agency frenzy, this seems like a far more likely route for Ainge to take.

Of course, camp invitees Greg Stiemsma, Jamal Sampson or Michael Sweetney could all fill that 15th roster spot. Whichever route they take, two things are clear: 1) The Celtics aren’t willing to tie up any additional money for the 2012 offseason, when they’ll only have Pierce and Rondo under significant contracts and will be major players in a free agency period that could include Dwight Howard; and 2) As evidenced by their interest in the Chris Paul and David West sweepstakes, the Celtics can also be major players at the trade deadline this season.

For now, though, the Celtics have yet to make any major upgrades from last season’s roster, unless Green, Bradley and/or Johnson can emerge as significant contributors.

UPDATE: Despite initial reports that Wilcox signed for the veteran minimum, he received the mid-level taxpayer exception ($3 million), according to our own Paul Flannery, so it looks like the immortal Greg Stiemsma, who received a partially guaranteed contract, is the leading candidate for the 15th roster spot.

QUICK RELEASE: CELTICS LINKS

The guys over at SheridanHoops.com put together a nice piece on Doc’s son Austin Rivers, who said he likes the Big Baby trade. …

After the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl on Saturday, Xavier guard Tu Holloway said, “I idolize guys like Kevin Garnett and Ray Lewis and things like that. I love what they stand for in their sports and on the field and that’s what I was trying to say after the game as far as the way I played and the way my teammates played on the court.” …

Von Wafer was a late addition to the Davis-for-Bass trade, and a letter of clearance from FIBA is holding up their ability to practice with their respective new teams. …

Garnett commented on a wild weekend that left the future of many teams still in doubt, telling the Associated Press, “I’m like everybody else. I’m adapting to all this nonsense. I think this whole league is in a bunch of uncertainty at this point and I fall in line with that. A lot of players don’t know what it is.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

Read More: Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling
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