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2012-13 Celtics free agent options at small forward

Two-thirds of the Celtics [1] roster that came within a game of reaching a third NBA finals [2] in five years joins NBA free agency on July 1. Anyone from Kevin Garnett [3] to Keyon Dooling [4] can leave Boston on July 11 once the league’s audit determines the salary cap (an estimated $58 million). We’re examining the C’s free agent options at each position. Now starting: Small forwards (Also see: Centers [5], shooting guards [6] and power forwards [7]).

Believe it or not, Paul Pierce [8]‘s ailing foot and Jeff Green [9]‘s season-ending heart problem meant the Celtics began last season with Sasha Pavlovic [10] as the starting three and Marquis Daniels [11] as his backup. Of course, Pierce returned, and the signing of Mickael Pietrus [12] helped solidify the position in Green’s absence. The C’s first order of business after convincing Garnett to return should be re-signing Green. Pietrus seems intent on coming back, but Pavlovic and Daniels will likely be shown the door, so the they may still need one more player for depth.

The Celtics have four players under guaranteed contracts in 2012-13 for a combined $34.5 million (Pierce, $16.8M; Rajon Rondo [13], $11.0M; Avery Bradley [14], $1.6M; JaJuan Johnson [15], $1.1M). Pending decisions on or by Garnett, Ray Allen [16], Brandon Bass [17], Greg Stiemsma [18], Ryan Hollins [19], Chris Wilcox [20], Green, Pietrus and Dooling, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have anywhere from $0-33 million to spend in free agency.

As a result, expect the Celtics to be linked to just about any and every free agent on the market. Nobody is out of their league. Without further ado, let’€™s take a look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at small forward, separating the current free agent players into three categories.

THE JEFF GREENS

Given the shared experience of Green’s treatment under the Celtics’ care for his heart condition, and given the desire by both parties to see the 25-year-old succeed in Boston after the Kendrick Perkins [21] trade, it seems logical Green will be in a C’s uniform next season. However, if he signs elsewhere, these should be Ainge’s next targets.

RICH MAN: NICOLAS BATUM

COMMON MAN: GERALD WALLACE [23]

POOR MAN: STEVE NOVAK

HOMELESS MEN: Derrick Brown, unrestricted (65 games: 8.1 PTS, 3.7 REB, 1.0 AST, 51.8 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 66.7 FT%); Donte’€™ Greene, $2.5 million qualifier (53 games: 14.7 MIN, 5.4 PTS, 2.5 REB, 40.6 FG%, 23.8 3P%, 80.0 FT%); Bill Walker [25], unrestricted (32 games: 19.4 MIN, 5.9 PTS, 2.5 REB, 1.2 AST, 39.8 FG%, 31.9 3P%, 85.0 FT%).

THE MICKAEL PIETRUSES

Injuries to Bradley and Allen meant increased minutes for Pietrus at the two, but ideally he would log equal time behind both Bradley and Pierce this coming season, just as Green could split time backing up the three and four, giving Celtics coach Doc Rivers [26] flexibility and different looks. So too could these guys to varying degrees.

RICH MAN: GRANT HILL [27]

COMMON MAN: MATT BARNES [30]

POOR MAN: JAMES SINGLETON

HOMELESS MEN: Dahntay Jones, $2.9 million player option (65 games: 16.2 MIN, 5.3 PTS, 1.8 REB, 40.9 FG%, 42.9 3P%, 83.8 FT%); Jamario Moon, unrestricted (8 games: 15.4 MIN, 2.3 PTS, 2.8 REB, 29.2 FG%, 20.0 3P%); Anthony Tolliver, unrestricted (51 games: 17.3 MIN, 4.1 PTS, 3.0 REB, 39.0 FG%, 24.8 3P%, 74.5 FT%).

THE MARQUIS DANIELSES

Either not worth the asking price or not worth any price, like Daniels, these guys are a dime a dozen and wouldn’€™t be much of an upgrade over anybody at the league minimum. Thanks, but no thanks.

As you can see, the signing of Green is almost essential to the Celtics’ success next season, no matter how you feel about his potential. If Garnett is Option A, then he must be Option B. Batum and Wallace would be great fits, too, but both will be extremely difficult to sign on the open market given the lack of available talent at the position. The trio of Pierce, Green and Pietrus isn’t the worst-case scenario; it’s probably Ainge’s best-case scenario.