|Celtics free agent options at center redux||11.28.11 at 4:00 pm ET|
Shortly after last season, we examined the free agent options that will be available to the Celtics at each position. The new (tentative) labor deal has changed the landscape a bit, and some previously available players either retired (Yao Ming), re-signed with their old teams (i.e., Nazr Mohammed and Greg Oden) or signed overseas (i.e., J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin), so it’s worthwhile to reexamine those options.
We’ll roll out one positional breakdown each day this week, starting with the C’s biggest need: Centers.
The Celtics started the 2010-11 season with four centers on the roster (Kendrick Perkins, Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal and Semih Erden) along with sometimes center Glen Davis. Now, a year later, only JO remains from that list. While Big Baby remains an option depending on his value on the open market, the C’s still need at least one if not two more guys who can play the five.
The Celtics have six players under contract in 2011-12 for a combined $64.3 million (Kevin Garnett, $21.2; Paul Pierce, $15.33; Ray Allen, $10; Rajon Rondo, $10; Jermaine O’Neal, $6.23; Avery Bradley, $1.53), and Jeff Green is due at least another $5.91 million this offseason. That leaves little wiggle room for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
As a result, don’t expect any big-name free agents. So, let’s start by crossing Nene, Tyson Chandler, Greg Oden ($8.8 million qualifying offer) and Marc Gasol ($4.5 million Q.O.) off the list of potential targets. While any of those three would be a fantastic fit on the 2011-12 Celtics, they’re all out of their league.
Without further ado, let’s take another look at the options that should be available to the Celtics at center, separating the current free-agent players into four categories.