4. Boston Celtics
Most Celtics’ fans (and even some players, Rondo) were irate with Celtics’ management when they decided to trade center Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder in exchange for Jeff Green last season. Now that Green will miss the entire 2011-12 season I can only imagine the sentiment among the clover faithful. While most were upset with the trade, Green did provide some youth that the Celtics desperately needed and will be missed.
This looks to be the last season with the original “Big Three” in tact. Although their core is almost nursing home bound, they are still talented enough to make some noise in the East. The loss of Green is a tough one but the more bigger problem for Boston is the grueling nature of the schedule, which will be magnified for the Celtics because of their age and mediocre bench. The theft of Brandon Bass from Orlando should help, and I suspect they’ll get a lot more from Jermaine O’Neal than they did last season.
With the shortened season injuries and fatigue will be major factors, if the Celtics are affected by either it will be their demise as depth and youth are not their forte.
Overall the Celtics shape up for this season as Mavericks East: They’re a second-tier contender, however instead of riding their old players until retirement they’ve built around short-term contracts and given themselves an opportunity to completely reshape the roster after the season. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are the only rotation players with contracts for next year, presuming Bass opts out, and Boston will have more than $20 million in cap space and two first-round picks next summer. So while this looks to be the last run with the “Big Three” the Celtics are still sitting pretty good for the future.