Opinion: Celtics with too many chefs in the kitchen
The history of the NBA suggests that having two or three superstar players on your roster is the absolute easiest way to win a championship. There is little in the league’s history to suggest that having 11 or 12 solid players takes precedence and is a recipe for title talk come late May and early June.
By all accounts, Celtics boss Danny Ainge did everything and more to make the 2012-13 roster better than the 2011-12 roster that lost to the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Ainge acquired two former Sixth Man of the Year winners in Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa. He re-signed two players in Brandon Bass and Jeff Green who would start for most teams in the NBA. He re-signed a former league MVP in Kevin Garnett and brought in a young, frontcourt stud in rookie Jared Sullinger. Chris Wilcox and Courtney Lee are more than serviceable.
The Celtics are still finding themselves and it’s still far too early to draw any conclusions about this season, but is there one reason to believe, given Ainge’s track record at the trade deadline, to believe that today’s roster will be the same in March as it is today? Ainge is no dummy. He knows what you and I both know – the Celtics currently have too many chefs in the kitchen. He knows that benches shorten in the postseason and finding minutes for 11 or 12 guys during crucial playoff games is a pipe dream.
It’s why no one should be surprised if two, three, four or more of these guys are moved in the next few months for something that resembles another true superstar. Things happen quickly in the NBA. Big name players get upset with their respective situations overnight, especially when that player realizes in late January or early February that his team won’t have a sniff at a title. At the same time, the owners of these lower-tier NBA teams don’t even blink anymore when trying to shed the hefty contracts of a superstar. Dating back to 2008, we’ve seen names like Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, Andrew Bogut, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol all dealt away from a small market. In other words, blockbuster trades are now the norm.
The 2007-08 championship team was plenty deep, yes. But the team rarely used more than three guys off the bench. PJ Brown, James Posey and Leon Powe were the only guys who played significant minutes (10 or more per game) in the 2008 Finals against Los Angeles. More recent, the champion Heat had just seven players who played 10 minutes or more down the stretch last spring (Norris Cole averaged 8.4 in the Finals).
Ainge currently has nearly as many chips as he did back in 2007 when he made the franchise-altering Garnett deal. That’s a scary deal for Celtics fans who are frightened of change.
But if a player, like say, Atlanta’s Josh Smith (still young at 26-years-old) becomes available in the next few months, sudden change should be welcomed. Even if it comes at the expense of the Celtics’ depth