Danny Ainge knew that Greg Stiemsma would likely bolt, leaving for the greener (pun intended) pastures in Minnesota. So Ainge wasted little time in addressing one of the team’s two remaining needs – he inked backup center Jason Collins to a one-year deal, bringing in the journeyman center to play tough defense and to give the C’s the additional size that it lacked last season. The move is for the league minimum, so getting a player of Collins’ size is a shrewd move indeed, especially given what remains to choose from on the free agent market. Collins is a legit 7’0″ center who will play one position. He will be able to bang against the Andrew Bynums and Dwight Howards of the world, and his presence in the rotation will give Fab Melo more time to learn and develop.
Collins won’t bring the Wow Factor offensively, but that’s not why the Celtics signed him. Ainge needed Collins for a very specific purpose, and that is on the defensive end of the court.
Collins struggled last season with knee, tailbone and Achilles injuries, appearing in only 30 games for the Hawks. Hopefully those injury woes are behind him. The signing all but closes the door on Stiemsma, who received a one-year, $3 million offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
By moving quickly to sign Collins, Ainge smartly targeted the type of veteran player that fits with the rest of the reconstructed Celtics. Boston has plenty of players who can put the ball in the hole – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley (when healthy), Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee – so Collins can simply focus on doing what he does best.
Collins best game of this lockout-shortened season came against our very own Boston Celtics on April 20th. He recorded season-highs in minutes (25), points (8), rebounds (7) and assists (4), helping the Atlanta Hawks to a 5 point victory.