The question: If Pierce/Garnett/Rondo is injured for the week/month/season, what is your plan if you’re Doc/Danny? Yesterday, Paul Pierce, today Kevin Garnett—a much stickier wicket, as those across the pond would say. If there is a drop off from Pierce to Jeff Green, the comparable between Garnett and Chris Wilcox would be a ravine? gulch? gorge?
Dateline: September 7, 2012––23 days until the start of training camp!
He can’t go all day anymore, but in limited stretches there may be no better big man in the league. You doubt? Name a big man in today’s NBA who can give you a better five minutes? Doc’s 5-5-5 plan is pure genius (although I call for a 5-5-4 this year).
Is this year’s Wilcox, Jason Collins, Fab Melo, and Jared Sullinger behind Garnett better than last June’s Hollins, Stiemsma, and Williams? Sure, but we’re talking cleanest dirty shirt here. And once you change “behind” to “without,” we’re talking not whether, but what level of, a disaster? Still, the task at hand is what you do without Garnett.
I don’t think this is a case where we can approach sitting out a game, or even missing a week, the same way as a career ending injury. If Kevin Garnett has a career ending injury, I think you have to go into full scale rebuilding mode, immediately. I’m looking at contenders, or even optimistic pretenders, for whom the addition of Pierce might get them over the top, or into the playoffs. I’m looking for injury depletions that might make Jason Terry, Keyon Dooling, and/or Jason Collins seem like a difference maker. This is the demolition project that Danny skirted with the end-around play when Garnett resigned. Even an included trade exception should be flipped to a third team for picks and projects, because next year the Celtics aren’t going to be a contender that one move will push over the crest.
If we are talking about chips for the long term (2-3 years out), then I say Rondo, Bradley, Lee, maybe Green, Sullinger, Melo, maybe Joseph and Christmas. Bass and Wilcox? You have to ask yourself if they aren’t worth more to someone else now than they will be to the Celtics in 2014? Yeah, when I clean house, I really clean house.
A game or a week? I think it is obvious Chris Wilcox is your primary center. His backup may depend entirely on the opposition. I’m afraid Jason Collins would be useless, maybe worse than useless, against Miami and the like where power forwards with range are posing as centers. Those match-ups are horrible–emphasizing his defensive immobility but offering no appreciable gain from his height advantage on offense. Jason’s a good choice against LA (Dwight), Philly (Bynum), NY (Chandler), GS (Bogut), and a few others. Against more mobile centers without a strong inside game, I think I prefer Sullinger. If Kevin is inactive, then probably Melo is suited up, and maybe he figures in there. At this point who knows—and that picture may look very different in March than it will in November.
The strength of the Celtics’ roster is in the wing depth. With Jeff Green you can stretch that asset up to supplement power forward, allowing Sullinger to augment the center corps. In general I see Sullinger competing for minutes with Green at PF, but I have no problem with Jared grabbing the low-post bit in his teeth and running with it. The most glaring and prominent unknowns are our big man rookies. As we await answers to their current and future stages of development, part of the answer to a Garnett absence has to be TBD (to be determined).
Perhaps it is worth noting that for the first time during the Garnett in Green era, there is actually a reason, no, multiple reasons, to believe that the solutions will be better in game 70 than in game two. For the first time in half a decade the answer to the center rotation is not 1) Starter, 2) Aging big stiff or young dwarf, 3) Fossil, and 4) Pray for rain. I don’t know about you, but I will take “Not yet known” as a radical improvement over “Really, really limited, and a bit sad.”
Boston, and all points beyond