|Chris Wilcox (44), who scored 7 points Sunday, is one of several players the Celtics will lean on to help replace Jeff Green. (chris young/Associated Press/the canadian press)|
No salary break for Celtics
They plan on filling Green’s role within
The Celtics will not receive a $9 million windfall to fill the roster spot of Jeff Green, who will miss the season because of an aortic aneurysm.
Because the Celtics are a luxury-tax team, they do not receive salary-cap breaks with Green’s contract voided, meaning president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has only minimum contracts to upgrade the roster.
For now, Ainge will look at players already in camp to fill Green’s role as the backup small forward and power forward. The Celtics will give Marquis Daniels, who looked rejuvenated and played effectively in Sunday’s exhibition win over the Toronto Raptors, and Sasha Pavlovic, who signed a one-year guaranteed deal, the opportunity to earn playing time.
According to Ainge, that duo is better than any free agent who could be lured for a veteran minimum contract. The Celtics are not interested in fan favorite James Posey, a key reserve for the 2008 title team who will soon turn 35 years old.
Since leaving the Celtics, Posey has shot 38 percent from the field and 34 percent from the 3-point line and played in just 49 games last season for Indiana before being waived through the Pacers’ amnesty clause.
“We’re fine,’’ Ainge said. “Jeff is a small forward and can play some at the big forward position but with KG [Kevin Garnett], Brandon Bass, [Chris] Wilcox, JaJuan [Johnson] all at power forward, we certainly have enough bodies there and at small forward we have Paul [Pierce], Marquis, and Sasha. So we don’t necessarily feel we have to do something but if something comes along that we like, we’ll obviously do it.’’
With the season opener just six days away, there are several interesting free agents looking for work. The most talented is center Samuel Dalembert, but he is looking for a contract in the eight-figure range. Also available are Reggie Evans, DeShawn Stevenson, and former first-round pick Al Thornton, who has yet to tap his potential.
Barring a trade, the Celtics can offer just more than $1 million. And after failed attempts to acquire Chris Paul and David West, Ainge is going to remain patient.
“It’s not difficult [to get a player] but the challenge is there’s nobody you can get that’s as good as Jeff Green under any circumstance,’’ Ainge said. “So that’s where the challenge is. You just don’t fill the Jeff Green void with minimum-contract players. We like Marquis and Sasha. They both are good players and are going to get an opportunity to play.’’
The abbreviated training camp and just two exhibition games give the Celtics less time to evaluate their new rotations before Sunday’s season opener against the Knicks in New York. Sunday was the first time Bass and Garnett had been on the court together extensively, and coach Doc Rivers ended the game with a lineup that featured second-year guard Avery Bradley and four rookies.
Ainge has tried to add depth to a roster that at the end of the lockout had just six signed players. Rivers and the players have lauded the depth and feel it’s a strength, unlike last season when Nate Robinson, Delonte West, Von Wafer, and Glen Davis were wildly inconsistent.
“I don’t know if we need anything else, so let’s give these guys a chance,’’ Ainge said.
Patience may be Ainge’s best friend. Several free agents may be more amenable to a minimum contract once the season begins.
“It’s been chaotic, training camp, not as much time to prepare,’’ Ainge said. “But like I said from the beginning, it’s the same for everybody. So everybody has challenges to get ready in a fast way and evaluate new players and get new and young players acclimated as quickly as you can.’’