We're in an odd kind of limbo. It's too far from the start of the NBA season to dissect the minutia surrounding the team (lineups, etc.), but with a flurry of recent activity, there's plenty to talk about. The Celtics currently have 17 players listed on their roster, which is two more than allowed, but there's no reason to believe all of them will stick. There's also no reason to believe they're done, that one or two or five players not currently on the team will be a part of it by opening night.
There are a lot of balls in the air.
Your questions have been coming in, and they've been good ones. As a reminder, you can leave a question for a future mailbag anytime. Let's get right to it.
What is Jared Sullinger's ceiling (range/basketball IQ/defense/fundamentals) and what does this mean for stats, and team/league value? Is his history of back issues the primary concern?
Great question, Mark. To me Sullinger is the most exciting player on the roster. His rebounding (10.7 per 36 minutes) earned a lot of praise last season, but he's just scratching the surface on offense. I spent a lot of time watching Sullinger in college, and against constant double-teams, he had an array of post moves that were effortless. His footwork is impeccable. Some of it looks like a "junk" game of floaters and runners and baby hooks, but those are all things he practices (he reminds me of Dwyane Wade in the way that he hones those running bank shots until they become repetitive). His health is by no means a sure thing, but if Sullinger can recover from the back injury, his offense is going to explode. He's one of the smarter big men in the game, basketball IQ wise.
I've seen the reports that Celtics want to trade Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. While it seems hard to believe that they'll find a taker for an aging Wallace with that contract, I can see Humphries expiring deal being appealing to certain teams. Do you think it's more realistic that they are able to find a taker now or have him play half the year, maybe build some value as an actual player, and then deal at the deadline?
The value should be the same now or at the deadline. While Wallace and Humphries didn't have the best seasons last year, they're known commodities who can help a team right now. The value of Humphries' expiring contract should be enough to get something in return, and my guess is that one or both of these players get moved.
Could we know if Ainge wants to keep Rondo long term by whether or not he's named Captain?
That's interesting, Mark. You're right, at this point the Celtics don't have a captain. If Rondo is on the team it presumably has to be him. Not sure if there's an intentional message here, but the longer Rondo is not named captain certainly brings up some questions.
With the Pistons wanting Rondo, would a Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe deal be enough to get it done?
Mark, South Dakota
That's a deal I've thought all along would be great for both sides, Mark. The Pistons seem to have too many big men with Monroe, Andre Drummond, and Josh Smith, who should all be starters. Rondo and Smith are friends, and Rondo gives the Pistons an All-Star who isn't 6-feet-10-inches tall. The Celtics don't really have a center (Kelly Olynynk and Jared Sullinger are more power forwards). Knight is only 21-years-old.
Regarding the Nets/Celtics trade, any of the players coming here... Could the Celtics "amnesty" any of them, or cut the players? Not very impressed with any of them.
Humphries, Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, and Kris Joseph were sent to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce deal. Players who have been traded cannot be amnestied. The Celtics could very well cut Bogans or Joseph, though.
Why does everyone seem to think the Nets will be very good? Their lineup is pretty average. Pierce and Garnett are lovely players but the Celtics had them last year and they were mediocre. I think the Nets will be 5 to 10 games above .500. What do you think?
This is just one opinion, but I think the Nets will meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals this season. They're really, really good on paper. KG and Pierce can still be major forces for a playoff team.
What a mess, they have no true center worthy of getting major minutes and no outside shooting in the backcourt. Since I am not of the tanking theory, that re-making the roster will take time and we have some parts to get rid of, what changes can you see being made between now and training camp?
Bob, Mountain View Calif.
You're not wrong in your assessment, Bob. I still think one or more trades will be made, and until then we can't really evaluate the roster. Your point on a center is a good one. They need to trade for/sign one. At the moment the roster is full.
News is Houston is putting Center Omer Asik on the trading block. Is there any way the Celtics can deal for him? He's only 26 and can rebound which has been a big problem in recent years for the Celtics but I believe he makes like $5M.
Isaac, Enfield Conn.
I'm a big fan of Asik's game. He's an athletic big man who Houston valued highly enough to pay $5 million this season and $14.9 million next season. That's a lot of dough. The Celtics are trying to clear cap space, not create more of it. Might be too much to bring back.
What happens if A. Wiggins and J. Parker both opt to stay in college for more than their freshman years?
Isaac, Fairfax, Va.
Won't happen, but even if it does the Celtics' strategy needs to be the same. They're positioning themselves to be able to select from 8 to 10 players they think can be stars. Can't focus on one or two.
Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized LeBron's or one Lebron sized duck?
100 duck-sized LeBrons. Both situations are terrifying.
Thanks everyone. We'll make these bags more of a regular thing as the summer goes on.