Debate in the Paint: Celtics Are Offseason's Champions
There are certainly teams that have been busier than the Boston Celtics this offseason. But nobody's had a better one.
The Orlando Magic were so active the past couple of months that it's not easy remembering the dozen or so players going in and out; the San Antonio Spurs made a big splash by signing Richard Jefferson; and the Lakers made a lot of noise by going out and getting Ron Artest.
Obviously, there's the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went out and got Shaquille O'Neal.
Still, no team upgraded more this offseason than the Celtics, who added the perfect complementary piece in Rasheed Wallace. Boston also mitigated the damage of losing Leon Powe by re-signing Glen Davis and acquiring Shelden Williams.
What makes the Wallace acquisition so good is that it was more a tweak than a revamp, which was perfectly appropriate considering the Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals last season with Kevin Garnett injured.
Those other teams – Orlando, San Antonio, the L.A. Lakers and Cleveland – did some significant rearranging. Who really knows if the Magic, with Vince Carter but without Hedo Turkoglu, are going to be better than last season?
Jefferson looks like a nice addition for the Spurs, but how will he handle higher stakes and less of a role? We know Artest isn't a sure thing in L.A. And Shaq? Hey, he changes the dynamic of any team simply by being on it.
Each of those four teams will have significant adjustments to make when it comes to incorporating their new players. The Celtics don't have that concern because Wallace is the kind of player who fits in. The Celtics won't have to change anything they do because of Wallace. They'll only add to what they already do.
On defense, Wallace gives Boston another big, long body up front. Not only is he a shot-blocker -- averaging 1.5 blocks per game or more in each of the past seven seasons -- but he's a good one-on-one defender, and a terrific team defender.
Wallace and Garnett are virtually interchangeable, with either playing the power forward or center positions. Coach Doc Rivers could play Wallace and Garnett together, even, along with Kendrick Perkins, to form a ridiculously big front line.
At the offensive end, Wallace gives the Celtics another dimension and yet he doesn't really mess with the team's pecking order. Wallace can be productive on offense without needing the ball to go through him.
Over his career, Wallace has had the most impact when he doesn't have to bear the brunt of the offensive responsibility. As a go-to guy in Portland, he came up short, and in fact, didn't really show any kind of inclination to want to carry a team.
It's as though Wallace understands his own game so well that he knows he's not quite good enough to be a No. 1 or even No. 2 option. So he willingly takes less of a role, which is not inconsequential when you're talking about one of the more talented players in the league.
It's the old ... "If Wallace is your best player, you're not very good; but if Wallace is your third or fourth best player, then you really have something."
Well, Wallace will be the Celtics' third- or fourth-best player in 2009-10. Which means the Celtics are going to be pretty darn good, and possibly the best.