Are there any bigs out there?
The Celtics aren't the only ones asking that question; so are our readers
The mailbag tends to lighten up after the trade deadline passes, but there are still plenty of lingering questions, particularly as the Celtics target potential in-season additions to fill the void in an injury-ravaged frontcourt. That's where we start the latest edition of the Celtics Mailbag:
Q: Who do you think the C's pick up out of the buyout pool? I won't lie to you, I got a little excited when I heard J.J. Hickson's name being thrown around. But who would be an ideal pick up? Josh Powell? Ronny Turiaf? Boris Diaw? Ryan Hollins? -- Stephen (New Albany, Ind.)
A: The Celtics would have loved it if a high-caliber center like Chris Kaman had landed on the buyout scrap heap, but that appears less likely with every passing day. Instead, Boston might be left playing tug-of-war for the best available option (Turiaf?) or settling for a reclamation project with potential.
Needless to say, all the players who are available come with flaws (why else would they be available?). But Boston simply needs size and durability, it can't really nitpick about talent. Celtics coach Doc Rivers admits that buyouts are a coin flip and we should remember that the added player likely won't make a difference in how far the Celtics advance in the postseason. He'll be here to make sure the other bigs are still standing when the playoffs roll around.
There's still probably a decent name or two that will become available, and Boston likely will covet pure size given that it lost two centers in Chris Wilcox and Jermaine O'Neal.
Q: Please tell me why Doc Rivers continues to play Keyon Dooling over Marquis Daniels. Keyon has not shot the ball well and does not give us an advantage at the wing on defense. -- Mark (Philadelphia)
A: It used to be a confidence thing: Rivers had lost confidence in Daniels and was hoping that consistent playing time would bring Dooling along (plus Dooling's personal confidence was probably higher than Daniels'). Rivers even gave Dooling the benefit of the doubt after missing much of training camp and the early part of the season due to injuries. But now he's been back for 19 games and the results aren't there.
Dooling's numbers for March are a bit cringe-worthy: 1.3 points and 1.1 assists over 11.1 minutes per game in 11 appearances. He's 0-for-11 on 3-pointers this month, he's nonexistent in creating offense and his defense has been just as bad at times.
With his playing time down to single digits on this road trip (outside of the blowout in Sacramento), it would seem Rivers' confidence in Dooling is finally eroding. It will be interesting to see if that leads to more time for Daniels or Sasha Pavlovic, or if Rivers just tightens up the rotation even more.
Q: J.J. Hickson was waived by Sacramento, why wouldn't Boston pick him up? -- Scotty (Chicago)
A: Reports indicate that Hickson is likely to land in Golden State and it makes some sense -- a short relocation and quality minutes up front with a chance to reestablish his value. If he clears waivers, it is somewhat surprising that Hickson wouldn't put more consideration into a contender, but that might not be as important to him as his next contract.
Q: I know everyone is screaming for a big man, but not having a bench scorer has really hurt us this year. Then I look back at it and we drafted MarShon Brooks, who could have been a really big help for our bench, only to give him away for JaJuan Johnson (and he doesn't even play!) -- P (Boston)
A: It's important to remember that Boston was simply drafting for New Jersey and the team has stressed that it never truly considered taking Brooks. But your larger point is valid. Everyone knew the Celtics needed a bench scorer and they drafted a bit of a project instead. Johnson needs to bulk up and develop as an NBA big man before Rivers will be confident enough to play him. If Boston didn't have such a glaring need up front, the focus at the trade deadline and in the buyout period might have been on adding a scorer. There simply are greater needs at the moment.
Q: What do you think of the Celtics going after Jeff Adrien? He's a local kid (Brookline High) who had a spectacular career at UConn. He's undersized but very athletic, and a fantastic offensive and defensive rebounder. He reminds me of Denver's Kenneth Faried in his ability to take care of the glass. -- Ethan (New York City)
A: Adrien's NBA rebounding stats, albeit a limited sampling, are rather impressive (80 rebounds in 259 minutes; 23.4 defensive rebounding percentage). Alas, he's been without an NBA home for more than a month now, which is somewhat condemning. His size (6-foot-7) likely makes some leery. He's the perfect example of a guy who makes total sense on a 10-day contract if a team has room and floor time to give him a shot. I'm simply not sure the Celtics have that luxury, even if they free multiple roster spots for big men.
Q: A while back we saw Rajon Rondo doing some damage in a pretty successful full-court press against New Jersey. Why haven't we seen more of this? -- Christoffer (Stockholm)
A: First off, Christopher with a double-F alternate spelling? Awesome. I'm totally cursing my parents for not going that route with my name. As for the press, it's a bit of a gimmick. Even the Celtics were a little surprised that the Nets threw the ball away like they did in that game. An NBA team should be able to break that sort of press with decent success. Like Boston's zone defense, teams eventually get hip to the changeup and start finding the cracks.
Q: I was just wondering why the C's don't run more plays for Ray Allen. I mean he has proved that he can hit 99.9 percent of wide-open shots. He is such a huge weapon that they are not taking advantage of. -- Anmol (Fremont, Calif.)
A: It's not for a lack of trying. You can blame part of it on poor screening this season, as Boston seems to have regressed a bit there -- the likes of Jermaine O'Neal and Glen Davis were better pick-setters than Greg Stiemsma and Brandon Bass. Teams are aware of how much Allen means to the Boston offense and are doing everything they can to take him away.
Q: Hi, I am a huge fan. Constant Craving is an unbelievable song and your remake of Hallelujah is out of this world. I just wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work. -- Barry (New York City)
Q: Why is everyone saying the Celtics can't be championship contenders? If (or when) they make the playoffs, anything is possible. After all, this is the NBA. -- Derek (Saugus, Mass.)
A: This is what the team seems to be hanging its hat on. The schedule eases up in the postseason, and if the Celtics are healthy, there's no reason to think they can't be competitive given their playoff experience. Rivers admitted last week that the Celtics don't deserve to be listed as a contender at the moment, especially given their up-and-down play this season. But he also politely cautioned against writing the Green off. Ultimately, regular-season woes won't matter for Boston if it saves its most inspired ball for the postseason.
Q: Any chance we see Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett re-sign with the Celtics next season? These two guys are still playing at a tremendously high level, and who is out there in the free agent market that is better? Why not keep these two proven winners? -- Freddie (Dixon, NM)
A: You absolutely can't rule it out. As much as the idea of a sixth year of the Big Three is enough to drive some insane given this year's struggles, if Garnett and Allen returned on low-money deals with Boston adding impact -- but not quite elite -- players around them on short-term deals, it might be a way to bide time until a better free-agent crop is available the following summer. But you have to believe that both Allen and Garnett will garner some intriguing offers this offseason.
Q: Doc Rivers can't coach young players. -- Colton (Oregon)
A: There was an alarming amount of this type of letter in the mailbag this week, second only to the big-man buyout chatter. It seems a lot of people are ruffled by the lack of playing time for JaJuan Johnson given Boston's size woes. Alas, I think we're all aware that Rivers is leery of rookies and, with every win being important for this team, he's elected to lean on a shorter rotation rather than roll the dice with multiple first-year players. It would be more surprising to me if he went the opposite direction.