With a two-week window for preseason and free agency before the start of a 66-game regular season, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge (left) won’t have much time to turn around a team that lost in the second round of last year’s playoffs.
Ainge has his work cut out for him as the Celtics have just six players under contract for this season. With that backdrop in mind, we look at some names who might fill out the rest of the roster:
Carl Landry, PF: Landry is an undersized power forward in the Glen Davis mold. The players’ heights relative to their position are where the similarities end, though. The 6-foot-9-inch Landry is a natural scorer, averaging 15.8 points and five rebounds for the Hornets in last season’s playoff series vs. the Lakers. If Davis ends up elsewhere, Landry could slide into his role. The big question with Landry might be his affordability.
Shane Battier, SF: A sticky defender and proud ambassador of Duke University, Battier is the kind of player that makes basketball stat geeks drool. He’s also the kind of player who helps championship teams be championship teams, and could be the James Posey to another winning run.
Caron Butler, SF: Butler’s name is always floated when the Celtics are looking to add a player, and for good reason: the Mavericks forward is good. The eight-year pro ruptured his right patellar tendon Jan. 1 and has been out since. His $10 million comes off the books after this season. That’s too high a price, but Butler’s tenacious defense and scoring ability would fit well in Doc Rivers’s system.
Thaddeus Young, SF: Young is the kind of young, athletic forward the Celtics desperately need. At 6-feet-8-inches he’s long enough to cause problems on defense, and he’s come into his own as a scorer, averaging 12.5 points in his four-year career. The Sixers are stacked at his position with Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, so they may let him walk, though it’s unlikely he’d come to Boston cheaply.
Samuel Dalembert, C: Think the Celtics could use an athletic center? Dalembert (8.1 points, 8.2 rebounds for Sacramento this season) is a shot-blocker and rebounder who could fit in perfectly with the kind of defense the Celtics want to play. A lot of teams need centers, and Dalembert is one of the top free agents available at the position. He might be out of the Celtics’ price range unless he takes less to come to Boston or the Celtics free up some money with a trade.
Leon Powe, PF: One of the NBA’s true nice guys, Powe is a player the Celtics could pick up on the cheap. Powe was a fan-favorite here during the Celtics’ championship run in 2008, but his injury history is troublesome. There isn’t much upside to Powe, but he’s a gritty, hard-working player who -- if healthy -- would be a great role player on any team because of his rebounding ability.
Al Thornton, SF: Thornton is another young player with the size and talent the Celtics desperately seek. At 6-feet-8-inches, he’s a hybrid small forward in the Jeff Green mode. As a Clipper in 2008-2009, Thornton averaged a career high 16.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in his second season in the league, but he’s been on two different teams since then. In 49 games with the Wizards last year he averaged 8 points and 3.1 rebounds. He also played for Golden State in 2010-11.
Jeff Green, SF: In order for the Kendrick Perkins trade to make sense, it seems likely the Celtics would attempt to bring the 6-foot-9, 235-pound forward back. He’s expressed interest in returning, and the Celtics value his youth and athleticism, but at what price? Boston can’t pay him starter money given the construction of the team. Green is a restricted free agent, meaning the Celtics will make him a qualifying offer and then get to match any offer he receives. As long as Green wants to stay and doesn’t get blown away by someone else, he’ll be back.
Grant Hill, SF: The Celtics have been down this road with Hill before, attempting to
bring him on before the 2009 season. But Hill and his family were comfortable in Phoenix, and Hill’s health has never been better than his last few seasons with the Suns. He doesn’t fit the young and athletic mold, but the 6-foot-8-inch Hill (13.2 points in 30 minutes per game) would help with both scoring and defense.
Jason Richardson, SG: The Celtics need a sixth man who can score, and Richardson can fill it up with the best of them. He’s come out and said he’s willing to take less money to play for a contender, though there’s a contender in Chicago with a starting shooting guard spot open who may be interested.
Delonte West, G: West would be perfect for the Celtics in a backup role to Rajon Rondo. A broken wrist derailed that plan for a big part of last season, but West proved his worth in the playoffs, averaging 25 minutes in the last three games vs. Miami. West can handle the ball, score, and defend (his defense on Dwyane Wade was downright inspiring), and it’s unlikely the Celtics let him get away.
Josh Howard, SF: Howard had a miserable season for the Wizards in 2010-2011 as he attempted to come back from knee surgery. He missed the first 24 games, played seven, missed one, played one, missed 19, played eight more, missed three, played two, and then missed the final 17 games of the season. Whew. Howard’s always had borderline All-Star talent when healthy. He’s the kind of low-risk (salary wise), injury prone player the Celtics have taken chances on of late.
Kwame Brown, C: We know what you’re thinking: heck no. But this is another risk/reward situation. The Celtics aren’t making Kwame Brown the No. 1 pick. Michael Jordan did in Washington. So what if that didn’t pan out? Brown averaged 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds last year for the Bobcats and made $1.2 million. It might be worth taking a flier on Brown.
Spencer Hawes, C: There’s nothing flashy about the 7-foot-1-inch Hawes, but he’s a young, big body, and the Celtics could use one of those. Hawes is a restricted free agent and has a qualifying offer of $4 million, meaning the Sixers can match an offer by another team. At first glance that price tag seems a bit high. But considering Kendrick Perkins got a four year, $34 million contract, Hawes could bring some of those same skills to Boston at a discount.
Tayshaun Prince, SF: A key player for the Pistons during their championship run in 2004, Prince’s numbers haven’t gone down a bit since then. He averaged 14.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season on a bad team, and he’s too good a player to waste away his final years in Detroit. Prince could help a contending team off the bench with his sticky defense and shot-making.
Tyson Chandler, PF: This one’s a bit of a prayer. Still, how great would it be to see Chandler on the other end of some of those alley-oop passes by Rajon Rondo (think Kevin Garnett in 2007). At 7-feet-1-inch, Chandler is a big-time player (10.1 points, 9.4 rebounds), and he could soon be an NBA champion. It’s unlikely Dallas lets him get away, and even so, the Celtics would definitely need to free up some money (sign-and-trade?) to bring him on board.
Ryan Hollins, C: Hollins has a player option for $2.5 million next season. If he exercises it this is a moot point, but Hollins might seek more money elsewhere. The Celtics may or may not have that money to offer depending on how the pieces fall, but the 7-foot Hollins could be a young rising star in the middle after coming on strong during the last part of the season in Cleveland.
Jamal Crawford, SG: Of all the scorers potentially on the market this summer, Crawford is probably the best at his craft. The lanky 6-foot-5-inch shooting guard can score at will, averaging 15.4 points for the Atlanta Hawks in this year’s playoffs. Crawford will demand mid-level exception money at the very least, so the Celtics would need to make him the biggest piece of their offseason plans if they really want him.
Marquis Daniels, SG: Daniels played well for the Celtics in 49 games last season until a neck injury kept him out of the lineup for the rest of the season. A slasher who can create his own shot, Daniels has been limited by injuries on and off during his career, so his durability is a question.
T.J. Ford, PG: This probably works only if Delonte West doesn’t return to Boston. With Avery Bradley still a bit green, Ford would be a suitable backup to Rajon Rondo until Bradley could work his way into the rotation.
Allen Iverson, SG: Iverson was out of the league last year, but his agent recently told the Globe his client is ready to return, and that Boston is a desired destination. “He has the utmost respect for Doc Rivers and the current roster of players,” said Gary Moore. “Allen would relish the opportunity to play in that organization.” The Celtics may not need another aging player with limited defensive skills, they need to fill out their roster on the cheap, and Iverson could provide explosive scoring.
Glen Davis, PF: The 6-9, 289-pound forward went from sixth man of the year candidate in the first half of the season to playoff dud. There wasn’t a more disappointing player for the Celtics in the postseason, leading coach Doc Rivers to say “scoring was too important to him, instead of being who he is ... if we can get him for the right price, it would be nice, but we can’t overpay.” Sounds like Davis may have played his way out of town.