BOSTON (CBS) – The NBA is set to return, and with the players set to hit the court on Christmas Day, basketball writers can get back to work.
“Finally! It’s finally here man,” The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich Monday morning.
The NBA will have a 66-game season this year, but it will not be as crammed as the shortened 50-game season of 1999.
“It’s adding eight games to a four-month window. It’s not like 1999 when you had back-to-back-to-backs a bunch of times,” said Washburn. “The Celtics will only have from one to three back-to-back-to-backs, and for their sake let’s hope it’s one. You have eight extra games sprinkled over, that’s not as bad as it seems.”
As for the aging Celtics, Washburn is not too worried about the extra games every month, and the team should be good to go to make another playoff run.
“They need to acquire a bunch of players here; it’s going to be crazy. They should be OK for the playoffs. They’re old, but they’re in shape. Paul (Pierce) is fine, we know Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are going to come in and be ready to play,” he said.
Right now, the Celtics have just just seven players singed to their roster; their starting five (Rajon Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Jermaine O’Neal) along with Avery Bradley and Jeff Green, who they signed to a qualifying offer before the lockout. They also have their two draft picks, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, to sign before the start of the season.
Now it will be up to Danny Ainge to bring in some reinforcements, without much wiggle room when it comes to the salary cap.
“I think he has obviously thought about this for five months and has a list of guys to go after. They do have a small exception to offer, and obviously guys will take lesser money to come here for a chance at a title, maybe on a one-year deal,” said Washburn. “But to think they’re going to get a major impact center through free agency is not realistic. Maybe someone like a Kwame Brown to kind of just sit there in the paint and look at people.”
“They’re going to have to bring in someone that is obviously inexpensive,” he stressed. “They’re over the salary cap, they don’t have a lot of money; it’s the same situation as before until Garnett and Allen come off the cap. They’re paying so much to the big four they’ll have to be frugal. Don’t be surprised if they go after someone like Allen Iverson.”
Iverson has not played in the NBA since 2010, with a brief tenure in Turkey, but has mentioned he would like to play with the Celtics as they try to make one more run to a championship.
“The way Ainge looks at it, you have to make one final run. You have to make the most out of this window here,” said Washburn. “You don’t want to pull up a tent early. I think they are going to sign inexpensive veterans (and) a couple young guys to fill out the roster.”
Listen to Gary Washburn on Toucher & Rich in its entirety, including how restricted free agent “Big Baby” Glen Davis might end up back in Boston…