As of right now, the Celtics have 16 players under contract and one unsigned rooke (Semih Erden). NBA teams are only allowed 12 active players for any given game, so which four players are going to be seeing some time on the inactive list or the D-League? It’s obvious that ten spots are locked in for sure. The starting five will obviously be back in full force along with Sam Cassell (when he signs next week), Tony Allen, Eddie House, Leon Powe and Glen Davis. That leaves two spots left for players to fill in. Let’s break down the remaining players and see who earns, or perhaps eliminates themselves from, a roster spot.
The first player to bring up, and basically to just get out of the way real early, is Brian Scalabrine. Scal is a funny guy and is probably the best person on the team to go get a beer with, but he won’t be suiting up for too many games this season. There’s one of the remaining six out of the way. Now it’s a five-headed monster to cut down to two.
Looking at the point guard position, it looks as if we will be pretty set with Rondo blossoming into the lethal distributor and defender we all know and love along with the re-signing of both Eddie House and Sam Cassell. Sam isn’t the biggest fan favorite, but he is a veteran point guard that can be a calming influence over the second squad. Whether he gets them involved or not is another question. House earned his new contract by being such a solid contributor all season, even after virtually all of his minutes were taken away by Cassell. He stepped in during the playoffs and started right back where he left off: giving an unreal amount of energy as well as a relentless assault of three-balls. Sad to say, but it’s going to be another year before we see Pruitt active on a regular basis.
The last four candidates are rookies J.R. Giddens and Bill Walker as well as two new free agent faces in Darius Miles and Patrick O’Bryant. I think Giddens will be active because he will fill in as the #3 SG on the team and will be great to groom defensively in some blowouts. Also, if Tony Allen God forbid were to ever hurt his knee any further, it would be nice to have Giddens ready to go with some experience under his belt.
Patrick O’Bryant is a work in progress at the center position. We got by last year for most of the regular season with Garnett and Perkins starting and Davis and Powe relieving them from the bench. The addition of PJ Brown later in the season was a huge addition, but does O’Bryant make PJ expendable by the time late-February rolls around? I think the Celtics let Clifford Ray work with O’Bryant in practice for a while before activating him.
So it seems as if the final active roster spot is between Bill Walker and Darius Miles. Bill Walker coming off minor knee surgery, which seems like it shouldn’t hold him back at all this year. Darius Walker had what was diagnosed as career-ending knee surgery, but he’s back and ready to play, although his knee may never be 100% ever again. Ainge recently said that Bill Walker has been very impressive, so much so that they quickly scratched the idea of sending him overseas and want him here with the team. Now does that mean he’s going to be on the active roster or will he be inactive or even a D-League candidate? Given Miles’ injury history, I think he’ll stick around with the team rather than go to the D-League so he will be working with the veterans like Paul Pierce to be ready to play when his number is called.
Also, a very interesting point reguarding Darius Miles. One reason for Danny and Doc to make Miles active is to really stick it to Portland. How you may ask? Well if Darius Miles plays in 10 games this season (and this is after his suspension) it would put $18 million back on Portland’s books. A potential Western Conference power, I’m sure the Celtics would like to do whatever they can to set them back, and forcing them to dish out $9 million a year for the next two years on Miles rather than signing a free agent would be one way of doing that.
So what I’m saying is that the Celtics will get Miles his 10 games of action to insure that his salary goes back under Portland’s cap, then from there that spot will be available to both he and Walker. Of course, if one of the bigs is injured and needs to miss some time, O’Bryant would usurp the active roster spot. Until Miles is back from his suspension, I think O’Bryant will be on the active roster.
So in my opinion, I think this is what the opening day active roster will look like:
PG: Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell, Eddie House
SG: Ray Allen, J.R. Giddens
SF: Paul Pierce, Tony Allen
PF: Kevin Garnett, Leon Powe, Glen Davis
C: Kendrick Perkins, Patrick O’Bryant
Inactive: Gabe Pruitt, Darius Miles, Bill Walker, Brian Scalabrine