The Boston Celtics may be sitting atop the Atlantic Division with a pretty 26-10 record (and a prime spot HERE), but all is not right in Beantown. Obviously, they’re dealing with some injuries right now – the KG situation is particularly concerning – but one would assume that for the most part, those injuries will pass. At times the Celtics have also looked slow, old (Paul Pierce at times) and out of shape (Rasheed Wallace all the time), but these guys are vets and former champs. Boston fans have faith that they’ll find ways to win when it counts.
But none of those issues are what concerns me most about the Celtics. There’s a move they need to make that would immediately solve multiple issues for them, would give them a boost on offense and defense, and would make them the clear favorites in the East again.
They need to go get Kirk Hinrich.
On the surface it might seem crazy that a guy who doesn’t even regularly start for the 16-20 Chicago Bulls, who technically plays the same position as Rajon Rondo, and who has three years and $9.5 million left on his current contract would be the Celtics’ missing piece, but it’s true.
Let’s start with Rondo. He’s been nothing short of spectacular this season (14 points, 4 boards and almost 10 assists per game) and has been arguably the best point guard in the entire NBA. No way the Celtics are where they are right now without him playing the way he has all season. That being said, as great of an athlete as he is, it’s asking a lot of Rondo to play almost 40 minutes a night, every single night, while also carrying his team on both ends of the floor. He’s young and he’s a superior athlete, but those minutes are only going to get heavier as the season goes on and Doc Rivers looks to get his vets more rest. Inserting a combo guard like Hinrich would help keep Rondo fresh while still keeping somebody on the floor who can ably run the offense and act as a threat on the perimeter.
Kirk would instantly also become the Celtics second-best perimeter defender after Rondo. The only reason Tony Allen sees as much tick as he does is because, in theory at least, he can defend other teams’ perimeter scorers. Hinrich is a better defender than Allen and could play with or without Rondo on the floor. Doc would have the luxury of running Rajon and Kirk out there at the same time to clamp down on opponents’ guards, making the Celtics’ already great defensive team even better.
So how does Boston get him? To start, the Bulls reportedly want to move Hinrich and his salary before the trade deadline, so they know he’s available for the right price. The price for Chicago, a team in disarray once again, would logically seem to be expiring contracts. The Celtics are not going to include any young core players (Rondo, Kendrick Perkins), and they’re going to need their vets for the Finals run (KG, Pierce, Ray Allen, and presumably ‘Sheed). So that leaves the rest of the guys on their bench with expiring deals. For example, a trade that includes Brain Scalabrine, Tony Allen and Eddie House would work according to ESPN.com’s Trade Machine.
Moving those chips to take back a multi-year, expensive salary like Hinrich’s would be a tough pill for Boston management to swallow, but they clearly have to play for the present. This feels like the last year they’re going to have the Big 3 playing at anything resembling an elite level, so their window might be completely shut once this season ends.
To me, adding Hinrich into the mix would make Boston the clear favorites in the East (assuming the Cavs don’t pull off a huge deal). Short of really shaking things up and trading one of their Big 3 or Perkins, a Hinrich deal makes perfect sense.
Do you think Hinrich would be a good fit in Boston? Who else should the Celtics pursue?