- Kevin Pelton, ESPN Staff Writer
Editor's note: Our series this week examines what would happen if five teams decided to start over by making seismic personnel shifts before the 2012-13 season; because of varying factors including age, salaries or expiring contracts, these five teams decide to begin anew. But such an exercise comes with some rules: (1) the owners get the hard salary cap they desire; and (2) exclude the 2012 NBA draft. Today we look at the Celtics.
When the Boston Celtics got within a win of a championship in June 2010, team president Danny Ainge had no choice but to bring back the team's core for another run at a title. Still, Ainge gave himself an out to rebuild quickly if things did not work. He timed new contracts for Ray Allen and Jermaine O'Neal to end after the 2011-12 season, when Kevin Garnett's deal is also up.
So, should the Celtics fall short in next year's postseason and decide to blow things up, they'll have the opportunity to start virtually from scratch. Just three Boston players are currently under contract for the 2012-13 season: All-Stars Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, and second-year guard Avery Bradley. With that in mind, here's a look at how the Celtics might be able to get younger next summer.
Step 1: Hold the line this offseason
The biggest challenge for Ainge will be filling out a roster for 2011-12, assuming there is a season, without compromising flexibility the following summer. Ideally, Boston would bring back its own free agents, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Jeff Green, on one-year contracts -- even if it means paying a little more for this season. That allows the Celtics to be competitive while staying with their 2012 plan.
2dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann