WALTHAM For the Celtics, Step 1 of constructing the 2012-13 roster was simple: get Kevin Garnett back.
Step 2? Figure out a way to put all the pieces in place after that.
Taking a look at the team on paper, you could say Celtics GM Danny Ainge passed with flying colors.
Garnett agreed to return the day of free agency, and Ainge was already on to the next one.
Jason Terry joined. Brandon Bass re-signed. Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox returned. Courtney Lee came over in a trade. Oh, and don't forget the two rookies, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.
Not too shabby, eh? The Celtics hope that they have enough depth to soldier through whatever injuries arise throughout the course of the season as they were forced to do last season. They will already be without Avery Bradley to start the year, but the acquisitions of Terry and Lee will soften the blow.
"Every year we try to build depth," Ainge said. "Last year we did have a lot of injuries a lot of injuries to our young guys, which was a little bit surprising. I was amazed at how our resiliency got us through the year and this deep into the playoffs. It's a credit to Doc and the players, particularly, KG, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen. But yeah, we want to not have injuries, and we think our depth is much better this year."
Some think that this is the deepest Celtics team since Garnett arrived for the 2007-08 season. They could be right. Jason Terry provides the scoring off the bench that Celtics have lacked. Lee is good enough to (and will at first) start on any team, and will have plenty of open looks. Green will benefit greatly by getting actual practice with his team, and not being thrown into the mix midway through the season. And don't forget Wilcox, who was coming into his own just before his season abruptly ended.
Somehow, someway, the Celtics made it all work financially.
"This past year was pretty hectic, Ainge said. "Starting with the lockout and going late in the season, the draft coming up with three draft picks, and free agency starting up right after that. Some of the uncertainty of the future of KG and just knowing which way we were headed. And then having to fill so many different places with different resources. So I think it was a very challenging summer, yeah. A lot of work went in. Assistant GM's Mike Zarren and Ryan McDonough in particular, they did a great job, and Austin Ainge, those guys were great. They worked relentless hours."
Doc Rivers is forever grateful. Stuck with mediocre to bad teams for the beginning of his Celtics coaching career, Rivers has been given plenty of tools over the last five seasons to keep the machine running.
"First of all I want to say Danny and the staff did an amazing job," Rivers said. "When you are under the restrictions that we were under, if you had told me we would have ended up with what we would have ended up with, I'd thought that would never happen. A lot of things had to happen for us."
A lot things did happen for the Celtics over the summer. Now it's on them to make things happen over the winter.
"I just really like our team, I like our team on paper," Rivers said. "Now we have to turn it into a team."