BOSTON – The Boston Celtics needed more size.
The Boston Celtics needed another scorer.
In getting a commitment from Greg Monroe, the Celtics got both.
The eight-year veteran will sign a one-year deal worth about $5 million this weekend, with the earliest we might see him don the Green and White being Sunday afternoon against Portland although it's more likely to be sometime next week.
We’ve seen Danny Ainge make moves close to the trade deadline in past years, but this one – at least in the Brad Stevens regime – is different.
Past moves since Stevens came aboard were designed to make the team better.
This soon-to-be-signing moves the needle in a way for Boston that takes them to the top of the Eastern Conference mountaintop where they are now far and away the team to beat in the East.
Monroe is a known commodity who has averaged double figures scoring every year except for his rookie season.
In addition, he averages 8.7 rebounds per game.
And while his career assists numbers (2.3 per game) are nothing to get too excited about, league executives NBC Sports Boston has talked to about Monroe credit his court vision and ability to make “the hockey assist” as being strengths of his game that will make him a good fit coming off the Celtics bench.
As much as the Celtics want to fly under-the-radar when it comes to talk about them getting to the NBA Finals, make no mistake about it people.
The addition of Monroe makes the Celtics the overwhelming favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference now.
Despite having the best record (38-15) in the East, Boston’s lack of big man depth was going to be the death of them if they didn’t address it via trade or buyout.
And the preference all along for Ainge and the Celtics, was to do exactly what they did to get Monroe and that’s use some of the $8.4 million disabled player exception they were granted after Gordon Hayward’s dislocated ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland.
So not only did they add talent, but did so without having to touch a single body on their roster.
And as much as Boston’s success hinges on who they have been able to assemble roster-wise, they also benefit from the uncertainty surrounding the rosters of other teams.
Since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, the Cavs tend to cruise along in the regular season and shift into a different gear when the playoffs roll around.
But they aren’t cruising now.
That defense is among the worst in the NBA, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
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Toronto has lots of experience and are led by DeMar DeRozan who is playing at an in-the-discussion-for-league-MVP level.
They will be Boston’s stiffest challenge going forward, but the Celtics’ depth should be enough to get them past Toronto.
The Miami Heat have been playing well of late, but the Celtics’ depth and the one problem Miami presents to most teams – Hassan Whiteside – isn’t as big a problem now with Monroe coming on board to join Boston’s 1-2 big man punch of Al Horford and Aron Baynes.
The biggest challenge for the Celtics will be integrating him into a rotation that will impact the playing time of a handful of players, namely Baynes and rookie Daniel Theis.
But if you’re the Celtics and that’s arguably the greatest challenge on the horizon with the Monroe addition, you will be more than happy to have to deal with those title-contending problems.