Dear Danny Ainge,
After watching Jason Collins play 23 minutes in last night’s win over Cleveland, my friends and I were having a discussion about which defensive-minded big man the Celtics might obtain in order to keep the team afloat while our silver-bearded captain of defense, Kevin Garnett sits on the bench for his typical 20 minutes of rest per game. Collins managed to foul-out in those 23 minutes, while opposing center Tyler Zeller scored 20 points, a career-high performance, in Anderson Varejao’s absence. Danny, one question: How is it okay that you’ve forced Doc to give Jason Collins 23 minutes? He can’t rebound, can’t block shots, and basically, can’t get off the ground. He’s a nuisance, but a relatively hopeless NBA player. He happens to have a wide body and he gives you effort. Can’t we do better, Danny?
From all reports, Avery Bradley is the main piece that most teams want to go after in any trade talks. And from everything that I’ve seen, you are understandably reluctant to let Bradley go, as he provides the defensive energy you need from the back court, as well as a developing jump shot. Not many young guards have Bradley’s contagious mindset, nor the physicality or athleticism to throw back a Dwayne Wade-dunk-attempt at the rim. Not many have the on-the-ball, in-your-jersey ball-pressure that Bradley possesses through his uniquely long reach and his amazing footwork. In conclusion to any Bradley-trades, you are simply telling other GM’s “Nope. He’s part of our future.” I appreciate the fact that you see his long-term benefit. The vision of a Rondo-Bradley backcourt for the next five years is an encouraging one. Chris Wilcox, who is still recovering his stamina from last-year’s heart procedure, is not getting the minutes or the consistent spark we need. It appears he needs more time to gain back his conditioning and complete health.
With that in mind, which free-agent in the D-League can we give a shot?
Here is an option that would be an upgrade over Jason Collins, and help the Celtics immediately:
Jarvis Varnado, D-League-leader in blocked shots at 4.4 per game.
Varnado, a three-time SEC defensive player of the year at Mississippi State, and the career leader in NCAA history in blocked shots, was a second-round pick by the Heat in 2010. He played in Europe for the last two years, but is dominating the D-League for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. This year, he has averaged 14 points, 9 rebounds and 4.4 blocks in 30 minutes per game. Varnado was cut by Miami at the end of training camp, which is another reason to pick him up. At 6’9″ and 230 pounds, some have compared his body type to former-Celtic Walter McCarty. Varnado may have problems as a starting power forward, but his skill set is one the Celtics lack. He brings defensive energy, shot-blocking, and rebounding. Let’s sign him today and see what he can do off the bench. If we’re lucky, maybe he can become Larry Sanders-lite.