Boston Celtics: What it will take to restore rivalry vs Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 23: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to shoots the ball during the game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 23: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to shoots the ball during the game against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 23, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

Can the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers rivalry be renewed? Here is what needs to happen.

The Boston Celtics made a late exit in the Eastern Conference Finals. Just over two weeks ago, The Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th title, tying the Celtics with the most championships.

It is fair to say these are two of the most decorated teams in all of American sports. As many know, these two dynasties have been neck-and-neck for year, resulting in one of the most historic rivalries within sports, rivaled only by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

The player match-ups have been formidable, beginning with Bill Russel, John Havlicek, and Bob Cousy battling Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlin, and Elgin Baylor throughout the 60s. The 1980’s saw Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar facing Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish in the 80s.

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Most recently, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol opposing the star-studded set of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce in the early 2010s. This rivalry has had its long and competitive share of history.

The first area of focus upon is the up and coming talent. The Boston Celtics have a strong core roster with Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward. Kemba Walker has been a leading scorer and distributor at the point guard position since his arrival to the NBA.

Tatum, the face of the franchise, has shown he can contend with the best players in the league. His counterpart, Jaylen Brown, has also proven to be worth his four-year $115 million contract he signed at the beginning of the 2019-2020 season.

Marcus Smart just earned 1st Team All-Defense honors this past season. Despite the injury sustained to Gordon Hayward a few seasons ago, he has still gone on to prove his worth as a scorer and defensive stopper in the NBA.

What is missing for the Boston Celtics?

You can’t say it’s the coaching because Brad Stevens has been innovative and successful. You can’t say it’s the depth as they have Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter, Brad Wannamaker, Grant Williams, Robert Williams III, and many other young talents waiting for their moment in the league. What is lacking is a Center that can be reliable on both ends of the court. Daniel Theis, Robert Williams III, and Enes Kanter are not those pieces, none of them have proven to be successful scorers, defenders, and rebounders.

Every championship caliber team needs a strong, fear-mongering big man. The teams in the finals had Anthony Davis and Bam Adebayo on the floor for the majority of the season.

Free Agency would be the place for the Boston Celtics to gain a player that is dominant in the post. Given that the team has a few player and team options that will be executed this off season, we could see players such as Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and others take a pay cut, or go somewhere else with their talents.

If this were to happen a good amount of cap room would be available for the Celtics to play around with. With that said, the Boston Celtics have a good chance to sign a good caliber center for the 2020-2021 NBA season.

Evaluating the big man free agency market

The center position might be one of the deepest in this free agency season, and it is a perfect opportunity for the Boston Celtics to capitalize, Hassan Whiteside, a defensive force who racked up 15.5 points per game, 13.5 rebounds per game, and nearly three blocks per game in his season in Portland.

It would be more likely to see  Whiteside in the green and white next season as his contract will probably be reduced. It is possible that he will stay in Portland, and if that is, what happens there is one more solution.

Another good option would be Andre Drummond, a rebound-grabbing beast with a strong offensive post presence. However, in the prime of his career, it is likely he could see a maximum contract go his way during this offseason.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have expressed a high interest in offering Drummond the “house” in order to keep in Cleveland.

Though Whiteside and Drummond could be a favorable look for the Boston Celtics, but if the two star centers choose to go in another direction there is another.

A phenomenal fit for the Boston Celtics at the Center position would be Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins. In the past, Boogie has been an All-Star and an All-NBA talent. The one caveat to Boogie is his health. Injuries derailed his impressive young career.  For the last two seasons as he was dealing with a torn Achilles, then a quad injury, followed by a torn ACL during a 2019 preseason workout.

Despite being out for an entire season Boogie has been a proven beast at the center position. Many think that his career has completely derailed, but I would say the contrary.

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Since his rookie season in 2010-11 Boogie has averaged over 14 points per game every season. He has been a strong rebounder and a successful shooter throughout the years. Certainly he could make something happen as he has proven to come back from injuries better than he was before he left.

After being out of the league for so long, it could be a long adjustment for him in regard to conditioning, strength, and homing in on his skill.

Boogie is worth the risk. The Celtics could sign him to a lesser amount than most centers of his potential, and he could be the asset to propel the Boston Celtics to claim their 18th NBA Championship.