Forget all the talk about the Celtics needing to get younger and build for the future. No, they need to win now. This is almost certainly the last season together for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Their only chance to make a final title run is to add a player or two in their primes (or close to it). Richardson, 30, isn't as explosive as he used to be. But he can still score in bunches. If he's willing to sign with Boston as a sixth man, the old dudes could still compete with Miami and Chicago in the East.
Back in business
Once the NBA lockout officially comes to an end Thursday, players will finally return to work more than five months after the Mavericks won the 2011 title. What moves will teams make to improve their odds for 2012? Here are 10 we think should happen quickly after camps open and the free-agency period begins Friday.
Miami Heat sign Samuel Dalembert
After falling just short in the 2011 Finals, the Heat need to use their $5 million mid-level exception to shore up their biggest weakness. Nene and Tyson Chandler are the best centers available, but both are out of Miami's price range. The 6-foot-11 Dalembert averaged 8.1 points and 8.2 rebounds for Sacramento last season and, if nothing else, is an upgrade over Joel Anthony.
Dallas Mavericks keep Tyson Chandler
Six players from the 2011 title team are now unrestricted free agents. The one who is most indispensable to Dallas is Chandler, who added defense, toughness and leadership to the Mavs in his one season there. He'll be a hot commodity on the free-agent market but Mark Cuban can't afford to lose him.
LA Lakers cut Metta World Peace
The new labor deal reportedly will contain an amnesty clause allowing each team to wipe one bad contract off its books. The Lakers may use it on Luke Walton, but the small forward formerly known as Ron Artest has a fatter contract (three more years left at $22M), a mercurial personality and a rapidly declining game. Going forward, he does more to undermine LA's title chances than enhance them.
Chicago Bulls sign Arron Afflalo
Though the Bulls finished with the NBA's best record, their lack of offensive firepower was exploited by Miami in the playoffs. Chicago needs a better shooting guard than Keith Bogans and Afflalo may be the best fit. He's an excellent shooter who also plays the kind of tenacious defense favored by coach Tom Thibodeau. Problem is, as a restricted free agent, he'll be hard to pry out of Denver. If so, Chicago could go after Jason Richardson, the best available scorer.
New Jersey Nets sign Nene
In a relatively weak 2011 free-agent class, Nene may be the biggest catch. That's why the Nets and their billionaire owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, need to get him. With Nene and Brook Lopez, New Jersey would have two skilled big men to go along with star point guard Deron Williams. The Nets have to start winning in order to generate some buzz before moving to their new digs in Brooklyn and to convince Williams to stick around when he becomes a free agent next summer.
LA Clippers sign Thaddeus Young
Even with Blake Griffin entering the NBA like a force of nature, the Clippers still won only 32 games last season. They got almost nothing out of their small forwards, so adding Young would give Griffin a worthy running mate and a brighter future. At 23, Young is a smooth athlete who can run, defend and -- like Griffin -- dunk a little bit. With a glut of wing players, the Sixers might not match a large offer to their restricted free agent.
OKC Thunder sign Shane Battier
The Thunder have more than enough youth and talent. What they need is a veteran who can help them get over the hump and become true title contenders. Battier is a natural leader, a gritty defender and a perfect glue guy. At 33, he also has enough game left to be a valuable sixth or seventh man and a difference-maker in the playoffs.
Orlando Magic dump Gilbert Arenas
The amnesty clause might as well be called the "Gilbert Arenas clause" because it will allow the Magic to drop a player who shot 34 percent from the field following his trade to Orlando last season but is owed over $62 million over the next three years. The other no-brainer amnesty decision will be Washington severing ties with Rashard Lewis (two years, $46M).
Kris Humphries stays single
OK, this isn't a move a team should make. But it's friendly advice for one of the NBA's premier free agents. After all, it was an eventful lockout for Humphries, who got married to Kim Kardashian, got divorced and then got humiliated on her reality show. The power forward should field attractive offers from teams after averaging 10 points and 10.4 rebounds for the Nets last season. But if Paris Hilton comes calling, he shouldn't pick up the phone.