The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 129-128 in a thriller Thursday night. But did so knowing that the team that was currently ensembled was the team they would move forward with for the duration of the season.

Theoretically, there is probably a sign of relief from the younger players that clarity is in order. As for the Boston Celtics, not so much. The Eastern Conference got relatively stronger, as Philadelphia, Toronto, and Milwaukee acquired key pieces for the post-All Star game stretch run.

For starters, the Celtics have already it’s issues of adequately managing the talent already on its roster. With Philadelphia nabbing Tobias Harris to match with Joel Embiid, Toronto trading for Marc Gasol to pair with Serge Ibaka, and Milwaukee trading for Nikola Mirotic to give Giannis Antentokoupo another scoring threat, the Celtics have little room for error when it comes to getting prepared for the playoffs.

Celtics, Enes Kanter, Knicks

Thankfully, so far they have righted the ship. They are winners of 10 out of their last 12 games and are currently a game back from the third seed in the East. It also appears that they have found some cohesion: they are getting the most out of their talented roster.

But the inclusion of Harris, Gasol, and Mirotic has strengthened the East, making the East a tougher obstacle for the Celtics. While they possess plenty of talent, depth at the 4 and 5 to compete with the newest additions to their rivals may be a detriment.

So far, Aron Baynes injury will put him out until after the All-Star break. Thus, Al Horford has had to take on more responsibility due to this lack of depth. Marcus Morris and Daniel Theis are great at the four, but both are undersized to effectively compete with Embiid. Of course, they will have to play Gasol as well and he’s still a force on both ends of the court. This leaves the Celtics to consider two options to remedy this issue.

brad stevens, lakers, celtics

The first is to try the wait-and-see approach. Who knows what the dynamics will be for Philadelphia, Toronto, and Milwaukee with their new acquisitions.  Harris, Gasol, and Mirotic may have a hard time meshing at first, and things may not click until the postseason. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has earned the reputation as one of the great play designers in the NBA. With the talent available for the Celtics, he has plenty of ways to keep the Celtics afloat.

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The second approach would be to consider veteran big men who just become free agents. Robin Lopez, Zach Randolph will soon become free agents after their team’s reach a buyout. Gortat has already been bought out by the Los Angeles Clippers, while Lopez and Randolph are awaiting their release from the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks.

The addition of one of the three would immediately bolster the Celtics rotation, providing much-needed stability. This possible addition would also provide much needed veteran experience. Of course, this would be to the delight of Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving griped earlier this season about the lack of veteran presence in the locker room. Lopez, Z-Bo or Lopez would give the Celtics a much-needed voice.

Kyrie Irving

If they want youth, then Lopez may be the most reasonable option. Lopez is only 30 years old, but still old enough to provide veteran leadership. A Randolph signing could give the Celtics a boost on both ends of the court. Randolph is the oldest of the options (37) and perhaps the freshest since he hasn’t played this season.

But when he does play, he’s a big contributing factor. He averaged 14.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game last season. Gortat would provide offensive stability, giving the Celtics another big who can score around the basket. He’s turning 35 soon, but no team would turn down a polished scorer.

Whether they lean toward possessing another big man or keeping their roster intact, the Celtics goal is to be prepared for the NBA playoffs. But their rivals additions to their frontcourts should increase pressure on the Celtics. Mirotic, Gasol, and Harris will be viable weapons for their new teams.

And since all three bolster their new team’s identity, the Celtics must decide if the parts they have is good enough for their identity. Sure, their talent in the backcourt is enough, but can it negate Embiid and Harris? Is it enough to combat the potential of Giannis and Mirotic? Fortunately, only time will tell.

In the end, the Celtics probably won’y go wrong either way they move. But for long term success, the signing of a big man to bolster their depth will only help their chances.