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Ex-All-Star sends strong message on the ideal Boston Celtics starting five

Former three-time NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas spoke out on what he feels the ideal Boston Celtics starting lineup would be for the 2023-24 season during the October 2 edition of the “Gil’s Arena” podcast — indicating that deploying Al Horford in a double-big first five is the best arrangement; with Derrick White taking over Malcolm Brogdon’s sixth man role.

“That’s your 5,” Arenas said of a Jrue Holiday-Jaylen Brown-Jayson Tatum-Horford-Kristaps Porzingis quintet (h/t Basketball Network). “You start doing this small sh**, now you’re smaller at the guard play, you’re small at the four play, then you come in, you can sub in Unicorn and put old a** Horford in. The fu** is the difference from last year?”

The idea certainly warrants merit, with the backup point guard spot somewhat unsettled behind the 33-year-old Holiday. Horford started all 63 games he appeared in during the regular season and all 20 games of the team’s run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, so keeping him in the lineup for the third straight year since returning to Boston isn’t far-fetched.

No matter if Derrick White or Al Horford starts, there will be depth questions for the Boston Celtics

If Horford starts, the Boston Celtics will need to rely on Luke Kornet for extended minutes at the 5; minutes Horford himself would’ve handled in a second-unit role. Swap Horford out for White in the starting five, and you’re relying on Payton Pritchard, Dalano Banton, JD Davison, or even Tatum as your backup 1.

All roads lead to uncertainty for Joe Mazzulla, but that’s been a hallmark of his coaching tenure. Having come in as an emergency fill-in for an eventually fired Ime Udoka ahead of the C’s 2022 training camp and earning his keep in Boston, Mazzulla is not facing any unfamiliar feeling of not knowing the future.

That we’re talking about which top-flight Jays complement between White and Horford certainly pales in comparison to taking over a contender on short notice after a scandal took away a conference-winning coach.