Ssssoooooo…one more day has passed. My ire from what the Boston Celtics did at the draft almost a week ago has continued to subside. Of course, it helps when the Red Sox are playing listless ball against one of the worst teams in baseball. It also helps when the Bruins’ front office seemingly is rolling along with the continued incompetence it has shown in recent years. But these are stories for some other day. And I promise that day will be soon. Because of course I would love to share my anger with you. Most of you anyway, since I know at least one person out there (Keo!!) who is sick and tired of all the negativity in this town, to steal a classic from Rick Pitino.
Getting back on track, we all know the “rebuild” of the Celtics has been slow and deliberate. Ok, so the Brad Stevens era has been only 3 years. Which is not really a long time, relatively speaking. Some teams have been “rebuilding” for decades. So it could be a lot worse. Doesn’t it seem longer though? I think that is simply because Danny Ainge has been gathering “assets” from the time he shipped away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets. And Doc Rivers to the Clippers too. Among all the other moves he has made to bring the roster to its current state. With that, ownership has promised “fireworks” and we are all ready for them to occur. Ready for them to take the next step.
This is why on draft night we were all pissed. Not even a single firecracker to be heard.
Upon reflection, I have accepted the inaction. Below are the majority of the reasons why, once again, in no particular order:
*The #3 pick simply did not have the value that we hoped it might have. We heard the rumors and got excited. But in reality, I’m not sure there was a ton of demand. Sure, Philly made a decent offer. But it wasn’t an earth-shattering one. Is Nerlens Noel a nice player? By all indications, yes he is. But is he truly a “game-changer?” That part may yet to be determined because he is young and certainly has time to evolve into one. But judging by the fact that Noel was deemed to be the one expendable by the Sixers with their glut of big men, they at least do not think he will be THAT type of guy. Worth noting.
*Kevin Durant is not coming to Boston. This year anyway, though probably never. As previously stated, I expect him to sign a one year deal to stay in OKC. This also seems to be the consensus opinion as well. Why? A few things. They have a legitimate championship contender there right now. They came close together this past year and based on the state of their roster, he may feel like they have one last run in them at the very least. Russell Westbrook has one year left on his deal. There’s probably a good chance he bolts at the end of his deal and KD may want to line his contract up to coincide with RW’s for that one last run in OKC.
There are probably a few other reasons, but for this purpose there is one more. It appears that if Durant signs for that one year, he can get over 100 mil more in next years’ free agent market. You read that right, 100 mil. Now, I don’t know all the particulars of the salary cap and all that nonsense. But that is what’s being reported out there. An extra 100 million is nothing to sneeze at. Obviously.
It’s great that Danny has a meeting with Durant soon. But perhaps its true purpose is to grease the skids for next year? Never know.
*The apparent cost for other “franchise” players was way too high. I referenced the proposed package for Jimmy Butler. Ridiculous. 4 draft picks and three of your best current players? No thanks. I’m guessing that if/when Ainge inquired about other studs, he received similar proposals. Too prohibitive.
*Unimpressive other available free agents. Sure, there are some decent players out there. But I’m not handing max contracts out to any of them. Al Horford, Mike Conley, Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside, Nicolas Batum, Chandler Parsons…you name it. The Celts have the ability to offer 2 max deals. If Durant isn’t taking one of those slots, is it worth it to offer one to two of the rest of the lot? I don’t think so.
*Cleveland Cavaliers. I’m going to assume that LeBron stays in Cleveland. Even if they trade Kevin Love and shuffle some of the other bodies on the roster, these guys are still going to be the team to beat. By far.
*The Western Conference. Still superior. Unless the C’s get Durant and another stud, not only are they still behind the Cavs, but they are still behind Golden State, San Antonio, OKC, the Clippers and perhaps others.
These are the reasons that lie in the forefront for me. It takes time to build a consistent winner, not to just try to assemble a great team, win once and then go back through a cold spell for several years. The timing…still…does not seem right to me to see those “fireworks”, based on all I have seen and heard. Perhaps we all should have taken it as a sign when Stevens and Ainge signed their extensions that this was the route the Celtics themselves were taking and that there is more patience needed from the fan base.
Gathering more assets never hurts. Trades will be available again at some point for sure. Maybe there will be a better free agent crop next year. Maybe Durant comes over then. The salary cap is supposed to explode as well. Maybe then the C’s have room for three max deals. Ultimately…what’s another year? As long as they continue going in the right direction of course.
There are still plenty of lesser moves to be made to improve the team at least incrementally. There are 23 players associated with the team at this point. I am counting unrestricted free agent Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton (the 2nd round pick in 2015 version) and Colton Iverson (2nd round pick in 2013) though. I like what Turner brings to the table, but I believe someone will wildly overspend for him on the open market. Probably not worth keeping him at crazy money for a back-end starter/top bench player. I don’t think anyone is counting Thornton or Iverson. But the team still holds their rights. So we can at least talk about them here and give them a little love. That’s about it though.
That leaves 20 guys. Ok, I doubt anyone is counting John Holland either. And perhaps Yabusele and Zizic are stashed overseas along with Iverson and Thornton. Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko have non-guaranteed deals. Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller will be restricted free agents, where the C’s will have the ability to match anything offered. Though with Sully getting buried in the playoffs, I am not sure I expect him back. Maybe the team gives up on James Young. Etc.
There will still be plenty of moves. And I expect these moves to improve the team. There are people who do love Jaylen Brown. Some of those people know a whole helluva lot more about basketball talent than I do. You have to at least give that some credence. Maybe just also adding another big guy that can rebound and “protect the rim” will add a few more wins. Regardless, the Celtics of 2016-17 SHOULD still be better than the 2015-16 version. Doesn’t that count for something?
I have no idea if this is the right or wrong path. But it seems reasonable after some thought. Last years’ team was entertaining. If that holds true this upcoming year, they win 50 games or so, hopefully win a round or two in the playoffs, then the fireworks occur NEXT offseason (another high Nets pick, Durant or someone similar, 2nd and possibly 3rd notable free agent, etc.), is that really a bad thing?
It may be if Brown ends up sucking. But let’s not even consider that for the time being…