Not the best team, but the most momentum.
After a very disappointing game one ECF effort from the Celtics’ starting 5, I got texts from friends in Boston, Maine, and LA all asking, “well now what?” and “How are they ever going to compete with the Cavs?”
(Quick aside about the Wiggins/Love trade combined with KD going to Oakland ruining the NBA; I don’t care where they would have signed, but imagine how great the league would be with 5, 6, or even legitimate contenders instead of 3)
What LeBron is doing right now is absolutely unreal — and its pretty insane considering he’s got a damn good supporting cast as well. So lets assume that I’m not wearing a “It’s Not Luck” t-shirt in anticipation of game 2 tonight and go through my response as to EXACTLY what the Celtics ought to do over the next 5 months.
“It’s not a popular suggestion, but with their friendly contracts and abilities I think Thomas and Crowder are truly our best trade assets to go out and get some marquee returns”
And then the ‘16-17 campaign happened and Game of Thrones t-shirts were made and now there might be riots if Isiah was to be moved.
The last few weeks;
Down 0–2 to the Bulls, my greatest fear was the Celtics being swept and the Boston fanbase and pressure on Ainge to cause an overhaul, to stop the patience that he has had over the last few years, to go out and spend all the money in the world to build a mediocre team next year. I said to others, “They need to find a way to pull this series out and win one or two next series, or else people will be grumbling ‘Brad can’t coach in the playoffs’ or they’ll destroy Danny for not making a move”. Well the Celtics got everything to go right for them, Rondo got hurt and they destroyed a deflated Bulls team and then depending on if they were on the road or at home, either looked like a great team or one that didn’t want to be there against the Wiz.
Faced with near certain death in the next 3–5 games they are truly playing with house money. If they got swept by this Cav’s team, no one would think any worse of them and so each possession is a no lose situation.
ONCE WE GET TO JULY
Celtics’ offseason plans by me:
A guy who can create his own shot. Avery has been great in the playoffs, but some more scoring first options are important.
A vacuum on the boards. Rebounding was an issue in November, it continues to be in May.
Keep the pick and take Fultz. He could be great, or he could be a bust, who really knows, but #1 picks have a pretty good track record over the last decade or so (Rose, Griffin, Wall, Irving, Anthony Davis, Wiggins, Towns).
OR try to trade the pick and Crowder to the Kings for picks #5 and #10. This option gives you choices to take whoever they believe is best out of Monk/Fox at the 5 spot and Zach Collins at number 10. Scoring first guard, Check, Rebounding defensive Center, Check. It would be a bold move to trade down from #1 but i think the talent is there to make it happen. Trading Crowder while his contract is so valuable is a big deal and honestly with all the rumors around potential free agents at the 3 and Jaylen Brown breathing down his neck, I don’t see Jae fitting into the 5-year plan in Boston. (Also, I think Motley and Thornwell should be priorities in the second round as potential draft and develop players — again you get an offensive creator and a big man with potential.)
Post draft, go hard after Hayward, if it doesn’t work it then thats okay, but he would be a great piece alongside IT, Horford, and Bradley. Also, go after rebounding help — Horford has never and will never be a big rebounding guy, and they have no reliable rebounding, its a huge hole that needs filling — even if its not a traditional 5, they need a guy to get that job done.
Don’t resign: Zeller, Green, Jerebko or Johnson. Johnson I’m torn about, because of how strong he can be defensively. Green can stay if he sticks to the minimum, but the roster crunch will be a tough reality come end of the summer. Zeller never really got any quality minutes and should get paid decently by teams that realize he’s still young and talented, just maybe doesn’t fit well in this era of the NBA. Jerebko has never gotten great minutes, but has been especially bad since breaking his nose this past winter and never really got his rotations back or his rhythm.
Do Resign: Olynyk and James Young. Kelly’s value is obvious, he’s a total grinder and spaces the floor well; People forget he was 6'3" at the end of his Junior year of high school, he’s a shooting point guard in a 7' man’s body. James Young feels like he’s been on the Celtics longer than Tommy Heinsohn at this point, but the kid is still only 21 and holding out hope for him to turn the corner isn’t the worst thing in the world to do.
Promote: Yabusele and Zicic to the main team — those dudes killed it last year in their respective int’l leagues and it would be great to let them get quality minutes on a team that will have a great combination of star power AND youth with a potential roster of: IT, Bradley, Hayward, Horford, Olynyk, Smart, Brown, (the 2017 picks) Zicic, and Yabusele.
By not sacrificing the future, the Celtics have set themselves up to be very good for a very long time. Flash forward a decade and I can easily see this being a perennial powerhouse with the longest tenured coach, maybe even a ring or a few.
Stay patient my friends. This is a fun ride to watch.